If there’s anything that die-hard fans and those who can’t abide Game of Thrones have in common, it’s that they’ve all been left high and dry without the series and its must-watch every episode draw, so here are five suggestions for similar shows to fill the void:
1. The Hollow Crown. It’s common knowledge that the War of the Roses was one of George R. R. Martin’s greatest sources of inspiration for GoT. Swap the Lannisters for the Lancasters and the Starks for the Yorks and sit back and enjoy this excellent adaptation of the two Shakespearean tetralogies. A cast that includes names like Benedict Cumberbatch (playing a magnificent Richard III), Tom Hiddleston, Ben Whishaw, Jeremy Irons and Sophie Okonedo, among many others, an impeccable visual style and you’ve got the very best of BBC bar none.
2. Vikings. If what you loved most about Game of Thrones were the battles, then look no further than Vikings. Although not quite as polished and cinematic as GoT, they are truly brutal. The siege of Paris will quench your thirst for swordfights and split skulls and have you screaming “shield wall!” at you TV screen non-stop. In addition, the Viking culture, which is very well represented in the series, is fascinating. Another smaller game alternative is The Last Kingdom. And if you’re thirst for blood remains unsatisfied, then we recommend Spartacus.
3. Roma. Before Game of Thrones, HBO (in a BBC and RAI co-production) had already offered us a series whose central theme is ambition for power. This crude portrait of the life in Ancient Rome disfigured the image of the ‘sword-and-sandal’ genre and conquered us with the tale of two legionaries who carry the narrative weight of the series as we witness how their lives intertwine with historical events. Julio César is played by Ciarán Hinds, who was later to be cast as Mance Rayder in Game of Thrones.
4. Wolf Hall. If for you the highlights from Game of Thrones were the political goings-on and you miss the dialogues between Varys and Littlefinger, then get thee hence to Filmin to watch this British series about a Machiavellian Thomas Cromwell and his deeds at the court of Henry VIII. With Mark Rylance in the leading role, Damien Lewis playing the monarch and Claire Foy, now well known for The Crown, playing Anne Boleyn, this is some excellent screenwriting by Peter Kosminsky set in a truly realistic backdrop.
5. Gunpowder. Still pining for that sense of injustice that had you seething with the early seasons of Game of Thrones? Then, this miniseries just might be what the doctor ordered as it retells the story of persecution of Catholics in 17th century England. Starring Jon Snow himself (actor Kit Harington) in the role of Robert Catesby and who plans to blow up Parliament. The miniseries vindicates the role of this character in a tale that in the popular imagination is associated with Guy Fawkes.
6. The Bastard Executioner. Ok, we may have lowered the bar here somewhat with this failed series that only lasted for one season, more than likely because it dragged the heavy burden of actor Lee Jones’ uncharismatic portrayal. However, this attempt by Kurt Sutter, creator of Sons of Anarchy, to make a medieval series has plenty of elements akin to Game of Thrones, beginning with a very Jon Snow-like protagonist who’s intent on living a quiet life and going unnoticed, and then continuing with a journey through an extremely cruel world, complete with sadistic antagonists and high-octane scenes of violence.