Carnival Films' CEO Gareth Neame discussed The Last Kingdom in a recent interview.

Period hit Downton takes up about 50% of Neame’s time; some of the remainder will be taken up with Carnival’s new commission, The Last Kingdom, based on the The Saxon Stories book series from Sharpe author Bernard Cornwell. It was ordered by the BBC and US cable net BBC America.

Production is getting under way on the eight-part drama, which will be set in 872 in an England largely occupied by the Vikings. The main protagonist will be Uhtred, the son of a Saxon nobleman who is raised by the Vikings. The show aims to combine real historic events with fictional characters.

“It’s a piece of deep history; it has something to say about where we come from,” Neame says. “As a British-led production, there will be history purists who want the story told in a certain way. However, I was impressed with The Tudors, an American-led show that was not restricted in that way, and that’s what we’re trying to do here: to be led by history, not restricted by it.”

He adds that The Last Kingdom is a very different proposition from Downton. “They are very different shows. Downton is essentially a gang show and soap opera about community, family and class. The Last Kingdom is about a central character on a quest.”

Den of Geek has included The Last Kingdom in shows to look out for in 2015.