After the critically acclaimed Rome ended its brief but expensive two-season run, it seemed unlikely HBO or BBC would want to attempt another costly series about the Roman Empire. However, with Starz’s Spartacus earning its niche, the prospect of trying another Roman story was likely too sweet to pass up. Luckily, HBO, in conjunction with BBC2, recently obtained the rights to Robert Graves’ 1934 novel, I, Claudius. This won’t be the first time a BBC network has worked with the product. In 1976, BBC television produced I, Claudius as a 13-episode series that became a successful enterprise for the network. After a long struggle to obtain the rights, HBO and BBC2 plan to turn I, Claudius into a mini series.
If the mini series is picked up, the two companies plan to use two of Graves’ novels as source material, rather than pulling from the original television series. Though the novels I, Claudius: From the Autobiography of Tiberius Claudius Born 10 B.C. Murdered And Deified A.D. 54 and Claudius The God: And His Wife Messalina will provide an awful lot of material for one mini-series, it seems better for the two groups to take caution and do a mini-series rather than spend an excess of money on a series that might prove more expensive than its viewership, like Rome.
According to Deadline, HBO and BBC2 should be counting their lucky stars they were able to pick up the rights at all. At various points Jim Sheridan and even Scott Rudin were attached. After years of flirting with the title, Rome producers Jane Tranter and Anne Thomopoulos finally won the bid. Who knows if I, Claudius will live up to the original series; but I doubt it’ll matter, HBO is, at worse, pretty good, and another chance to view a side of the Roman Empire is too interesting to miss.
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