[[caption-width-right:350:And no, [[WhileRomeBurns Rome is]] ''[[WhileRomeBurns not]]'' [[WhileRomeBurns burning down]] while this occurs... [[NiceJobBreakingItHero The Doctor has yet to cause the inspiration to it.]]]]
-> ''I've got a friend who specializes in trouble. He dives in and usually finds a way.''
Fun with the Romans, as the TARDIS arrives during the reign of Nero and take a little holiday at a villa outside Rome. The Doctor quickly gets bored and heads off into the city with Vicki while Ian and Barbara stay behind - only to be kidnapped by slave traders.
Meanwhile, the Doctor is mistaken for a famous musician and ordered to play the lyre for Nero, and goes through ever more ridiculous [[ZanyScheme zany schemes]] to avoid having to reveal he can't play a note - at one point claiming that only the most musically-attuned ear can even ''hear'' his playing, before silently waving his fingers in front of the instrument.
Ian is sold as a galley slave while Barbara ends up as a servant at Nero's palace. Ian escapes when his ship is wrecked and heads to Rome to try and rescue Barbara, but is recaptured and made into a gladiator.
Eventually Ian escapes again and is reunited with Barbara, while the Doctor and Vicki make their escape after the Doctor accidentally sets fire to Nero's plans for the new city of Rome, giving him an idea about [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Great_Fire_of_Rome how to clear the space]].
[[http://www.dailymotion.com/playlist/x1kcdi_matrixarchive_the-romans Watch it here.]]
* ArtisticLicenseReligion / [[ArtisticLicenseHistory History]]: Tavius is shown clutching a cross pendant, indicating that he is a Christian. However, at the time of Nero, Christians would have used the ichthys as a symbol. The cross, reminiscent of Jesus' torture and death, would have been viewed negatively by early Christians. On the other hand, very few viewers (especially children) are going to recognise the ichthys.
* AncientRome: A [[LighterAndSofter more humorous]] take.
* AssassinOutclassin: The First Doctor runs rings around the mute assassin Ascaris sent to kill him, and ultimately ends up shoving him out of a window.
* BadassGrandpa: The First Doctor takes on a centurion ''with his cane''.
* BlackComedyRape: That wacky Nero trying to rape Barbara all the time!
* BreadEggsMilkSquick: "Oh something else I forgot to tell you: I think I've poisoned Nero."
* BreatherEpisode: Compared to the two preceding serials, ''The Romans'' is [[ToneShift presented more like a farce]] than a drama, with slapstick fight scenes, sharp dialogue and much mistaking of identity. This odd-seeming choice was made to increase the dramatic range of the series.
* TheCaligula: Caesar Nero
* DeadlyDecadentCourt: It's Emperor Nero, what else would you expect?
* DidTheyOrDidntThey: Ian and Barbara, alone in the villa.
* GagEcho: In the first episode, Ian and Barbara are drinking in the villa. During a refill, Ian mentions there's no ice and Barbara says "there's some in the fridge." He actually starts to go until he realizes she's joking and they share a laugh. During the last episode, when the two get back to the villa, Barbara says that she's hungry and wonders if there's any food in the house. Ian tells her to look in the fridge. Barbara starts to go look, then realizes the joke and hits Ian with a pillow.
* GalleySlave: Ian and Delos
* GladiatorGames: What Ian's trying to avoid.
* GoodOldFisticuffs: In Ian's absence, The Doctor gets a much-appreciated opportunity to practise his own skills at the noble art.
* GrapesOfLuxury: Barbara feeds Ian grapes in the opening scene.
* HistoricalDomainCharacter - Nero, Poppaea, Locusta, ...
* MadeASlave: Ian and Barbara
* MasterPoisoner: Locusta
* [[MissedHimByThatMuch Missed Her By That Much]]: In the middle two episodes, the Doctor and Vicki repeatedly ''almost'' bump into Barbara, who would have been very glad to see them. In the end, they only meet her back at the villa and never realise she was in Rome at all.
* MistakenForSpecialGuest: The Doctor is mistaken for the famous lyre player Maximus Pettulian.
* NiceJobBreakingItHero: Barbara's heart was in the right place when she tried to attack the intruders in the villa, but hitting ''Ian'' on the head with an urn didn't exactly help them.
* PoisonedChaliceSwitcheroo: Unusual in that the goblets are switched by a third party (Vicki).
* PsychopathicManChild: Nero.
* RunningGag: "It's in the fridge."
** In the first few episodes, the Doctor keeps forgetting the name of the man he is supposed to be impersonating.
* SelfOffense: Barbara hits Ian over the head with an urn while trying to hit the intruders.
* ShootTheDog: Tavius and the actual Petullian's plan is to off Nero.
* [[WhatTheHellHero What The Hell, Doctor?]]: Granted the First Doctor wasn't quite as pacifist as most of his successors, but it's still a bit alarming to see him looking delighted and cackling with glee when he realizes he was partly responsible for the burning of Rome.
* ZanyScheme: Everything the Doctor does to keep people from finding out he can't play the lyre.