TV Series Review: Chelmsford 123

I’ve mentioned this TV series plenty of times, and I re-watch it every couple of years (yes, it’s that good). I’ve even put in some pop-references in my novels (an homage, not plagiarism 😜)

So here’s a formal review, in case you needed encouragement to watch it.

What to Expect

Set in the year 123 AD, a new Roman governor is exiled appointed to the remote, annoying province of Britannia. Aulus Paulinus and his ingratiating brother-in-law Grasientus are trying to rule a province filled with sneaky, snarky, Britons headed by the local chief Badvoc and his cronies.

The series has two seasons, with some slight character changes in between. While the main ones are present throughout, some of the support cast have changed. What is consistent is the humour.

What I liked / What to be aware of

Did I mention the humour? This series is on par with the much more widely known Blackadder, which is very high praise. I’ve watched it and re-watched it over the past 30 years, I know the scripts by heart, and I still laugh out loud.

While historical accuracy can best described as “bwhahahahaha! <snort>”, this is a sitcom so we’re not going to hold it to a high standard. And while their portrayal of Hadrian is unforgivable (more in line with the worst of the Julio-Claudians), the few bits where they speak Latin are beautiful — educated, classic Latin with the best pronunciation. It’s clear that the creators Mulville and McGrath (who are also the main stars) have a deep love for and understanding of Roman Britain.

Summary

If you love historical sitcoms, if you loved Blackadder, you owe it to yourself! I still have the VHS I recorded off TV back in the 90’s — but you can get the DVDs πŸ˜€

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