Some viewers have voiced disapproval at the casting of Hakeem Kae-Kazim as Zeus, as well as David Gyasi as Achilles in the programme, citing historical inaccuracy.
One wrote on Twitter: “Cant believe #TroyFallOfACity has depicted certain characters with black actors not historically accurate at all Achilles was blond hair blue eyed Greek, Zeus was not black what a joke !”
While another claimed: “Tries to watch #TroyFallOfACity – garbage. An interpretation of the ‘Illiad’ is all very well, but gross historical inaccuracies, a f*****g ostrich and a black Zeus are taking things too far.”
However, British-Nigerian actor Hakeem has responded to the viewer backlash, referencing the historical context of the tale.
In an exclusive interview with with Express.co.uk, Hakeem, 55, said: “In ancient times the borders were open and people travelled freely. The Greeks themselves would have been a myriad of shades from light to very dark.
“Homer actually mentions this when he describes Aethiopis (Ethiopians) in the Iliad and describes Odysseus as dark-skinned. It is only since slavery that the world has been carved up into black and white.”
The Hotel Rwanda star went on to detail that he could have anticipated the criticism.
“If I had really thought about it, I wouldn’t be surprised about that reaction,” he sighed.
“There is a deep level of racism, whether it is open or subtle, that permeates throughout our society and in the arts. For example, why are there so few films, if any, about the contribution black people have made to British society?”
Earlier in the week, writer David Farr also chimed in on the debate, noting that the text is a myth.
David, 48, revealed to Variety: “I understand that for certain people, probably mainly in Greece, there is a national idea of Achilles. I personally think that they just have to accept that we are looking at this myth, and we had the freedom to cast it as we have.”
”We are not claiming that Achilles was actually Ethiopian any more than if a black actor played [King] Arthur,” he continued. “It is simply a casting decision. Whoever came and inhabited the spirit of the characters best we decided to cast.”
Producer Derek Wax also commented on the claims by suggesting people will try to make it controversial if that’s what they want.
“Diversity is at the heart of our casting and at the heart of what the BBC and Netflix wants. It’s only a controversy if people try to manufacture a controversy out of it.”
Troy: Fall of a City continues tonight at 9.10pm on BBC One.