Shieldlands a To Z

Ex­plor­ing Beowulf’s king­dom

SFX: The Sci-Fi and Fantasy Magazine - - Red Alert -

Go West The Shieldlands of the ti­tle refers to the myth­i­cal king­dom as a whole, which in­cludes ter­ri­tory pop­u­lated by the Mud­born and other crea­tures such as the Gi­ants and Trolls that has since been con­quered by hu­mans. “As a kid, I read Dee Brown’s Bury My Heart At Wounded Knee, which was all about what hap­pened to the Na­tive Amer­i­cans, and that all fed into it,” says Dormer. “As time goes on, you start to feel a bit more sym­pa­thy for the Mud­born, and re­alise that they also have a point to what they’re do­ing.”

Mul­ti­cul­tural Melt­ing Pot

With the fam­i­lies of char­ac­ters like young black­smith Vishka (El­lora Torchia) hail­ing from the dis­tant Far­lands, Herot and the sur­round­ing com­mu­ni­ties are made up of a num­ber of dif­fer­ent races. “We also have David Ajala, who is Bri­tish of Nige­rian ori­gin. He plays Rate, one of the other Thanes, who is head of the Varni, who are a no­madic war tribe,” says Dormer. “We also have char­ac­ters like Varr (Ed­ward Hogg), who is this slightly odd, maître d’ fig­ure, who was raised amongst the Varni, al­though he hates the violence. We’ve cre­ated a world, and then we’ve played with it.”

truly Fan­tas­tic Beasts

Hav­ing pre­vi­ously over­seen Walk­ing With Di­nosaurs and Primeval, ex­ec­u­tive pro­ducer Tim Haines has en­sured that the show’s fan­tas­ti­cal crea­tures look au­then­tic as well as spec­tac­u­lar. “An ex­am­ple of that is the Trolls,” says Dormer. “Be­cause we have them no longer eat­ing meat, they have to be given salt by the hu­mans, which keeps them se­dated and means they’re con­trol­lable. But later on when some­one starts play­ing around with that, they start to get a bit dan­ger­ous…”

From soap to shieldlands

Crop­ping up later in the se­ries is Ian Pule­ston-Davies, best known as Owen Arm­strong on Corona­tion Street. “As the story pro­gresses, there comes a time when Rheda has to win a vote from the other Thanes to be­come the Jarl, the ruler of the whole of the Shieldlands,” says Dormer. “Ian’s char­ac­ter La­grathorn is the Thane of Ban­ning, and he’s al­ways had a place in his heart for Rheda, and he’s a bit of a drunk and a lecher. There was great chem­istry be­tween him and Joanne Whal­ley, so we kept want­ing to bring him back.”

David Ajala plays Rate, leader of the Varni.

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