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This is an account of the visit to Woodchester National Trust Park, where the early episodes of “Arthur of the Britons” were filmed in Summer 1972.

The event was organised by a fan of Oliver Tobias, Wendy Van Der Veen and this visit took place on Sunday 29 August. It was attended by Oliver Tobias, his brother Benedict Freitag, and a small group of fans of “Arthur of the Britons.”

We wanted to see where Arthur’s village had been sited, and to dedicate a tree to the late Michael Gothard, who starred as Kai in the series, alongside Oliver.
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michael_gothard_archive: (circa 1982)
Former girlfriend N.B.

"I knew he had bouts of depression even during the time we were together. He saw a therapist but not very regularly, but his illness got worse after we had split up.

I don’t know what medication he took, but I am absolutely sure that his suicide was an accident: a moment of weakness and total despair. Had he been able to overcome that moment, he would live to this day! He never said that he would kill himself."


Former girlfriend, M.T.

Per. Belsizepark, who met M.T. in 1999:
She [last] saw him five days prior his death. A friend found him in the morning, and his face looked relaxed. He used a rope.

Patients were shocked about his death; he helped so many.

He had a beautiful funeral service with jazz music; it was held at Golders Green Crematorium. M.T. arranged everything of the funeral and his estate. Jazz was played at his memorial service, which was held at Golders Green Crematorium.


Friend, Sean McCormick

"The first and biggest one of course would have to be, was he a victim of fluoxetine?

I've lost seven people of importance in my life to suicide; three of the deaths were directly linked to fluoxetine.

Michael's was the first one.

I'm not closed mouth on my feelings regarding fluoxetine, and the supposed professional pushers that hand the shit out like candy (it's very sad) without taking the time to figure out whether it's right for the person or not. And unfortunately, when they figure it out, it's too late.

It is my understanding that it had been prescribed to him, and he'd been off and on with it for some time. But he had stopped taking it because he (as in so many cases) absolutely hated the total zombie side-effect of the shit, and figured it would be better to be depressed and have your self back than to keep taking it and end up a door-stop.

In the two other deaths of friends of mine on fluoxetine, they too had stopped it because of the zombie-door-stop thing within weeks of killing themselves."


Oliver Tobias and Benedict Freitag

When dedicating a tree to Michael Gothard, Oliver said: “He was a sensitive man – perhaps too sensitive,” and spoke of remembering Michael holding his head on his lap when the spear had hit him, and he nearly died.

He also mentioned Jack Watson. He said he felt privileged to be the one left alive. Then, clearly affected, he drove the commemorative stake into the ground with considerable force.

Oliver’s brother, Benedict Freitag, who had once met Michael, (before ‘Arthur of the Britons’) and performed a Cheyenne ceremony at the site, said that Michael didn’t have the filters you need, to stop yourself feeling all the suffering going on in the world – “otherwise you give yourself the bullet.”

Though Oliver had gradually lost touch with Michael Gothard after filming the series, it seems likely that Michael’s death was the reason he had closed away the memory of ‘Arthur of the Britons.’


Director, John Glen

"I remember him as a very pleasant person as well as a fine actor ... I was shocked to hear of Michael's untimely death.”


Actress, Mathilda May

"I remember him as a lovely person; a gentleman ..."


“Batman” on Britmovie Forum

"Michael's career had hit a bit of a decline, but he had appeared on stage and had made two films (Christopher Columbus and Frankenstein) in the year prior to his death. He had suffered from depression most of his life and this, alongside personal problems, contributed to his early death. RIP Michael."
michael_gothard_archive: (wild)
This interview appeared in ‘X’-Films Vol.3 No 1. 1973.1 While it is more accurate, and contains less that is as demonstrably fake than the ‘interview’ in the German teen magazine “Bravo”, it contains some sections which are certainly made up, and others which seem to have been taken down incorrectly or misunderstood. Also, some of the words Michael is said to have used, such as “helluva”, and “movies” are not – according to A.S., who knew him well – in his idiom. He always said "film" or "picture". He would not have said "unprofessional part", but would have used the correct term of "non-professional part", and he wouldn't have said "'cause"... he would have said “because.” Sections which should definitely be treated with scepticism are annotated.

Interview with Michael Gothard

Michael, how did you become interested in acting as a career?

I went to acting school, but before that I originally became involved because a friend was making an amateur movie, auditioning a lot of professional out-of-work actors and actresses. He couldn’t find exactly what he wanted and I happened to be at the audition, so just for a laugh I auditioned with them and got the part. It was a typical ham movie – boy and girl walking in the park, etc. I think the new wave was very popular at that time – about ten years ago. [1962]

How long have you been acting professionally?

