I, Claudius

BBC Two (ended 1976)
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  • Episode Guide
  • S 1 : Ep 13

    Old King Log

    Aired 12/6/76

  • S 1 : Ep 12

    A God in Colchester

    Aired 11/29/76

  • S 1 : Ep 11

    Fool's Luck

    Aired 11/22/76

  • S 1 : Ep 10

    Hail Who?

    Aired 11/15/76

  • S 1 : Ep 9

    Zeus, By Jove!

    Aired 11/8/76

  • Cast & Crew
  • John Hurt

    Caligula

  • John Rhys-Davies

    Macro

  • Patrick Stewart

    Sejanus

  • Derek Jacobi

    Claudius

  • George Baker

    Tiberius

  • show Description
  • Welcome to the 'I, Claudius' guide at TV. com. This is the story about the emperors of Rome, from Augustus down to Nero (the last Claudian emperor of Rome), told by Claudius, an unlikely emperor. The show originally aired back in 1976, by BBC Television. The cast contains of a couple of Britains finest Shakespeare actors, including Derek Jacobi in the title role. A real classic.

  • Top Contributor
  • Hal_10000

    User Score: 276

    EDITOR

  • Trivia & Quotes
  • Quotes (87)

    • Musa: There ought to be an inquest, I suppose. Livia: No, there's no need of that. We know what he died of. Musa: Do we? Livia: Food poisoning! Well, you said so yourself! Musa: Uh, yes. (walks away, then looks back) I couldn't swear to it. Livia: (to herself) I could.

    • Augustus: People, they like to make factions. And that can make bad feelings faster than boiled asparagus!

    • Augustus: See that they're properly fed. Don't give them scraps and leftovers. Thallus: They'll eat better even than the kitchen staff, Caesar. Augustus: Well, there's no need to go that far. Better than us will be quite sufficient.

    • Livia: When I start to forget things, you may light my funeral pyre and put me on it ... dead or alive.

    • Claudius: (Narrating) If Augustus ruled the world, Livia ruled Augustus.

    • Tiberius: I wish . . . just once I wish you would behave like a normal woman. Livia: To be a normal woman, you need normal men around you.

    • Tiberius: Anyway, where does all this get us? There's not only Marcellus, there's Agrippa too. And August prefers both of them to me. Julia: {offstage}: No! Noooo! Tiberius: Ye gods! What's that? Livia: It sounds as though there is now only Agrippa.

    • Tiberius: Mother, I'm a happily married man. Julia doesn't interest me. She wouldn't interest me if you hung her naked from the ceiling above my bed. Livia: (amused) She might even do that if I asked her.

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    Notes (25)

    • The reports of the fighting between the directors, and the directors and the actors, is still legendary in film circles to this day.

    • This was not generally shown with the PBS airings of I, Claudius but was made available as a bonus on the Region 1 DVD.

    • This series is based on the writings of the Roman historians Suetonius, Tacitus, and Dio Cassius. Tacitus is the only one which blamed Livia for the death of Augustus' many heirs before Tiberius, and the ultimate death of Augustus.

    • Originally broadcast in the US as a double episode with "Family Affairs".

    • This episode is set approximately 24 B.C., during the mid-reign of Augustus.

    • Guy Siner, known from Allo! Allo! where he played the gay Lieutenant Gruber, guest stars here, as in many other episodes.

    • Although not mentioned in the episode, Tiberius' ex-wife Vipsania is the daughter of Marcus Agrippa, whose widow Tiberius is forced to marry.

    • This episode is set approximate 13 - 10 B.C., edging toward the late reign of Augustus.

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    Trivia (7)

    • All of the footage obtained for this cancelled film survives.

    • Merle Oberon was injured fairly severly in an auto accident during production, which gave the producers and crew an excuse to abandon the troubled project.

    • This was to be an epic film, directed by Denis Kavanagh and Josef von Sternberg.

    • Sian Phillips, who plays Livia, is three years younger than the actor (George Baker) who plays her son Tiberius.

    • Factual Error: The historical timeline of Julia's banishment and her sons' deaths is altered for dramatic purposes.

    • Factual Error: The poet Horace is shown to be active 17 years after his historical death. Horace actually died only a few months after his patron and Livia's first victim, Maecenas.

    • Nitpick: When Augustus tells Fabius Maximus that he's seen an omen of his coming death, an eagle circling the Temple of Agrippa and then landing on the "A" of the Temple's dedication, Fabius tells him that Augustus can't be sure of his interpretation of the augury because he's not an expert. But Augustus, like most of the pre Christian Emperors of Rome, was also Pontifex Maximus, the chief priest of Rome. As such he would be very familiar with interpreting auguries, and ought to be considered an expert on the subject.

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    Allusions (5)

    • While talking to Livilla, Livia refers to a beautiful woman in Egypt. This was, of course, Cleopatra, who seduced Mark Antony away from Augustus' sister, starting the Civil War that made Augustus Emperor.

    • Agrippina mentions that the apperance of the number "17" upsets Germanicus during his haunting but never explains why. In an earlier episode, Germanicus avenged the destruction of the 17th-19th legions in Germany. But he was never able to recover the eagle of the 17th legion.

    • Toward the end, Caligula tells Livia of a prophecy that one who is to die soon will become the greatest god ever known with no temples to be dedicate to anyone else in the whole Roman world. He takes this to mean himself but it could easily be interpreted as the death of Christ, which takes place several years after this episode, and the eventual Christianization of the Roman Empire under Constantine.

    • Claudius mentions that Thrasyllus prophesied the Jewish Messiah would die "the same year as Livia". Livia died in 29 AD -- which the earliest date speculated for the death of Christ.

    • The scene with Claudius and the ghosts of his predecessors is based on a play written by Nero's tutor Seneca, called Apocolocyntosis divi Claudii (The Pumpkinification of the Divine Claudius). In the play, Claudius is dead and he wants to become a God like the others of his family. He almost makes his case, but Augustus convinces the others to send him to the Underworld, where he becomes the slave of Caligula for all eternity.

  • Fan Reviews (6)
  • BBC production! Best show ever made; Set new standards of quality on TV; An amazing cast with perfect writing - what more can one ask?

    By pinkas99, Oct 20, 2005

  • My first foray into "culture".

    By RoscoeLaw, May 16, 2006

  • Great PBS production!

    By JPPT1974, May 03, 2006

  • Great, just great!

    By mac000, Feb 21, 2006

  • -

    By frkurt, Aug 04, 2005

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