Dark Ages. Gudrun (Phill Jupitus). Image credit: Granada Productions.

Dark Ages

It's AD 999, the turn of a new Millennium, and the villagers of Sludgwicke are living in filth. The life of Thane Redwald is really no better

1999  (ITV)
5 (1 series)
Phill Jupitus, Dave Lamb, Paul Putner, Mike Hayley, Alistair McGowan, Pauline McLynn, Sheridan Smith, Laurence Howarth, Jason Byrne
Rob Grant, Merle Nygate
Granada Productions

It is AD 999. A new Millennium approaches the peoples of Britain, and no one is quite sure what it may hold.

When Thane Redwald falls in love with the beautiful daughter of a local stone mason, the hapless Gudrun finds himself promoted to a position of responsibility. A position that he neither wants, nor is suited to.

As the country faces Viking invasion, Gudrun is ordered by Redwald to raise armies, and construct great celebrational buildings for the local Earl. But despite the money from his new position allowing him to purchase a slave of his own, Gudrun merely wishes to keep his head down, share some drinks with his dimwitted friends, and look after his beloved cow, Dolly.

Our Review: Although historical sitcoms have proved to be some of the most enduringly popular that Britain has ever produced - from Dad's Army to 'Allo 'Allo! and Blackadder - the potential sparks present in Dark Ages never ignited. Despite a fantastic cast, a much-respected writer and great production values, the magic just didn't happen.

Satirising contemporary issues from the Millennium Dome to the Millennium Bug, superstitious old women proclaiming the end of the world and ridiculous hierarchies of responsibility passing the blame between each other, Dark Ages is definitely an interesting watch, and at times highly entertaining - but funny; not particularly. A great shame.