Byron on BBC

Byron (2003) 2 hrs, 27 min.

If you’re not familiar with Lord Byron, this TV movie is a good introduction.

Jonny Lee Miller, who played “Sick Boy” in Trainspotting, is well cast. His features, whatever they may lack in physical likeness to Byron, are well-suited for expressing Byron’s wittiness, world-weariness, and arrogance. He sneers well.

My best friend pointed out that the first YouTube video begins as a light-hearted comedy only to shift into a drama / soap-opera in subsequent installments. Perhaps this is intentional, reflecting the transition from the sun-drenched fun of anything-goes Greece back to the colder and less tolerant atmosphere of London.


  • Byron’s memoirs were indeed burned after his death. This New York Times article describes the event (skip to the last three paragraphs).
  • Byron refers to “Sounion, the sacred promontory of Athens” which his friend Hobhouse takes an interest in. According to legend, it was the height from which Aegeus, in despair over the assumed death of his son Theseus, leapt to his death. Returning from having slain the Minotaur in Crete, Theseus forgot to hoist a white sail in place of a black one, an agreed upon signal to indicate his survival. The Aegean Sea is thus named after his father, an early king of Athens.
  • Byron did indeed swim across the Hellespont, to reenact a feat from the Greek myth of Hero and Leander. (Leander, in love with Hero, would nightly swim across the narrow strait to be with her; he lived in Abydos and she lived in a tower in Sestos, on the northern shore.)
  • Byron’s sexuality defies easy categorization, but he preferred women. I give credit to the producers of this movie for not glossing over his bisexual tendencies.

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