About 8½ years. I went to a place called the Actors Workshop, which in those days was at Baker Street, being run by an American. It was quite a good scene. The first unprofessional part I played was the movie I told you about, which, like most weekend movies, didn’t get finished. Nevertheless, I got some encouragement from these people while I was working with them, so I thought perhaps I should take acting a bit more seriously. At first I thought it was just an interesting thing to do.

What were you doing before that?

I was living in Paris for about a year, just bumming around if you like, just drifting about … I came back to England and met up with these people … I just did it for a laugh – as I was doing many things for a laugh. It only became serious when people started paying me money to do it. After all, I’d been broke for a long, long time.

So you’re not working for the moment?

No. I’m not really looking for work ’cause I was away for six months working on the Arthur of the Britons series. I came back to find a lot of things in a mess, so I can’t really work at the moment anyway. I’ve got a few things to sort out.

What’s acting like in this country at the moment?

The scene here at the moment is very quiet, and has been so for about three years or so.

How are you regarded in the trade?

A lot of people tend to consider me in some way – a word they’re fond of using – established – which to me is a joke. By established they mean I earn a regular living. Well let me tell you, to get yourself in a position where you can be absolutely sure that you work a certain number of months a year is really a very unique position to be in. I found that word very funny. I think you’re really not qualified to use that word unless you’re right at the top – if you’re a Burton or a Taylor or something. The whole thing is such a precarious sort of set up and even more so now than even a few years ago – in England, anyway. The Americans withdrew their finance 3 or 4 years ago and the film industry in this country really took a dive. Suddenly all those fat, well-paid technicians who always had permanent work suddenly found themselves in the same positions as the actors and actresses. The point I’m trying to make is that the situation in this country is so bad now that the technicians, who for years had a really nice piece of the cake, are now confronted with exactly the same situation as we are. That’s how bad it’s got over here.

The section above probably includes misquotations. A.S. suspects that Michael’s criticisms were actually aimed at "the fat cats", as he really respected "the workers", (carpenters, sparks, extras etc), and would never have been so derogatory about technicians, but would have happily been derogatory about “the suits”: producers and studio executives.

And yet, strangely enough, I’ve worked pretty consistently during this time. At the time of the boom – about six or seven years ago – when I was in the early stages of my career, I just couldn’t break in at all. I spent nearly two years out of work, during which time I did all sorts of insane things. I mean, the first job I ever did for money was a film, a 2½ hour colour feature. [Herostratus] I played the lead in it and I was on the screen from start to finish, so you could say it was a big part. The film didn’t have any success. It was experimental, a very strange thing. It had many qualities about it which just didn’t seem right. I spent a long period out of work after that, so I really started with a great flourish.

It was a helluva way to enter into oblivion. I couldn’t get into TV, I couldn’t even get an audition for theatre. But eventually I broke through and got into TV. From then on it was all right. I’ve hardly stopped working since.

So how did it all start?

It sounds like such a cliché. I was walking down the King’s Road on a Saturday morning with some friends, something I very rarely do. We went somewhere for a coffee. I was with a young lady actress who was doing very well at the time. I was sitting at this table and suddenly a young guy came up to me and said, “That gentleman over there wants to talk to you. He’s Philip Saville.” I didn’t know who Philip Saville was, but it turned out he was a television director.

We went for a walk down the King’s Road, chatting away all the while and he told me about a film he was making. Apparently he wasn’t looking for actors and didn’t even know I was one, but said he was looking for a young guy to play a part in a short film he was making for TV. When he realised I was an actor, we arranged an appointment for the following day.

His office was somewhere in Shepherd’s Bush. After being out of work for two years I was very edgy and easily offendable – in as much as I was quick to take insult. Somehow we got into one of those strange interviews. He was really trying to audition me via an interview, asking me very personal questions. I got progressively more annoyed and pissed-off. I thought, ‘Here we go, another little power trip. He’s enjoying himself at the expense of another out-of-work actor.’ I’d been through that scene so many times I was really ready for battle and, well, we ended up having a flaming row – and that was that! I didn’t see him again for quite a long time and I didn’t – needless to say – get the part in that film. Then a few months later I got a phone call. It was Philip Saville.

He said he could use me for something on television with Yvonne Mitchell – a superb actress – and we ended up doing a show called The Machine Stops, which went on to win a prize in the International Festivals, and that’s more or less how I got in, how I started work again.

