Kieran Bew (“Da Vinci’s Demons,” “The Bletchley Circle”) has been cast to play the lead role of “Beowulf” in ITV’s epic re-imagining of one of literature’s greatest and most enduring heroes. He will star alongside multi award-winning actor William Hurt (“Humans,” Kiss of the Spider Woman) who will play Hrothgar and acclaimed actress Joanne Whalley (“Wolf Hall,” “Jamaica Inn”) who takes on the role of Rheda.
Created by James Dormer, Tim Haines and Katie Newman, this action-packed 13-part drama series to be produced by ITV Studios is set in the mythical Shieldlands, a place of spectacle and danger populated by both humans and fantastical creatures. Essentially, a western set in the Dark Ages of Britain’s mythic past, the story unfolds on a huge canvas, filmed amongst the breathtaking beauty of England’s North East.
Ed Speleers (“Downton Abbey”) has been cast in the role of Slean and David Ajala (“Black Box”) will play Rate. Further casting includes Ian Puleston- Davies (“Coronation Street”), Ellora Torchia (Indian Summers), Gisli Orn Gardarsson (“Spooks and Spirits”) Susan Aderin (“The Last Detective”), Kirsty Oswald (“Ripper Street”), Laura Donnelly (“Outlander”), Edward Hogg (“Indian Summers”), Alex Price (“Father Brown”), Jack Rowan (“Silent Witness”) and Itoya Osagiede (“Okora: The Prelude”).
The first episode sees Beowulf who, after spending many years wandering as a mercenary warrior, returns to Herot to pay his respects to the recently deceased Thane, Hrothgar – the man who raised him. But when Herot is attacked by the terrifying monster Grendl, Beowulf has no choice but to hunt it down, winning favour with Herot’s new female Thane, and the wider community, in the process. So begins a personal journey that sees this mighty and capable man slowly reconnect with the notion of family and home.
“Beowulf” is a series about courage, greed, betrayal, revenge, loyalty, power, man versus wilderness and, of course love. It is a series that explores the notion of good and evil, heroes and villains. However, beyond these wider political undercurrents and inner personal turmoils are the excitement, danger and sense of adventure that any great Western has. Epic fights, thrilling chases, raids, celebrations and battles are an essential part of the promise.
James Dormer (“Strike Back,” “Wallander,” “Outcast”) who will write and executive produce said:
“Hundreds of years ago our ancestors listened to the story of Beowulf because it was a great adventure story – it scared them, thrilled them, made them laugh and cry. But they also listened because they recognised themselves and their fears in it. By holding a mirror up to them this story helped define them and thus – us. So it’s incredibly exciting to have the opportunity to make it relevant again for a wide audience – to let them own it again. To let them see themselves in it.”
ITV Studios’ Creative Director of Drama Tim Haines (“Primeval,” “Sinbad,” “Walking With Dinosaurs”) will executive produce with ITV Studios’ Executive Producer of Drama Katie Newman (“Primeval: New World”).
Stephen Smallwood (“Ripper Street,” “The Day of the Triffids,” “DCI Banks”) will produce on location in County Durham and Northumberland. The Production’s choice to use the spectacular locations available in Durham and Northumberland has been encouraged by the enthusiastic support of the various Councils of the North East.
“Beowulf” has been commissioned for ITV by Director of Drama Steve November and Controller of Drama Victoria Fea.
“’Beowulf’ is a series with a charismatic protagonist at its heart,” said Steve. “Equally it’s a spirited and fascinating ensemble drama with each character taking their own emotional and sometimes perilous journey. We’re delighted to be commissioning Beowulf and to be working with Tim Haines and his production team.”
Filming will begin in the North East later this month for transmission on ITV.