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THE ROMANS
CONSPIRACY

Written by
DENNIS SPOONER


1: INT. ROME. CELLS

IAN: The arena?
DELOS: Well, it sounds as if weíre going to be trained as gladiators?
IAN: Yes, but to fight what?

(They hear a roaring sound from outside the barred window.)

IAN: Listen!

(IAN rushes to the window. The WOMAN SLAVE who BARBARA helped earlier watches them from the cage next to theirs. Outside the window, IAN sees several cages containing pacing, ravenous Lions. IAN looks at DELOS and walks away from the window with a grim look on his face.)


2: INT. PALACE CORRIDOR

(NERO walks down one of the many corridors of the place, strumming his lyre. TIGILINUS accompanies him, noting down the ďcompositionĒ as they go. Another slave follows. NERO looks at what has been written, takes the quill pen out of TIGILINUSíS hand, scribbles out what he has written and finally thrusts the lyre over TIGILINUSíS head and storms off. The two slaves hurry after NERO.)


3: INT. ANOTHER PALACE CORRIDOR

(Elsewhere, VICKI walks along another corridor. At a junction, she meets the DOCTOR.)

DOCTOR: Oh, good morning, my dear. Did you sleep well?
VICKI: Yes, thanks. Did you?
DOCTOR: Oh, so, so. I must confess, Iíve been giving a great deal of thought to that business of yesterday and, erÖ

(TAVIUS appears round a pillar and hisses at the DOCTOR.)

DOCTOR: Oh, thereís our hissing friend again!

(He leaves VICKI alone and follows TAVIUS round a corner.)

DOCTOR: Well? Well?
TAVIUS: I havenít got long. So listen carefully. Iíve managed to get rid of that body and I donít...

(Someone passes nearby. TAVIUS pauses until they have passed on.)

TAVIUS: ...I donít think anyone suspects. But if you delay your action, it will be safer.
DOCTOR: Which part of my action would you like me to put into effect first? Hmm?
TAVIUS: Why, I leave that to you.
DOCTOR: You, er, know my plans, er, of course?
TAVIUS: Of, course, of course, yes! But I donít know the exact details. I must go. Iíll try and see you later.
DOCTOR: Hmm.

(TAVIUS goes. The DOCTOR hisses at him as he goes! He rejoins VICKI.)

DOCTOR: Thereís some sort of conspiracy going on, my child, and Iíve decided for my own sake I must get to the bottom of it. The more I...the sooner I do it, the better.
VICKI: All right. See you later.

(She starts to walk off.)

DOCTOR: Yes, hmm, what? Where are you going?
VICKI: Oh, nowhere special. Just exploring.
DOCTOR: Very well, but donít leave the palace. Itís big enough to get lost in anyway. And remember, weíre only here as observers. We must not interfere with the course of progress. Or try to accelerate...manís achievementís or progress.
VICKI: (With some reluctance.) Oh, Iíll do what you say, Doctor.
DOCTOR: Hmm.
VICKI: But it does seem a bit of a waste. Bye!

(She walks off.)

DOCTOR: Bye, yes. Well, I suppose the quickest way is to the top! Hmm. I must have a word with Nero.

(He leaves in the other direction.)


4: INT. PALACE. POPPAEAíS BEDCHAMBER

(The Empress POPPAEA sits at her table as TIGILINUS follows a thoughtful NERO round the room, attempting in vain to place a laurel wreath on his head.)

NERO: We must give him some sort of incentive.
POPPAEA: Darling, you are the Emperor. I should think your command would be good enough.
NERO: It should be, shouldnít it.
POPPAEA: (Holding up two broaches.) Dearest, which one do you think I should wear?
NERO: (Without any thought.) Oh, that one.

(He resumes his pacing.)

POPPAEA: Oh, really? I would have preferred the other but if you insist.
NERO: Itís quite a problem, Poppaea.
POPPAEA: Yes, both broaches are very attractive.
NERO: No, I was referring to my problem. Naturally, I feel...I appreciate the feelings of my fellow artistes.

(He reclines on the bed.)

