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Stories set in the Roman Empire

Written by: deltaandthebannermen

4th July 2024 · 10 minute read

What have the Romans ever done for us? Or what has the Doctor ever done for the Romans? A civilisation which spans hundreds of years, the Doctor and his companions have visited various corners of the Roman Empire from the Imperial city of Rome itself to the windswept, rain-sodden land of the Britons: invaded and conquered and abandoned. From Caesar to Nero, from slave to centurion, the Doctor has influenced Roman society in many different ways. This guide documents those times and places.

c200 BCE – Luna Romana: 

The Fourth Doctor and Romana are on the hunt for the Key to Time but the Doctor would rather watch the latest Roman play. The final part of the Quadrigger Stoyn trilogy from the Companion Chronicles also finds two other incarnations of Romana becoming involved in events.

100 BCE – 100 BC:

The year 100 BC is also the title of this short audio story, part of the 100th release from Big Finish which was an anthology of four stories featuring the Sixth Doctor and Evelyn Smythe. Evelyn is excited to meet Julius Caesar but all is not as it seems (not least some slightly odd characterisation for Evelyn).

73 BCE – The Last Days:

The First Doctor, Ian, Barbara and Susan find themselves caught up in the terrible last days of the Judaen desert fortress of Masada.

71BCE – The Slave War:

I’m Spartacus; no, I’m Spartacus!  The Second Doctor, Ben, Polly and Jamie encounter the real Spartacus in this short story from Big Finish.

63BCE – Tartarus:

The Fifth Doctor, Nyssa and Tegan meet Cicero in this crossover with Big Finish’s Cicero ‘audio original’ series. They also gain a new companion aboard the TARDIS.

55 BCE: The Churchill Years – Living History:

A fun romp into Roman Britain with Churchill, Julius Caesar, a Dalek and a young Kazran Sardick from A Christmas Carol.  Churchill wants to do some first-hand research for the History of the English-Speaking Peoples he is writing and gets far more than he bargained for. (And weirdly, in The Wedding of River Song, Churchill becomes Caesar in an alternate universe.)

55BCE: The Battle of Giant’s Causeway:

Sontarans who think they are Roman soldiers is a mystery to be solved by the Eighth Doctor, Charley and C’Rizz in another story to feature the might of the Roman Empire’s army.

49BCE – Crossing the Rubicon:

Another encounter with Julius Caesar, this time for the Seventh Doctor and Ace as they prevent the Master from altering the course of history in this instalment of the Titan comic, The Many Lives of Doctor Who.

47BCE – The Best of Days:

The Seventh Doctor takes Ace to experience the festival of Saturnalia in Rome in this short story from one of Big Finish’s Christmas-themed anthologies.

46 – Demon Quest – The Relics of Time:

The first instalment of the Tom Baker starring, Paul Magrs penned second BBC Audio series featuring the Fourth Doctor living at Nest Cottage.  A mystery surrounding a Roman mosaic with the Doctor’s image and the possibility that his housekeeper, Mrs Wibbsey was involved, leads the Doctor back to the time of Emperor Claudius who is hiding out in Roman Britain.

c60 – Wrath of the Iceni: 

A pure historical tale featuring Tom Baker as the Fourth Doctor (in his first series of stories for Big Finish) and Louise Jameson as Leela.  Pairing Leela with Boudicca is a masterstroke and the way they are so similar, and yet very different at the same time, drives the story.  A riveting visit to a fascinating period of history.

60 – Byzantium!:

This BBC novel by Keith Topping and featuring the First Doctor, Ian, Barbara and Vicki is set between the opening scenes of the Romans – the TARDIS falling into the ravine and us finding them ensconced at the villa.  It explores what happens when all four travellers believe the others to be dead or gone and how they adapt to a potential new life in an ancient land.

60 – Romans Cutaway:

An alternative take on what happened between the same scenes where Byzantium! is set.  This short story was originally published in the first BBC Short Trips collection.

60 – The Romans:

Around the same time the Fourth Doctor is visiting Roman-occupied Britain in The Wrath of the Iceni, the First Doctor has arrived in Rome and is enjoying a leisurely stay at a villa in the countryside near the city.  This story from the classic series’ second season sees the Doctor, Ian, Barbara and Vicki experiencing all that Roman life has to offer from slavery to galleys to court poisoning and the Emperor Nero himself.  Played largely as a comedic farce, The Romans is full of delightful performances and marvellous jokes.

79 – The Fires of Vulcan:

The Seventh Doctor and Mel travel back to Pompeii at the time of Vesuvius’ eruption to solve the mystery of the TARDIS seemingly being discovered in an archaeological dig there in the 80s.  Trapped in the city and knowing its eventual fate, it is all the Doctor and Mel can do to get out alive in this superb early Big Finish audio.

79 – The Fires of Pompeii:  

Meanwhile, in another part of the city, the Tenth Doctor and Donna find themselves in a similar position – only this time they also have alien Pyroviles to contend with too. Volcano Day is fast approaching!

102 – The Pandorica Opens:

In the first part of the Series 5 finale, the Doctor, Amy and River investigate Underhenge, a secret chamber below Stonehenge and confront a coalition of aliens intent on imprisoning the Doctor. River is posing as Cleopatra, the Roman army are more than they seem and Rory is one of their number.  What is ‘the Pandorica’?

2nd Century – Eaters of Light:

The mystery of the Ninth Legion is explored by this underrated Twelfth Doctor story featuring Bill and Nardole – and written by the writer of the final classic story, Survival: Rona Munro.

120  – The Stone Rose:

A statue of Rose originating in Roman times spurs the Doctor to travel back 2000 years to discover the truth and end up encountering a genie!

312 – Conversion:

The Eleventh Doctor, Alice, Jones and ARC chase the Entity to Northern Rome and discover the presence of an old foe of the Doctor.

305 – Seasons of Fear:

Nimon invade a Roman fort but are challenged by the Eighth Doctor and Charley.

325: The Council of Nicaea:

The Fifth Doctor and Peri find themselves at odds with Erimem when they arrive at the birth of Christian theology and the first Church council, headed by Roman Emperor Constantine.  Mobs roam the streets and political intrigue riddles the Imperial palace and Erimem is determined to change the course of history to what she sees as the right path.  A different and thought-provoking historical story.

421 AD: Combat Magicks:

Gaul in the 5th century, and a crumbling Roman Empire. An adventure for the Thirteenth Doctor, Yaz, Graham and Ryan from BBC Books.

540: The Secret History:

Who or what has manipulated the Doctor’s timeline so that his Fifth incarnation is experiencing an adventure at the heart of the Roman Empire which should involve his First?  With Steven and Vicki in danger, the Fifth Doctor must discover what is going on in this conclusion to the Locum Doctor’s trilogy.

Alternate Rome:

The Iron Legion (in both comic strip and audio form) finds the Fourth Doctor travelling to an alternate Earth where the Roman Empire never fell.

The Lone Centurion:

At some undisclosed points in time in Rome, a young Centurion by the name of Rory waited for, and protected, the love of his life.  This box set from Big Finish sees Arthur Darvill return to the role of Rory Williams in the period of his life where he was ‘the Lone Centurion’ guarding the Pandorica

Undated short stories:  A number of short stories are set during the history of the Roman Empire, particularly when it extended into Britain.  These include:

Big Finish Short Trips

4. Rome

Big Finish Short Trips

10. The Prodigal Sun

Big Finish Short Trips

5. Good Queen, Bad Queen, I Queen, You Queen

BBC Books

Sarah Jane and the Temple of Eyes

Average. Rating: 72%
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Written by: deltaandthebannermen