The Borgias is a British television drama serial produced by the BBC in 1981, in association with the Second Network of the Italian broadcaster RAI. The series, produced by Mark Shivas, was set in Italy during the 15th century and told the story of Rodrigo Borgia (played by Adolfo Celi) – the future Pope Alexander VI – and his family, including his son Cesare (Oliver Cotton) and daughter Lucrezia (Anne Louise Lambert).
|Created by||Mark Shivas|
|Written by||John Prebble|
|Directed by||Brian Farnham|
|Country of origin||United Kingdom|
|No. of seasons||1|
|Production company||BBC – RAI|
|Original network||BBC Two|
|Original release||14 October –|
16 December 1981
The 10 episodes follow events from 1492 when Rodrigo is elected pope and concludes in 1507 with Cesare's violent death.
Intended to be a gripping historical melodrama in the same vein as the earlier BBC series, I, Claudius, and despite credible locations and excellent cinematography, the series was not a critical success. The BBC screened the series at the same time as ITV's lavish Brideshead Revisited, and critics contrasted the high production values and stellar cast of Brideshead with The Borgias seeming focus on frequent graphic violence and nudity.
The Sicilian-born actor Adolfo Celi, well known to have a heavy Sicilian accent, is said to have had much difficulty enunciating his lines. His thickly-accented English proved difficult for viewers to follow.
The series was released on DVD in the UK by 2 Entertain in 2016.
|Pope Alexander VI||Adolfo Celi|
|Cesare Borgia||Oliver Cotton|
|Giuliano della Rovere||Alfred Burke|
|Lucrezia Borgia||Anne-Louise Lambert|
|Juan Borgia||George Camiller|
|Jofre Borgia||Louis Selwyn|
|Vanozza Canale||Barbara Shelley|
|Giulia Farnese||Seretta Wilson|