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I, Claudius

1 Season

Season 1
4.7 out of 5 stars (223) IMDb 9/10

This epic BBC series spans the history of the Roman Empire from Augustus through Claudius. Winner of numerous awards, this riveting tale of ambition, debauchery, and intrigue remains one of the most acclaimed dramas in Masterpiece Theatre history.

Starring:
Derek Jacobi, George Baker

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Season 1

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1. A Touch of Murder

Rome, 24-9 BCE. Nearing the end of his life and surrounded by spies, Claudius, emperor of Rome, writes his family history. It begins during the reign of Augustus, with his treacherous grandmother, Livia, scheming to advance the career of her son, Tiberius.

TV-NR CC Runtime: 1 hour, 37 minutes Release date: September 20, 1976
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2. Waiting in the Wings

Rome, 3-5 CE. With Tiberius in exile, it seems that Livia has lost--but everyone Augustus chooses to succeed him dies inexplicably. Livia forces the emperor to face the truth about his daughter. An omen hints that Claudius might be more than he appears.

TV-NR CC Runtime: 50 minutes Release date: September 27, 1976
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3. What Shall We Do About Claudius?

Rome, 9 CE. When Livia hears that Tiberius has a new rival, Postumus, she quickly moves against him. Before he is banished, Postumus tells Claudius everything Livia. Claudius plays the fool to ensure his safety; he weds in a marriage Livia arranged.

TV-NR CC Runtime: 51 minutes Release date: October 4, 1976
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4. Poison Is Queen

Rome, 13-14 CE. After decades of deception, Augustus learns of Livia's plots and writes a new will naming Postumus his heir. Soon after Livia visits the keepers of the emperor's will, Augustus suffers severe stomach pains. She then sends in Sejanus.

TV-NR CC Runtime: 51 minutes Release date: October 11, 1976
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5. Some Justice

Rome, 19-20 CE. Tiberius rules Rome with help from Sejanus. When Claudius's popular brother, Germanicus, dies under mysterious circumstances, the Roman people protest. A trial in the Senate is rigged to clear the emperor's name.

TV-NR CC Runtime: 51 minutes Release date: October 18, 1976
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6. Queen of Heaven

Rome, 23-29 CE. Tiberius lives only for his perverted pleasures. Sejanus forces Claudius to marry his sister, solidifying his alliance with the imperial family. Livia, confesses her crimes to Claudius and reveals a prophecy that he will be emperor.

TV-NR CC Runtime: 52 minutes Release date: October 25, 1976
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7. Reign of Terror

Rome, 30-31 CE. Sejanus has destroyed nearly all his enemies. Even Tiberius, living on Capri, is in danger. When he receives a warning letter, he wonders how to stop Sejanus. Caligula makes a suggestion, and the streets of Rome run red with blood.

TV-NR CC Runtime: 51 minutes Release date: November 1, 1976
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8. Zeus, by Jove!

Rome, 37-38 CE. On his deathbed, Tiberius names Caligula heir. Caligula promises bread and circuses, and a new age of prosperity seems hopeful. Then Caligula falls into a coma, awakens, and proclaims himself a god. He fears his unborn son by his sister.

TV-NR CC Runtime: 51 minutes Release date: November 8, 1976
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9. Hail Who?

Rome, 40-41 CE. Now totally mad, Caligula has turned the palace into a brothel, with gambling and orgies. His uncle Claudius serves as doorkeeper. Conspirators plot to assassinate Caligula. Later, as soldiers loot the palace, Claudius hides.

TV-NR CC Runtime: 54 minutes Release date: November 15, 1976
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10. Fool's Luck

Rome, 41-43 CE. Under Claudius's rule, the empire's finances are improving. His wife, Messalina bears him two children and urges him to make an alliance with Silanus, governor of Spain. An old friend warns him to trust no one.

TV-NR CC Runtime: 51 minutes Release date: November 22, 1976
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11. A God in Colchester

Rome, 47-48 CE. While Claudius is away invading Britain, Messalina challenges a leading prostitute to a tournament of sex. She wins, scandalizing Rome, but Claudius remains in the dark. Soon after, Claudius learns that the British have made him a god.

TV-NR CC Runtime: 51 minutes Release date: November 29, 1976
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12. Old King Log

Rome, 54 CE. Claudius marries Agrippinilla, mother of Nero and the deadliest woman in Rome. A prophecy has told him that Nero will be Rome's next ruler. Claudius knowingly seals his fate and that of his own son by naming Nero his heir.

