Herbert Wise, Director of 'I, Claudius,' Dies at 90

Herbert Wise

The two-time Emmy nominee also was at the helm of TV projects starring Danny Kaye, Richard Burton and Deborah Kerr.

Herbert Wise, who directed all 13 episodes of the acclaimed 1976 miniseries I, Claudius, starring Derek Jacobi and John Hurt, died on Aug. 5, The Guardian newspaper reported. He was 90.

Wise received an Emmy nomination for his work on the BBC miniseries — which aired on PBS’ Masterpiece Theatre in the U.S. — about the Roman Empire. He insisted he direct all the installments and cast an incredible 236 parts for the project, which took three months to complete.

“I said if I’m going to do this, I want to do all 13. I can’t keep the continuity [otherwise],” he said in an interview with the DGA. “It’s too lovely to give it to some other director who may or may not make a hash of it. There was a lot of argument about it … [but] I got my whole unit together.”

Wise received another Emmy nom for helming Skokie (1981), based on a true story of a Jewish community protesting the right of Neo-Nazis to march in their suburban town. The CBS telefilm starred Danny Kaye in one of his last onscreen roles.

Wise also directed Richard Burton as Winston Churchill in the days before World War II in the BBC Hall of Fame production The Gathering Storm (1974), which aired on NBC.

A refugee from Vienna who came to Britain in 1939, Wise later directed Jacobi as mathematician Alan Turing — the subject of the recent drama The Imitation Game, starring Oscar-nominee Benedict Cumberbatch — in the 1996 BBC telefilm Breaking the Code.

His credits also include Pope John Paul II (1984), starring Albert Finney, and the romantic drama Reunion at Fairborough (1985), which featured Robert Mitchum and Deborah Kerr.

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