Pompeii: The Last Day

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Pompeii: The Last day
Pompeii ---- The Last Day.jpg
Title screenshot
Written byEdward Jones carter
Directed byPeter Nicholson
Narrated by
Composer(s)Ty Unwin
Country of originUnited Kingdom
Original language(s)English
Executive producer(s)Michael J. Mosley
Producer(s)Ailsa Orr
Running time90 minutes
Original networkBBC One
Original release20 October 2003
Related shows
External links

Pompeii: The Last Day is a 2003 dramatized documentary that tells of the eruption of Mount Vesuvius on August 24 79 AD. This eruption covered the Roman cities of Pompeii and Herculaneum in ash and pumice, killing everyone trapped between the volcano and the sea. The documentary, which portrays the different phases of the eruption, was directed by Peter Nicholson and written by Edward Canfor-Dumas.


The film was directed and produced by the BBC in co-production with TLC.[1][citation needed]


This was the highest rated specialist factual programme of the year with an audience of 10.3 million and a 40% share.[5]


The documentary tells the story of the eruption of Mount Vesuvius from the point of view of assorted inhabitants of Pompeii and Herculaneum whose names and occupations are known, including a local politician and his family, a fuller, his wife, and two gladiators. Historical characters include Pliny the Elder and his nephew Pliny the Younger. It draws heavily on the eyewitness account of Pliny the Younger, as well as historical research and recent discoveries in volcanology. Extensive CGI was used to recreate the effects of the eruption.[citation needed]

Death throes[edit]

Most of the people who were in Pompeii when the fourth pyroclastic surge hit either died instantly or slowly suffocated to death.

  • The death throes of those in the family of Julius Polybius are based upon the 1975 discovery of the skeleton of a heavily pregnant girl (Julia) surrounded by her family, in the actual House of Julius Polybius. Julia's husband, Sabinus, is shown to have most likely poisoned himself and presumably was the skeleton lying near the foot of the bed Julia's body was found on, along with the bones of her fetus.
  • The death of Stephanus the Fuller is based upon a cast found of a man in the fetal position (the cast is locked up in an onsite warehouse for safekeeping[citation needed]).
  • The death of Stephanus' wife, Fortunata, is based upon the discovery of the body of a rich bejeweled lady in the gladiator barracks, alongside those of gladiators.
  • In Herculaneum, the death throes are much simpler, as most people were found during excavations either on the beach or inside the boat houses. Additionally, unlike Pompeii, when the pyroclastic surges hit Herculaneum, people there were instantly killed, whereas most Pompeians slowly suffocated, although some died instantly.



A computer-generated rendering of the eruption is inaccurate: the depictions of the Temple of Jupiter, facing the forum, and the Temple of Apollo, across the portico to the left, are inaccurate, and the depictions of the state of the porticoes around the forum are questionable, as they all appear intact during this recreation of the 79 eruption. In contrast, it is widely known that at least the Temples of Jupiter and Apollo had been destroyed 17 years before, during the 62 Pompeii earthquake, and they had not been rebuilt by the time the city was finally destroyed in the 79 eruption.[citation needed]



  1. ^ "The Romans come to BBC ONE". BBC - Press Office located near Pompeii.
  2. ^ "Primetime Emmy Award Database". Emmys.com. Los Angeles: Academy of Television Arts & Sciences. Retrieved 22 April 2010.
  3. ^ a b "Pompeii: The Last Day (2003) (TV) - Awards". IMDb.
  4. ^ a b "Review of Pompeii: The Last Day". peternicholsonfilms.com. p. 9.
  5. ^ "About Me". peternicholsonfilms.com. p. 15.

External links[edit]