Royal role for Newry's Aislinn Sands in ancient Rome TV drama
Striking Co Down actress Aislinn Sands will play titian-haired, tragic Celtic warrior Queen Boudica in a new landmark eight-part TV history of ancient Rome.
Presented by Bettany Hughes, Eight Days That Made Rome uncovers brand new archaeological evidence, while lavish drama brings the incredible story of Rome to life.
Newry woman Aislinn has previously cosied up to James Nesbitt in Murphy's Law, tended to Michael Caine in Last Orders, got physical with Billie Piper in Secret Diary of a Call Girl and starred opposite Olivia Williams in the theatre production of Scenes from a Marriage, directed by Sir Trevor Nunn.
In her latest small screen venture, she will star alongside Ross O'Hennessy, known for playing the Lord of Bones in HBO's hit fantasy epic Game of Thrones and Nicholas Lopez, who has starred in Win Win and Footballers' Wives.
In 60AD, a few years after the Roman conquest of Britannia, Roman troops marched into a settlement in what's now East Anglia and proceeded to humiliate and flog the proud queen and violated her daughters.
Boudica's retribution was ferocious, resulting in the complete destruction of London and Colchester and the massacre of up to 80,000 Romans and Britons.
Ultimately, her revolt was doomed as native Britons were no match for the discipline of Roman legions.
The defeated queen died shortly after her rebellion failed.
Aislinn said: "I was aware of Boudica before my involvement and familiar with her reputation as a redoubtable Celtic warrior queen.
"The arc of her journey was challenging. I had to access extremes of emotion in quick succession, so you have to take yourself to places that provoke painful reactions.
"That's the real challenge of this job."
She added that the audition for the role was nerve-wracking.
"I loved how physical my role was, horse-riding, sword-play and even working with fire. The burial of Boudica's husband was the most gruelling," she said.
Bettany Hughes added: "I love the story of Boudica. What is incredible is that this fierce tribal leader takes the rage and anger of this moment and uses it to empower her and the other Britons so in effect, it's causing a civil war in Britain. Expect blood, fire and fury."
Eight Days That Made Rome starts on Friday at 9pm on Channel 5. Catch Aislinn's episode - Boudica's Revenge - on November 24