NERO: When Maximus Pettulion plays for the court of Rome, he must have the centre of the stage. He will receive the same rapt and hushed attention that I do when I put on a recital.

(TIGILINUS nears with the wreath. Without noticing him, NERO gets back up and resumes pacing.)

NERO: Well, nearly the same rapt attention as when I play!
POPPAEA: Why not hold a banquet this evening? Maximus can provide the entertainment.
NERO: Wonderful idea - a banquet in his honour! But Iíd already thought of it as a matter of fact!
POPPAEA: Youíd better inform him of the arrangements.

(There is a knock outside the curtained door. NERO turns to answer and sees that TIGILINUS has climbed on the bed in one last effort to get above NERO and place the wreath.)

NERO: Come in...Tigilinus, get off my bed!

(NERO snatches the wreath off him and places it on his head. TAVIUS enters.)

NERO: Yes, Tavius?
TAVIUS: Caesar Nero, we have an audience with the Empress.
NERO: We?

(TAVIUS parts the curtain and BARBARA enters. NEROíS delighted eyes light up and he walks over to examine her with a roguish smile at TAVIUS. POPPAEA notices this and walks over.)

POPPAEA: Dearest! You were on your way to see Maximus!
NERO: (Jumping at the sound of her voice.) Oh! Yeah! Oh! Get out of the way, Tavius!

(NERO stumbles through the curtain I an effort to get out.)

POPPAEA: Yes, what is it, Tavius?
TAVIUS: I have a new attendant for your staff, Madam.

(POPPAEA waves him away. He bows and leaves. POPPAEA in her turn examines BARBARA.)

POPPAEA: My husband, Caesar Nero, seemed quite taken with you.
BARBARA: Oh? Did he Madam?
POPPAEA: (With menace.) I like being Empress - and I intend to remain so.
BARBARA: Yes, Madam. Of course.
POPPAEA: Good. As long as you ďunderstandĒ the position. Now for your first task you can clear away my things.
BARBARA: Yes, Madam.
POPPAEA: I shall be in the outer room if you require me.

(POPPAEA leaves by another curtained doorway. BARBARA starts to do as she is instructed, then she sees a tray with a goblet. She picks it up and walks over to the doorway through which POPPAEA has just left.)

BARBARA: Iíll just clear these things away, Madam.

(With a smile, BARBARA starts to leave the room.)


5: INT. PALACE CORRIDOR

(She hears a playful shout...)

NERO: Yoohoo!

(BARBARA looks round herself in puzzlement. NERO is watching her from around a nearby pillar. As BARBARA passes he steps out behind her making her gasp.)

NERO: Iíve been waiting for you! Iím coming after you!

(BARBARA starts to run down the corridor - her paramour in hot pursuit. TIGILINUS appears and grabs NEROíS toga for attention.)

NERO: Tiginlus! Go away! Leave me alone!

(He carries on his pursuit.)

NERO: (Playfully.) You shanít get away from me!

(BARBARA hurriedly places her tray on a nearby stand and runs off. NERO close behind, runs into VICKI. Assuming a more regal poise, he walks backwards...into the stand knocking himself and the stand over! VICKI stifles her laugh and backs hurriedly out of the way. NERO collects himself together and runs off. VICKI, still laughing with her hand over mouth, has backed into a doorway...)


6: INT. PALACE. WORKSHOP

(...which is the workshop of...)

LOCUSTA: What do you want, child?

(VICKI turns round in shock and sees a stern, dark haired, imperious woman.)


7: INT. PALACE. CORRIDOR

(BARBARA cautiously steps into the corridor and immediately runs off as NERO catches sight of her and gives chase. The DOCTOR, without seeing BARBARA steps into NEROíS path.)

DOCTOR: Oh, Nero, Iíd like a word with you!

(NERO is totally out of breath, he attempts to speak, breathes deeper, then...)

NERO: Which way did she go?
DOCTOR: I beg your pardon?
NERO: Anyway, I...I..I wanted to have a word with you, Maximus. (He looks down the corridor.) But it can wait, Maximus! It can wait!

