Nine reasons to be excited about Troy: Fall of a City
- Credit: BBC/Wild Mercury Productions
The BBC and Netflix are teaming up to bring us a big-budget drama about the Trojan War and the love affair between Paris and Helen later this year - but let's get excited about it RIGHT NOW. Wooden horses! Battles! Omens! Sandals without socks!
Described as an epic tale of love, revenge, intrigue and bloodshed, the new eight-part series Troy: Fall of a City is a collaboration between the BBC and Netflix and will be set against the backdrop of the ancient war between Greece and Troy.
It will go back to the saga's origins: the judgment of Paris, his passionate elopement with Helen, and the ill-starred prophecy surrounding his birth.
When the baby Paris is born, the omens foretell that he will bring about the downfall of the city. Queen Hecuba and King Priam are forced to choose whether to abandon their newborn son to the wolves (we've all felt that way after not enough sleep) or save him, but risk the safety of their kingdom. Their choice will decide not only the fate of their child, but the very existence of Troy.
Adapted by The Night Manager's David Farr, the series is due to air on BBC1 this year and a air date is likely to be released imminently – our money is on Autumn. But in the meantime, let's look at why we should start getting excited about this big budget drama about omens, prophecies, love, wrath, death, siege situations and family feuds. It'll put any rows you had over Christmas into perspective, at least.
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Nine reasons to get excited about Troy: The Fall of a City
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1) It's written by The Night Manager's David Farr: He cut his teeth as a playwright and theatre director but is now forging his way in television, winning more than eight million viewers with his adaptation of John Le Carre's novel despite being up against Downton Abbey in the scheduling. Before the hugely successful Night Manager, Farr wrote several episodes of Spooks and Outcasts and he recently adapted one of Philip K Dick's Electric Dreams episodes, Impossible Planet, about two bored space tourism guides taking an elderly woman on her last trip to Earth. Farr 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. Through one of Europe's oldest stories, it could not be more sadly pertinent today.'
2) Who doesn't want to see Frank from Shameless as Priam, King of Troy? We've seen him as Frank, Nella Last's husband, Tommy Cooper, Noah of ark fame, the first police officer to utilise DNA profiling, an exorcist and a crooked Thames wharfinger, but we've never seen David Threlfall as the Priam, the chap who prevented Heracles killing him by giving him a golden veil embroidered by his sister (that old trick).
3) The rest of the cast is great, too: There's Chloe Pirrie from War and Peace, Frances O'Connor from Mr Selfridge, Jonas Armstrong from Ripper Street, Bella Dayne (Humans) and Louis Hunter (The Fosters). Others include Tom Weston-Jones (Dickensian), Joseph Mawle (Game Of Thrones), Johnny Harris (This Is England 86-90), David Gyasi (Man In An Orange Shirt), Alfred Enoch (Harry Potter), David Avery (The Night Manager) and Aimee-Ffion Edwards (Luther).
4) It involves a plot written in the stars: Just before Paris, the youngest son of Priam and Queen Hecuba (Priam had 68 children with a variety of wives, so by the time Paris came along, he probably just referred to them by number), the omens foretell that the child will bring about the fall of the ancient city so his parents have to decide whether the noble thing to do is kill him, or whether they should risk losing their kingdom. The omens in question involved Hecuba having a dream in which she gave birth to a fiery torch covered with snakes – the prophets told her this meant the baby would cause the end of Troy: clearly none of the prophets had ever given birth, because I can tell you from painful memory that it definitely feels like you're delivering a fiery torch covered in snakes while it's happening.
5) It involves a warning to us all not to ignore prophets: To be fair to Priam and Hecuba, they do try to save the kingdom - they command two servants to take the baby away and kill him, but they're unable to go through with it and leave him on a mountain to die. He's found by a shepherd and raised as the man's son – he then goes on to bring about the fall of Troy. Never ignore a prophet when they tell you your last born is an agent of destruction.
6) The BBC and Netflix has thrown bucketloads of cash at Troy: While the cinematic version of Troy in 2005 cost a staggering £132.5 million (and was described by one critic as 'an adaptation of The Iliad that would have had to work much harder to miss the point of The Iliad any more thoroughly') the new version for the small screen has a budget of between £2 million and £8.5 million for each episode. So at least they can build the horse out of real wood rather than cardboard. Troy will be one of the BBC's most expensive-ever dramas.
7) You'll find out where the expression 'Achilles' heel' comes from: To be fair to Achilles, if you're hit by a poison arrow, it doesn't really matter where it strikes you, it's going to kill you. But don't allow fact to get in the way of a good mythological story.
8) It's post-watershed: If you cover up your piano legs lest their shapely form whip you up into a froth of excitement every time you spy it, Troy may not be for you. But if you're pining for the senseless violence of Game of Thrones, Gunpowder or Hard Sun, there may be nudity and gore on the horizon – worth bearing in mind if you were thinking of watching it with your Mum or Nan.
9) It answers the 'should you ever wear socks with sandals in any circumstances?' question conclusively: With a 'no'.