Kings and Queens, Derek Jacobi as King Alfred
A wonderful taster of an atmospheric dramatisation of King Alfred, full version in Kings and Queens
Greetings, child. Are you one of my subjects? You’re not sure? If you live anywhere in England, you must be. I’m sorry, did you say something. Who am I? Who am I? Do you mean you don’t recognise me? How wonderful! Everywhere I go, people kneel to me, and call me ‘the great’ – sometimes I would love to be able to go for a walk or a ride, and pretend that I am just another person, not who I really am – KING ALFRED – one of the very first kings of all England. Now have you heard of me?
Just have a look at my face and you will see what a determined character I am…
Run your fingers over the thermoform, and then find the top of the picture. There, in the centre, is my crown. In the middle of my golden crown sticking out at the top is a shape called a fleur de lis – a lily flower. It has a pointed petal in the middle and one that is bent over on each side. You can find the same shape on the top right and left of the crown too – but they feel different here, because you can only feel half of each one. Between each fleur de lis, there is another small shape, like a cloverleaf, with three round leaves joined together. Below these there are three jewels – you will need to use your fingernails to find them. If you feel very carefully, you will be able to tell that the middle one is a rectangle, while the others are circles.
Now feel my face, my long straight nose, my determined mouth just below a moustache, my eyes – I hope the artist has managed to show my real expression. I was trying hard not to smile and to look kingly. Now, trace your fingers down over my beard – can you feel how it divides in the middle? This is the latest fashion.
Anglo Saxons, Beowulf with Sean Bean
A short extract, available in full in our Anglo Saxons book
Beowulf’s eye, penetrating the gloom of the den, caught sight of an ancient sword once hefted by a giant. This massive blade matched Beowulf’s muscular sword arm and with both hands he held the hilt in an iron-hard grip. Drawing it back over his shoulder, the warrior swung the sword in a powerful, death-dealing stroke. This time the giant-forged edge did not slide harmlessly off but, singing its song of blood and death, sliced through the muscle and bone of the monster’s neck.
Beowulf, standing there with the demon’s blood dripping from his sword, had fulfilled his warrior’s oath. Looking around the gloomy lair with a heavy heart, Beowulf saw the slaughtered bodies of the warriors who had been dragged away by the monstrous fiend. Among the butchery Beowulf saw the crumbled, slain body of Grendel. Seizing the demon by his hair, Beowulf’s sword sang through the chill air one last time as he hacked off its hideous head.