Roman Mysteries is a CBBC television series based on The Roman Mysteries historical novels by Caroline Lawrence. It is reportedly the most expensive British children's TV series to date at £1 million per hour.The series began filming in June 2006 and was first broadcast from 8 May 2007. The series is divided into "scrolls", each based on one book, starting with "The Secrets of Vesuvius". The stories are told in the same order as the book series, except for book 6, The Twelve Tasks of Flavia Gemina, which is transposed to the second season. Books 11 and 12 were not adapted, and the series ends with the adaptation of Book 13. Each scroll consists of two half-hour episodes. The first scroll guest-starred Simon Callow as Pliny the Elder.Series 1
Scroll One: "The Secrets of Vesuvius" (first broadcast 8 May 2007)
Scroll Two: "The Pirates of Pompeii" (first broadcast 3 July 2007)
Scroll Three: "The Assassins of Rome" (first broadcast 17 July 2007)
Scroll Four: "The Dolphins of Laurentum" (first broadcast 31 July 2007)
Scroll Five: "The Enemies of Jupiter" (first broadcast 14 August 2007)
Scroll One: "The Gladiators of Capua" (first UK broadcast 8 July 2008)
Scroll Two: "The Twelve Trials of Flavia Gemina" (first UK broadcast 15 July 2008)
Scroll Three: "The Colossus of Rhodes" (first UK broadcast 29 July 2008)
Scroll Four: "The Fugitive from Corinth" (first UK broadcast 19 August 2008)
Scroll Five: "The Slave Girl from Jerusalem" (first UK broadcast 2 September 2008)
Some of the major differences from the books include:
The children are older.
Lupus is mute but his tongue has not been cut out.
Because 'The Thieves of Ostia was not adapted, the meeting of the children takes place at a different time (just before the eruption of Vesuvius) and under different circumstances.
In the book of The Assassins of Rome, Simeon is dragged off to be tortured but gets rescued (by Titus) before he is maimed or blinded as was threatened. In the movie he doesn't get rescued.
Jonathan returns home at the end of "The Enemies of Jupiter".
"The Gladiators of Capua" and "The Fugitive from Corinth" are set in Ostia, rather than Rome and Greece, respectively.
Pulchra appears in "The Trials of Flavia Gemina" in Jonathan's place.
Several minor characters have been omitted or combined for the television episodes.
In "The Slave Girl from Jerusalem", a new character, Floridius, was introduced for comic relief.
When bought as a slave, Nubia's head has not been shaved and she is clothed.
Amateur Sleuth and Kid Detective - Flavia and friends are children that investigate mysteries, including but not limited to crimes.
Appease The Volcano God - The show actually give a real life twist on this common trope. Instead of virgin sacrifice, the Romans sacrifice fish as part of the Vulcanalia in The Secrets of Vesuvius.
Artful Dodger - Lupus's life as a beggar boy and innate intelligence makes him sneaky and street smart.
Big Bad - Some of the books have villians and others do not, however the villian whose kidnapping ring forms one of the recurring plot lines of the series is refered to by the characters is "The Big Buyer". After the "Big Buyer" is captured, it is revealed that there is a "Bigger Buyer" who is in fact ultimatly in charge of the kidnapping.
Big Fancy House - Villa Limona is a a luxurious villa owned by Felix, an exceptionally rich and powerful person.
Black Vikings - Averted in the books, which contain a realistic depictions of the racial and cultural mix of the Roman Empire. However, in the TV adaptation, there are two examples of black Roman patricians.
Book Worm - One of Flavia's favorite passtime is reading, and she often brings up information she learned from various scrolls.
The Chase - The Colossus of Rhodes, The Fugitive from Corinth
Deliberate Values Dissonance - All the characters are upset about free Romans being kidnapped and enslaved, but most of them give little thought to the enslavement of non-Romans or those born to slavery. Notable exceptions are Nubia, who was herself a slave, and Dr. Mordecai, who is against all slavery. This is an accurate potrayal of the values of the time period.
Eye Take - Lupus in The Enemies of Jupiter when Flavia suggests to Emperor Titus that he is a Prometheus that will destroy Rome because of his hubris.
Feminine Women Can Cook - Alma and Miriam are the best cooks and play the most traditionally feminine roles in the story, especially by 1st Century Roman standards. Flavia, on the other hand, is hardly ever depicted cooking, partly because she is a Tomboy and partly because Alma does all the cooking for her family.
