Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Roman Mysteries Season Two

the four friends & their bodyguard
It was exciting to see such great publicity in the run-up to the premiere of Season Two of the Roman Mysteries TV show today.

There have been reviews in almost all the major UK papers, including The Times, The Independent, The Sunday Times and The Mail on Sunday. Here are some excerpts:

'The Roman Mysteries is a tremendous way for younger viewers to learn about Roman history... they graft child-friendly adventure on to careful research... with the help of a strong cast and healthy-looking budget...'
The Times

'Impressively staged children's drama - a sort of Rome for pre-teens - about four friends in AD79.'
The Independent

It's the Famous Five in togas – or, given this week's plot about well-muscled gladiators hitting town, the tweenage Spartacus...'
The Sunday Times

'The adventure series set in ancient Rome returns, with some nice acting by the young cast...'
The Mail on Sunday

'... a high-quality drama series, aimed at children...'
DigiGuide

'...you certainly don't have to be a child to enjoy this adventure series set in the days of the Roman Empire and boasting some very decent production values, convincing fight scenes and crucially, good storylines.'
East Anglian Times

The Gladiators from Capua, BBC adaptation of the Roman Mystery
What do I think of the series as the writer of the books on which it is based? Some of the TV episodes are a lot like the books. The Colossus of Rhodes and The Slave-girl from Jerusalem follow my stories closely. However, other episodes don't.

For example, today's episode - The Gladiators from Capua - is a completely different story from the book. This is because the BBC didn't quite have the budget to reproduce the opening day at the Colosseum when 50,000 people watched a tightrope-walking elephant, 4,000 animals slaughtered in the morning beast hunt, criminal executions at lunch, carefully paired gladiatorial combats in the afternoon and sea-battles in the flooded arena by night. Also, the actor who plays Titus (Nicholas Farrell) was unavailable so they decided to use the excellent Duncan Duff as Domitian instead. In spite of the changes, the characters and spirit of the books remain true.

On the whole there aren't too many moments when I run screaming from the room.

Children who aren't as sensitive as the author will get a good idea of what Ancient Rome looked like and will be carried along by an exciting story with four different kids doing brave and funny things. It might even inspire them to read the books!

Caroline Lawrence on the Bulgarian set of Roman Mysteries season 2
Both seasons of the BBC Roman Mysteries TV series are now available in the UK and Europe on DVD. They are a good resource to use in tandem with the 17+ books in the Roman Mysteries series. Perfect for children aged 9+, especially those studying Greeks, Romans & Egyptians as a topic in Key Stage 2.