Skip to main content
Actor portraying Charles II rides his horse and wearing crown

What's coming up on 'Royal Kill List'

Starring Sheila Atim, Jared Harris and Joseph Fiennes, Royal Kill List tells the story of a remarkable and often overlooked period of British history.

Image: Royal Kill List

Royal Kill List is a brand-new Sky HISTORY Original series which tells an epic story of bloody revenge during a pivotal period of English history.

The three-part documentary drama travels back to the 17th century and follows King Charles II as he hunts for his father’s killers – the Regicides. Royal Kill List is a window into a remarkable and often overlooked historical period to explore how Britain became the nation it is today. It’s a tale of espionage, power, loyalty, retribution and of the events that changed the landscape of British politics and society forever.

With dramatic reconstructions and three of Britain’s leading actors as primary storytellers – Sheila Atim for the Royalists, Jared Harris for the Regicides, and Joseph Fiennes for King Charles II – this epic series plays out as a Jacobean tragedy. It details the king's lifelong obsession to hunt down and kill those responsible for his father’s death and his own exile.

Speaking ahead of the new series, Shiela Atim said: 'I’m so glad to be a part of Royal Kill List. I’m a big fan of Sky HISTORY’s fresh and engaging take on historical storytelling. The show breathes new life into these seismic British events. I learned more about just how brutal and relentless the campaign to punish the Regicides was, but also the wider cost to all those involved in the lengthy and vengeful plan - a cautionary tale for us all.’

Portraits of Atim, Harris and Fiennes were exclusively shot for Royal Kill List by renowned photographer Rankin.

Royal Kill List airs Tuesdays at 9pm on Sky HISTORY. The full series is now available on demand to Sky and Virgin customers.

Jared Harris holding a skull, Sheila Atim holding a sword and Joseph Fiennes holding a crown
Image: Sheila Atim (C), Jared Harris (L) and Joseph Fiennes (R) act as narrators | Royal Kill List

Royal Kill List Episode Guide

Episode 1 – The Death Warrant

Actors portraying Edward Hyde (L) and Charles II (R)
Image: Edward Hyde (R) and Charles II (R) | Royal Kill List

In 1649, 59 men sign Charles I’s death warrant and he is beheaded in front of a crowd in London. It is the first and only time that a reigning English monarch is executed and the shockwaves reverberate across Europe. His eldest son and heir, Charles Stuart, is forced into exile where he vows revenge against the men who murdered his father.

A decade later, in 1660, England is reeling from an experiment in Republicanism. Rebellion, religious extremism and regime change have left the country divided. When Republican figurehead Oliver Cromwell dies, it leaves a power vacuum and the threat of civil war.

After exile, Charles II is invited to restore the monarchy. He returns riding a wave of populism, promising mercy to his family’s enemies. Of the 59 signatories of Charles I’s death warrant, only seven will be executed. As the hunt for these seven men begins, Regicides like Edmund Ludlow and his wife Elizabeth face a dilemma: trust the king’s promise of forgiveness or go on the run.

When the death warrant is finally found, Charles’ public display of forgiveness makes way for a private vendetta. He is no longer satisfied with executing just seven men. He now decides to go after them all.

Episode 2 – Chaos and Rebellion

Actor portraying Edmund Ludlow
Image: Edmund Ludlow | Royal Kill List

Seven months into his reign and Charles II is facing backlash for his treatment of the Regicides. He believes that, as king, he needs to be both feared and loved, so he cracks down on dissenters whilst simultaneously organising a lavish coronation that he hopes will cement his rule. As the coronation approaches, Charles learns that some of the most feared Regicides have fled abroad where they are already spreading their Republican ideas.

Charles’ lavish lifestyle, the coronation and his vendetta against the Regicides are starting to catch up with him. Unwilling to give any of these up, Charles resorts to desperate measures to keep himself and his manhunt afloat.

Ludlow makes a dangerous journey across France to reach the safety of Republican Switzerland whilst his wife looks after their affairs in England. In Switzerland, he is joined by a powerful ally, Algernon Sidney. Together they vow to take down Charles.

Far from bringing Charles the security he seeks, his vendetta only rallies his enemies against him, while he slips further into despotism.

Episode 3 – Absolute Power

Actors portraying Barbara Villiers (L) and Charles II (R)
Image: Barbara Villiers (L) and Charles II (R) | Royal Kill List

Charles’ popularity reaches an all-time low. At home, his marriage to a Catholic bride has unleashed anti-Catholic sentiment in the public, meanwhile on the continent, the Regicides are gathering forces to unseat him. Ludlow and Sidney set out in search of the money and manpower to launch an invasion of England.

Having lost the support of both the public and parliament, Charles needs to gain financial independence. His greed spawns a trade network that lays the foundations for the British Empire and marks the beginning of the English slave trade. However, his colonial project brings him into direct conflict with the Dutch and French superpowers.

Charles dispatches assassins to Europe, but as he attempts to stamp his power abroad, at home his authority begins to unravel when his Queen publicly challenges him. As the hollowness of his populism becomes apparent, Charles secretly sells out to England’s old enemy – accepting payments from the French King that give him independence from Parliament. Charles descends into a spiral of hedonism.

In this vacuum of legitimacy, his Republican enemies regroup and turn their attention to winning the battle of ideas. Within five years the Stuart dynasty is overthrown, and Parliament reasserts its right and the right of the people to be ruled by popular consent.

Charles may have killed the Regicides, but it is their Republican ideas which endure and shape the modern Britain we live in today.

Royal Kill List airs Tuesdays at 9pm on Sky HISTORY.