(He runs off to search for BARBARA again. The DOCTOR watches his progress, then walks off. NERO continues to search. He takes one passage, which BARBARA also finds herself taking. She screams when she sees that she has been spotted and turns hurriedly back. NERO follows, laughing with delight. The DOCTOR appears from around a corner...again, without seeing BARBARA.)

DOCTOR: (Laughing.) Extraordinary fellow! What an extraordinary fellow!


8: INT. PALACE. WORKSHOP

(LOCUSTA grinds ďingredientsĒ in a bowl whilst VICKI looks over her workshop.)

LOCUSTA: So youíve arrived with the great Maximus Pettulion, have you? The court just cannot wait to hear him play, my dear.
VICKI: (To herself.) They may have to. (To LOCUSTA.) What are you doing now, Locusta?
LOCUSTA: Preparing a very special poison, my child. I can guarantee its effect on the victim.
VICKI: And whose that? The victim, I mean?
LOCUSTA: Iíve no idea, Vicki, nobodyís ordered it yet. But, they will, they will.
VICKI: I must say, youíve got a very...unusual sort of a job.
LOCUSTA: (With pride.) It has its responsibilities - official poisoner to the court of Caesar Nero. Yes - very responsible.
VICKI: It must be dangerous too.
LOCUSTA: Great Jupiter! No, I never drink any of my potions!
VICKI: No! But, I mean, if you poison somebody, donít they take their revenge?
LOCUSTA: Always. Thatís why Iím kept so busy!
VICKI: But, I mean you...
LOCUSTA: Oh, I see - you mean revenge against me? Oh no, no! I mean, itís nothing to do with me personally, is it?
VICKI: Oh, I suppose not, if you say so. (Somewhat amazed.) But, the citizens of Rome, donít they object?
LOCUSTA: To me? No! Itís an accepted thing, isnít it? Almost a tradition, in fact - that the family of Caesar want to murder each other. After all, everybody would like to be Caesar of Rome, wouldnít they?

(She pours a potion into a small vase-like glass. Before VICKIíS wide-eyes gaze, it starts to fizz and bubble.)

LOCUSTA: I wonder whoíll have the honour of being given this?


9: INT. PALACE. CORRIDOR

(BARBARA looks carefully around her, gives a sigh of relief and walks off. NERO is a small distance away, watching from around a corner. He sees the direction she has taken.)

NERO: (To himself with delight.) Cornered at last!

(He treads carefully up the corridor. The faithful TIGILINUS follows, holding his Emperors cloak. NERO senses this and turns round in a temper.)

NERO: Tigilinus, if you donít leave me alone, you will be sent to feed the lions! Now go away!

(TIGILINUS, wide-eyed with fear, runs off. NERO, alone at last, follows BARBARA.)


10: INT. PALACE. POPPAEAíS BEDCHAMBER

(BARBARA has returned to her duties, tidying POPPAEAíS room. NERO pokes his head through the curtain. He enters and, unseen, creeps up on BARBARA. He grabs her by the arms. She jumps with a cry.)

NERO: Got you! Now young woman, surely you wouldnít refuse me - Claudius Nero - a teeny weeny kiss?
BARBARA: (Backing off round the room.) Er, shouldnít you think about what your wife would say?
NERO: Poppaea? Oh she wouldnít hear of such a thing. I...

(BARBARA takes a chance and runs off.)


11: INT. PALACE. CORRIDOR

(The DOCTOR walks down a corridor. He sees a set of doors, opens them and enters.)


12: INT. PALACE. POPPAEAíS BEDCHAMBER

(NERO, laughing, is chasing BARBARA round and round the Empressís bed. BARBARA giving out cries of desperation, tries to escape. NERO makes a grab - at the curtains behind which stands the DOCTOR. However, BARBARA has rushed through to the other room and, again, they fail to see each other.)

NERO: Maximus! Go away!


13: INT. PALACE. CORRIDOR

(The DOCTOR closes the door behind him. BARBARAíS cries and NEROíS laughs can be heard beyond the door. POPPAEA walks up behind the DOCTOR. He turns and sees her...)

DOCTOR: Oh, Iím so sorry Madam. I...I wanted a word with Nero. But, er, Iíll come back later. He seems to be rather busy.

