Power and the passion
A DRAMA series about a pope might not sound like riveting television but when that pontiff is Pope Alexander VI, it’s a true story with more sex, violence and intrigue than anything a writer could make up.
Imagine The Tudors set in the Vatican you will have some idea of what this outstanding series is like.
Season two of The Borgias begins on Thursday on Austar channel W ( 115) and the depravity and nepotism of season one was only an appetiser for what is to come.
The Borgias is the story of Rodrigo Borgia ( Jeremy Irons), a cardinal who used all manner of manipulations and trickery to get himself elected Pope Alexander VI in the late 15th century.
While history has judged him to have been a fairly effective leader, he is better known for his affairs with multiple mistresses and the scandal of being a pope with children of his own.
Season one charted Borgia’s rise from cardinal to the papacy. Irons’ portrayal of the pope is magnificent, a twisted, intimate portrait of a man who is more concerned with maintaining his position of power than with actually trying to do any good with it, and who feels justified employing any means to stay at the top.
As merciless and self- serving as Borgia is, you can’t help feeling just a little sorry for the guy as he tries to keep his mitre while also managing his privileged, bickering, messedup family in the background.
His ambitious and ruthless eldest son Cesare ( Francois Arnaud) is still locked in a bitter rivalry with his younger brother and military leader Juan ( David Oakes).
Meanwhile, Cesare must deal with the rumours that he is involved in an incestuous relationship with his sister Lucrezia ( Holliday Grainger).
And then there is the pope’s rather unsaintly love life.
As season two begins, the war with France seems to have ended, with the French king happily occupying Naples and the pope throws a celebration.
But behind the benevolence, Borgia swears revenge against everyone who betrayed him in the events leading up to the invasion, and sets his eyes on a new mistress.
Episode one of the latest season screened in the US on April 8, so W has certainly brought the new season to Australian screens quickly.
Meanwhile, on Showcase ( 403) season two of the edgy Scottish series Lip Service begins tonight ( May 13).
Packed with irreverent humour and sexual passion, Lip Service follows a group of young friends as they search for love and happiness.
Cat ( Laura Fraser) and Sam ( Heather Pearce) return to Glasgow after a loved- up month in South America.
But Cat’s feelings for her first love, Frankie ( Ruta Gedmintas) are still simmering beneath the surface and there is another bombshell about to explode within the close group of friends.
It’s a big week of quality drama for Austar subscribers, who should revel in the opportunity to escape Masterchef and The Voice.