When I was out of work we started a lunchtime theatre group in St Martin’s Lane, in the West End. There was no money in that – we just hoped these weren’t too many in the audience, so there’d be some sandwiches left! Nevertheless, I had to stick at it, because two years out of work devastates you – you’ve go to keep your hand in. It doesn’t matter really what you do, the important thing is to work. That’s why I did a few horror films. I didn’t consider it a bum part, any more than any other part of the entertainment industry. So I tried to do that as capably as I would do anything else. I sweated over that to get it right, as I did in more serious projects, like The Devils, for instance.

Which did you prefer?

Well, the horror film was more fun – great fun, in fact – but in terms of deeper satisfaction obviously The Devils was better, but it was a much harder thing to do.

I didn’t audition for Scream & Scream Again – they asked me to be in it.

Why did they choose you?

God knows –I really can’t remember how it came about. Maybe they chose me because I was considered a new approach to the problem. The first thing that Vincent Price said to me was, “Your flies are undone.” I thought, ‘Oh, man, what a corny gag!’ They pull that on every inexperienced actor. So, that was the sole extent of my relationship with Vincent Price. The way the film was scheduled, I didn’t have to work with him. It was a very physical part, running up mountains, etc. I did most of the stunts myself. On Arthur of the Britons we did all the stunts ourselves – riding horses and fighting. It was quite a rough show. We used to take turns being in hospital. Really, we tried to schedule it so we weren’t both in at the same time. Oliver ended up with a fractured skull and was in twice for x-rays.

According to A.S., Michael moaned a fair bit about being saddle-sore while filming “Arthur of the Britons”, but never injured himself.

Strange, that I get given all these wild, extrovert parts. The part in Arthur is of a crazy, wild guy – a Saxon – who’s sometimes melancholy, sometimes explosive and violent. I play quite a few parts like that. I suppose it coincides with my natural temperament. I try not to be temperamental as an actor, but it does happen. I’ve played such a wide variety of parts.

I remember Saville with affection, because it was through him I got into this work again (I was absolutely flat broke). When I completed that show I didn’t have a penny. Normally it takes quite a few weeks before you get paid. Anyway, the night we finished recording I went into my dressing room and there was an envelope with money in it. He knew I was broke and without saying anything he arranged for me to be paid that night – as soon as I was finished. But he was a fiery bastard to work with. He shouts, screams and curses, but he’s great – tremendous energy and enthusiasm. I haven’t worked with him for many years, but I remember him as I said, with great affection. It was my big break.

You were waiting for the big break?

No, I don’t think in those terms. For me, when I work, it’s just a job, and I want to be paid for it. I don’t want promises – “This is going to bring you more work; this is going to make your career” – I’m just not interested. I’m not working for that at all. I’m working to earn a living. I enjoy it, sure I do. I’m like a man who does a job and who expects to be paid a certain rate for it. I’m not interested in promises of a great future glory. I’ve hard all that crap for years. It really doesn’t impress me very much. The only thing that impresses me is when the cheque comes in.

But you enjoy acting?

It’s a helluva profession. There are lots of good moments in it. But it’s also a very savage scene. Actors are very vulnerable. They are the most vulnerable in the whole business. For a lot of people, it’s hopeless being an actor, but not really for me. I know what it’s like to feel hopeless. There’s no guarantee. When they talk about ‘being established’ – what the hell does that mean?

But you feel a bit more secure now?

At the moment. I suppose I’ve got an image for the kids. And, judging by some of the letters we get, we’ve made some impression on the emotional life of some of the young ladies of this country! I get funny letters like “You have the most ugly beautiful face I have ever seen” or “My friends think Arthur is prettier than you, but I prefer the way you walk.”

That show was the one I got the most public notice from. I also did another TV series five years ago, called “The Three Musketeers” [The Further Adventures of the Musketeers]. I was playing the villain in that, but I used to get more fan mail than the bloody hero! So, I had an image then, but I don’t know what it was. It just depends how much you’re in the public notice.

But what about “The Devils”?

Well, I get the impression that it’s helped my reputation in the business. It was, after all, a very celebrated film. For me, it was well publicised. I got 3rd or 4th billing. I did all sorts of things in the movie – tortured Oliver Reed, ended up burning him alive and chanting Latin prayer at him. It was an exhausting film – I enjoyed doing it. The Devils was more a mental pressure, by comparison.