(The DOCTOR hurriedly walks off. POPPAEA listens momentarily at the door and then enters her room.)


14: INT. PALACE. POPPAEAíS BEDCHAMBER

(NERO is still in pursuit. As BARBARA runs round the bed, NERO jumps on it and grabs her as she passes. POPPAEA enters the room and sees this.)

NERO: Got you! Oh! Ha ha!

(NERO sees his wife watching and roughly thrusts BARBARA off the bed. He tries to appear nonchalant.)

NERO: Poppaea, darling. Ha ha! Hello!
POPPAEA: Enjoying yourself, dearest?
NERO: Hmm?

(NERO turns over and ďnoticesĒ BARBARA on the floor.)

NERO: Oh, Iím so sorry. I...I didnít know we...you were there. Did you want something?
BARBARA: (Vehemently.) No!

(NERO waves his hand and mouths ďGo away!Ē to her. She needs no further invitation and rushes off under a furious POPPAEAíS gaze. NERO lies back on the bed.)

NERO: Iíve got the most terrible headache, darling. I simply had to lie down.
POPPAEA: Oh?
NERO: Extraordinary thing. That strange young woman has been chasing me round all morning!


15: INT. ROME. CELLS

(Accompanied by two soldiers, SEVCHERIA passes food to the WOMAN SLAVE, re-locks the cell, and then walks away. IAN and DELOS already have been given their food.


16: INT. ROME. GLADIATORIAL SCHOOL

(SEVCHERIA walks out of the cell area to where two men practice their sword fight. They pause when they see him but he signals for them to continue.)


17: INT. ROME. CELLS

(IAN puts his food down and goes to the cell bar.)

DELOS: Donít you want this?
IAN: No, no thank you.
DELOS: You sure, Ian?

(In the next cell, the WOMAN SLAVE, hears IANíS name for the first time.)

WOMAN SLAVE: Ian? Is your name ďIanĒ?
IAN: (Without interest.) Yes, it is.
WOMAN SLAVE: You were planning to meet a woman here? (IAN reacts.) Her name were ďBarbaraĒ.
IAN: (Rushing to the bars.) Barbara! Well, where is she now?
WOMAN SLAVE: Oh, Iím sorry. I dunno.
IAN: But you just said her name. You must know where she is.
WOMAN SLAVE: She were here with me but they took her away - to the auction. They never come back. I suppose she were sold.

(IAN walks off into a corner. DELOS watches his friendsí shock.)

IAN: (To himself.) Sold!


18: INT. PALACE BATHS

(The DOCTOR and NERO relax in the baths. Both doze, with NERO snoring. A slave walks in with a jug of warm water - but it is too warm. The nearly boiling water steams off his feet as he rises, screaming. His cries awaken the DOCTOR.)

NERO: Idiot! Fool! Iíll teach you to boil me alive! Guards! Guards! You maniac! Guards!

(Two guards enter and grab the slave. NERO takes a sword from one of them.)

NERO: Come here! Oh! Wait Ďtil I get hold of you! Iíll teach you!

(The DOCTOR, feigning indignation, stands between NERO and the pinioned slave.)

NERO: Get out of my way, Maximus! Did you see what he did?
DOCTOR: Of course I did, yes, of course I did. (He turns to the guards.) Take him away and banish him.

(The guards lead the slave away.)

NERO: And donít let him ever appear again here - ever! Ever!
DOCTOR: (Turning to the sobbing NERO.) I congratulate you, Nero, the way you handled that stupid fellow! Why, dear, it was most impressive!
NERO: (Sitting back down.) Oh, Iím glad you noticed!
DOCTOR: Oh, yes. It was enormous control!
NERO: You understand, of course, I only took the sword to frighten him?
DOCTOR: Yes, I noticed that of course - immediately! Yes. (Laughs.)
NERO: I was going to do something, you know.
DOCTOR: You did that that perhaps we could have a little talk in here. Hmm?

(Getting up and passing the DOCTOR the sword.)

NERO: Oh, of course I did, yes, indeed, yes. Er...
DOCTOR: Hmm?
NERO: Did I say what about?
DOCTOR: Not a word but I did want to ask you something now.

