What does it take to run an Empire? Armies and slaves, of course, but also bureaucrats. At its height the Roman Empire employed thousands of men charged with keeping Rome and its provinces fed, watered and content. This was no easy job. A remarkable set of papyrus scrolls reveals the life of Roman Egypt's very own David Brent, preparing for a a visit from the fearsome Emperor Diocletian.

Infuriated by hopeless staff and venal local politicians and continuously harassed by his superiors, Apolinarius of Panopolis becomes increasingly desperate as Diocletian approaches and the tension cranks up. Mary Beard follows Apolinarius's story to reveal the messy realities of Roman administration.

Producer: Alasdair Cross

Expert Contributors: Colin Adams, Liverpool University and Margaret Mountford

Cast: Apolinarius played by Josh Bryant-Jones

Special thanks to Jill Unkell and the Chester Beatty collection, Dublin

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