Sex and butchery: how Rome made history fun (UK TV)

Roundup: Pop Culture & the Arts ... Movies, Documentaries and Museum Exhibits

Blink and you might miss the second series of Rome (Sundays and Wednesdays, 9pm, BBC2). We will be rattling through two episodes a week for the next five weeks. The bloodthirsty re-telling of the birth of the Roman empire focuses on the political players of the time and their almost universal fondness for sex and gouging. It is somewhat similar to watching Patsy and Edina from Absolutely Fabulous getting drunk and shouting at snooty shop girls: you would never do it yourself but it's terrific to watch.

The twice-weekly format, a regular technique for US networks, is presumably a response to a demographic now used to bingeing on an entire DVD box set in a weekend, or hoovering all 12 episodes off their Sky+ at the end of a run. Making viewers wait a week might risk losing ratings. Viewing figures for Rome's second episode were already an improvement on its first, so they must be doing something right.

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