The widly successful Vikings TV series is set to roll again in November with another ten episodes of part five (totalling 20). Yesterday, along with a small handful of other journalists, I met up with Morgan O’Sullivan, the show’s Executive Producer, at Ashford Studios, Ashford, Co. Wicklow, Ireland. Michael Hirst, who came up with the idea (here’s an interesting interview he gave with BBC’s History Magazine on how he came up with the idea) for the series and is its only writer, would join us in the evening.
Morgan and Manus Hingerty, a remarkable location manager who works frequently with Michael and Morgan, accompanied us on a wonderful tour of shooting locations that Vikings fans will instantly recognise.
At Ashford Studios, they took us to meet clothes designers and weapons manufacturers in their workshops. We strolled through the Viking village, with timber houses, half-completed ships and nets for fishing, next to the set for scenes in Russia. And Manus introduced us to a fair few gruesome severed heads typically used in the show - and which were astonishingly lifelike.
In Morgan O’Sullivan, Ireland surely owes a huge debt of gratitude for pushing through the creation of a now flourishing film industry - with plenty of government help and generous tax cuts. Ireland can surely have no better ambassador.
Morgan and Michael joined us for dinner in the evening, and along with Canadian actor Eric Johnson (who won’t be seen until series six), regaled us with tales, stories and anecdotes. As well as a host of other dramas to his name, many people will already know that Michael also penned the equally successful The Tudors and Elizabeth: The Golden Age.
Interestingly, and not related to filming, Michael revealed that he once had a trial to play for Leeds United, back when Don Revie was in charge and the club was successful. His father wasn’t so enthusiastic about his son becoming a footballer and instead wanted him to do something a bit more academic (Michael’s son is also a talented footballer, who might make his way in the professional game). He went to Oxford but ended up going in his own direction, writing historical TV series.
Michael also revealed to us that earlier that morning, there had been a great deal of emotion down at the beach as the last scene for the whole series (seven) was shot amidst a beautiful sunrise (shooting continues until Friday but yesterday was the final scene). Vikings fans still have series six and seven to look forward to, but, as Michael explained, it is the perfect time to finish.
The story is at its natural end, with the Vikings North America. While both Michael and Morgan are delighted to go out when the series is still hugely successful, they both also can’t wait to get going on their next projects - probably Caesers, they told us, with Martin Scorsese.
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