With the TV series Vikings about to air its sixth and final season starting December 30th on Amazon Prime Video, I recently spoke to creator and writer of every episode Michael Hirst about making the hugely successful show. During the wide-ranging conversation he shared a number of great behind-the-scenes stories and talked about why he thinks the final season is the best one yet and his reasons for ending the show even while it’s still so popular. In the coming days I’ll post the entire conversation, but for now, I wanted to share what he said about the upcoming Vikings sequel series, Vikings: Valhalla, which he is executive producing.
If you haven’t heard about Vikings: Valhalla, the series was created by Jeb Stuart, will be airing on Netflix sometime in 2021, and is set a hundred years after the end of Vikings. According to Hirst, the popularity of Vikings around the world is what drove Netflix to make a new series. He said:
“Apparently, they just said, ‘Look, we’re not even going to filter out content, we just looked at your audience figures, where you are across the world, and we’d be stupid not to do it.’ So it is a tribute to what was achieved over the last seven years.”
Of course, a hundred years later means all the characters fans have come to love on Vikings have died. But Hirst says that doesn’t mean they are forgotten.
“What Jeb [Stuart] does actually is he pays attention to the mythology of the Vikings. So whenever they meet in the great hall in Kattegat, and of course they talk about the great eras who used to sit in the same hall at the same table, and they were Ragnar Lothbrok, Lagertha, and Bjorn Ironside, and Ivar the Boneless, who are now mythic characters even within the show, even within Vikings: Valhalla. That’s a really great connection and effect. It gives ready-made histories to the new show. So you don’t need to know who Ragnar is to watch the new show. But it enriches the show and it hopefully will make people go back and find out, ‘Well who are these people they keep talking about? Was Ragnar so great? Why are these people mythic characters?’ So everything connects in a useful, and interesting, and fascinating way.”
What’s cool about this is you don’t have to have seen any episodes of Vikings to enjoy the sequel series, but if you have seen Vikings, you’ll know a lot more about the characters they are talking about and why they are so revered.
So who exactly are some of the characters that will be featured on Vikings: Valhalla? Hirst says:
“It involves Harald Hardrada, and Eric the Red, and perhaps some slightly more familiar Viking names.”
With the series set to air next year, I was curious where they were in the production and how COVID had impacted filming. Hirst said:
“They’ve shot the first season in Ireland, back at the same studio in remarkable circumstances. They had like 30 COVID workers. They took over a big hotel so they could quarantine all the actors. They tested them twice a day. It was a remarkable achievement. They only lost three days. I just have a kind of oversight, I’m not writing any of it myself. I’m an Executive Producer. But Jeb Stuart, of course, he’s much more a thriller writer and that shows. So it will look different, but it’s still good, really good from what I’ve seen of it so far.”
We then talked about the scale and scope of Valhalla to Vikings, and if the sequel series would be bigger. Hirst said:
“It couldn’t be on a greater scale than the final episodes of my Vikings. Because the armies and the big battles we had… You really can’t get much bigger than that, actually. But what can I say? It is being made in the same places, a lot of it. We go back to Kattegat. That, of course, is the spiritual home of the Vikings. But it’s a changed Kattegat. It’s an established… It’s one of the biggest ports really, trading ports in Europe. It’s grown in size and significance.The King of England has become a Viking. The Vikings have overrun most of England and they own Normandy. In that sense, considering where we came from in my show, they’ve established themselves on the world stage big time. But the same conflict between Christian and Pagan has become an internal conflict, because a lot of Viking Kings have converted to Christianity. So there is a perpetual conflict and huge warfare between Christian and Pagan Vikings. That’s different for my show. Of course when the enemy, the Christians, were different people they were sacrificial. But now, as Floki feared, the Christians are overcoming the pagans.”
With the series set to air in 2021, I’d imagine we will start to get even more information soon. As a fan of what Hirst accomplished with Vikings, I’m very curious what Jeb Stuart will do with Vikings: Valhalla and can’t wait to check it out.
Look for my full interview with Michael Hirst soon.
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