I, Claudius

Watch I, Claudius

  • Not Rated
  • 1976
  • 1 Season
  • 8.8  (19,117)

I, Claudius is a historical drama television series that originally aired on the BBC back in 1976. The show is set in ancient Rome and is based on the novels I, Claudius and Claudius the God by author Robert Graves. The series follows the life of Claudius, a rarely spoke of member of the ruling family of Rome, the Julio-Claudian dynasty. It begins with the reign of Augustus, Claudius' great-uncle, and continues through to Claudius himself becoming Emperor of Rome.

Derek Jacobi stars as Claudius, with the story being told as a series of flashbacks from his perspective as an old man, looking back on his life recounting his experiences with the various tyrants and intrigues of the ruling family. The show's opening monologue features Claudius introducing himself as "I, Tiberius Claudius Drusus Nero Germanicus, this I do in fear and trembling," adding "for my son and my wife think me mad, and the Emperor too. I would be the most foolish of men if I did not expect to join the ranks of the many who have been murdered for the good of the state."

The show's sets and costumes are authentically detailed, with the majority of the scenes taking place in the palaces and villas of the ruling family. The audience is transported to ancient Rome, with its opulence, decadence, and debauchery in full display. There are scenes of gladiators fighting, chariot races, slaves being used for entertainment, and of course, the infamous Roman orgies.

The show's central theme is the ruthless nature of power and the destructive effects of corruption, both personal and political. The various characters within Claudius' family often engage in schemes and stratagems to rise up the ranks of the ruling elite or to consolidate their power. These ploys are often violent or cruel in nature, and those who stand in the way are quickly dispatched. The show does not shy away from showing the gruesome effects of these plots, with scenes of murder, poisoning, and betrayal being commonplace.

Despite the show's overall grim tone and its depiction of brutality, there is still some levity found in the witty dialogue and Claudius' insightful musings. The use of the unreliable narrator allows for some moments of comic relief, as Claudius recounts events in his life with an ironic and wry sense of humor. The show's complex characters, scheming machinations, and fascinating historical setting make it a hallmark of British television history. It has won numerous awards, including Emmys and BAFTAs, and is considered to be a television classic.

Overall, I, Claudius is a riveting portrayal of one of the most fascinating periods in history. Its attention to detail and authentic sets and costumes make it a feast for the eyes, while its complex characters and themes make it engrossing on a deeper level. The series is a must-watch for fans of historical dramas and those interested in the cutthroat world of ancient Rome politics.

I, Claudius is a series that is currently running and has 1 seasons (13 episodes). The series first aired on September 20, 1976.

I, Claudius
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Old King Log
13. Old King Log
October 24, 1976
Rome, 54 CE. Claudius marries Agrippinilla, mother of Nero and the deadliest woman in Rome. A prophecy has told him that Nero will be Rome's next ruler. Claudius knowingly seals his fate and that of his own son by naming Nero his heir. He finishes his book and buries a copy to be found centuries later.
Old King Log
12. Old King Log
December 6, 1976
Rome, 54 CE. Claudius marries Agrippinilla, mother of Nero and the deadliest woman in Rome. A prophecy has told him that Nero will be Rome's next ruler. Claudius knowingly seals his fate and that of his own son by naming Nero his heir.
A God in Colchester
11. A God in Colchester
November 29, 1976
Rome, 47-48 CE. While Claudius is away invading Britain, Messalina challenges a leading prostitute to a tournament of sex. She wins, scandalizing Rome, but Claudius remains in the dark. Soon after, Claudius learns that the British have made him a god.
Fool's Luck
10. Fool's Luck
November 22, 1976
Rome, 41-43 CE. Under Claudius's rule, the empire's finances are improving. His wife, Messalina bears him two children and urges him to make an alliance with Silanus, governor of Spain. An old friend warns him to trust no one.
Hail Who?
9. Hail Who?
November 15, 1976
Rome, 40-41 CE. Now totally mad, Caligula has turned the palace into a brothel, with gambling and orgies. His uncle Claudius serves as doorkeeper. Conspirators plot to assassinate Caligula. Later, as soldiers loot the palace, Claudius hides.
Zeus, by Jove!
8. Zeus, by Jove!
November 8, 1976
Rome, 37-38 CE. On his deathbed, Tiberius names Caligula heir. Caligula promises bread and circuses, and a new age of prosperity seems hopeful. Then Caligula falls into a coma, awakens, and proclaims himself a god. He fears his unborn son by his sister.
Reign of Terror
7. Reign of Terror
November 1, 1976
Rome, 30-31 CE. Sejanus has destroyed nearly all his enemies. Even Tiberius, living on Capri, is in danger. When he receives a warning letter, he wonders how to stop Sejanus. Caligula makes a suggestion, and the streets of Rome run red with blood.
Queen of Heaven
6. Queen of Heaven
October 25, 1976
Rome, 23-29 CE. Tiberius lives only for his perverted pleasures. Sejanus forces Claudius to marry his sister, solidifying his alliance with the imperial family. Livia, confesses her crimes to Claudius and reveals a prophecy that he will be emperor.
Some Justice
5. Some Justice
October 18, 1976
Rome, 19-20 CE. Tiberius rules Rome with help from Sejanus. When Claudius's popular brother, Germanicus, dies under mysterious circumstances, the Roman people protest. A trial in the Senate is rigged to clear the emperor's name.
Poison Is Queen
4. Poison Is Queen
October 11, 1976
Rome, 13-14 CE. After decades of deception, Augustus learns of Livia's plots and writes a new will naming Postumus his heir. Soon after Livia visits the keepers of the emperor's will, Augustus suffers severe stomach pains. She then sends in Sejanus.
What Shall We Do About Claudius?
3. What Shall We Do About Claudius?
October 4, 1976
Rome, 9 CE. When Livia hears that Tiberius has a new rival, Postumus, she quickly moves against him. Before he is banished, Postumus tells Claudius everything Livia. Claudius plays the fool to ensure his safety; he weds in a marriage Livia arranged.
Waiting in the Wings
2. Waiting in the Wings
September 27, 1976
Rome, 3-5 CE. With Tiberius in exile, it seems that Livia has lost--but everyone Augustus chooses to succeed him dies inexplicably. Livia forces the emperor to face the truth about his daughter. An omen hints that Claudius might be more than he appears.
A Touch of Murder
1. A Touch of Murder
September 20, 1976
Rome, 24-9 BCE. Nearing the end of his life and surrounded by spies, Claudius, emperor of Rome, writes his family history. It begins during the reign of Augustus, with his treacherous grandmother, Livia, scheming to advance the career of her son, Tiberius.
Where to Watch I, Claudius
I, Claudius is available for streaming on the BBC website, both individual episodes and full seasons. You can also watch I, Claudius on demand at Apple TV Channels, Amazon Prime, Amazon, Google Play and Apple TV.
  • Premiere Date
    September 20, 1976
  • IMDB Rating
    8.8  (19,117)