Britain AD: King Arthur’s Britain, Channel 4,

by | Sep 6, 2004 | All, Reviews

What to say if you liked it

A fascinating expose of the reality of Dark Ages Britain, which dispels the traditional opinion of Romans as destroyers of our ancient culture.

What to say if you didn’t like it

A discordant jumble of half-truths and supposition presented as a coherent revolutionary revelation that cynically exploited the public’s general ignorance of pre-history.

What was good about it?

• Francis Pryor was an enthusiastic and knowledgeable host who exhumed some intriguing details about Britain 2000 years ago, such as the tradition of warriors

depositing their sword in water (apparently the inspiration for the Lady of the Lake and Excalibur).

• When Francis was guided around the foundation remains of Roman settlements, computer graphics were used to “build” the original structure around them.

What was bad about it?

• The tone was always heavy in hyperbole; everything was “an extraordinary landscape”, “a remarkable discovery” or “a fantastic cathedral”.

• A frequent sneaky semantic leap was used by Francis to posit his theories. Take the notion that the Romans began their invasion at Chichester Harbour after an

invitation from a British tribal ally. Words like “possibly” and “maybe” were used to describe the landing, yet within minutes this was presented as fact in the next portion of the tale.

• And the Roman baths in Bath were dedicated to both Sulis and Minerva, where Minerva was definitely a Roman goddess while Sulis was only “presumably” an Iron Age goddess that Francis used to justify his theory that the Romans respected British culture and customs.

• King Arthur was simply a ratings boosting device, and he was only mentioned in the first five minutes of the show, and even then it was said that he was “only sleeping” and he would return when his country was in danger.

• Francis Pryor and all the professors who aided him seemed to have come free with a breakfast cereal “Stereotypical Mad Scientist” promotion with their wild beards and freaky hair.

Luke Knowles

Luke Knowles

06/09/2004

Editor of the website and host of the podcast. A general TV obsessive. I've been running the site since 2008 and you can usually find me in front of the TV. My Favourite show of all time is Breaking Bad with Cracker coming a close second. I feel so passionately that television can change the world and I'm doing my little bit by running this site. You're Welcome!

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