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Last Updated: Monday, 17 October 2005, 15:41 GMT 16:41 UK
BBC backs its explicit Rome epic
Ciaran Hinds in Rome
Ciaran Hinds plays Julius Caesar in the $110m (62.7m) series
The makers of epic multi-million pound BBC drama Rome have defended its scenes of nudity, sex and graphic violence.

"You can't understand that period of history unless it shocks you," said writer and co-creator Bruno Heller.

"This is how people lived," added Jane Tranter, the BBC's controller of drama commissioning. "It shows Rome in all its bloodiness and viscerality."

The 11-part series - a co-production with US cable network HBO - begins on BBC Two on 2 November.

The show - which cost $110m (62.7m) to produce - began airing on HBO in the US at the end of August.

These people had very different moral boundaries to ours
James Purefoy

The first episode, which will be screened just after the watershed at 2100, features a flogging, a crucifixion and a ritual animal sacrifice.

The programme - which also contains male and female nudity and two sex scenes - will be preceded by a strongly worded content warning.

"People will be told it features graphic content and adult language," said actor Ray Stevenson at the series' press launch, held in London on Monday.

"If you're going to be offended, don't put yourself in that position."

Kevin McKidd in Rome
Kevin McKidd (foreground) plays Roman soldier Lucius Vorenus
"We hope Rome will push back all sorts of boundaries," added Tranter, who said the BBC had contributed 800,000 to each episode.

But actor James Purefoy - who plays Mark Antony in the series - says the drama is merely "holding the mirror up to nature".

"This was a pre-Christian, pagan society," he told BBC News.

"These people had very different moral boundaries to ours."

Set around 50 BC, Rome looks at the birth of the Roman Empire through the eyes of two ordinary soldiers, played by Stevenson and Scottish actor Kevin McKidd.

Ciaran Hinds plays Julius Caesar in a cast that also includes Kenneth Cranham, Polly Walker and Lindsay Duncan.


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