(The DOCTOR turns, the sword accidentally getting too near to NERO for comfort.)

NERO: Eh? (He moves the sword away.)
DOCTOR: Er...
NERO: Oh, wh...wh...what?
DOCTOR: Er, yes, on my arrival, I was rather under the impression that there was some sort of intrigue going on here. Hmm?
NERO: Well, nobody said anything to me! Nobody said a word and I am always informed of intrigues. Who was it?
DOCTOR: Oh itís just a feeling, just a feeling, you know. After all, I mean, a musician with your skill, well surely youíve experienced troubled vibrations?
NERO: (Quietly puzzled.) Troubled vibrations?
DOCTOR: Hmm?
NERO: (Trying to sound convincing.) Oh, well, of course! Yes!
DOCTOR: Yes, Iíd rather thought youíd had it! Hmm?
NERO: Oh I have had it!

(The DOCTOR holds the sword a bit too near for comfort again. NERO pushes it away once more.)

NERO: Yes! No, I...I thought maybe it was just because I was, er, feeling hungry, you know.
DOCTOR: Ah..._____.
NERO: Ah, that was it! (The pointing sword is again moved.) There is a banquet tonight and you are invited.
DOCTOR: Oh, how charming of you! Thank you. Iím delighted, delighted!
NERO: Itíll be a splendid audience for your first concert!

(He walks away chuckling...)

DOCTOR: (To himself.) Yes, yes, I rather thought it might be!


19: INT. PALACE. WORKSHOP

(VICKI is hidden underneath the workbench as LOCUSTA talks to a visitor...)

POPPAEA: You understand what you must do, Locusta?
LOCUSTA: Yes Madam - get the attendant to serve these drinks to Caesar Nero - when heís with your new slave.
POPPAEA: Correct. And she is to have the special one. Come with me, Iíll point her out to you. Thatíll put paid to any ambitions she has to be Empress.

(POPPAEA puts down the ornate goblet she has been holding and walks through the curtained door that LOCUSTA has held open for her. VICKI gets up but LOCUSTA waves her back into hiding. After they have gone, VICKI gets back up and contemplates the goblets with a thoughtful look on her face...)


20: INT. PALACE BANQUETING HALL

(BARBARA is one of several slaves putting ornate dishes of food on the table. POPPAEA stands to one side of the room and points her out to LOCUSTA. She in turn walks over to TIGILINUS and, whispering to him, points BARBARA out.)


21: INT. PALACE CORRIDOR

(NERO and the DOCTOR, dressed after their bath, walk along one of the corridors.)

NERO: The preparations for the banquet are under way, Maximus. You will have to play as you have never played before.

(POPPAEA appears.)

DOCTOR: Too true! Too true so I___.
NERO: Ah, Poppaea, my darling.
POPPAEA: Dearest, I do wish you could find time to look in the banqueting hall.
NERO: Oh?
POPPAEA: I...I think the arrangements are suitable but you have much more artistic appreciation for that sort of thing.
NERO: Of course I have! Iíll see to it at once. (To the DOCTOR.) Excuse me.

(He walks off to the banqueting hall.)

DOCTOR: Pardon me, Madam. I must go about my business.

(The DOCTOR leaves a smiling POPPAEA behind. He soon encounters VICKI.)

VICKI: Hello Doctor. Solved your problem?
DOCTOR: Hmm? No I havenít child, no. I raised the question with our illustrious Caesar but Iím afraid that was a mistake. (Laughs.)
VICKI: Thatís rare for you isnít it?!
DOCTOR: Never mind about that. Have you explored the, er, court? Hmm?
VICKI: Yes, its marvellous!
DOCTOR: Hmm.
VICKI: Oh, and guess what?
DOCTOR: What? Havenít any idea.
VICKI: Thereís going to be a feast tonight.
DOCTOR: Oh, so I heard, my dear! Yes, so I heard - and thereís going to be rather an unusual entertainer! (Laughs.)
VICKI: Who?
DOCTOR: Me!

(He laughs again as VICKI looks shocked.)


22: INT. PALACE BANQUETING HALL

(BARBARA is placing more dishes. With a look of worry, she sees NERO approaching...)