For the last two months of Arthur we were knee-deep in snow and rain, so physically it was a much harder part. But Russell was a very exacting man to work for – everyone jumps around. It really challenges you. You’ve really got to get yourself together and concentrate. It’s good. You really feel you’ve accomplished something. That separates the amateurs from the professionals. There’s a lot of amateurs in the business who have no right to be there, but who get away with it – people who have never really studied, who approach it in a very casual sort of way, who take up space. When you work for Russell, you feel good, ’cause you know you’re being used as a professional.

At no point in “Arthur of the Britons” does a snow scene appear. Michael may have said “mud”, because there was plenty of that.

What less challenging roles have you played?

Parts in Department S, Armchair Theatre, Thirty Minute Theatre, Out of the Unknown and Fraud Squad..

Tell me more about “The Devils.”

I played a priest on the 17th century, a fanatic. I had to speak Latin as naturally as I speak English. I had to really work on that. I spent some time in a monastery with some monks to get that whole atmosphere. I studied pages on Latin and exorcism prayers – terribly difficult things to learn. It was agony – you have to learn it like a priest would. I suggested it. Russell fixed it up for me to get into this monastery. He understands how actors work, he’s so professional. He’ll give you all the help you need. I used to get prayer books in the mail, which is incredible. Any success that man has, he deserves.

A.S. is doubtful of the monastery visit, as she thought he was a not a "method" actor. His attitude was, ‘you are an actor, so ACT! You don't need to experience it.’

Do you prefer films to TV roles?

I prefer movies. I don’t like the idea of repeating performances. You can’t compare twenty takes to doing performances every night. With a take, you can alter it. As far as I’m concerned, the more takes the better. I could go on until the sun sets. I find it a really incredible luxury.

Clearly, the question Michael is answering here is, “Do you prefer film or live theatre”, not “Do you prefer films to TV roles?” He said something similar about not repeating oneself to The Runewriter.

Tell me more about your fans.

I had a letter the other day that said, “I’m giving up David Bowie for you!” I thought, well that really must be progress. That’s not bad, is it!

Tell me about your other work.

I’ve done nude scenes. I was playing my usual wild-extrovert-killer-rapist-romantic. Raping one lady with a burning brand between my legs and being quite romantic. With another, I leap after someone with a dagger.

I did a French picture last year in New Guinea – La Valleé. I’d love to go to the States to work. I’d love someone to say, “Come over and do a picture.” That would be a lovely way to go. It’s a country that seems to be slowly torn apart by its internal problems. It’s really got to change course. I don’t think it would be easy to break in there.

What do you think about agents?

My first agent was a disaster – a bad experience. That gave me such a bad feeling about them. Two years without work. I got my own work without an agent, through Philip Saville. William Morris asked me to join them. That was the happy ending. They have a big legal department, so we try to keep the endings as happy as possible.

Do you have other interests besides acting?

Music. I play flute, jam around with other guys. I enjoy good food and travelling which is mostly in my job. I’ve worked in Czechoslovakia, France, Australia, and the New Guinea jungle for a few months.

Do you answer fan mail?

I’ve only answered two fan letters over the years. Sometimes you get one that is so very original that you feel it might just be worth an answer. We don’t usually get to see them.

According to A.S., Michael got to see most, if not all, of his fan mail, and answered it. He was lovely with fans, always giving autographs. He insisted that he only had work because of the people who wanted to see him. She remembers helping by writing out the envelopes in which he would send his replies, and signed photos.

1 The exact publication date is not known.
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At a fan meeting in August 2010, Oliver Tobias spoke about the filming of “Arthur of the Britons.”

“Out of the blue, a memory which I had closed away … it’s quite emotional …”

When asked about the casting, he said that his and Michael Gothard’s audition consisted of them, and 4 horses – they had to ride various horses to the top of the hill and back together a number of times. Obviously the chemistry between them was an important factor, as well as horsemanship.

“They cast us for who we were at the time. We were allowed complete freedom as … how we were.”

He said that they improvised a lot of the action, and they weren’t given any direction on how to deliver any of their lines.

He remembered filming as having taken a year, though in reality it must have been closer to eight months. “We [Oliver Tobias, Michael Gothard and Jack Watson] more or less lived on set.”

During ‘The Challenge’, the third-filmed episode, in which Arthur (Oliver Tobias) and Kai (Michael Gothard) spend at least half of the episode fighting each other, they worked with Bristol’s champion javelin thrower on the spear-throwing scene.

