Welcome to Britain circa 43AD. It’s a cruel and bloody badland where druids conjure black magic as Celtic tribes, warrior queens and invading Roman centurions wage war.
Savagery and sorcery go hand in hand in Sky Atlantic’s new series, Britannia. Human sacrifices are offered to merciless gods at Stonehenge – and the only reward for being a nice guy is certain violent death.
The series follows the reluctant rise to power of Kerra, a flame-haired archery expert destined for great things.
‘Kerra is a fearless, rebellious fighter,’ explains Kelly Reilly, who portrays her. ‘But that courage gets her into a lot of trouble.
‘She’s the daughter of the king of the Cantii tribe but she thinks he’s weak.
‘Kerra isn’t beholden to any man and refuses to toe the line. This was a time when women ruled the lands. It’s true Girl Power!’
Celtic queen Antedia – played by Harry Potter star Zoë Wanamaker – is the formidable archenemy of Kerra’s tribe. With a shock of white hair and a murderous army at her command, she’s a sort of pre-Anglo-Saxon Cruella de Vil.
‘Antedia is an angry, powerful woman who looks like a white witch,’ says Zoë.
‘She feels betrayed by the gods because the line of her dynasty has been cut short by the castration of her son on his wedding night.’
Kerra and Antedia might have to put aside their differences when the Romans invade.
Leading the charge is General Aulus Plautius (David Morrissey), who is determined to conquer this lawless land.
Despite familiar themes of rival families vying for power – plus an abundance of sex and violence – David claims comparisons to Game of Thrones are wide of the mark.
‘There may be mud and blood, but there’s none of that dragony stuff,’ he argues. ‘It’s rooted in our own history and based on things that actually happened.’