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Arthur of the Britons: reviews

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Dec. 6th, 1972 | 11:00 pm

Kenneth Hughes in the Daily Mirror: 6 December 1972

King Arthur as a tough freedom fighter without shining armour, a round table or Guinevere, comes riding in for a new series called ARTHUR OF THE BRITONS (ITV, 4.50 except HTV).

HTV have spent £500,000 on the twenty-four episodes, and screen it at 6.50. They believe it should be seen by an adult audience as well as by children. They have a point.

For this is a literate and lively account of the life and times of a king whose personality has been blurred at the legendary edges ...

The style of the series is far removed from past notions of Camelot. Every sword and every broken shield clangs and smashes with the ring of authenticity.

Television Heaven

This excellent children's television series was a muddy and realistic version of the King Arthur legend which depicted Arthur (Oliver Tobias) as a struggling 6th century warlord, battling to unite the fragmented Celtic tribes into a cohesive fighting unit that could effectively oppose the Saxon invaders who were arriving in Britain in growing numbers.

This was King Arthur as he might have been ... Assisted and guided by Llud, The Silver Hand, his adoptive father and Kai, his foster brother, who is himself a Saxon foundling, 'Arthur of The Britons' stripped away the elaborate medieval view of Camelot and provided the viewer with a thoughtful and fascinating insight into the Arthurian legend.

Full review

Cult TV

Arthur is the war chieftain of a tribe of Celts who has his eye on the bigger picture - unification of the tribes in the face of the Saxon threat. Assisted by his adoptive father, Llud, and Saxon friend, Kai, he has his hands full keeping the peace with opposition from the various feuding factions as well as his duplicitous cousin, Mark of Cornwall.

Starring Oliver Tobias ... as Arthur, leader of the Britons, this 1972-1973 swashbuckling adventure series from HTV also stars Jack Watson and Michael Gothard as his compatriots Llud and Kai, Brian Blessed (I, Claudius) as Mark of Cornwall and an impressive guest cast ...

Full review

Grant on The Angriest

Even 38 years later it feels like a completely fresh take on the Arthurian legend, creating the sort of “the real Arthur” mystique that the 2005 Jerry Bruckheimer film could only dream of …

The series starred Oliver Tobias as Arthur, alongside Jack Watson as his adoptive father Llud and Michael Gothard as his right-hand man Kai. As far as I can find out Arthur was Tobias’ biggest role, although he did appear in a number of films and TV dramas ... Jack Watson was a mainstay of British film and television … Meanwhile Michael Gothard is probably best known for playing Emile Leopold Locque in For Your Eyes Only (1981), as well as appearances in The Devils (1971) and The Three Musketeers (1973) ...

The first episode of Arthur of the Britons … begins with Arthur and Kai racing each other on horseback. It’s a surprising scene, primarily because it lacks a musical score. This gives the episode an unexpectedly contemporary feel, which is something that keeps returning sporadically through the episode …

The climax of the episode is, for a 1970s children’s drama, unexpectedly violent, as the combined Celtic forces fend off a small Saxon invasion. The episode even manages to include some unexpected plot twists and turns.

Full review

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