Oliver thought he was young and athletic enough to jump out of the way in time, but he didn’t make it. The spear glanced off the inside of his shield instead of the outside, and hit him on the back of the head. “When it hit me it was like a ship running aground.”

He remembers looking around, and seeing Michael. Later he said Michael held his head in his lap. “Christ I’m lucky to be here – I nearly died during filming …”

He is said to have thought of Michael like a brother. He and Michael used to play tricks on each other, and to try and pile up mounds of earth to stand on, so they would be taller than the other. Oliver said that the stories were so harsh, they needed an outlet. The series was “like a war zone.”

However, he also said that of all his roles, he identifies most with Arthur.

When dedicating a tree to Michael Gothard, Oliver said: “He was a sensitive man – perhaps too sensitive,” and spoke of remembering Michael holding his head on his lap when the spear had hit him, and he nearly died. He also mentioned Jack Watson. He said he felt privileged to be the one left alive. Then, clearly affected, he drove the commemorative stake into the ground with considerable force.

Oliver’s brother, Benedict, who had once met Michael, (before ‘Arthur of the Britons’) and performed a Cheyenne ceremony at the site, said that Michael didn’t have the filters you need, to stop yourself feeling all the suffering going on in the world – “otherwise you give yourself the bullet.”

Though Oliver had gradually lost touch with Michael Gothard after filming the series, it seems likely that Michael’s death was the reason he had closed away the memory of ‘Arthur of the Britons.’
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Getting a job on ‘Arthur of the Britons’

By a series of total coincidences, (mainly running low on money in Bristol, England) I heard Harlech TV was having open casting sessions for the extras for the townspeople [for “Arthur of the Britons.”]

I got it, and worked 6 days a week until the end of the series. For me it was a paid graduate school, with plenty of time to watch the different methods of the rotating directors, and some very good character actors to bolster roster.



Gerry is the extra standing in the middle of the picture, immediately below Oliver Tobias (Arthur).
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Atmosphere on set

It seemed like there was much pressure to hit the short deadlines for a quick turn-around. The filming was extremely well organized and all the crew and actors created a friendly but always moving forward atmosphere.

… I remember hearing that was sometimes a B crew shooting cutaways and other footage at different locations to help keep things moving. It seemed to me that they were trying to keep to filming one a week and having a B Unit get any extra coverage needed to keep the pace up ...
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The cast

It was openly acknowledged that Michael Gothard added quality to the series and he was hired to bring up professional acting level. The word was that the producers were worried a bit that the young star, Oliver Tobias, was too new, and not that experienced, although … Tobias did a really good job as it turned out.

On set Oliver was always the most quiet of the three main characters. As the lead, he had the biggest responsibility and he was the youngest. While waiting, he seemed to keep it very serious. He was always very courteous to everyone. It was my impression that the three lead actors liked each other very much.
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Stunts

From the parts that I observed it was always Oliver and Michael doing everything without stuntmen. When there was a group of riders I believe some of those others were stuntmen. Oliver and Michael were always doing their own riding from the parts I could observe. They both were very good at it.

I don't recall any stunt people standing in for either of them. For that matter, extras would get an extra £2 for the day if they were involved in something like that. I remember once Blessed had to rampage through the village knocking people out of his way, the director picked me to be thrown by him over his shoulder, and that take was done at least five or six times.

Getting to know Michael

Having already worked in TV in NY before I left, I already knew to never bother the actors; they need their space to think about their lines, get into the character, etc. Always wait until spoken to and stay on business unless someone else brings up another topic.

But somehow, Michael Gothard began talking with me, and found out I had just been travelling about Europe, much as he did some years earlier. During that period, we hit the pubs a few times.”
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On Michael and his girlfriend

In “Some Saxon Women” I am in quite a few shots, but more interestingly there are good shots of the young woman that Michael was seeing ... at the scene starting at 7:00 where the two men look over the Saxon women that are chained up.


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On Michael

It was a time of discovery for people willing to travel to really delve into a culture and take risks. I think "La Vallee" expresses that for Michael, and he liked that film very much.

As an example of this, Michael was different than, let’s say, Oliver Tobias or Brian Blessed. One small example would be that the latter two would never talk with extras …
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In conclusion

When I put the first DVD episode on I was very happy to see that it really was a great show. It was also sad to think that Michael Gothard left this life far too soon …

It is amazing how popular and long lasting ‘Arthur of the Britons’ has been. Many of the Brits and Aussies that I have known here in the US remember the show very fondly and vividly. It is an incredible testament to the actors, writers, producers, etc.

