Top critical review
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on 7 March 2011
Arthur of the Britons is a series of enjoyable stories about a circa 500AD young tribal chief version of the legendary Arthur, told amidst some damp, green BBC forest, marsh, and farmland. It is a reminder of 70s television production values and how much we, the viewers of the time, used our imaginations to embellish the viewing experience.
I bought the series to show a Yr 8 English class as part of a Medieval study theme and they delighted in pointing out all the little technical issues that are in stark contrast with modern CGI-enhanced TV - for example, the wide-view fight sequences that reveal how unrealistic the swordplay was, the sheepskins worn by evil Saxons to help tell the good warriors from the bad, the jerky scene changes and Thunderbird-style dramatic music, the conveniently 70s-rockband-length hair on Tobias (while being clean-shaven of course) etc etc.
Despite these minor drawbacks for media-snob teens, the story lines are interesting and give food for discussion - for example, compare this simple, dirty village version of the Arthur story with the highly developed romantic Arthur of the shining knights and the majestic castles; note how events may grow in the telling into legends that are far greater than the poor, basic, and ordinary reality they were based upon.
Buy it as an educational tool - for Media Studies as much as History. Buy it as a fun reminder of your youthful TV journey, and to watch the episodes you missed in the days when you couldn't text home and ask someone to record it for you.