Britannia, Season 3 – Sky Atlantic


   I’m pretty sure that there’s nothing in my history books about the Roman occupiers of Britain being cannibals, but, according to “Britannia”, they were just that.  Well, one of them was, anyway.  The poor bloke who ended up being served up at a banquet wasn’t even chopped into pieces and put in a stew.  He was wheeled to the table in a long silver dish, intact,  covered in a) all the trimmings and b) his helmet.

It all started off quite peacefully.  New series, new theme tune – Children of the Revolution.  Who knew that Ancient Romans and Celts were into Marc Bolan?   The Roman general with the Scouse accent had now got a nice pad in St Albans, but was in the doghouse all round because he’d lost track of the mysterious girl with magic powers, and wasn’t having much joy getting any information out of the guy who previously claimed to be 10,000 years old.  To add to his woes, his wife turned up.  This was when the rot set in.  First of all, she told him off for putting on weight.  Then she asked him where his sword was.  It was at the polishers, claimed he.  Ah.  Well, what was the sword that’d been found sticking out of a stump, then, asked she, brandishing it about.  He tried to claim that it wasn’t his, but failed dismally because it’d got his name on it  Engraved on it, that is, not marked with a Cash’s name tape.  She also crawled about sniffing the floor for any signs that other women had been in the place.  As you do.

Having found that he did, indeed, have a mistress around the place, she said that it was better than doing unspeakable things with his socks.  Too much information.  And then she had his mate served up for tea.

Meanwhile, Phelan, the dispossessed prince, was training as a druid, and was told to change his name to Quant.  Maybe druids were into Mary Quant make-up as well as glam rock.  Or maybe they just didn’t want their new guy being associated with Pat Phelan.  He was dispatched into the woods to find some moss, but sat around chatting to a centipede and then came back empty-handed.  And then the girl with the magic powers stabbed the guy who’d claimed to be 10,000 years old because he’d forgotten her name.  Or something.

I don’t know what the scriptwriters on this are on, but I suspect that it’s something rather stronger than mead.  Or vino.  And I think they may have had a little too much of it.  But at least it was entertaining.  It was so totally bonkers that you just had to laugh.  I mean, what on earth?!

Britannia, Season 2 – Sky Atlantic


 I’ve finally watched the first episode of the second series, in which the Emperor Claudius, speaking in a Lancashire accent and looking strangely like Mick from “Benidorm”,  rode round Britannia on an elephant, dictating fake news to his scribe in between complaining about his piles.  He then ended up crawling around naked after falling victim to a poisoning and near-drowning by David Morrissey.  This was odd, as David had seemed like a loyal servant of the Empire, promoting the spread of Roman religion by making people swear on the names of Roman gods that they hadn’t been using the posh baths as a toilet.  Meanwhile, a man balancing a birdcage on his head did a lot of chanting in Welsh (this was to show that he wasn’t speaking Latin), prior to his friend jumping off a cliff to see if she could fly.  It didn’t go well.  “Oh shit,” intoned Birdcage Man (in English), whereupon the first episode ended.

I’ve got no idea where this is going – especially as we’d earlier learnt that David (sorry, Aulus Plautius) was an old mate of Pontius Pilate’s and had intervened to stop the Crucifixion – but I’m rather put out by the continued failure to mention King Cogidubnus.  It is beyond stupid.  However, if you think of it as being a bit like a Carry On film – remember the one in which Julius Caesar comes to Britannia, moans about the weather, and then goes off to Egypt to meet Alma from “Coronation Street” ? – then it’s quite funny in a way, although the Carry On films were a lot funnier and didn’t involve people swearing in practically every sentence.

Some bits of it were genuinely amusing, notably when Claudius visited a building site and told his scribe to send news back to Rome that he’d seen a glorious marble temple dedicated in his honour, but I don’t think it was meant to be funny, at least not in a Carry On type way.  I don’t know what it was meant to be.  It was just weird.  There are another nine episodes of this, although there are so many adverts that, when you fast forward them, each episode doesn’t take that long to watch.  As Magnus Magnusson would have said, I’ve started so I’ll finish …