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29 October 2014
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BBC ONE history commissions bring to life Pompeii, the Colosseum and the world of Queen Victoria

BBC ONE has announced three new history commissions which will take viewers to the terrifying last moments of Pompeii, to the world of Roman gladiators and into the life of Queen Victoria.

The commissions follow the success of BBC ONE's Pyramid, which told the story of the Great Pyramid of Giza through the eyes of the men who built it.

They are part of BBC ONE Controller Lorraine Heggessey's strategy of adding more depth and breadth to the schedule.

The Last Day of Pompeii

The terrifying last moments of a city caught in a volcanic death trap.

On August 24 AD79 the city of Pompeii came to a devastating end as the mighty Vesuvius erupted, showering inhabitants with ash, smoke and rock.

Some escaped, but those who remained were entombed forever as they fell.

Combining dramatic reconstructions, expert investigations, and lavish CGIs, The Last Day of Pompeii follows a cast of characters including lovers, soldiers, slaves and families.

The film recreates a vivid and engaging account of the last day of Pompeii.


Colosseum combines compelling narrative with state-of-the art computer graphic techniques and high-end drama reconstruction to take the viewer back in time to the world of ancient Rome.

The story revolves around the making of a hero, Verus, who rises from slave to star gladiator.

His debut is at the inauguration of the extraordinary amphitheatre, the Colosseum, which has just been built in Rome and is the largest the Empire will ever see.

Verus' fight goes down in history, recorded by the poet Martial to become the only gladiatorial fight of which an accurate, truthful record survives.

Telling Verus' story takes viewers into his world, showing how gladiators really fought and trained and how the greatest amphitheatre of all was built.

Colosseum is the story of a man's journey from slavery to freedom and of the building where he was prepared to fight for his life – a story also of the civilisation, Rome, that demanded he should do so.

Victoria: An Intimate History

Prunella Scales - who has portrayed Queen Victoria in acclaimed performances – takes a leading role in this new series telling the story of one of the most famous women in history.

Prunella Scales takes a journey of discovery into Victoria's life, the places that were important to her, the facts from experts who cast light on her extraordinary story.

The actress will read from Queen Victoria's huge collection of diaries and letters, sometimes in costume and from the locations where they were written.

Appearing alongside Prunella Scales are Timothy West, Charles Dance and Andrew Sachs, who plays Disraeli.

Filming has had its moments – in icy cold weather Prunella's prosthetic nose would sometimes spring open like a draw-bridge.

Notes to Editors

Omar Sharif features in BBC ONE's Pyramid (10.10.02)

All the BBC's digital services are now available on Freeview, the new free-to-view digital terrestrial television service, as well as on satellite and cable.

Freeview offers the BBC's eight television channels, interactive services from BBCi, as well as 11 BBC radio networks.



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