HBO & BBC Plan “I, Claudius” Mini-Series

Patrick Stewart with hair, a blond fey John Hurt eating the foetus (off screen of course) of the sister he impregnated, Brian Blessed in a toga roaring, a stuttering Derek Jacobi, Siân Phillips as the most scheming murderous shrew you’ve ever met, and short appearances from John Rhys-Davies, Bernard Hill and Kevin McNally.

They were just some of the highlights of “I, Claudius”, the 1976 BBC Emmy-winning ten-part miniseries of Robert Graves’ acclaimed works “I, Claudius” and “Claudius the God”. Now, HBO is teaming BBC2 to acquire the rights to turn the Graves historical novels into a new mini-series with the help of executive producers Jane Tranter and Anne Thomopooulos (“Rome”) reports Deadline.

Considered one of the best novels of the 20th century, Graves’ 1934 novel recounts the internecine plots and counterplots surrounding Claudius, the fourth emperor of Rome who ruled from 41-54 A.D.

The stuttering and handicapped Claudius, born into a murderous, imperial family, used his cunning mind and rivals’ misjudgment of his disability to not only survive but eventually become one of Rome’s greatest emperors.

The story runs through Claudius’ life and the various emperors who reigned before him including Augustus, Tiberius, and the mad Caligula. A sequel novel, “Claudius the God”, deals with his reign and ends with Claudius’ death and succession by Nero.

Rights to the property have been floating around for a little while after being sold by filmmaker Jim Sheridan in 2007. Producer Scott Rudin was interested in doing the property with “The Departed” scribe William Monahan and star Leonardo DiCaprio, but that incarnation fell through.

The story however is so large in scale that a miniseries really is the only way to get everything in which has lead to Tranter grabbing hold of the rights. This incarnation is expected to be a new adaptation of Graves’ books rather than a remake of the previous mini-series.