Production Code: M
The Slave Traders - 16/01/1965 17:40
All Roads Lead to Rome - 23/01/1965 17:40
Conspiracy - 30/01/1965 17:40
Inferno - 06/02/1965 17:40
The four time travellers are enjoying a rare holiday, staying at a villa not far from Rome in the year 64 AD. The Doctor soon becomes restless and sets off to visit the city, taking Vicki with him. In their absence, Ian and Barbara are kidnapped by slave traders.
Having been mistaken for the famous lyre player Maximus Pettulian and asked to perform at the Emperor Nero's Court, the Doctor has to devise ever more elaborate schemes to avoid revealing that he cannot actually play the instrument.
Ian meanwhile becomes a galley slave, while Barbara is sold to Nero's slave buyer Tavius at an auction in Rome. Ian and a fellow slave named Delos escape from the galley when it is wrecked in a storm and make their way to Rome to try to find and rescue Barbara.
There they are recaptured and forced to fight as gladiators in the arena. Events reach their climax when, by accidentally setting light to the Emperor's plans for the rebuilding of Rome, the Doctor gives him the idea of having the city razed to the ground. Nero plays the lyre while Rome burns, and the Doctor and Vicki and a reunited Ian and Barbara make their separate ways back to the villa.
Resting overnight at a house in Assissium, the Doctor attempts to play the lyre but manages only a few discordant notes. He chuckles to himself, unaware that the mute assassin Ascaris, who earlier murdered Maximum Pettulian, is entering the room through a curtained entrance, a sword in his hand.
Ian and Delos are imprisoned and faced with the prospect of being trained to fight as gladiators in the arena - but against what? Suddenly they hear a ferocious roar, and when Ian looks out through the cell bars he sees a pride of hungry lions roaming about a compound. Horrified, he turns away.
Ian and Delos are reluctantly fighting each other in the arena. Ian suddenly loses his balance, giving Delos the upper hand. As the Greek holds his sword to Ian's neck, Nero gives the command to cut off his head.
The Doctor tells a confused Ian that the TARDIS has materialised for a split second and become imprisoned by a force from which it cannot break free. Something, somewhere, is slowly dragging them down. Ian asks 'Dragged down? To where?', but the Doctor can only return his companion's stare.
The Emperor's New Clothes.
Nero : "I have a little surprise for you. Guess what it is."
The Doctor : "Now, let me think. You want me to play in the arena?"
Nero : "You guessed."
The Doctor : "It's no problem at all. After all, you want to do your very best for your fellow artists: why not the arena?"
Nero : "Yes, yes, of course. That is exactly right."
The Doctor : "Well, I promise you, I will try to make it a roaring success."
Nero : "You'll have to play something special, you know."
The Doctor : "Of course, of course. Something serious, yes. Something they can really get their teeth into."
Nero : [Muttering] "You can't know, you can't. I've told no-one."
The Doctor : "Caesar Nero. I've always wanted to put on a good show; to give a great performance. After all, who knows, if I go down well, I might even make it my farewell performance. You see, I've always wanted to be considered as an artist of some taste, generally considered as palatable, hmm?"
Nero : "They wouldn't let me build my new Rome. But if the old one is burnt... If it goes up in flames they'll have no choice. Rome will be rebuilt to my design! Brilliant! Brilliant!"
Ian : "I've got a friend who specialises in trouble. He dives in and usually finds a way."
Nero : [On the Doctor's silent pretend harping] "He's all right, but he's not all that good."
Nero : "Close your eyes and Nero will give you a big surprise!"
The TARDIS can take off from any angle.
The Doctor can fight, and enjoys pugilism, but he can't play the lyre.
Vicki's no good at dressmaking, but has a good grasp of history.
Environs of Rome, July 64 AD.
The Doctor has been to Rome before. He once taught the Mountain Mauler of Montana. He also gave Hans Anderson the idea for The Emperor's New Clothes.
There is a slapstick fight scene between the Doctor, aided by Vicki, and the mute assassin Ascaris, which ends with the latter falling from a first floor window not to be seen again...
The Doctor convinces Nero and his courtiers that he is a skilled lyre player, without ever playing a note - a scene that pays homage to Hans Christian Andersen's 1837 story The Emperor's New Clothes.
The part of Tigilinus was expanded in late rewriting of the scripts to incorporate that of another minor slave character. Similarly the slave trader Sevcheria was 'promoted' after the first episode to become the captain of Nero's guards, originally envisaged by Spooner as a separate individual.
It was new story editor Dennis Spooner who wanted to make The Romans an overtly humorous story. (It was producer Verity Lambert's idea to do a story in this vein to try to extend the series' dramatic range - although Spooner was certainly no stranger to comedy and so ideally suited to write it.)
Ian and Barbara have a plastic lined fountain.
Nero pays his fire starters in metal washers.
Historically, Nero was in Actium, and the fire was almost certainly an accident.
Nero was 26-28, not middle aged, and Locusta, though real, was not an 'official prisoner'.
The swords aren't the right shape, and wouldn't have been used with nets.
Cast & Crew
The Doctor - William Hartnell
Barbara Wright - Jacqueline Hill
Ian Chesterton - William Russell
Vicki - Maureen O'Brien
1st Man in Market - Ernest Jennings
2nd Man in Market - John Caesar
Ascaris - Barry Jackson
Centurian - Dennis Edwards
Court Messenger - Tony Lambden
Delos - Peter Diamond
Didius - Nicholas Evans
Galley Master - Gertan Klauber
Locusta - Ann Tirard
Maximus Pettulian - Bart Allison
Nero - Derek Francis
Poppaea - Kay Patrick
Sevcheria - Derek Sydney
Slave buyer - Edward Kelsey
Stall holder - Margot Thomas
Tavius - Michael Peake
Tigilinus - Brian Proudfoot
Woman Slave - Dorothy-Rose Gribble
Director - Christopher Barry