Ciaran Hinds, Kevin McKidd and Lindsay
Duncan head a cast of top British acting talent in Rome,
the BBC/HBO blockbuster epic drama series that chronicles the rise of
the ancient Roman Empire through the eyes of two foot soldiers.
Ciaran Hinds stars as Gaius Julius Caesar, the battle-weary commander
of Rome's conquering army in Gaul and Kevin KcKidd is Lucius Vorenus,
one of the two foot soldiers around whom the drama unfolds.
Ray Stevenson is the headstrong legionary Titus Pullo,
Vorenus's battlefield cohort; James Purefoy is Mark
Antony, one of Caesar's powerful political allies; Lindsay Duncan is
Servilia, the lover of Caesar and mother of Brutus; Polly Walker
is the powerful, manipulative and sexy Atia, Caesar's niece; Kerry
Condon is Octavia, the daughter of Atia, who is forced to choose
duty over love; Ben Whishaw is Gaius Octavian, who
becomes the first Emperor of Rome and Indira Varma
is Niobe, Vorenus's stunningly beautiful wife.
Rome is a co-production between the BBC and HBO.
The 12-part series begins shooting in Rome this month, with Michael
Apted directing the first three episodes.
Production will be based at Rome's Cinecitta Studios, where a five-acre
set is currently being built.
Additional location filming will take place throughout Europe and North
The lead writer is English screen-writer Bruno Heller, who is also
an executive producer on the drama.
Adrian Hodges (Charles II, The Power And The Passion) is a co-writer.
The project is a cross-genre collaboration for the BBC, with Jonathan
Stamp, an executive producer for history and archaeology, as a consultant
on the series.
Stamp's recently acclaimed programme Colosseum, has been nominated
for a Bafta.
Jana Bennett, BBC Director of Television, says: "This is one of the
most ambitious drama projects I have come across and its epic scale
is inspiring. We have not attempted to bring the ancient world to life
since the seminal series I, Claudius, so this one was too hard to resist.
"Forging such a strong creative partnership with HBO, one of the world's
most respected drama producers, is part of the BBC's role as both a
catalyst and an enabler for exciting new projects.
"Audiences around the world can look forward to a landmark piece
of great television."
Gareth Neame, Head of Drama Commissioning, says: "We are delighted
to be working with celebrated director Michael Apted on this landmark
series and we're impressed with the high-calibre line up of British
acting talent that Michael is assembling, alongside British writers
such as Bruno Heller and Adrian Hodges."
The first series of 12 episodes is planned to be broadcast on the BBC
in the UK and on HBO in 2005.
Rome, the saga of two ordinary Roman soldiers and their families, looks
at the birth of the Roman Empire through the eyes of ordinary citizens,
as well as famous historical figures such as Julius Caesar, Mark Antony
and Rome's first Emperor, Octavian.
It is an intimate drama of love and betrayal, masters and slaves, husbands
and wives, and portrays a fascinating and influential period of history
- the birth of a modern society as we know it today - and brings the
audience vividly into everyday Roman life.
Chris Albrecht, Chairman and CEO of HBO, says: "This intriguing saga
of ancient Rome is both a fascinating historical epic that offers insights
into the foundations of the modern world, and a story of timeless passions
with contemporary resonance."
"Like HBO," he added, "the BBC has a strong tradition of success in
projects of this massive scope. Our unprecedented partnership on this
exciting series will result in memorable entertainment."
Jane Tranter, BBC Controller of Drama Commissioning, says: "We've been
developing this project with HBO for some time and we're delighted that
Rome has now come to fruition as our first co-production.
"Rome is a powerful story and, alongside The Lost Prince, State
of Play, Canterbury Tales, Charles II, Hustle and Gunpowder, Treason
And Plot, is another example of our ambition to create the boldest,
most original and engaging events on television."
The series begins in 52 BC, as Gaius Julius Caesar has completed his
masterful conquest of Gaul after eight years of war, and is preparing
to return to Rome.
He heads home with thousands of battle-hardened men and a populist
agenda for radical social change.
Terrified, the aristocracy threatens to prosecute Caesar for war crimes
as soon as he sets foot in Rome.
Caesar's old friend and mentor, Pompey Magnus, attempts to foment mutiny
in order to maintain the balance of power.
Two of Caesar's soldiers, Lucius Vorenus and Titus Pullo, thwart Pompey's
Their fates become entwined with those of Caesar, Mark Antony, Cleopatra,
and the boy Octavian, a strange and awkward child who, by political
guile and bloody force, will become the first Emperor of Rome.
Rome is the first series co-production between the BBC and HBO, who
previously co-produced the acclaimed serial Band Of Brothers, which
won the 2002 Emmy Award for Outstanding Miniseries.
It is executive produced by Bruno Heller, William J MacDonald, John
Milius and Anne Thomopoulos for HBO, and Gareth Neame, BBC Head of Drama
Commissioning, for the BBC.
The co-executive producer is Frank Doelger; the producer is Marco Pugini;
co-producers are Robert Papazian and James Hirsch.
Additional writers of Rome will be Alexandra Cunningham, David Frankel,
John Milius and William J MacDonald.