A truly epic saga of dynastic conflict at the heart of Imperial Rome, I Claudius
was the landmark BBC drama series of the 1970s. Originally transmitted as 13 50-minute episodes, the series dramatises the human face of ancient Rome as interpreted by Robert Graves in his two enormously complex novels
, I, Claudius
and Claudius The God
. Derek Jacobi gives one of the greatest television performances ever as Claudius, the appalled chronicler of the decadence, corruption, intrigue and carnage which comes with the absolute power of his ruling family. Augustus (Brian Blessed) is Emperor and Livia (Sian Phillips) his scheming, ambitious wife, Claudius's aunt. By virtue of his stammer and uncontrollable twitches, Claudius passes for a fool, thus escaping the poisonous machinations of Livia, all the while recording the comings and goings of the Imperial household.
Events become increasingly frenzied as Caligula (John Hurt playing the tyrant with psychotic fury) bloodily slaughters his way to power, making a senator of his favourite horse along the way. Claudius eventually becomes Emperor himself, and Jacobi is simply magnificent in the intensely moving finale, which is not to overlook the rest of a fine cast, including: George Baker; Ian Ogilvy; Christopher Guard; Stratford Johns; John Rhys-Davies; Bernard Hepton and Patrick Stewart as the murderous Praetorian Guard Captain Sejanus. Inevitably lacking the visual scale of cinematic features such as Ben-Hur, and today looking more studio-bound than ever, I, Claudius remains a television masterpiece of intelligently written and rivetingly intense character drama. --Gary S Dalkin
This box set features the series as originally broadcast--13 episodes of circa 50mins each.
is a 1976 BBC Television adaptation of Robert Graves' I, Claudius
and Claudius the God
. Written by Jack Pulman, it proved one of the corporation's most successful drama serials of all time. It starred Derek Jacobi as Claudius, with Siân Phillips, Brian Blessed, John Hurt, and Patrick Stewart. I, Claudius
follows the history of Rome, narrated by the elderly Claudius, from the death of Marcellus, nephew and son-in-law of Augustus, in the first episode to Claudius' own death in the last. The series opens with Augustus, the emperor of Rome, attempting to find an heir, and his wife Livia plotting to elevate her own son Tiberius to this position. The plotting and double-crossing continue for many decades, through the conspiracy of Sejanus and the rule of the lunatic emperor Caligula, culminating in Claudius' seemingly accidental rise to power.Special Features
• 70-minute documentary about the TV show
• 70-minute documentary about an abandoned 1937 film version
• 4 and a half minutes of alternative scenes