Free-Range Children - The characters are often in situations where there is little adult supervision. However, this is not constant throughout the series, as there there are many situations where they do their detective work with adult supervision and help.
Historical Fiction - This series is set in The Roman Empire, beginning in the year 79 AD. Most of the events take place Ostia (port city of Rome), with the occassional trip to the City of Rome and other locations within the empire.
Heroic Dolphin meets Friendly, Playful Dolphin - In the episode The Dolphins of Laurentum, the main characters swim and play with dolpins, and Lupus even rides one. A dolphin rescues Lupus after he nearly drowns from staying underwater too long while diving. It is also strongly implied that the same dolphin discouraged Lupus from deliberatly leaving behind another diver who had been trapped by a giant octopus, though in fairness to Lupus he had a good reason for wanting the trapped person to die. A ship is named Delphina.
Little Stowaway - In the The Secrets of Vesuvius, Lupus is a stowaway on Marcus Flavius's ship.
Made a Slave - Nubia starts the series as a slave. Many other children are also kidnapped and enslaved, forming the basis of the plots for The Pirates of Pompeii and The Colossus of Rhodes. The Four Detectives are briefly captured in The Pirates of Pompeii and are going to be sold as slaves. Jonathan is also briefly enslaved in The Assassins of Rome. Three of the Four Detectives are captured yet again in The Colossus of Rhodes..
Meaningful Rename - Nubia is really the name that was given by the slave dealers to Shepenwepet when she is made a slave. When she is freed, she decides to keep the name, saying "Nubia can be my new name for my new life."
Meaningful Name - A number of characters have names whose meanings in Latin or Greek reflect their characteristics. Just a few are listed here.
Lupus, the name of the wild character, means wolf. This is also a partial example of Animal Theme Naming although it does not fit that trope perfectly because Lupus is the only one with an animal name.
Felix is a very fortunate (both rich and lucky) man, as one might expect from the meaning of his name.
Police Are Useless - Well, not completely useless, but the only thing they seem to be useful for are locking up the criminals that Flavia and friends have identified. Of course, historic Rome did not have anything approaching modern police forces and professional, scientific criminal investigation techniques, so this is probably not far from the truth.
Pride - Pride of the hubris variety is one of the explicit themes of The Enemies of Jupiter.
Prophetic Dreams - Jonathan has prophetic dreams in several of the books. Flavia has a prophetic dream that forms the basis of The Twelve Tasks of Flavia Gemina. A prophetic dream also plays a major role in The Enemies of Jupiter.
The Queen's Latin - Considering it is a British TV series with British actors, the TV adaptation can be forgiven for having British accents. However, it is a bit odd when the Irish actor playing Flavia's father/uncle has an Irish accent unlike any of the other characters.
Secondary Character Title - Most of the episode titles, when they refer to a character, refer to a secondary character or groups of characters that are pivotal to the plot but are not one of the series's four main characters.
Sea Stories - Most of the series would not qualify, however The Colossus of Rhodes would. Not only is it about ship voyage through the Mediterranean Sea, but the story also incorporates explicit parallels to one of the Sea Stories of Classical Mythology, namely Jason and The Argonauts.
Snooping Little Kid - Lupus uses his skills at snooping, sneaking and eavesdropping several times throughout the series.
The Speechless - Lupus is unable to talk for reasons not revealed for several episodes. It is notable that in the books, Lupus can not talk because his tongue was cut out, however in the TV series his tongue is still intact.
Sibling Triangle - As part of the backstory, both Gaius and Marcus Flavius fell in love with the same woman. She married Marcus and died giving birth to Flavia.
Street Urchin - Several examples appear in the series, however the most notable is Lupus, who becomes one of the four main characters.
Tom Boy - Flavia is a mild tomboy by modern standards but is most especially a tomboy by Roman standards.
This Is My Name On Foreign - Lupus's actual name is Lukos. However, both names simply mean "wolf." This does not follow the trope perfectly, because it is not an alias that Lupus picks for himself.
Translation Convention - Latin is translated into English. Other languages are spoken in the original language however are usually given subtitles in English.
Twin Switch - Gaius briefly poses as Marcus in one The Dolphins of Laurentum.
Unreliable Expositor - A number of characters state scientific, medical or geographic facts that are now known to be inaccurate, but do correspond to what educated people in the 1st century AD Rome actually believed.
World Of No Grandparents - None of the main character have grandparents take any major role in the story. Most of the grandparents are dead. Given the low life expectancy of this time period, this is highly realistic.