1 9 7 2 – 1 9 7 3 (UK)
26 x 30 minute episodes
This series stripped away the elaborate medieval view of Camelot, Guinevere and Merlin, and instead presented Arthur as the chief of a small Celt tribe in Dark-Ages Britain, a century or two after the withdrawal of Rome.
Arthur struggled to weave the scattered tribes of Celts, Jutes, et al into a union that could effectively oppose the Saxon invaders, led by Cerdig, aided by his adoptive father, Llud the Silver Hand, and his foster brother, Kai (a Saxon orphan who had been reared as a Celt).
Arthur’s sweetheart Rowena also featured, played by German actress Gila Von Weitershausen to appease the series’ European investors.
The Saxons apart, Arthur’s other great rival was the powerful Mark of Cornwall.
The sets were dirty (and built on Forestry Commission land near Stroud for a six-month shoot) and the woodland skirmishes, battle sequences and scenes of bloody swordplay – shot all on film – were authentic.
These elements, and the charismatic Oliver Tobias – with a very 1972 haircut – made the series a high point in 1970s adventure programming for the just-home-from-school crowd.
Guest stars included; Carry On veteran Bernard Bresslaw; Sally James (Tiswas); Tom Baker (Dr Who); Michael Gambon (The Singing Detective); Alfie Bass (The Army Game); Peter Firth (from Here Come the Double Deckers) and David Prowse (Darth Vader from Star Wars and the Green Cross Man).
Arthur, Chief of the Celts
Mark of Cornwall
Llud the Silver Hand
Cerdig, Chief of the Saxons
Yorath, Chief of the Jutes
Rolf the Preacher
Rowena of the Jutes
Gila Von Weitershausen