Category: arts


Ovid: The Poet & The Emperor


Ovid, one of the world’s greatest poets, died 2,000 years ago. His Metamorphoses is the most influential secular book in European literature, and, unique among ancient poets, he also wrote an autobiography, full of riveting intimacy.

Born in Sulmona, Ovid moved to Rome and rose to spectacular fame with his poems about sex, seduction and adultery. By his twenties he was a literary superstar and a thorn in the side of the powerful and puritanical Emperor Augustus. Then in the midst of a sensational scandal involving the Emperor’s daughter, Ovid was banished forever to the farthest edge of the empire. The exact reason is still a mystery, as Ovid put it, ‘my downfall was all because of a poem and a mistake, and on the latter my lips are sealed forever.’

In this film Michael Wood traces Ovid’s footsteps from the beautiful town of Sulmona, to the bright lights of Rome and into exile in Constanta in today’s Romania. The poems, the mystery and Ovid’s immense legacy are discussed with leading experts, while Ovid’s own words are brought to life by Simon Russell Beale.


1 x 60 mins for BBC4  Producer: Rebecca Dobbs


Broadcast November, 2017 on BBC4

Visit the site →


Sappho: Love & Life on Lesbos


Papyrology expert, Margaret Mountford goes in search of the truth behind the legend of Sappho – the most controversial writer of the ancient world and the first authentic woman’s voice in western history.  The mysterious discovery of a lost papyrus containing the words to songs unheard for seventeen hundred years sends Margaret on a journey to explore the truth about Sappho. Was she indeed the first lesbian, a priestess, prostitute, a stern schoolmistress or an aristocratic lady of leisure as readers over the centuries have variously alleged? We ask how each generation’s view of the archetypal liberated woman of letters tells us as much about us and our fears and concerns as it does about her.


“Erudite and illuminating”

The Sunday Times

“Excellent collection of experts” 

The Daily Mail

“Fascinating. Mountford is splendidly knowledgeable and bursting with enthusiasm”

The Guardian

“This trip to Lesbos was too chaste”

The Telegraph


1 X 60 mins for BBC 4. Producer: Sally Thomas. Director: Jack MacInnes.

9pm 6th May 2015

Watch the Programme on Vimeo

Read and interview with Margaret here

Hear Kalia Baklitzanaki singing the Brother’s Poem and view unseen scenes here.

Read Margaret’s Q & A on Sappho