Saturday, 16 May 2009

The Classics of Pompeii

When I saw that there was going to be a Doctor Who inspired classics lecture nearby, I had to go of course. It was a presentation by Dr Fiona Hobden about the episode The Fires of Pompeii, how the BBC put it together, and how it presented extra material.

The first section was about the episode itself, that the episode borrowed from the recent series Rome, that the family was more sit-com that historical, and that historicity gave way to fantasy. (Really? This was something that needed to be pointed out? Doctor Who is always precise and accurate in its portrayal of places it goes in the time machine with the alien Time Lord.)

The next section focused on the extra material, available on the website (it wasn’t pointed out that the videos were only accessible to a British audience) and in the Confidential, in particular the material emphasised the difference between the actual historical event and the made up monsters and sets. (Again, yep, that's what they do. This could be said about any Doctor Who historical, if not any episode in general.)

The last section was more general observations on the nature of television and its portrayal of history, more a mass agglomeration rather than the fractured picture of scholarly study.

Interesting stuff, but more for the Classics people than, say, the Doctor Who hardcore fans. Certainly some comments seemed to resonate with the rest of the audience than with me. I think analysis could have been helped by someone who did know the reality of Doctor Who production, however it's a bit late to speak up now. This presentation is from a paper that will be published in October (in Greece and Rome), although it will not be publically accessible (however buyable for 10 quid).


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