Over the past couple of years, Sue and I have been getting into television in a big way: we've discovered the delights of the contemporary historical television series. Ever since we switched off the soaps - goodbye, Eastenders, I haven't missed you yet! - and started exploring some of the great shows out there, we've found our writing improving in leaps and bounds.
This cultural renaissance started when we caught up with the Channel 4 broadcast of Pillars of the Earth, an 8-part miniseries adapted from the Ken Follett novel. Following on from this, we never looked back: we fell in love with HBO's Rome, were scandalised by Spartacus and got hooked on The Tudors.
Each of these shows occupies its own niche: some of them portray the highs and lows of the royal court, while others come across as grubby soap operas with lashings of sex and violence. Each of them have two things in common: great writing and intriguing characters you inevitably love or hate.
During the course of this week, I'm going to be taking you on a journey of some of our favourite historical drama shows, looking at what makes them a boon, not just for readers, but for writers as well...