NERO: Oh there you are. Now, close you eyes and Nero will give you a big surprise!
BARBARA: (Unsure what he means by this.) Pardon?
NERO: Close your eyes! Caesar orders it!

(BARBARA, looking wary, does so. He puts a gold bracelet over her left arm.)

NERO: There!

(Despite herself, BARBARA cannot help smiling at the beauty of this gift.)

NERO: Well, arenít you going to thank me for the present?

(He closes his eyes and purses his lips. BARBARA is saved by the appearance of TIGILINUS appears in front of them with a tray on which rest the two goblets from LOCUSTAíS workshop. NERO opens his eyes.)

NERO: Go away!

(BARBARA decides to take advantage of this interruption and picks up the goblets, passing one to NERO.)

BARBARA: Er, I would like to drink to your health, Caesar Nero.
NERO: Oh, would you? Oh well, very well.

(He waves TIGILINUS back. NERO takes his goblet. BARBARA, needing courage, drinks back her goblet with one swig...)


23: INT. PALACE CORRIDOR

DOCTOR: So, youíve had a busy day, Vicki? Hmm?
VICKI: Yes, it was. Oh, something else I forgot to tell you. I think Iíve poisoned Nero!
DOCTOR: Really? (Shocked.) What?!
VICKI: Well I...I didnít actually do it. But his wife was going to murder some poor slave or other and I didnít see why that should happen, so I thought...

(The DOCTOR clamps her mouth shut.)

DOCTOR: For heavens sake, child! Keep quiet! What did you do?
VICKI: Well, I..I swapped the drinks round.
DOCTOR: And I told you not to interfere with history! Come along, quickly, quickly child!

(They run off...)


24: INT. PALACE BANQUETING HALL

(BARBARA is, of course, unaffected by her drink. NERO has yet to taste his.)

NERO: You must wait upon me personally at the banquet tonight, my dear. I...

(BARBARA looks over his shoulder. He turns round to see a furious POPPAEA turn and walk away. BARBARA uses this diversion to escape.)

BARBARA: You must excuse me.

(She rushes out of the room by one entrance. The DOCTOR and VICKI immediately enter by another.).

DOCTOR: Caesar Nero! Donít drink!
NERO: Why not?
DOCTOR: I have every reason to believe that drink is poisoned!

(NERO looks astounded. The DOCTOR laughs in relief.)

DOCTOR: Yes, thank heavens I got you in time.
NERO: My dear Maximus...youíve probably saved my life! If only I could lay my hands on whoever was responsible.

(VICKI looks away.)

DOCTOR: Quite so! Quite so! And now, if youíll excuse us, er, I have to practice, a great deal of practice before tonightís recital.

(He quickly takes VICKI away. NERO sniffs the drink, then smiles...)

NERO: Tigilinus?

(He crooks a finger to summon the slave. TIGILINUS comes over and is passed the goblet. He pauses in puzzlement. NERO waves him to drink. He does so and, with a fleeting look of suprise, falls dead to the ground. NERO is similarly surprised.)

NERO: He was right!

(He shrugs his shoulders and walks away.)


25: INT. ROME. CELLS

(IAN is pacing his cell.)

DELOS: I wish youíd sit down.
IAN: There must be something we can do, Delos.
DELOS: We can. Wait!
IAN: When we get out of here, Iím going to comb all the slave markets, question everybody. Someone must remember her.
DELOS: Ian, youíve got to worry about yourself. Otherwise, itís the arena and then...

(He gives the thumbs down sign...)


26: INT. PALACE. CHAMBER

(BARBARA traces her finger over a map of Rome that she has found, following the road out of the city. She gives a sigh.)


27: INT. PALACE. WORKSHOP

(POPPAEA smashes one of LOCUSTAíS bowls to pieces, then approaches the cowering poisoner.)

POPPAEA: You stupid fool! Thereís no answer to failure!
LOCUSTA: But I would have sworn...
POPPAEA: I feel tired of your feeble excuses. Guards! Guards!

(Two guards enter. POPPAEA throws the woman at them.)

POPPAEA: Take her!

(LOCUSTA screams as they hold her.

