Michael Aptedwill direct the first three episodes of the upcoming HBO and BBC drama seriescollaboration Rome,which begins shooting in Bulgaria in March and is scheduled to air on HBO andBBC2 in 2005.

The series,which marks the first series co-production between the networks, centres on thelives of two ordinary Roman soldiers in 51 BC as Julius Caesar prepares toreturn home after eight years at war.

HBO's executivevice president of original programming Carolyn Strauss and senior vicepresident Anne Thomopoulos will oversee the project for HBO.

BBC controllerof drama commissioning Jane Tranter and head of drama commissioning GarethNeame will oversee for the BBC.

Bruno Heller,William J MacDonald, John Milius, Thomopoulos, Neame and Stan Wlodkowski willserve as executive producers.

Heller will alsoserve as writer on several episodes along with Milius, MacDonald, AlexandraCunningham, David Frankel and Adrian Hodges.

Production for the serieswill be based at the Cinecitta Studios in Rome, with additional location workthroughout Europe and North Africa.