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Arthur of the Britons, series 1, episode 1: Arthur is Dead: screencaps

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Jun. 15th, 1972 | 12:00 pm

This first episode of "Arthur of the Britons" sets the tone for the whole series. Arthur (Oliver Tobias) is introduced as a serious-minded, cool and cunning leader, who nevertheless manages to find time for fun. Kai (Michael Gothard) is his trusted lieutenant, friend and foster-brother. Kai is a bit of a firebrand, who has his own ideas about how things should be done, but is ready to back any plan Arthur comes up with, and help him carry it through. Kai is the one on whom Arthur relies, both in battle, and when he needs to relax and forget his troubles for a while.

The bulk of this pilot episode was filmed in May or June 1972, while the horse-racing scenes were filmed in autumn of that year.

Arthur is Dead Arthur is Dead (8)

Arthur (Oliver Tobias), leader of a tribe of Celts, and Kai, prepare for a race with some other Celts.

Arthur is Dead (17) Arthur is Dead (19)

Arthur and Kai take the lead, but Arthur apparently doesn't see a low branch. He rides into it at full speed.

Arthur is Dead (21) Arthur is Dead (23)

Kai sees Arthur knocked off his horse, and hastens back to find Arthur lying comatose on the ground.

Arthur is Dead (27) Arthur is Dead (35)

Kai looks up at the other Celts, who have now caught up, and tells them to spread the news, "tell the world -
Arthur is dead." An unusual beginning for a series about Arthur!

By the time this scene was filmed, Oliver Tobias had already suffered a serious head injury from a spear, while
filming "The Challenge", hence the care with which Michael Gothard is handling his head, and also - rare, in this
series - the use of a stuntman to take the place of Oliver being knocked from the horse.

Arthur is Dead (36) Arthur is Dead (39)

Kai seems to be grieving; he and Arthur's foster father, Llud (Jack Watson) stand at the head of the bier.

Arthur is Dead (53) Arthur is Dead (54)

Kai places a helmet on Arthur's head; it seems that a chapter has already come to a close.

Chiefs Discuss (5) Chiefs Discuss (18)

Meanwhile, Arthur's people have captured the leaders of a number of other Celtic tribes, who have moved in,
to try to take over Arthur's village. Saying nothing, Kai listens to their protests, insults and complaints, and
makes sure they don't escape.

Chiefs Discuss (23) Rolling the Stone

Then Arthur comes in - not dead, but perpetrating a cunning ruse, to bring all the chiefs together to speak
about uniting the Celts against the Saxon invaders. Mark of Cornwall (Brian Blessed) is less than impressed.

Rolling the Stone (20) Rolling the Stone (23)

Arthur uses a sword wedged under a huge stone to demonstrate that they can achieve more by working together.

Rolling the Stone (36) Rolling the Stone (39)

When Arthur tells Kai to give the chiefs back their weapons, for the first time we see Kai dissent, saying he'd
sooner give a snake back its fangs.  Still, he reluctantly complies.

Arthur vs Mark (7) Arthur vs Mark (9)

When Mark challenges Arthur for the leadership of the newly-formed Celtic alliance, Arthur goes to Kai and Llud
for advice.

Arthur vs Mark (11) Arthur vs Mark (45)

Kai tries to convince him he must fight, but it's only when Llud backs Kai that Arthur, reluctantly, takes Mark on.

Arthur vs Mark (56) Arthur vs Mark (50)

As usual, Kai and Llud get behind their leader.

Fighting Cerdig (26) Fighting Cerdig (35)

Having beaten Mark in his fight for the leadership, Arthur puts his cunning plan to defeat the Saxons into action.

Fighting Cerdig (45) Fighting Cerdig (40)

Llud and Kai help defeat the Saxon by spearing them while they are caught in the swamp.

Victory (9) - Copy Victory (10)

After the battle, Kai tries to persuade Arthur to relax and let everyone enjoy their victory.

Victory (27) Victory (33)

Arthur and Kai prepare for another race; this time, it's for real, and just the two of them.

Victory (46) Victory (51)

They set off.

Victory (53) Victory (54)

Kai pulls ahead.

Victory (60) Victory (63)

Arthur's horse appears, seemingly riderless; worried, Kai turns back.

Victory (68) Victory (64)

Then to his delight, Kai finds that Arthur has tricked him.

Victory (70) Victory (73)

Joyfully, they race on.

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