POPPAEA: You can save your screams for the arena, now take her away. Get her out!

(LOCUSTA, still screaming is dragged away. POPPAEA, her rage unappeased, throws another bowl across the room.)


28: INT. PALACE BANQUETING HALL

(The banquet is in full swing. A large number of guests eat with gusto, NERO himself gorging on grapes and an enormous goblet of wine. The DOCTOR and VICKI sit at one end of the table. The DOCTOR prods VICKI.)

DOCTOR: If he goes on eating, there wonít be enough!

(They look over at NERO who waves back at them with his grapes! TAVIUS pours the DOCTOR some wine.)

TAVIUS: More wine, Maximus?

(TAVIUS lowers his voice.)

TAVIUS: Everythingís set for tomorrow. Be ready. (He walks off.)
DOCTOR: Of course, of course. But I must ask you if... (But TAVIUS has gone.)
VICKI: What does he mean, Doct...Maximus?
DOCTOR: Iíve no idea what heís talking about, child.
VICKI: (Smiling.) Well then, how are you going to get out of the concert this evening?
DOCTOR: Oh, Iím not!
VICKI: You canít play the lyre, Doctor!
DOCTOR: Canít I, child? (Laughs.) Canít I?!
VICKI: You canít possibly do.

(As VICKI continues to talk to the DOCTOR, at the centre of the table, NERO is looking anxiously around. POPPAEA notices this.)

POPPAEA: She isnít here, dearest.
NERO: Mmm? Who?
POPPAEA: The new girl. Iím keeping her very busy.
NERO: Ah...new girl? Oh, her! Oh, my dear, she was miles from my thoughts. I was looking to see if everybody had finished. (He stands.) Silence! There will now be a further feast...of music. I give you...the great Corinthian lyre player...Maximus Pettulion!

(The diners applaud. The DOCTOR stands, takes up his lyre and crosses to the centre of the room.)

DOCTOR: Thank you! You are all so kind. With, er, Caesarís permission?

(NERO majestically waves his assent.)

DOCTOR: I would like to play my new composition in honour of this occasion.

(This brings further applause. The DOCTOR walks over to NERO.)

DOCTOR: The music is so soft, so delicate that only those with keen perceptive hearing, will be able to distinguish this melodious charm of music.

(The Emperor takes this in with rapt attention and his face signifies that he fully understands what the DOCTOR means. The crowd applaud as the DOCTOR bows, steps back and places his foot on a stool put down by a slave. He plucks at the strings...but no sound comes out! He waves to NERO who waves back. He carries on with his ďcompositionĒ. His audience, not wishing to feel left out, whisper to each other in delight. TAVIUS, POPPAEA, all join in the deception. But it is NERO who takes the main part in the farce, by moving his fingers in time to the music. Then he starts to notice the delight that the crowd are taking in the performance and a dark frown appears on his face. He leans across to POPPAEA and hisses at her to get ther attention.)

NERO: Heís all right but heís not all that good!

(TAVIUS sneezes. The DOCTOR stops momentarily which causes some of the audience to applaud. The DOCTOR continues to ďplayĒ then finishes with a flourish of his hand. The diners burst into ecstatic applause accompanied by cheers and cries of ďBravoĒ. NERO, furious, storms out. The DOCTOR re-takes his place at the table.)

VICKI: Doctor, it was wonderful! Wonderful!
DOCTOR: Itís the old fairy story child - ďThe Emperorís new clothesĒ! Yes, I gave it as an idea to Hans Anderson!

(They laugh.)


29: INT. PALACE CORRIDOR

(NERO, accompanied by two soldiers, is still in a dark rage as the sound of laughter from the banqueting chamber reaches him.)

NERO: How dare he! How dare he make a fool of me! He must know that I am the greatest talent in the world. No one gets applause like that except me! Iíll teach him a lesson. (He pauses, smile and laughs to himself.) Itís a wonderful idea. Hardly surprising - I have a creative mind! Iíll put it into operation at once. Guards!

(He enters the bedchamber.)


30: INT. POPPAEAíS BEDCHAMBER

(BARBARA is within. He takes off his cloak ad puts on another.)

