Television News: Starz Plans New Drama Based On Camelot

3/31/2010 Posted by Admin

Television News

Starz plans new drama based on Camelot

By our guest blogger, Alexandra Cervenak

Fresh off the success of its historical drama “Spartacus: Blood and Sand,” Starz is looking to jump ahead a few (quite a few) centuries with its latest offering, a retelling of Arthurian legend. Aptly named “Camelot,” and slated to begin airing in early 2011, it is the first series ordered by the network since former HBO Chairman Chris Albrecht took over as president and CEO.

Considering the vast array of Arthurian material already out there, “Camelot” is going to use as its inspiration what is perhaps the definitive version of the tale, Thomas Malory’s "Le Morte d'Arthur,” written in the 15th century. Even if Malory never imagined something called “television” in his wildest dreams, Albrecht claims “Camelot” will be “a highly entertaining and distinctly original TV program that fits in perfectly with our lineup.” Starz promises that “Camelot” will be modern entertainment akin to its own “Spartacus,” and what is probably the high water mark when it comes to the “English history for contemporary audiences watching premium cable” paradigm, Showtime’s “The Tudors.”

In fact, the show will be produced by a team including not only Graham King (“The Departed,” “Traffic,” “The Young Victoria”), but also Morgan O’Sullivan and Michael Hirst, both of “The Tudors.” The series will be penned by Chris Chibnall, from the UK shows “Torchwood” and “Life on Mars,” and who already has experience working with the legend of Camelot, developing a series featuring Merlin for the BBC in 2005. And in accordance with its “Tudors” aspirations, like that series production on “Camelot” will take place in Ireland.

The stories of King Arthur and his Camelot have been a gold mine of entertainment for centuries, inspiring everyone from Tennyson to the members of Monty Python. There have been poems, books, paintings, cartoons, movies, a musical and even other television series, so “Camelot” is going to have to be supremely original and inventive to stand out from the crowd.

That said, the stories could only have persisted for so long because people are still fascinated by them, and like Camelot itself Arthurian legends seem to have a timeless quality about them.

Albrecht has said that "the story of Arthur isn't history, it's mythology, and Camelot isn't a place but an idea of hope that has resonated at different times throughout history," and he’s quite obviously correct. When viewing a session of Congress on C-SPAN recently sometimes entails witnessing a shouting match or two, it might be a nice change of pace to watch some chivalrous Knights of the Round Table.

No exact premiere date for “Camelot” has been set, but casting has begun and production will start in Ireland in June.


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