THIS IS THE ONE. Premium pulling-out-the-stops affair courtesy of a benevolent Beeb looking for something to celebrate 40 years of telly and coming up with a toga-encrused blood-soaked poison-splattered latex-smothered wine-soused vine-doused epic of Romanic empire proportions. Which was convenient, for that was the subject; specifically the decline and fall of Italy’s finest, told from the perspective of a limping, twitching, stuttering DEREK JACOBI dodging the cutting remarks and cutting down of his entire family to somehow survive 70 odd years of palatial pandemonium. Passing through: BRIAN BLESSED as a majestically befuddled Augustus (“Where are my eagles?!”), SIAN LLOYD as his missus Livia (“By the way: don’t touch the figs”), GEORGE BAKER as doomed deviant Tiberias (“Why doesn’t he like me?”), JOHN HURT as demented loon Caligula (“Haven’t you noticed? I have become a God!”), PATRICK STEWART as tyro henchman Sejanus (“Let’s hold another treason trial!”), CHRISTOPHER BIGGINS as Nero (“What a pretty thing a fire is!”), SHEILA WHITE as the near-permanently topless Messalina (“Let’s have a tournament…of sex!”), BERNARD HILL as a Scouse guard (“You’re our emperor now, mate!”), STRATFORD JOHNS as treacherous senator Piso (“Let’s open our veins together!”), IAN OGILVY as naive nuisance Drusus (“I can match you black for black”), SIMON MCCORKINDALE as equally naive nicompoop Lucius, BERNARD HEPTON as meddling aide Pallas and PETER BOWLES as silver-haired Brit (of course) CARACTACUS.