British Museum blog

AD 79 in HD: broadcasting Pompeii Live

Preparations for Pompeii LiveTim Plyming, Head of Digital Media and Publishing,
British Museum

At time of writing we are under a week away from two live cinema events for the British Museum exhibition Life and death in Pompeii and Herculaneum, and I wanted to give you a bit more detail about what we are planning, as well as a glimpse behind the scenes at the huge amount of activity now taking place.

Pompeii Live presenters Bettany Hughes and Peter Snow

Pompeii Live presenters Bettany Hughes and Peter Snow

Our ambition from the beginning has been to provide an exclusive ‘private view’ experience of the exhibition. We realised the best way to experience the exhibition was to have a ‘private guided tour’ in the presence of experts able to bring the objects to life through the stories they tell. This ‘private tour’ experience is of course not one that we can offer every visitor to the Museum but through a special event such as Pompeii Live we can, for one night and using the power of live satellite broadcasting, bring that experience directly into cinemas across the UK.

We are thrilled at visitors planning to join us from as far afield as Thurso, Swansea, Belfast, Plymouth and Norwich. Over 80% of the available tickets have been sold, so we are telling visitors to make sure they have their ticket in advance if they want to join us live.

Preparations for the Pompeii Live broadcast

Preparations for the Pompeii Live broadcast

Over the 80-minute broadcast, visitors will be led by our main presenters, Peter Snow and Bettany Hughes. They will be joined by specialist contributors including historians Mary Beard and Andrew Wallace-Hadrill, chef Giorgio Locatelli and, broadcaster and gardening expert, Rachel De Thame. We feel very privileged to have such an amazing line-up who will take us much closer to the people of these tragic cities and what their daily lives were like. Giorgio Locatelli, for example, has been experimenting in his kitchen in central London with a recipe for the carbonised loaf of the bread – one of the star objects in the exhibition.

Chef, Giorgio Locatelli and broadcaster Peter Snow making plans for the event

Chef, Giorgio Locatelli and broadcaster Peter Snow making plans for the event

We have already started our rehearsals and preparations for the show and feel certain that audiences are in for a real treat when they join us live on the night. On Monday, the outside broadcast vehicles arrive at the Museum and we start the process of – overnight – building a live broadcast studio in the heart of the British Museum. On Tuesday 18 June we rehearse the event and are then live to over 280 cinemas across the UK at 19.00 BST.

Following the live broadcast, over 1,000 cinemas across the world in over 60 territories will show a recorded ‘as live’ version of the event. This will be shown in cinemas as far flung as China, India and the USA.

Preparations for Pompeii Live

Preparations for Pompeii Live

In addition to our main broadcast event on Tuesday 18 June, our team has developed a live cinema event for school audiences. This will allow schools across the UK to go to their local cinema and be transported live to the British Museum to explore the objects in the exhibition as well as content designed to link to Key Stage two subject areas. They’ll be guided by presenters Naomi Wilkinson and Ed Petrie, as well as a cast of specialist contributors.

You can find your nearest participating cinema, in the UK and across the world, on our website at and follow preparations for both live events on Twitter using #PompeiiLive.

Life and death in Pompeii and Herculaneum is at the British Museum until 29 September 2013.

Exhibition sponsored by Goldman Sachs.
In collaboration with Soprintendenza Speciale per I Beni Archeologici di Napoli e Pompei.

Tweet using #PompeiiExhibition and @britishmuseum

If you would like to leave a comment click on the title

Filed under: At the Museum, Exhibitions, Life and death in Pompeii and Herculaneum,

19 Responses - Comments are closed.

  1. Serenity says:

    Splendid! Wish we could see it here stateside via free live streaming internet feed. I would ♡ to see this!


    • Tim Plyming says:

      Hi – sure that will come. In the meantime over 400 venues in the USA will be showing it in movie theatres in coming months


  2. Will it be released on DVD for those of us unable to get to the live show?


  3. Dave Jones says:

    Perhaps there should be


  4. Liz Darcy says:

    I thought the event was wonderful and the production was superb. I really need to hear that wonderful music at the end again so please can you tell me how to get hold of it. It was breathtaking. Thank you.


  5. Diana says:

    Disappointed that did not see enough of the exhibits themselves. Felt we had gone to the cinema to see a television documentary and not got an impression of the exhibit.


  6. Keith Mansford says:

    Magnificent exhibition but commentaries were too breathless and overstuffed with superlatives . Peter Snow mis-cued by trying to switch to Women when the subject was still Slaves . Camera work at the start was hysterical and unpleasant to watch but soon settled down . . All in all a Curates egg for the commentary but full marks to the Exhibition Curator


  7. Peter says:

    Watched this at a birmingham cinema last night. Was very dissapointed £15 a ticket for a poor documentry, didnt see much of the exhibits at all. You wouldnt want to buy this on dvd if it was released. Truely a big let down.


  8. mario says:

    Too much chat and emphasis on experts showing off and not enough hard information and shots of the exhibits. I did not learn anything I did not already know,


  9. Pia Paganelli says:

    I enjoyed the live event on Tuesday and in particular the insights given by the experts as this really helped to bring the exhibits to life. I too would have liked to have seen even more of the exhibits. As I am unable to travel to London to see the exhibition I would like to know if the live event has been recorded for television as I would love to see it again. Many of my friends were unable to attend the viewing so a televised version would enable a greater audience to see it.


  10. Barbara Ann says:

    I share Diana’s sentiments, I came out of the cinema with a feeling of disappointment


  11. Karen Anderson says:

    I see my area, Atlanta, Georgia, USA, somewhat lit with a dot on the map of places the movie will be shown. Clicking the dot has not produced any connections. I would like to get tickets and dates right away. How can I find out more?


  12. Cherie Gibbs says:

    I can’t wait to see it . It will be at our local Cinema on the 29/8/13.
    I believe after the World wide Screening DVDs should be made as other World wide features have e.g : Les Miserables, Phantom of the Opera , all of these were telecast on the same Date.
    Such huge appeal would help the Museum as well. Plus many People who can’t make it.
    This is once in a Lifetime.


  13. Wendy Kimber says:

    Any chance this will be repeated in UK? Missed it originally and can’t get tickets for the exhibition


  14. Arron Martin says:

    Surely a DVD makes sense, there must be many of us who couldn’t make the exhibition who would be delighted to contribute a fair sum to see this outstanding spectacle.


  15. Enrique Azcarraga says:

    I tried seeing it in Mexico City, could not get tickets, all were sold days before it is to be showed (today and next Saturday), no new showings programmed, Will it be available in DVD or itunes?


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