Up Pompeii!

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Up Pompeii! is a British television comedy series of the 1970s, starring Frankie Howerd. The first series was written by Talbot Rothwell, of the Carry On films fame, and the second series by Rothwell and Sid Colin.



Set in ancient Pompeii (pre-eruption) Howerd played a slave, Lurcio (pronounced Lurk-io). The other main characters were Lurcio's bumbling old master, Senator Ludicrus Sextus (initially Max Adrian and then Wallas Eaton), the senator's promiscuous wife Ammonia (Elizabeth Larner), his daughter Erotica (Georgina Moon) and his eternally virginal son Nausius (Kerry Gardner) (who wrote not very rude odes), along with the Cassandra-esque Senna the Soothsayer (Jeanne Mockford) and Plautus (Willie Rushton). Guest stars included a number of "Carry On" girls with Barbara Windsor, Wendy Richard and Valerie Leon all having parts.

The set-up was little more than a backdrop for an endless series of double entendres and risqué gags. Howerd was the key to most of the gags and he started each episode with a prologue — a "to camera" that would usually never get finished and rarely had anything to do with the episode plot.

Bill Cotton in an interview with author Graham McCann on 6 June 2000 said that the then director of the BBC Comedy, Michael Mills, prompted by the plays of Plautus, came up with the idea for the show for Frankie Howerd. The musical A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, set in ancient Rome, was also said to be an influence. Howerd had recently played the similar role of the slave Pseudolus in the original London stage run of the musical, and there were parallels between some other characters.

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