Roman Mysteries (TV series)
The Roman Mysteries Title Card
|Created by||Caroline Lawrence|
|Directed by||Paul Marcus|
|Country of origin||United Kingdom|
|No. of series||2|
|No. of episodes||20|
|Executive producer(s)||Jon East
|Running time||60 minutes|
|Original network||BBC One|
|Original release||8 May 2007 – 2 September 2008|
Roman Mysteries is a television series based on the series of children's historical novels by Caroline Lawrence. It is reportedly the most expensive British children's TV series to date at £1 million per hour.
The series began filming in June 2006 and was first broadcast from 8 May 2007. The series is divided into "scrolls", each based on one book, starting with The Secrets of Vesuvius. The stories are told in the same order as the book series, except for book 6, The Twelve Tasks of Flavia Gemina, which is transposed to the second series. Books 11 and 12 were not adapted, and the series ends with the adaptation of Book 13. Each scroll consists of two half-hour episodes. The first scroll guest-starred Simon Callow as Pliny the Elder.
On 22 May 2007, after just two episodes, Anne Foy announced on CBBC on BBC One that the show has been postponed due to recent events in the news and would return later in the year on CBBC on BBC One. Since "The Pirates of Pompeii" was about children being kidnapped, the postponement was most likely due to the then recent disappearance of Madeleine McCann. On 19 June the series began broadcasting again from the beginning.
Filming for the second series began on 13 August 2007. The episodes are based on the novels The Gladiators from Capua, The Twelve Tasks of Flavia Gemina, The Colossus of Rhodes, The Fugitive from Corinth and The Slave-girl from Jerusalem.
The series has been sold around the world including Australia, Finland, Germany, New Zealand, Spain, Sweden, the USA and Ireland. The second series aired first in Australia. Both series are now out on DVD.
- Flavia, played by Francesca Isherwood
- Nubia, played by Rebekah Brookes-Murrell
- Jonathan, played by Eli Machover
- Lupus, played by Harry Stott
- Polla Pulchra, played by Millie Binks
- Marcus, Flavia's father, played by Eoin McCarthy
- Gaius, Flavia's uncle, played by Eoin McCarthy
- Mordecai, Jonathan's father, played by Stephen Mapes
- Miriam, Jonathan's sister, Gaius's wife, played by Natasha Barrero
- Scroll One: The Secrets of Vesuvius (first broadcast 8 May 2007)
- Scroll Two: The Pirates of Pompeii (first broadcast 3 July 2007)
- Scroll Three: The Assassins of Rome (first broadcast 17 July 2007)
- Scroll Four: The Dolphins of Laurentum (first broadcast 31 July 2007)
- Scroll Five: The Enemies of Jupiter (first broadcast 14 August 2007)
- Scroll One: The Gladiators of Capua (first UK broadcast 8 July 2007)
- Scroll Two: The Twelve Trials of Flavia Gemina (first UK broadcast 15 July 2007)
- Scroll Three: The Colossus of Rhodes (first UK broadcast 29 July 2008)
- Scroll Four: The Fugitive from Corinth (first UK broadcast 19 August 2008)
- Scroll Five: The Slave Girl from Jerusalem (first UK broadcast 2 September 2008)
Differences from the books
- The children are older.
- Lupus is mute but his tongue has not been cut out.
- Because The Thieves of Ostia was not adapted, the meeting of the children takes place at a different time (just before the eruption of Vesuvius) and under different circumstances.
- In the book of "The Assassins of Rome", Simeon is dragged off to be tortured but gets rescued (by Titus) before he is maimed or blinded as was threatened. In the TV series he doesn't get rescued. Although it was improbable for him ever to have been rescued, this is a major plot-change.
- Jonathan returns home at the end of "The Enemies of Jupiter".
- "The Gladiators of Capua" and "The Fugitive from Corinth" are set in Ostia, rather than Rome and Greece, respectively.
- Pulchra appears in "The Twelve Tasks of Flavia Gemina" in Jonathan's place.
- Several minor characters have been omitted or combined for the television episodes.
- In "The Slave Girl from Jerusalem", a new character, Floridius (played by Mark Benton), was introduced for comic relief.
- When bought as a slave, Nubia's head has not been shaved and she is clothed.
- There is a deliberate effort to dumb down the role of adults, with the notable exception of Doctor Mordecai, Flavia's father no longer pays the extra amount demanded for Nubia and the warm reception she then receives from the house cook is turned into one of hostility and rebute.
- From The Times review of the The Gladiators of Capua, the first episode of the second series:
"Roman Mysteries is a tremendous way for younger viewers to learn about ancient history. Set in the Roman Empire in AD79, it is based on a series of novels by Caroline Lawrence that have sold more than a million copies worldwide. It isn't hard to see why - they graft child-friendly adventure on to careful research, and the same care has been taken to transfer them faithfully to the screen with the help of a strong cast and healthy-looking budget. The first episode this afternoon gives a vivid sense of gladiatorial combat, without the risk of children waking up in the middle of the night screaming."