Reviews of new US TV programmes from 2013
In the US: The History Channel. New season begins at the end of February
In the UK: Lovefilm. New series begins at the end of February
The Vikings are a very under-appreciated bunch. Without them England, Ireland and indeed much of northern Europe would be very different places. Even at a very trivial level, the English language would probably be considerably harder and more like German, and might not have got such a purchase on world culture.
Although their importance as been glossed over and largely ignored, despite the debt we owe them, more and more they’re being acknowledged: I’d recommend going to the British Museum’s forthcoming Vikings exhibition, which will include a 37m long Viking longboat, for starters.
Also helping is the US’s History Channel, which broke the habit of a lifetime to produce its first scripted TV series last year. Now, I was on holiday when this first aired, so it completely passed me by. Fortunately, I’ve now got Lovefilm access, and was able to catch up with the show, having an idle moment or two to fill.
And I’ve very glad I did, because it’s actually a really interesting piece of work. A Canadian-Irish co-production written by historical drama go-to guy Michael “Tudors” Hirst, it’s part-educational, part-drama, telling the story of the semi-legendary, semi-historic Ragnarr Loðbrók (aka Ragnar Hairy Breeches), the man who pointed the Vikings in the direction of England (maybe) and whose sons launched the Great Heathen Army that was eventually to settle and rule most of the north and east of the country. It’s gripping, fun, thrilling, bloody, defies expectations and gives you a lot of insight into Viking culture and religion.