British neo-folk art has seen a renaissance in recent years, and now TV and radio are getting in on the act with psychedelic takes on Albion’s folklore
The problem with historical dramas is they are stuck in the past. Which is why Jez Butterworth hasn’t made a historical drama. Of course, Britannia (which starts on Sky Atlantic, 18 January) is loosely based on the events surrounding the second Roman invasion of Britain in 43 AD. But regarding it as a literal attempt to tell that story would be akin to regarding The Wicker Man as the story of a missing child.
Robin Hardy’s cult masterpiece was a story of neurotic orthodoxy colliding with something stranger and wilder. And Britannia similarly upsets conventional assumptions, taking British restraint and moderation into a dusky glade, ramming hallucinogenic mushrooms down its gullet and waiting for its darkest, most fanciful imaginings to spew out.