Heroes and Villains (TV series)

Heroes and Villains is a 2007–2008 BBC Television drama series looking at key moments in the lives and reputations of some of the greatest warriors of history. Each hour-long episode features a different historical figure, including Napoleon I of France, Attila the Hun, Spartacus, Hernán Cortés, Richard I of England, and Tokugawa Ieyasu. The statements at the beginning of each episode read: "This film depicts real events and real characters. It is based on the accounts of writers of the time. It has been written with the advice of modern historians." In the United States the show was aired on The Military Channel and was called Warriors.[1]

Heroes and Villains
Heroes & Villains DVD Cover.jpg
BBC DVD cover
Written by
Directed by
Country of originUnited Kingdom
Original languageEnglish
No. of series1
No. of episodes6
Executive producerMatthew Barrett
ProducerMark Hedgecoe
Running time60 minutes
Original release11 November 2007 (2007-11-11) –
29 March 2008 (2008-03-29)
Related showsAncient Rome: The Rise and Fall of an Empire


The series was filmed by BBC Factual department in 720p high definition with the Panasonic DVCPRO HD cameras. The greenscreen scenes were filmed with handheld AG-HVX200 cameras.[2]


The numbering of the six episodes that make up the series is debatable due to them being listed differently on different sources. The DVD release has them listed in the order of Spartacus, Attila the Hun, Shogun, Richard the Lionheart, Cortes, and Napoleon; while the BBC website guide has them listed as Napoleon 1/6, Cortes 2/6, Attila the Hun 3/6, Shogun 4/6, Spartacus 5/6, and Richard the Lionheart 6/6.[3] However they are listed here by their airdate according to the BBC website.[4]

No.TitleDirected byWritten byHistorical ConsultantOriginal air date
1"Napoleon"Nick MurphyNick MurphyProfessor Alan Forrest, University of YorkNovember 11, 2007 (2007-11-11)

Filmed on location in Malta, this story covers the siege of Toulon. Beginning in Marseilles on 24 August 1793 and ending on 18 December 1793, it covers his rivalry with Fréron as well as his sister Paoletta's affair with Fréron and his rise through the ranks as they fight the English at "Little Gibraltar." Cast :

2"Attila the Hun"Gareth EdwardsTony EtchellsDr. Peter Heather, University of OxfordFebruary 13, 2008 (2008-02-13)

Attila and his brother, Bleda, make a pact with the Western Roman Emperor to leave their lands untouched. This sends them to the Eastern Roman Empire instead and they take the city of Naissus, prompting the eastern emperor to buy them off. They leave with their prize but Attila soon kills his brother and returns. After defeating the emperor's army, Chrysaphius and Vigilas attempt to bribe Edeco in order to kill Attila but he betrays them. Attila then attacks the western empire because he feels he must, but in doing so he faces Aetius and a coalition of armies belonging to his enemies. Cast :

3"Spartacus"Tim DunnColin Heber-Percy & Lyall B. WatsonProfessor Mary Beard, University of CambridgeFebruary 29, 2008 (2008-02-29)

Spartacus, sold as a gladiator, organizes an escape and the Roman army is soon hunting him and his fellow escaped slaves. He and his men attack the Romans and other slaves soon arrive to join them which causes trouble between those who want revenge and Spartacus who wishes to flee to Gaul. After another attack by the Romans, they head for Gaul. Yet, after facing the Romans again and winning, Spartacus's men convince him to attack rather than flee. The Romans, however, push them to the ocean and a final battle ensues. Cast :

4"Cortes"Andrew GrieveAndrew GrieveDr. Caroline Dodds, University of LeicesterMarch 15, 2008 (2008-03-15)

Cortés and his men arrive in Central America in 1521 in search of riches. They cross the mountains and soon become allies with the Tlaxcalans. Once they reach Tenochtitlan, they are invited in but then proceed to insult the Aztec's customs and take their ruler, Moctezuma, hostage. Yet, when it is discovered that Cortés is a criminal, he must leave the city to fight the army that the king has sent after him. When he returns, he finds that a war has started and the battle over Tenochtitlan begins. Cast :

5"Richard the Lionheart"Nick GreenJames WoodProfessor John GillinghamMarch 22, 2008 (2008-03-22)

During the Third Crusade, the crusaders arrive in Jaffa and find it destroyed. Amidst uneasiness in the ranks and an attack that leaves one of his close friends dead, Richard hopes to marry off his sister to Al Adil and create an alliance. However, Al Adil will not agree and the crusaders begin to suffer from a lack of supplies. Finally, Richard decides not to attack Jerusalem and the coalition falls apart. Eventually he must face the decision of protecting his kingdom from his brother or completing his oath to God. In the end, Richard plans to return home but when Jaffa is assaulted, he returns to rescue his men. Cast :

6"Shogun"Arif NurmohamedClare SaxbyDr. Stephen Turnbull, University of LeedsMarch 29, 2008 (2008-03-29)

After the Taiko's death in 1598, Ieyasu has his son sent away which upsets Mitsunari. After an attack by Mitsunari, Ieyasu's son, Hidetada, takes his men to find Mitsunari but he escapes. Ieyasu forces Mitsunari into exile and begins to take control of the government. However, when another lord begins to rebel, Ieyasu convinces Hideaki to join him in battle only to have Mitsunari turn him later on. Eventually the two armies meet and the Battle of Sekigahara begins, with Hideaki unable to choose which side to fight for. He eventually chooses Ieyasu and they win the battle, taking control of Japan. Cast :

Media informationEdit

DVD releaseEdit

The series was released as a two disc set on Region 2 DVD by BBC Video on 24 March 2008.[5][6] It was marketed and sold in the United States in April 2009 as "Warriors".[7] The USA release included a third disc containing two Edward Bazalgette documentaries, Hannibal and Genghis Khan.[8]

Companion bookEdit

McLynn, Frank (4 October 2007). Heroes and Villains: Inside the Minds of the Greatest Warriors in History. BBC Books (hardcover). ISBN 978-1-84607-240-6.[9]


External linksEdit