In the UK: Available from Thursday on Sky Atlantic
In the US: Will be available on Amazon
What is Sky Atlantic’s new show Britannia all about? The obvious answer is that it’s about the second Roman invasion of the British Isles (aka Britannia), way back in AD43. David Morrissey (State of Play, The Walking Dead) is the Roman general in charge of the invading legions who thinks that he can do better than Caesar did 90 years earlier. The tribes of native Celts who once lined the shores to repel Caesar’s invasion are now led by Ian McDiarmid and Zoe Wanamaker, who are at each other’s throats thanks to a wedding ceremony gone wrong as the results of a bit of treachery, so seemingly no obstacle to Morrissey. Around them are other Celts vying for power, including McDiarmid’s son Julian Rhind-Tutt (Green Wing, Hippies); meanwhile, McDiarmid’s warrior princess daughter Kelly Reilly (Sherlock Holmes, Black Box, Above Suspicion) wants nothing but peace and her father’s approval.
However, it wasn’t just the Celts that helped repulse that first invasion. It was the druids and their genuine magic that sent Caesar running back to Rome in a tizzy. And it’s that magic that’s the real reason for Morrissey’s desire to lead Claudius’ legions to victory – he wants to visit the underworld to meet the dead and he needs the help of the druids, including their chief the 10,000-year-old Mackenzie Crook (The Office, The Detectorists). That’s something ‘outcast’ druid Nikolaj Lie Kaas wants to stop as he thinks Morrissey might be a demon from the equally demonic Rome.
But underneath that literal explanation of the plot, there is as the title suggests a deeper introspection of the nature of Britain, Britishness, change and immigration fit for our post-Brexit world. Plus a little bit of ultra-violence.