The History Channel has ordered a full-series of ‘Vikings’, the Irish co-produced 10-part series which is due to begin pre-production next month. The series, which will chronicle the world of the Norsemen during medieval times, will be the first scripted drama to air on the cable network TV channel and will also be the first to make use of Joe O’Connell’s newly-built Ballyhenry Studios in Ashford, Co Wicklow, which has been constructed for a reported cost of €22m.
An international Ireland-Canada co-production involving Morgan O’Sullivan’s World 2000 (The Tudors, Camelot), ‘Vikings’ will be shot in Ireland and throughout northern Europe, with an air date penciled-in for summer 2013.
The series will cast the Viking legend as a family drama, chronicling the exploits of historical figure Ragnar Lothbrok and his band of Viking brothers as Lothbrok rises to become king of the Viking tribes.
Speaking to IFTN, Morgan O’Sullivan said: “We’re delighted by the news. We’re more or less up and running but we still have yet to put in place directors and cast and things like that. It’s at the very early stages. We’ve been in pre-pre-production, you might say, for the last three or four months and we hope to enter pre-production in April with shooting to take place in Ashford in late June or early July.”
O’Sullivan added: “It’s the first time that the History Channel has commissioned a scripted series, and so it’s a huge move for them. Myself and Michael Hirst have always been very fond of the History Channel. That’s not to say we don’t love our friends at Showtime either, but we did say that we’d love to one day do something on History. Michael, particularly, would have felt that, as obviously he’s a huge passion for history. So it’s great, but its early stages.”
‘Vikings’, once again, sees O’Sullivan bring a major budget TV production from creator Michael Hirst to Ireland. With a budget of €30m ($40m), it follows on from the Hirst-scripted and O'Sullivan-produced TV productions, ‘Camelot’ and ‘The Tudors’, both of which were made at Wicklow’s Ardmore Studios. The ‘Vikings’ shoot is expected to last until the beginning of November.
Canada’s Take 5 Productions will co-produce the series while MGM will distribute it outside of Ireland and Canada. World 2000 will retain the Irish distribution rights.
History president and general manager Nancy Dubuc described the project as “an amazing crossroads for History embarking on our first scripted series.”
She added: "We will explore the mysteries of the Vikings, the adventures they took and the people who led them. And we will start to understand a past that is very much part of our collective DNA today."