Wednesday, March 07, 2007


Roman Gladiators, originally uploaded by CharlesFred.

In line with the general dumbing down and Disney-fication of the world, you can now see Roman Gladiators walking around the Colosseum. A Colosseum, mind you, for which you have to pay a colossal amount to enter and walk around, sharing it with crowds of other people who have paid the same. Much better in the 'olden days' in the 1980's, say, when we (the family) used to live in Rome, when it was almost empty of tourists and it was free to enter. Oh well!

In 1976, the BBC made what is perhaps the best drama series they have ever made, namely "I, Claudius", a dramatisation of the book of the same name by Robert Graves. The series was typified by excellent acting, great dialogues, simple sets and wonderful drama. There was Derek Jacobi as the stammering stuttering Claudius, Sian Phillips as the evil scheming Livia, Brian Blessed as the great Augustus, George Baker as the sad and troubled Tiberius and very memorably John Hurt as the mad and twisted Caligula as well as a host of other marvellous actors and actresses.

More recently, the BBC joined up with the American HBO to make a series, ROME, about the time of Julius Caesar and the immediate aftermath, a time of Marc Anthony and Octavian (the young Augustus). The actors and actresses are almost all British whilst the writers are all American and the series was filmed in Italy. It is said to have been the most expensive television series ever made and it looks it, with lavish sets and outdoor photography and, I must say, that for me, the series really works. High drama, albeit highly fictionalised, the drama concerns not only the upper, political classes of Rome, but also the common people and the soldiers and slaves and so on. It is really quite excellent, but then without maybe the poise of I Claudius. Anyway, it is highly recommended!

They are now on their second series, which has been shown in America, but not yet in Uk, but surprisingly enough, it is already being shown on commercial Dutch TV, which is how I picked up on it, through zapping through the channels one Tuesday evening. I have been watching it for four episodes now and am getting very 'into'it such that I have been looking forward nfrom one wek to the next to the folowingepisode.

We did not have the channel on our video recorder so I spent a good hour yesterday trying to work out how to programme the wretched thing! Well, I just managed it before the off at 20.30 when all of a sudden what looked like an advert for a trash entertainment programme started to run on and on and on,until I relaied that this was the programme itself. ROME had been cancelled. It was due to be shown according to the weekly TV guide, but the daily paper had this trash programme due to be screened.

A look at the TV channel's website this morning revealed that due to low audience figures, the programme has been moved to 23.20 on Wednesday nights! This will have been the best series the TV channel has ever broadcast and the bosses have decided to move it to an impossible late night slot because their viewers prefer to watch trash instead of high quality drama. There is a whole ream of complaints on the website about what the channel has done, but they are only acting in their commercial interests, it is the public which has not bothered to watch and they who are to be blamed for this sad state of affairs.

This is a perfect illustration of why we need to have national broadcasters who are safely removed from commercial pressures in these dumbed down societies of ours.


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