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Look! A Morris dancer! Anjli Mohindra as Grace Narayan in The Red King. (Credit: Alibi)

Who are the Morris Dancers in The Red King?

Who are the Morris dancers in The Red King, the new series on Alibi? Why are they there, where did they come from, and are they behind the disappearance of the missing teenager? Mossy Christian explains...

Described as, “a character-driven mystery-thriller, combining a powerful story of a knotty police investigation with chilling, atmospheric folk-horror through the island’s eerie past devotion to a pagan God called the Red King and the cult of the True Way”, Alibi’s new show sounds like something Tradfolk should be covering.

Not only that, but eagle-eyed viewers of the trailer released earlier this month might well have noticed a Morris side dancing in one of the opening shots. Obvious question, then: who are The Red King Morris dancers, and why do they feature so prominently?

We’re pleased to say that Mossy Christian has been in touch to tell us he was actually one of the Morris dancers appearing in the show, and that he could give us a bit of insight into who they all are, where they come from and what filming was like.

“Around this time last year, Newcastle-based Black Gate Morris were approached along with other teams to be involved in a new series called The Red King, produced by Quay Street Productions in association with ITV Studios, to be filmed in the North East.

“The final lineup of dancers included five members of Black Gate Morris, two from the rapper team Star and Shadow, and one all the way from Edinburgh’s Mons Meg.

“Not having heard the music for the scene until the first day, the dancers rose to the challenge and quickly fitted three figures of Bampton to the soundtrack – especially impressive given at least some of those from the other teams had never danced Cotswold Morris before!

Black Gate Morris

“The kit worn by the dancers in the series was carefully curated between the team, Wardrobe, and Production, featuring Black Gate Morris’ own bells, baldricks, and distinctive red hankies, with the usual black and white logo featuring the Black Gate of Newcastle carefully replaced by the costume department with a symbol from the folklore of the series.

We must have danced those three figures of Bampton well over a hundred times

Mossy Christian

“Slightly less carefully-curated were the flower garlands worn by the team in the series, which were a last-minute addition just before the first take… perhaps Production had been inspired by the Boss Morris appearance at the Brits a few months before?

“Over the course of two filming days in the Northumbrian coastal villages of Embleton and Craster, the dancers must have danced those three figures of Bampton well over a hundred times, but remained largely in good spirits, despite two of the team (who shall remain nameless) being harshly reprimanded by a runner when seen coming out of the pub at the end of the lunchtime break…

“With a host of well-known faces including Anjili Mohindra, Adjoa Andoh, Marc Warren and Jill Halfpenny, why not tune in tonight to find out what befalls the isle of St Jory and what happened to the missing teenager; was it all down to those meddling Morris dancers?

Black Gate Morris performing in Sheffield.

“Meanwhile the real Black Gate Morris will be dancing out on Wednesday nights around the North East this summer, as well as performing at festivals including Todmorden, Durham, and Saltburn.”

You can catch The Red King tonight on Alibi at 9pm. All episodes available to stream on Sky, Virgin and Now. Judging by the trailer, I’m sure there will be more folk-related surprises to come. It all looks a bit Wicker Man, don’t you think?