3 August 2018 | dennis nicoll
The Best Screen Version Of A Classic 1950s Children's Novel
Yes, this production must certainly have been networked by the BBC on the original transmission date as I welll remember watching it back in 1977 (and was living in the west of England at that time). Very well done in all respects - though perhaps the relationship between Roman officers and soldiers (even in an Auxiliary cohort) was portrayed as a little too familiar. This would not have been the case at the time. Roman society was deeply differentiated by class and social status and this would have been even more marked in a military context.
I read the novel as a child back in the 1950s (I have always been a great admirer of Rosemary Sutcliff's novels) and well remember the superb 1957 BBC radio serialisation (now lost) of the book by Felix Felton, broadcast on Children's Hour.
Just as a point of interest, we now know (from archaeological excavations) that
Isca Dumnoniorum (Modern Exeter) was originally founded as the base of Legio II Augusta (49-73 CE) and that by the second century (when this story is set) had been abandoned by the Roman army and become a civilian settlement) the new Cantonal capital of the Domnonian tribe.
No matter, this and some other historical anomalies do not detract in the sightest
from the story. I am also pleased that the serial has now been released on DVD and may be enjoyed by a new generation of viewers.