Last Dragonslayer: why it’s essential Christmas viewing

The cast and crew of Sky1’s The Last Dragonslayer reveal all

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Those of you who are already looking ahead to their festive TV-viewing plans can stop now, as Sky1 will air their film adaptation of Jasper Fforde’s fantasy novel The Last Dragonslayer on Christmas Day.

For those of you who are unfamiliar, it’s a family adventure starring newcomer Ellise Chappell as 15-year-old Jennifer Strange, who is tasked with the unenviable deed of killing the last surviving dragon in the UnUnited Kingdoms.

Director Jamie Magnus Stone explained how they cast the leading lady: “Ellise sent in a self-taped audition, and we brought her in off the back of that. Before that she was working in a coffee shop in North London.” He goes on to talk more about how he created the specific world in which the book is set, “It was such a fun world to flesh out. As the script developed we were able to develop and reinterpret parts from the book. I find it an intrinsically funny world where magic has always existed in the traditional sense, but nobody cares anymore.

“People are more amazed by microwaves or nylon. It’s a lovely subversion of what your traditional fantasy world is. We ended up with one foot in medieval aesthetic, and that decided all our buildings should feel old. We skipped over the industrial revolution and went straight to 50s-80s technology.”

John Bradley (Game Of Thrones) takes on the role of Gordon, a character who Jasper Fforde reveals, “Came about quite late in the writing of the book. I finished it and was thinking there was something missing, so I came up with Gordon. [The book] had been rejected like 19 times already.” Bradley explains that he was drawn to the role of Gordon because of the differences between roles he has taken before. “With Gordon, you have a guy who’s in possession of all the facts, and he’s very confident in his delivery of the facts. He’s got a kind of military precision about him. There’s no grey areas and he’s incredibly direct. I’ve never played anything like that before.”

George Webster as Sir Grifflon
George Webster as Sir Grifflon in Sky1’s The Last Dragonslayer.

George Webster (Tripped), who plays Sir Grifflon, explained how he approached his character. “My instinct for him is that he was this sort of Justin Bieber figure who everybody really adored, but he’s got this dark streak. His hair is magnificent and he’s always signing things.” Ricky Tomlinson (The Royle Family), who also appears in the film, had never worked with CGI technology before, stating, “It was quite difficult, because I’ve only just learnt how to text!” As a large chuckle explodes from him, he exclaims “Seriously!”

The design of the dragon Maltcassion was partly inspired by Vermithrax Pejorative from Matthew Robbins’ 1981 film Dragonslayer, but Stone also says, “We looked at animals like lions. Big cats were an influence early on. Jennifer is meant to slay him and there’s a moral quandary within the film where she, for lots of reasons doesn’t want to and it feels like he’s the last white tiger.”

Richard E Grant provides the voice for Maltcassion, who Stone reveals “he had to wear a tennis helmet with a GoPro as well, so his facial performance is captured within the dragon.” Should be interesting.

The Last Dragonslayer will air on Christmas Day on Sky1. For all the latest TV news, pick up the new issue of SciFiNow.