1 9 8 8 – 1 9 9 0 (UK)
13 x 30 minute episodes
The story of life in Roman Britain – with a twist. The Channel 4 series was set in AD 123, in Chelmsford (hence the title). Britain was still cold and wet, and the town had few redeeming features, except for Thursday’s late-night shopping.
Aulus Paulinus was despatched from Rome to be the new Governor of Britain – his punishment for accidentally insulting the Holy Roman Emperor’s girlfriend.
Aulus (played by Jimmy Mulville) was a puny and somewhat delicate Roman, usually outwitted by the bearded Badvoc (Rory McGrath), a scheming, ill-natured and revolting Celt who ruled over the disgusting local tribe, in particular his ugly cohorts Mungo and Blag (who had visionary lucid spells – “Well I was watching Panorama … ‘ere I don’t know what just came over me”).
Aulus also had a Roman assistant/brother-in-law, the unctuous Grasientus.
Chelmsford 123 was the first series from Hat Trick Productions, set to become the most successful independent company making comedy and comedy-quiz-shows for British TV in the 1990s.
Here, the humour was laid on thick, with many good lines and some corny but worthwhile laughs coming from abuse of vernacular English in a style that was part I’m Sorry, I’ll Read That Again and part cheapo Blackadder.
“Wacky” quiz show rent-a-host Angus Deayton (he of the big mouth and little talent) made a guest appearance in the show.
Howard Lew Lewis