Pro Bromane: Bromans Episode 1
Are you not, like, entertained or somefin?
Back in the Ye Olde Roma, the Hippodrome used to hold around 250,000 people. That would have been about a quarter of all the inhabitants of Rome. The Colosseum held about 50,000 spectators, which although a smaller audience, would still have accounted for about 5% of the city’s population. Famous historical events were oftem recreated in the amphitheatre, which unbelievably included naumachia (legendary sea-battles re-run in the arena). The people who came to these events expected to witness a visual treat, not to be given a history lesson, although that was often a by-product of the spectacle. Ultimately the audience were meant to come away with a feeling of Roman pride and perhaps a rough idea about their history.
This is an ideal that ITV2 has attempted to emulate with its historically-inspired gameshow - Bromans.
When I was an English Language A-level student, my teacher said that the best pieces of persuasive writing were written by adopting a point of view that was diametrically opposed to your own. So with this in mind, here’s my first instalment of what I plan will be a weekly panegyric to the brilliance that is Bromans. Will I really be able to do this for every episode?
Week 1: Meet the Romans
It would be far too easy to point out all of the historical inaccuracies of this show – gold lamé pants, gladiators living with their spouses in communal palatial domiciles and a gladiatorial selection process that involved being naked until your puella managed to find clothes that had been buried in some sand. See – it was very easy to point out the inaccuracies.
But what about what they got right? What can the viewers of this colossal spectacle learn about the ancient world by tuning in?
How about a bit of Latin? There is an MC called Dominus (who reminds the contestants straightaway that they would have been slaves in ancient times). There's also a Gladiator trainer called Doctore and Dominus demonstrates his knowledge of Horace by quoting the poet's greatest hit (line) “Dulce et decorum est pro patria mori” to the contestants. The ‘Ladiators’ are confused by this use of Latin, but I think that this is just a front to make them seem like loveable noble savages in the eyes of the viewers. The true intellect of the players is glimpsed when Dino muses (correctly) that he thought the Romans spoke Latin and invented some numbers; also, Glenn and Summer work tirelessly together to come up with the name of Julius Caesar (correctly) as a famous Roman and Tom quotes Gladiator (correctly) when he breathlessly says, “Are you not entertained”. Richard did try to flex his Roman-knowledge muscle, but will have to try harder. He surmised that the Romans thought that the Earth was flat (which he said he also believed), but as every good classicist knows, the Greeks had the spherical nature of the Earth figured out way before the time of Imperial Rome. I suspect that Dino would not have made such a temporal topographical error.
There was also a bit of art history if you looked closely enough. The pointing Augustus statue was frequently in shot to add authenticity to the set and helped anchor the confused viewer in a definite epoch. There was also a prolonged shot of a Homer bust, which was being used to obscure the face of the as-yet-unknown Emperor of this Benidorome. I think that this sculpture is a clue as to who the Emperor is. Perhaps it is Sean Bean (who was Odysseus in the Homerish movie Troy) or Brad Pitt (who played Achilles in the same film)? Maybe it's Dan Castellaneta who provides the voice of Homer Simpson? Or is it Mick Fleetwood, whose head would fit perfectly behind the bust? 'Art Director Joe McCann' is a genius! I can’t wait for the reveal!
The show still has room for improvement; for example, the soundtrack could be more Classics-themed. I understand that I Wanna Rock n Roll All Nite by Kiss ties in nicely with a game that involves rocks and having to roll them to a finish line, but I would have liked the music director to try as hard as 'Art Director Joe McCann' with the authenticity of their musical selection. How about some Classics-inspired tracks? Something from Trojan Records perhaps? Or a track from Roxy Music’s Sirens? Admetus and the Ants? Do you have any suggestions?
Answers scratched into a tablet please.
Here’s hoping that Episode 2 teaches us even more!