Vesuvius and the Destruction of Pompeii
'POMPEII: THE LAST DAY' Looks at Final, Horrific Hours Before Worst Natural Disaster of Ancient Times in New Discovery Channel Special
Sunday, January 30, 2005, at 9:00 PM Eastern Standard Time
- Tim Pigott-Smith, Jonathan Firth and Jim Carter Star -
- Cutting-Edge Historical Analysis and Lavish Special Effects Capture the Cataclysmic Eruption of Mount Vesuvius -
POMPEII: THE LAST DAY, a new Discovery Channel special that vividly brings to life the final tension-filled hours surrounding one of the worst natural disasters of all time -- the eruption of mighty Mount Vesuvius -- will premiere Sunday, January 30, 9 PM (ET/PT), Jane Root, Executive Vice President and General Manager for Discovery Channel, announced today. Tim Pigott-Smith (Alexander), Jonathan Firth (Victoria and Albert) and Jim Carter (Shakespeare in Love) star in this exclusive two-hour special that interweaves dramatic reconstructions, with expert investigations and elaborate special effects.
A Discovery Channel/BBC co-production that ranked as the highest rated history program ever shown by the BBC when it aired October 23, 2003, POMPEII: THE LAST DAY was hailed by critics as "an involving and evocative account" (The Guardian), "a triumph ... gripping" (Sunday Express), and "documentary making of the highest order" (Daily Mirror). More than ten million viewers watched the program.
Almost 2,000 years ago, the Roman Empire -- the greatest empire the world has ever known -- was shaken to its very core by the worst natural disaster the ancient world had ever experienced. In less than 24 hours, the entire city of Pompeii, and at least 5,000 of its citizens, were buried under 75 feet of volcanic debris -- victims of the cataclysmic eruption of Mount Vesuvius.
Based on scientific evidence unearthed in Pompeii and nearby Herculaneum, as well as the written firsthand account of Pliny the Younger, POMPEII: THE LAST DAY follows the fate of several citizens of that city, who awoke on August 24 in the year 79 A.D. in the shadow of a mountain they did not know was also a simmering volcano. Among them are Julius Polybius [Jim Carter], a prosperous bakery owner, who's mulling over a possible move into politics. Stephanus [Jonathan Firth], an arrogant social climber, leaves his wife Fortunata [Rebecca Clarke] to run his laundry business while he takes his slave-lover to a hotel for a tryst. And Celadus [Robert Whitelock], a renowned gladiator, is out on the streets with one of his comrades, enjoying their popularity status among an adoring public.
Stationed across the Bay of Naples from Pompeii is Pliny the Elder [Tim Pigott-Smith], scholar and admiral of the Roman fleet, who watches as the volcano begins to spew 4 billion tons of pumice, rock and ash skyward -- and launches a valiant rescue effort that could cost him his life.
From choices come consequences, and Celadus, Stephanus, Julius Polybius, Pliny, their families and their friends are now facing an unfolding disaster with no precedent. What each person does next will ultimately determine their fate.
POMPEII: THE LAST DAY also stars Rebecca Clarke, Robert Whitelock and Martin Hodgson.