Arthur of the Britons was a short-lived but fondly remembered British television show about the "historical" King Arthur. Produced by the HTV regional franchise, it consisted of two series, released between 1972 and 1973. Thanks to American co-financing the show's stirring theme music was written by Elmer Bernstein.
Set in the Dark Ages a century after the Roman withdrawal from Britain, Arthur is not a great king with an elaborate court; instead, he is the chieftain of a small Celtic tribe and works to unite the other tribes against the Saxon invaders. Helping him is Llud, his adoptive father; Kai, a Saxon orphan reared as Arthur's brother; Arthur's cousin, Mark of Cornwall; the Jute woman Rowena; and the Jute chief Yorath. Cerdig, chieftain of the Saxons, is Arthur's main nemesis.
The series contains examples of:
- Actual Pacifist: Rolf the Preacher who tries to spread the message of peace to the Celts. When he explains the doctrine of 'turn the other cheek' to Mark of Cornwall, Mark slaps him hard across the face. Rolf's reaction is to literally turn the other cheek, and present it to Mark to be slapped.
- Artificial Limbs: Arthur's adoptive father Llud has a silver hand to replace one he lost in battle.
- Badass Preacher: Rolf the Preacher, who was very much of the "turn the other cheek" school of badassery. His willingness to do so against the rage of Mark of Cornwall (played by BRIAN BLESSED) earned him enough respect that Mark was willing to invite him in to his village to discuss his ideas.
- BRIAN BLESSED as Mark.
- Compilation Movie: A surprisingly well-done 90 minute direct-to-video movie, King Arthur, the Young Warlord.
- Dark Age Europe
- Excalibur in the Stone: Subverted. There is a sword which Arthur retrieves from under a stone but it's never named.
- Handicapped Badass: Llud the Silver-Handed.
- Historical Domain Character: Cerdic of Wessex, here called "Cerdig", is the leader of a group of Saxons in the west, which is also Arthur's territory.
- It Tastes Like Feet: One episode had Arthur attempting to unite two tribes. During a feast, he suggests the two tribes swap their bread. This almost leads to a riot as each side tries the other's bread and declares it to be 'frog spawn' or something similar.
- Only the Chosen May Wield: Arthur calls all the other Briton chiefs together and shows them a sword wedged under a stone. Whoever pulls the sword from under the stone shall lead them. All the other chiefs get to pushing and lifting the stone, and Arthur quickly grabs it before anyone else does. He also points out that he couldn't have retrieved it if they hadn't worked as one, but the lesson is lost among the squabbling chiefs.
- Turn the Other Cheek: When Rolf the Preacher explains the doctrine of 'turn the other cheek' to Mark of Cornwall, Mark slaps him hard across the face. Rolf's reaction is to literally turn the other cheek, and present it to Mark to be slapped. This impresses Mark enough that he invites Rolf into his fort to discuss his religion.
- We ARE Struggling Together: One of the biggest problems Arthur faces in attempting to unite the Celtic tribes against the Saxons is that the Celts are just as willing to fight each other as they are to fight the Saxons. Perhaps even moreso, due to ancient grudges.