TV-NR CC Runtime: 53 minutes Release date: December 6, 1976
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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

It's understandable to hesitate before investing time and money in epic historical dramas from the 1970s and earlier, as so many works from those eras are painfully overacted and disappointingly dependent on cliche.

However, I Claudius is a masterpiece, transcending limited technology of the day to become a timeless classic and required viewing for fans of the best in historical period films. Those who've watched more than once the films Becket, Henry VIII and His Six Wives, Rome, The Tudors, Cromwell and Elizabeth (x3), will find I Claudius to be a fascinating feast of evil-doings by the power-mad and just plain mad.

The most awe-inspiring performance was that of Sian Phillips as Livia Drusilla, empress and third wife of Augustus Caesar, grandmother of Claudius. I simply cannot recall a more all-consuming, bone-chilling, poison-hearted yet void-of-all-emotion portrayal by any actress, ever. Her infinite cruelty is exceeded only by the shockingly calm manner in which she dishes it out. She's not angry...she's just deadly. She elegantly redefines the term "wicked stepmother," making all others seem like Mother Teresa in comparison.

Derek Jacobi is of course brilliantly nuanced in his narration and performance throughout the life of stammering, ticking and limping Claudius, the smartest of the entire dysfunctional bunch. John Hurt reveled in his role as the barbaric Caligula, with evil oozing from his very pores. Patrick Stewart of Star Trek fame was a very naughty boy, indeed.

There was nary a speck of blood visible during this family's carnage, as such blood-and-guts displays were not necessary. The story alone was shocking enough, proving gore is not required to hold audience attention. Can't remember any profanities uttered.
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36 years later, and this series still stands up against the Tudors, the Borgias and other period pieces. Lots less blatant sex and profanity, but the horror and thrills of the times still fascinate and hold the interest of viewers used to more modern serials. Highly recommended for anyone who likes period pieces, historical drama, or just great characters and acting.
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This mini-series is several magnitudes of better than anything produced since its initial air date. The cast is filled with a large number of the finest actors Britain has produced. It's based on the novels of Robert Graves that were first published in 1934 and regarded, as a whole, as a masterpiece.
The period covered is from the reign of Augustus Caesar(through Tiberius, Caligula and Claudius)to the beginning of Nero. The action centers around the bloody court life of Rome's ruling family and the intrigue and treachery they pursued. The folly of mortals who believe that they are as close to becoming gods as a human can get provides at various times outrageous farce, dark comedy, and suspenseful drama. But even in its most farcical moments there is no sense of a lack in believability because of its adherence to the historical records.
I normally don't give out 5 stars but 'I, Claudius' is easily one of the best programs ever made. I also recommend the novels by Robert Graves, 'The Lives of the Twelve Caesars' by Suetonius, and 'Annals' by Tacitus.
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The cast is excellent, the writing superb and the direction first rate. The only criticisms that I have ever read of this series have come from younger viewers that criticize the lower budget production. All I can say is that while I would have preferred that this series of 37 years ago had the type of budget that the BBC could muster today, if given a choice of a bigger budget for production and the quality of cast, writing and direction, I'll take the substance, you can have the flash. My son (who was 15 at the time) and I first watched this in 1990 when PBS broadcast it for the 2nd time and it is still one of our mutual favorites. Long Live Claudius!
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"Not for nothing is it considered some of the finest television ever made," said Mike Duncan of the History of Rome podcast.
I watched "I, Claudius" as a child in the 70s on PBS and never shook it. Now, to combat Disney drivel, I'm watching the series again with my 10- and 12-year old kids, who are LOVING it.
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Derek Jacobi entered the pantheon of the gods with this one, and John Hurt followed right behind, portraying Claudius and Caligula respectively. Sian Phillips (may we all be spared such grandmothers) and Brian Blessed as Livia and Caesar? Wow. I'll never eat figs again, that's for sure.

I loved having this on AMAZON... no fiddling with clunky VHS tapes, good quality, free with PRIME.l

BUT PBS, IT'S TIME FOR A REMAKE!
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I have watched this series many a time, and each time I find more and more to love. The acting and casting are superb, the characters exquisitely developed, and the emphasis on acting over appearance, on substance over glamour, is something which I sorely miss in many modern productions. Sian Phillips is truly one of my favorite actresses mainly because of her performance in this series, and John Hurt's Caligula is, to this day, one of the most terrifying, amazing performances put on film. If you in any way like historical drama, you must watch this series.

It is for a specific audience, make no mistake, and there are flaws, of course, but taken as a whole, it is among the best acting and scripting of any television production. Highly, highly recommended.
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