Enthralling: BBC4’s Colosseum reviewed

In the year 2023, the Neo-Roman Empire was at the height of its powers. A potentially restive populace was kept in check using a time-honoured technique known as ‘Bread and Circuses’. The ‘Circuses’ part consisted of a remarkable piece of technology in which spectacles could be beamed directly into the homes of the citizenry, filling them with awe, wonder, gratitude and a sense of their insignificance in the sweep of history. One such spectacle was a docudrama called Colosseum (BBC4), in which no expense was spared to recreate the majesty, power and cruelty of the original Roman Empire, as evinced by that grand precursor to the television: a vast amphitheatre