Lion is behind a one-hour BBC Documentary Meet the Roman Emperor with Mary Beard.

In the one-hour documentary due to air on BBC Two and iPlayer on 8th April at 9pm, classicist Mary Beard lifts the curtain on the emperors of Rome, exploring their ruthless use of power and how it was matched only by their greatest fear – that the power could be snatched away at any moment by the people closest to them.

As she peels back the layers of Roman propaganda and mythmaking, Beard takes viewers closer to the real Roman emperors. She introduces  famous figures including Augustus, Nero, Hadrian and Marcus Aurelius, and lesser-known characters like Domitian – who lined his walls with mirrored surfaces so he could see his enemies coming. Mary considers how subjects would greet and gratify the emperor, and considers their sexual habits and their health.

Beard travels from Hadrian’s villa at Tivoli, to the submerged ruins of Claudius’ pleasure palace in the Bay of Naples. With the help of fellow classicist Silvia Orlandi, Beard discovers graffiti scratched into plaster by slaves, explores body language with Italian etiquette expert Elisa Motterle and debates Marcus Aurelius’ stoic journals with philosopher Angie Hobbs.

Simon Young, Head of History, BBC Factual Commissioning, says: “From social media trends to museum exhibitions, ancient Rome is having a moment. And from the rise of Julius Caesar and the ruins of Pompeii to the lives of the emperors we’re giving audiences a fresh insight into how the Romans really lived, from the very top of society to the bottom. There is no-one better than Mary Beard to bring us up close and personal with Rome’s all-powerful leaders.”

Richard Bradley, Head of Lion Television, says: “At a time in the present when we watch on as leaders seize and wield absolute power, it feels the right time to scrutinise the Roman Emperors who set the template for dictatorship, 2,000 years ago. And we are lucky to be filming in the very places they lived, ruled, partied and plotted.”

Meet the Roman Emperor with Mary Beard will air on BBC Two and iPlayer at 9pm on Monday 8th April.

Meet the Roman Emperor with Mary Beard, for BBC Two and iPlayer was commissioned by Jack Bootle, Head of Commissioning, Specialist Factual, and the BBC Commissioning Editor is Simon Young, Head of History.

It is made by Lion TV where the Director is Russell Barnes, the Producer is Helena Hunt, Executive Producers Sarah Sarkhel and Richard Bradley.

Picture: Mary Beard with imperial era stylus at Baths of Diocletian, Rome, Credit: BBC/Lion Television/Russell Barnes

Pippa Considine

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