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Last Updated: Tuesday, 1 November 2005, 21:27 GMT
Caesar role rendered unto NI actor
Ciaran Hinds in Rome
Belfast actor Ciaran Hinds plays Julius Caesar in the series
A Belfast actor has taken the star role in the BBC's latest drama series Rome.

Ciaran Hinds plays Julius Caesar in the production which begins on BBC Two on Wednesday.

A co-production between BBC and US cable network HBO, the programme recreates Julius Caesar's rise to power and the birth of the Roman Empire.

Shot in Rome's Cinecitta studios on the world's largest standing set, featuring hundreds of actors wearing more than 4,000 pieces of wardrobe, the scale of the series is more akin to a feature film than a TV series.

"It was thrilling, absolutely thrilling the first time you walked onto that set," says actor Hinds, whose role as Caesar extends from his conquering of Gaul in the first episode to his assassination in the 11th.

"It was never less than a challenge, but it was a huge, exciting project. A part of me will miss not being in the next series."

Hinds says he believes Rome will be a huge hit
Hinds says he believes Rome will be a huge hit

Hinds says for the first three parts, Caesar does not actually arrive in Rome.

"He is in Gaul taking as much wealth and possessions as he can to put him in a position of power when he finally comes back to Rome.

"The actual look of this story of Rome is nothing to do with Hollywood's history of telling the story of Rome, which has big marble and enormous vistas of these huge people - it is much more raw, real - you hope - earthy, and rough."

The creators say the new series gives an insight into Rome in 52 B.C. rarely seen on screen before.

"It sort of tells a strand of Roman life from the top to the bottom," says Hinds.

Each episode cost 800,000 but the actor believes it will be a huge hit.

Polly Walker in Rome
Viewers will see actress Polly Walker drenched in bull's blood

"It's a slow burn and it is complicated and there are a lot of characters, but I believe if people stick with it they'll have a great ride."

Co-creator and executive producer Bruno Heller added: "I hope it [the show] is shocking. You can't understand that period of history unless it shocks you somewhat."

Rome has already screened in the US. It will be broadcast on BBC Two on 2 November at 2100 GMT.

Watch clips from the drama

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