Streamer MGM+ has acquired the Arthurian drama The Winter King, a ten-part adaptation based on Bernard Cromwell's bestselling Warlord Chronicles series of novels, and has set a premiere date for later this summer. The streamer, which Amazon rebranded from Epix after purchasing its parent studio, is best known for the James Bond films but has been hard at work building up a stable of original content and acquisitions that includes Rogue Heroes, A Spy Among Friends, Domina and forthcoming sequel series Belgravia: The Next Chapter.
Taking its title from the first book in Cromwell's series, The Winter King is set in 5th century England, a time of warring tribes and competing factions that bears little resemblance to any sort of united kingdom we might recognize today. Mixing historical fiction with Arthurian legend, this version of the story includes more realistic themes than many of its ilk, including the incursion of Christianity into then-pagan England.
The Winter King follows the story of a young Arthur Pendragon, who is a far cry from the chivalric hero of legend. Instead, he begins the story as an exiled bastard who must face hard choices and brutal consequences as he grows into a warrior and the leader his people need.
The series stars Iain de Castecker (Agents of SHIELD) as Arthur Pendragon, alongside Jordan Alexandra (Grantchester) as Guinevere, an ambitious and exiled princess; Nathaniel Martello-White (Small Axe) as Merlin, a powerful politician dedicated to his gods; Ellie James (I May Destroy You) as Nimue, a priestess saved by Merlin; and Eddie Marsan (The Thief, His Wife, and the Canoe) as High King Uther.
The sprawling ensemble cast also features Stuart Campbell (Rogue Heroes) as Derfel; Daniel Ings (I Hate Suzie) as Owain; Valene Kane (Gangs of London) as Morgan; Simon Merrells (Knightfall) as Gundleus; Steven Elder (A Spy Among Friends) as Bishop Bedwin; Andrew Gower (Outlander) as Sansum; Aneirin Hughes (Keeping Faith) as Gorfydd; Emily John (My Policeman) as Ceinwyn; Tatjana Nardone (Devils) as Ladwys; Ken Nwosu (Killing Eve) as Sagramor; and Billy Postlethwaite (The Great) as Cadwys.
“The Winter King is a cinematic and imaginative reinterpretation of the Arthurian legend,” Michael Wright, head of MGM+, said in a statement. “Kate Brooke, Ed Whitmore, and the magnificent cast take viewers on a fascinating and entertaining journey through this timeless tale told through a new lens.”
Produced by Bad Wolf in association with One Big Picture and distributed by Sony Pictures Television, the ten-part series is adapted by Kate Brooke (A Discovery of Witches) and Ed Whitmore (Silent Witness), with Otto Bathurst (Peaky Blinders) as lead director.
“It’s long been Bad Wolf’s ambition to bring the Arthurian legend to the screen. It’s a story of courage, sacrifice and passion that has endured for generations,” said executive producer Julie Gardner. “With Bernard Cornwell’s trilogy as our North Star, we are honored to be on this quest with our wonderful partners at MGM+, ITVX and Sony Pictures Television.”
The Winter King will premiere on MGM+ on August 20, 2023.