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BBC announces 'visceral' Troy drama as part of new season of …

The Troy drama will be written by David Farr, a former associate director of the Royal Shakespeare Company. Photograph: Fred Thornhill/Reuters

The BBC will seek to rival the acclaimed fantasy drama Game of Thrones with its own swords and sandals epic retelling the 10-year siege of Troy.

Troy: Fall Of A City is described as a visceral retelling of the Trojan war and a drama for our times unlike anything seen before on BBC1[2]. The post-watershed series will also be one of the corporation s most expensive, with a price tag of about 2m an episode, met by both the BBC and the drama s co-production partners. Part of a new season of BBC1 programmes announced on Tuesday, the BBC also confirmed casting for Russell T Davies bold and accessible adaptation of A Midsummer Night s Dream, which will star Maxine Peake as Titania, Matt Lucas as Bottom and singer Elaine Paige returning to TV in the role of Mistress Quince.

The BBC has had a string of acclaimed dramas this year, including BBC1 s Poldark and Wolf Hall on BBC2. But it has also been urged by critics including the chancellor, George Osborne[3], to make longer series along the lines of HBO s Game of Thrones, which swept the board at the Emmy awards on Sunday[4], to cater for the so-called box set generation. The controller of BBC1, Charlotte Moore, said the Troy adaptation was a bold and visceral rendition of the 3,000-year-old classic, told across multiple parts and will be unlike anything we ve ever seen on BBC1 before.

Intimate and epic, gripping and exhilarating, rich with psychological intrigue and human drama, we will feel the characters passions, pain and loss. The new season of programmes, announced by Moore and the BBC director general, Tony Hall, on the west London set of its new 20-part drama Dickensian, comes a week after the culture secretary, John Whittingdale, criticised BBC1 for failing to show more distinctive programming[5].

With the corporation s scope and funding under threat as part of the government s review of its royal charter, Moore said: Tonight I want to make three promises. BBC1 will be defined in the coming years by its commitment to risk-taking. I will guarantee investment in innovation. And I will challenge every new commission to break the mould. The Troy drama, which could run across eight or more parts, will be written by David Farr, a former associate director of the Royal Shakespeare Company. Farr, who has also adapted John le Carr s novel The Night Manager for the BBC, said: The story of Ilium, the ancient city of Troy, has always gripped me.

Fall of a City aims to convey in all its emotional richness, the effects of war, and the toll taken on city and family by the horrors of siege. Though one of Europe s oldest stories, it could not be more sadly pertinent today.

Made by Kudos, the production company which made Channel 4 s Humans and Broadchurch on ITV, Troy: Fall of a City will begin with the birth of Paris and end with the gut-wrenching conclusion of the fall of Troy. Other new BBC1 programmes include a sitcom season to mark 60 years since Hancock s Half Hour launched the genre on BBC television. Kicking off with a one-off live edition of Brendan O Carroll s Mrs Brown s Boys, which was a hit on stage before transferring to TV, the season will also see some of the biggest names in comedy asked to revisit loved classics alongside new shows.

Mrs Brown s Boys is the BBC s biggest sitcom, but with its lewd language it has also proved controversial. O Carroll said: When I heard the BBC were letting us go fully live I thought: They ve lost their minds! As Mrs. Brown s Boys started in the theatre it gives us a chance to show the TV audience live what we really do. Put the kids to bed early! New dramas include To Sir With Love, adapted by Hanif Kureishi from the autobiographical novel by ER Braithwaite; Peter Moffat s The Last Post based on his childhood memories of 1960s Aden; and a three-part adaptation of Mark Billingham s murder mystery, Rush of Blood. BBC1 will also show a six-part adaptation of The Cormoran Strike Mysteries, based on the JK Rowling detective novels written under the pseudonym Robert Galbraith and executive-produced by the Harry Potter author.

New factual series will include Paul O Grady on the Salvation Army, Angela Rippon s How To Stay Young and a series about the RNLI, Saving Lives at Sea. It will also show next year s Invictus Games in Orlando, Florida.


  1. ^ BBC (
  2. ^ BBC1 (
  3. ^ been urged by critics including the chancellor, George Osborne (
  4. ^ swept the board at the Emmy awards on Sunday (
  5. ^ culture secretary, John Whittingdale, criticised BBC1 for failing to show more distinctive programming (

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