Coming next in our journey of exploration was the HBO series Rome, which ran for two seasons from 2005 to 2007 before it was cancelled. If Pillars of the Earth is good, then Rome’s even better: a truly faultless show, exemplarily written. It’s hard finding anyone willing to fault it.
On the face of it, the story is about the political manoeuvrings of Julius Caesar and Mark Antony, but these strands merely serve as backdrop for an even more gripping foreground story, charting the misadventures of two Roman soldiers, Titus Pullo and Lucius Vorenus, and a household belonging to a scheming woman named Atia of the Julii.
Rome is the show that gave audiences a taste for adult-themed historical drama; themes explored over the course of the series include murder, incest, assassination, sex and, of course, intrigue, which turns out to be the lifeblood of such productions. It’s a series that covers Roman society in great depth, from the pomp and splendour of the Imperial displays to ruthless scrabbles for survival on the mean streets.
And you’ll be hooked from the very beginning.