Pompeii: The Last Day

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Pompeii: The Last day
Pompeii ---- The Last Day.jpg
Title screenshot
Written byEdward Jones carter
Directed byPeter Nicholson
Narrated by
Composer(s)Ty Unwin
Country of originUnited Kingdom
Original language(s)English
Executive producer(s)Michael J. Mosley
Producer(s)Ailsa Orr
Running time90 minutes
Original networkBBC One
Original release20 October 2003
Related shows
External links

Pompeii: The Last Day is a 2003 dramatized documentary that tells of the eruption of Mount Vesuvius on August 24 79 AD. This eruption covered the Roman cities of Pompeii and Herculaneum in ash and pumice, killing everyone trapped between the volcano and the sea. The documentary, which portrays the different phases of the eruption, was directed by Peter Nicholson and written by Edward Canfor-Dumas.


The film was directed and produced by the BBC in co-production with TLC.[1][citation needed]


This was the highest rated specialist factual programme of the year with an audience of 10.3 million and a 40% share.[5]


The documentary tells the story of the eruption of Mount Vesuvius from the point of view of assorted inhabitants of Pompeii and Herculaneum whose names and occupations are known, including a local politician and his family, a fuller, his wife, and two gladiators. Historical characters include Pliny the Elder and his nephew Pliny the Younger. It draws heavily on the eyewitness account of Pliny the Younger, as well as historical research and recent discoveries in volcanology. Extensive CGI was used to recreate the effects of the eruption.[citation needed]

Death throes[edit]

Most of the people who were in Pompeii when the fourth pyroclastic surge hit either died instantly or slowly suffocated to death.

  • The death throes of those in the family of Julius Polybius are based upon the 1975 discovery of the skeleton of a heavily pregnant girl (Julia) surrounded by her family, in the actual House of Julius Polybius. Julia's husband, Sabinus, is shown to have most likely poisoned himself and presumably was the skeleton lying near the foot of the bed Julia's body was found on, along with the bones of her fetus.
  • The death of Stephanus the Fuller is based upon a cast found of a man in the fetal position (the cast is locked up in an onsite warehouse for safekeeping[citation needed]).
  • The death of Stephanus' wife, Fortunata, is based upon the discovery of the body of a rich bejeweled lady in the gladiator barracks, alongside those of gladiators.
  • In Herculaneum, the death throes are much simpler, as most people were found during excavations either on the beach or inside the boat houses. Additionally, unlike Pompeii, when the pyroclastic surges hit Herculaneum, people there were instantly killed, whereas most Pompeians slowly suffocated, although some died instantly.


Actor Name Description
Jim Carter Julius Polybius A wealthy Pompeiian, husband of Epidia and father of Julia.
Chrissie Cotterill Epidia A wealthy Pompeiian, wife of Polybius and mother of Julia.
Katherine Whitburn Julia Daughter of Polybius and Epidia, wife of Sabinus; 7 months pregnant.
Leigh Jones Sabinus Husband of Julia.
George Yiasoumi Felix Slave to Polybius; has a wife and two sons.
Jonathan Firth Stephanus A wealthy Pompeiian, owner of a fullery. Married to Fortunata.
Rebecca Clarke Fortunata Married to Stephanus.
Inika Leigh Wright Hedone Slave and lover to Stephanus.
Neji Nejah Restitutus Slave to Stephanus.
Robert Whitelock Celadus the Thracian Pompeiian gladiator, friend to Africanus.
Chad Shepherd Africanus Pompeiian gladiator, friend to Celadus
Tim Pigott-Smith Gaius Plinius Secundus Roman Navy Commander. Brother to Plinia and uncle to Pliny the Younger.
Martin Hodgson Gaius Plinius Caecilius Nephew to Pliny the Elder and son to Plinia.
Rachel Atkins Plinia Marcella Sister to Pliny the Elder and mother to Pliny the Younger.
Tony Amendola Pomponianus Friend of Pliny the Elder. Lived in Stabiae.
Emily Canfor-Dumas Slave girl Slave from Herculaneum.
Omar Berdouni Callistus Pompeiian working for Polybius. Father to seven year old Claudia.



  1. ^ "The Romans come to BBC ONE". BBC - Press Office located near Pompeii.
  2. ^ "Primetime Emmy Award Database". Emmys.com. Los Angeles: Academy of Television Arts & Sciences. Retrieved 22 April 2010.
  3. ^ a b "Pompeii: The Last Day (2003) (TV) - Awards". IMDb.
  4. ^ a b "Review of Pompeii: The Last Day". peternicholsonfilms.com. p. 9.
  5. ^ "About Me". peternicholsonfilms.com. p. 15.

External links[edit]