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Ethnic Actors In Period Dramas.

Updated on January 17, 2016
Image Of Saxon Warrior Similar To Saxon Warrior In BBC2's 'The Last Kingdom' Or ITV1's 'Beowulf:  Return To The Shieldlands'.
Image Of Saxon Warrior Similar To Saxon Warrior In BBC2's 'The Last Kingdom' Or ITV1's 'Beowulf: Return To The Shieldlands'. | Source
Viking Warrior.
Viking Warrior. | Source
Ray Winstone As Beowulf In The Hollywood Movie.
Ray Winstone As Beowulf In The Hollywood Movie. | Source

Beowulf: Return To The Shieldlands On ITV1.

ITV1's big budget epic set in the Dark Ages the Anglo - Saxon and Norse epic Beowulf comes to the small screen. The programme features all manner of nasty creatures out for blood and a bit of human flesh.

Last night was the second episode of the 13 part series in a village where the Anglo - Saxon peasants scratch a living for their rulers who do with them what they will. In those days the rulers were not accountable to anyone for what they did to each other or those they regarded as peasants and of no consequence.

This Dark Ages re - telling was filmed in East Gate, County Durham and stars Kieran Bew as the hero Beowulf. For those that have not seen this prog it is nothing like the Ray Winstone epic where he and his band of warriors travelled to Denmark to battle a monster called Grendle.

This is purely an English production featuring for the most part English actors in the role, some known and some quite not so well known.

Although as far as we know Beowulf is a myth what is the historical accuracy of putting Black or Asian (Indian/Pakistani) actors in these dramas set in the Dark Ages where presumably to see a Black or Ethnic face was a very rare thing indeed.

If you take the recent BBC2 production of the 'The Last Kingdom' also set in the Dark Ages and perhaps a little more historically accurate centring around King Alfred and his struggle against the Viking Chief Guthrum there were no ethnic faces represented which surely is more historically accurate.

ITV1's 'Jericho' set in the 19th Century Yorkshire features a Black character on a horse and again is this largely accurate when surely a Black face in Victorian England would have been a rare thing indeed.

Im not saying dont have Black or Ethnic people playing characters in period dramas, far from it but surely if you are representing a period of time say like the Dark Ages or Victorian times is it right from a historical point of view to have so many or just one ethnic character?

I guess its the time we live in where people regardless of their race, nationality or religion have to be represented in a more multi - cultural world but I come back to my original theme if we are truly representing those times when an ethnic face was a rarity to non - existent like in the programmes I have just mentioned it is worth sacrificing historical accuracy just to be inclusive.


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