* with regard to Brian Blessed:

I (Joya) met Brian Blessed on 23/10/2011, talked to him about 'Arthur of the Britons', and showed him some pictures of us dedicating a tree to Michael.

Brian hadn't been aware that Michael had died: hardly surprising he missed the news, given how little coverage it got at the time. I told Brian that Michael had killed himself in 1992. He became serious, and said that he was sorry, and that Michael had been depressed when he knew him, and that Michael had confided in him over some of his problems.

It seems possible that, as someone who already knew Michael, and seems to have considered him a friend, Brian's disapproval of the extras getting a ride in the stars’ car was due to the suspicion that these extras were just taking advantage of Michael.

When I suggested this to Gerry, he agreed that it was possible.

.
michael_gothard_archive: (wild)
In the poster shown below, Michael Gothard's Kai has been depicted looking very much like Hansen in "The Last Valley", not clean-shaven as he actually appeared in "Arthur of the Britons." The artwork must have been from quite an early stage in the production, before Kai's appearance had been decided upon.

HTV publicity 1 small

The poster below shows scenes from some of the earliest episodes filmed: "Arthur is Dead", "Daughter of the King", "The Challenge", "The Gift of Life", and "The Penitent Invader."

HTV publicity 3 small
michael_gothard_archive: (Default)
A new ‘Arthur.’

On 15 June 1972, ‘The Stage’ reported that HTV West was to spend £500,000 on “a new adventure series", and by 17 August 1972, that "Filming ... is now taking place."

‘Arthur of the Britons’ was a re-telling of the story of King Arthur, with some big differences: no shining armour; no castle – just a well-defended village, and Arthur, played by Oliver Tobias, wasn’t a king, but a wily Celtic chieftain, struggling to unite his people against Saxon invaders.

Michael Gothard was cast in one of the lead roles, that of Kai, a Saxon whom Arthur calls ‘brother.’ They were backed up by their adoptive father, Llud of the Silver Hand, played by Jack Watson.
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Shooting “Arthur of the Britons” on location.

Filming took place over about 8 months, from June 1972. The first few episodes were shot at Woodchester in Stroud, but the main village set was then moved to Woollard, on the River Chew. Individual episodes were also shot in the Blackdown Hills, the Mendips, on the River Severn, and at Black Rock Quarry, Cheddar Gorge.

According to the Executive Producer, Patrick Dromgoole, the actors in lead roles stayed in hotels or apartments leased for them for the duration, mostly in Bristol, though it seems possible that some of the cast, on occasion, unofficially spent the night in their location caravan.

Michael Gothard as ‘Kai.’

For the first and only time in his career, Michael Gothard played an action hero, and he played it well.

As a Saxon adopted by a Celt, and living among them, often fighting his own people, Kai was sometimes conflicted, but he was neither a social outcast, a political or religious fanatic, a criminal, nor a psychopath. He was a reliable lieutenant, and a good and loyal friend, to Arthur.

This was also one of the few occasions when the character Michael played gets to smile, and have some fun that isn’t at someone else’s expense, in between being forced into situations where he has to fight to survive.

As for how he got the role – the Executive Producer, Patrick Dromgoole had seen him in 'The Last Valley", but the choice of Michael to play Kai seems to have been thanks to Peter Sasdy, the Director of the two pilot episodes, ‘Arthur is Dead’, and ‘Daughter of the King.’

In correspondence, he says: “… I had very little time during pre-production, but I was happy with the casting of the main characters”, “Oliver Tobias was already cast before I was asked to direct the first episode and on casting the final decision was always – and with my full backing! – in the hands of Patrick Dromgoole.”

“As far as Michael Gothard is concerned … I cast him because I thought of him as a very interesting actor, with strong personality and in the right part he’d always give a good performance. He was rather a private person and because of this I didn’t get to know him beyond the set.”

In August 2010, when Oliver Tobias was asked about the casting, he said that his and Michael’s audition consisted of them, and four horses. Together, they had to ride different horses to the top of the hill and back, a number of times.

“They cast us for who we were at the time. We were allowed complete freedom … Each has a chemistry.” He also said that they improvised a lot of the action.

Of the scripts, Patrick Dromgoole said: “We had enough to start filming, but made a lot of changes according to the performances of the actors and what seemed to make a successful episode as we went along” – so the initial choice of cast was vital to the success and long-lasting appeal of the series.

Trivia: Michael often wears the same studded tunic as Kai in “Arthur of the Britons”, as he wore in “The Last Valley.”

.

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