All hail 'Plebs' the classical sit-com with a title the Conservatives should recognise

Alice Jones' Arts Diary

The much-loved classicist Mary Beard continues to conquer the airwaves, this time as an advisor on Plebs, a new sitcom set in Ancient Rome.

“She’s given us a few pointers,” says Tom Basden, co-writer of the show, with Sam Leifer. “She’s interested in the normal, powerless city folk of Ancient Rome, the graffiti on toilet walls, that kind of thing.”

The six-part series, which will air on ITV2 in the Spring, follows the lives of three 20-something men who move to the big city to make their fortune and meet girls. Think The Inbetweeners in togas.

“The idea was to make the historical setting by-the-by and root it in modern concerns. We wanted to stay away from the clichés of camp silliness or austere classical actors,” says Basden, whose credits include Fresh Meat, Party on Radio 4 and There Is a War at the National Theatre. “Tonally, it’s much more Seinfeld than Up Pompeii.”

Tom Rosenthal (Friday Night Dinner) and Doon MacKichan star. As for the title, any echoes of a certain political scandal are purely fortuitous.

“We had the title for ages and we thought it was good but the Conservatives have done us a great favour in ensuring that every last man on the street now knows what it means,” says Basden.

@alicevjones

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