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Happy Chinese New Year, and welcome to the Year of the Snake.

Quite coincidentally, I spent the weekendre-watching the 13-part classic BBC series I, Claudius from 1976, the opening credits of which feature a snake (which appears to be a viper) undulating across a mosaic containing the series title (pictured left). The DVD extras, which date from various years, are first-rate.

I’ve also been watching Derek Jacobi (who starred as Claudius) in the Cadfael mystery series, set in 1100s England. It’s pretty thin stuff (and much changed from the books by Ellis Peters). I’ve read two of the omnibus print collections, and they’re much richer.