Rome-based BBC drama Zen out on DVD Monday


Zen is now available to pre-order from Amazon

It need hardly be said that I greeted the news that the BBC were broadcasting a new detective drama set in Rome with immense enthusiasm. Anything based in Rome could only be a feast for the eyes, and the fact that the eponymous detective would be played by God’s gift to women Rufus Sewell only served to heighten my anticipation.

And the series certainly did not disappoint.  An entertaining mix of mystery, crime, comedy and romance, the three programmes were filmed in numerous stunning locations in and around Rome.  If, like me, you harbour a substantial obsession with Rome, you’ll definitely enjoy this series.  It’s always wonderfully sunny, and we’re often treated to scenes of the suave Aurelio Zen strutting about the streets of Rome in a sharp suit and downing his morning espresso. Of course we do also see a lot of the darker side of Italy – the corruption, bribery, ‘favours’ etc, and I felt that this was conveyed well.

Rufus Sewell – playing a good guy for a change – was delightful as well as smouldering, turning him into an instant sex symbol.  My Grandad commented that his voice isn’t manly enough, but personally I didn’t find this an issue ;-).

The three-part series was based on a set of eleven books by the late author Michael Dibdin, so let’s hope we see the rest of them appearing on our screens in the not-too-distant future.

In the meantime, the DVD of Zen is released on Monday and is available for pre-ordering from Amazon.  If you missed it, I highly recommend it – even if detective dramas aren’t usually your sort of thing (I don’t watch many myself).  Rome, Rufus and romance are a winning combination if you ask me!

About Rachel Ingram

I graduated from Oxford University in 2009 with an MA in Classical Archaeology and Ancient History from St John's College. After graduating I worked as a Geographic Researcher at, spending lots of time researching and writing travel guides to worldwide destinations, developing my copywriting skills. After working as a copywriter and content consultant at (formerly SEOptimise), where I most enjoyed working with travel clients, I went self-employed. I now divide my time between freelance copywriting and running the business I set up with my boyfriend - - selling aviation gift experiences. In my spare time I'm training for a Private Pilot's Licence, and I also enjoy travelling, wine and baking. My favourite authors are Charles Dickens, Gabriel Garcia Marquez and Bill Bryson.
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6 Responses to Rome-based BBC drama Zen out on DVD Monday

  1. Deborah says:

    My name Is Deborah
    I have been writing articles on travel for 2 years now, and would be very
    pleased to write on your site like guest blogger.
    I specialise in Tuscany, Sardinia and Rome travel.
    Please email me if you are interested to talk
    Kindly Awaiting your reply.

  2. Michael M. says:

    We’re totally bummed that they’re only making 3 episodes of Zen. There is talk of another production company picking it up, but nothing official yet. BBC got A LOT of flack about that decision. People that like it really LOVE it. Glad to hear that it’s not just me!

    The acting a joy to watch, Rufus Sewell and Caterina Murino have great chemistry and Rome as a location is perfect. The thing that struck us watching it on our home theater is how they carefully recorded the background sounds on location – it really makes you feel like you’re there. if you’ve been to Rome, it a distinct feel to it that is very nicely captured by Zen.

    Also wanted to say that your blog is one of my favorite Rome blogs – good combination of nice images and text written by someone who know and loves Rome. Well done!

    • Hey Michael,
      Thanks for your lovely comments about my blog! I too am gutted that they’re not making any more Zen – it was so atmospheric and so classy! And had great viewing figures, so it’s a baffling decision! Are you a frequent visitor to the Eternal City yourself?

      • Michael M. says:

        Yes, I’ve vacationed in Rome 6 or 7 times, twice in the last 3 years. I first went there in 1994 – I was lucky enough to have had friends in southern Tuscany that owned a beautiful villa that I could stay at (they’ve since sold it). The first 2 times was by train from Chiusi. I found myself becoming more and more fascinated by the place and keep going back. Spent 10 days there in the fall of 2010 and explored some of the lesser known ruins and areas – like the Tomb of Eurysaces the Baker and Porta Maggiore (liked you blog entry about that). I had a hotel room on the Esquiline that had a direct view of the top of the Arch of Gallienus. The hotel building itself had a chunk of the Servian wall protruding from it! Unbelievable amount of history to see there that I’m nearly obsessed with.

        Hard to believe that BBC canceled Zen after only 3 episodes. Everyone I’ve loaned my disks to LOVES the series. Did it get good ratings in the UK?

        Mike in StL

      • It did, yes! Despite being on at a fairly unpopular time on a Sunday! So no idea why they cancelled it, such a pity.

        Funny you should mention the Arch of Gallienus as I too have stayed on that very street! It’s an interesting part of Rome – Santa Maria Maggiore just round the corner, another favourite spot. Rome is full of favourite spots! What’s yours?

  3. Michael M. says:

    Don’t know if I can say I have a favorite spot – too many places in Rome that are just incredible, too many to see in a month of holidays. I love walking around with no particular route in mind to my destination, just to see what I find.

    Campus Martius might be my favorite area. The Pantheon is such a magnificent building … so if I had to choose *one* spot, that might be Piazza della Rotonda. Great place to people watch too!

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