Doctor Who (1963–1989)
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The Slave Traders 

The travelers decide to take a holiday near ancient Rome, but after a month the Doctor gets restless. He and Vicki determine to visit Rome, and while they are gone Ian and Barbara are ... See full summary »




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Episode cast overview:
William Russell ...
Jacqueline Hill ...
Maureen O'Brien ...
Derek Sydney ...
Nick Evans ...
Didius (as Nicholas Evans)
Dennis Edwards ...
Margot Thomas ...
Stall Holder
Edward Kelsey ...
Slave Buyer
Bart Allison ...


The travelers decide to take a holiday near ancient Rome, but after a month the Doctor gets restless. He and Vicki determine to visit Rome, and while they are gone Ian and Barbara are abducted by slave traders. All roads lead to Rome, however, and the travelers find themselves at the mercy of the country's petulant emperor, Nero... (Originally broadcast in four parts.) Written by Sarah Hadley

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Release Date:

16 January 1965 (UK)  »

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Sound Mix:

Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?


Dennis Spooner's original idea was to spoof Quo Vadis (1951), which led him to choosing the time of the Great Fire of Rome as his setting. See more »


The stall holder suggests that Flavius is campaigning in Gaul, but by 64 AD, when this episode is set, Gaul had been subjugated for more than a century. See more »


Featured in Dennis Spooner: Wanna Write a Television Series? (2009) See more »

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User Reviews

The Romans Part 1: Disappointing and uneven historical adventure
6 July 2014 | by (South Wales, UK) – See all my reviews

Review of all 4 parts:

This 4 part historical adventure from writer Dennis Spooner is a mix of serious drama and comedy. It takes place in Roman times and brings the time travellers to the court of Emperor Nero leading up to the burning of Rome. It features murder, intrigue and humour, some of which is reminiscent of a 'Carry On' film.

This is quite well liked by a fair amount of viewers but I find it pretty weak. The tone is uneven, slipping jarringly rather than smoothly between whimsical humour and dark drama throughout the adventure and descending to full on crazy farce in episode 3. This farce element is silly and just does not work as far as I am concerned, especially when mixed with the story's dark themes, making episode 3 not much better than the very weakest Who episodes. The drama is relatively uninteresting at times throughout the story too. If it were not for the strength of the main cast it would fall totally flat. Luckily the cast carry it off to some extent and I can accept that amongst dark stories such as The Dalek Invasion of Earth and weird sci fi drama The Web Planet a story like this is intended as a fun interlude. I just find it mostly not very well done.

A few good aspects to the drama and the funnier moments of humour along with some entertaining interaction and dialogue for the excellent main characters (including a strong performance by newcomer Maureen O'Brien as Vicki) keep standards from being entirely poor but this was a disappointing adventure for me.

My Ratings: Episode 1 - 6.5/10, Episode 2 - 6/10, Episode 3 - 5/10, Episode 4 - 6.5/10

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