NERO: Tell my wife, tell Poppaea that I have gone to the gladiatorial school. No, better than that! You come with me!
BARBARA: But I...I..
NERO: No! No arguments! I wonít have any arguments! Tell me, have you ever seen a fight?
BARBARA: Er, no I havenít.
NERO: Then I will arrange one while weíre there. I feel like seeing someone hurt myself tonight. Come! Quickly!

(He drags her away, followed by the soldiers.)


31: INT. ROME. CELLS

(SEVCHERIA passes IAN a helmet.)

IAN: Whatís this for?
SEVCHERIA: Caesar Nero wants you to put on a fight for him.
IAN: Fight? Against what?
SEVCHERIA: Each other.

(IAN and DELOS look at one another.)

IAN: And if we refuse?
SEVCHERIA: Heíll have you killed. This way at least, one of you has a chance. (He locks the cell door.) A good winner sometimes earns his freedom.

(He walks away. With reluctance, IAN and DELOS help each other into their armour.)

DELOS: Iím going to fight you, Ian.
IAN: Are you, Delos?
DELOS: Youíre my friend. Remember that. But as he says, at least this way, one of us has a chance.
IAN: By killing the other.
DELOS: I promise you one thing. If I win, Iíll make it quick for you.

(They shake hands.)


32: INT. GLADIATORIAL SCHOOL

(NERO sits down on a raised platform overlooking the schools small arena. BARBARA sits next to him.)

NERO: The real reason for this visit, Sevcheria, is for you to arrange an appearance for Maximus Pettulion in the arena.
SEVCHERIA: The lyre player?
NERO: Yes, heís at the court. I wish to arrange for him to appear in the circus for the people of Rome.
SEVCHERIA: Oh, theyíll appreciate that, Caesar Nero.
NERO: Yes, theyíll appreciate it even more, when you set the lions on him in the middle of his wretched performance. (BARBARA starts...)
SEVCHERIA: The lions?
NERO: Thatís what I said - the lions! He humiliated me - thatís what he did. He humiliated me!
SEVCHERIA: Maximus Pettulion?
NERO: They all applauded as though it was me.

(IAN and DELOS enter.)

BARBARA: Ian!

(IAN hears her voice. They look at each other in shock. SEVCHERIA carries over two swords to them.)

SEVCHERIA: Here.

(They take possession of the swords and then slowly walk to their places.)

NERO: Well, commence the fight!

(DELOS attacks IAN but he manages to parry all the blows. IAN hits out several times with his net but DELOS manages to block this with his shield. NERO laughs in delight. After several more sword blows. IAN manages to pull the sword out of DELOSí hand with his net. IAN does not take advantage of DELOSí loss.)

NERO: Why didnít he kill him? The fool! Why didnít he kill him?

(DELOS picks up his sword again and further blows with sword and net are made. IAN makes a lunge at DELOS but stumbles and falls to his knees. DELOS holds his sword over IANíS neck. NERO holds his thumb down.)

NERO: Cut off his head!

(DELOS raises his sword in the air. BARBARA rises and cries out in horror...)


Next Episode
INFERNO


Dr. Who
WILLIAM HARTNELL

Ian Chesterton
WILLIAM RUSSELL

Barbara Wright
JACQUELINE HILL

Vicki
MAUREEN OíBRIEN

Sevcheria
DEREK SYDNEY

Delos
PETER DIAMOND

Tavius
MICHAEL PEAKE

Woman Slave
DOROTHY-ROSE GRIBBLE

Nero
DEREK FRANCIS

Tigilinus (Cup Bearer)
BRIAN PROUDFOOT

Poppaea
KAY PATRICK

Locusta
ANN TIRARD

Title music by
RON GRAINER
with the
BBC Radiophonic Workshop

Incidental Music composed
and conducted by
RAYMOND JONES

Fight Arranger
PETER DIAMOND

Designer
RAYMOND P. CUSICK

Associate Producer
MERVYN PINFIELD

Producer
VERITY LAMBERT

Directed by
CHRISTOPHER BARRY

(c) BBC tv

Transcribed By
JOHN TOMLINSON

 

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