'POMPEII: THE LAST DAY' Looks at Final, Horrific
Hours Before Worst Natural Disaster of Ancient Times in New Discovery Channel
Sunday, January 30, 2005, at 9:00 PM Eastern Standard
- Tim Pigott-Smith, Jonathan Firth and Jim Carter
- Cutting-Edge Historical Analysis and Lavish Special
Effects Capture the Cataclysmic Eruption of Mount Vesuvius -
SILVER SPRING, Md., Dec. 2 /PRNewswire/ -- 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.
POMPEII: THE LAST DAY is a Discovery Channel/BBC
co-production. For the BBC, the director is Peter Nicholson (I Caesar);
the producer is Ailsa Orr (Walking with Dinosaurs, Neanderthal); executive
producer is Michael Mosley (The Life of Leonardo da Vinci). For Discovery
Channel, Jack Smith is executive producer.
Discovery Channel is one of the United States' largest
cable television networks, serving 89.6 million households across the nation
with the finest in informative entertainment. Discovery Networks, U.S.,
a unit of Discovery Communications, Inc., operates and manages the Discovery
Channel, TLC, Animal Planet, the Travel Channel, Discovery Health Channel,
Discovery HD Theater(TM), Discovery Kids Channel, Discovery Times Channel,
The Science Channel(TM), Discovery Home Channel, Discovery Wings Channel,
Discovery en Espanol and FitTV. The unit also distributes BBC America.