Thursday, August 29, 2013


THE BBC and HBO are planning to follow up their hit mini-series "ROMA" with a star-studded new version of "I, Claudius" ... defying a show-biz curse which has stymied and foiled other productions of this ambitious landmark of historical fiction.

The new series will NOT simply be a remake of the epic 13-part 1976 BBC mini-series "I, Claudius."

Instead, the new series will be based entirely on the two Claudius novels by Robert Graves outlining the life of Emperor Claudius.

Graves based the two books "I, Claudius" and "Claudius the God" on Suetonius' gossipy "De vita Caesarum" (Lives of the Caesars) and other sources, but he fleshed out the details with his own research and imagination, creating a landmark of historical fiction.

The 1976 series hit most of the highlights of those two books, but skimmed over or left out many juicy details.

The announcement of the BBC/HBO deal comes after years of wrangling over rights to the Graves books.

At one point it appeared there would be a movie version with Leonardo DiCaprio starring in the title role. But legal challenges and bizarre twists and turns of fate prevented anything being produced ... either for the big screen or the TV screen.

The problems were so fraught with peril that there was even talk of the "I, Claudius Curse"  ... the legendary "curse" which prevented a movie version of from being produced in the 1930s.

"I, Claudius" was to have been the biggest movie ever made in Britain in the 1930s, with Charles Laughton in the title role (seated, left), heading up a stellar line-up of the biggest movie stars in Hollywood and Britain.

But one calamity after another occurred during the production ... accidents ... disasters ... a car crash which injured one of the stars of the film, Merle Oberon, who was to play Messalina.

The string of bad luck gave rise to the belief that there was "curse" associated with the attempt to adapt "I Claudius."

The 1970s BBC production was also plagued with delays and problems, and initially received bad reviews ... until audiences defied the critics by watching it in record numbers in Britain and all over the world.

Derek Jacobi (right) turned in the role of a career as Claudius.

"I, Claudius" gives a glimpse into the power, madness, murder, backstabbing and debauchery that was part and parcel of ruling-class Rome.

It is seen through the eyes of Claudius, who is content to be the butt of jokes and hide his brilliance behind a stutter and a limp. 

Because he is never perceived as a threat, Claudius is never poisoned as many others in his circle are. 

Claudius out-survives them all and, against all odds and despite the jeers of those who call him a fool, he becomes emperor of Rome.


  1. Any insight on when it is scheduled to start production? I've been waiting to hear about casting but haven't seen anything. Is late-2014 too soon to expect to see this on HBO/BBC?

  2. The BBC/HBO mini series was entitled "Rome", not "Roma". Just guessing this was because everyone in it spoke English and not Latin.