From the Evening Standard:

Towering figures such as Cleopatra, Alexander the Great and Hannibal will come to life in the classroom in the first GCSE course in ancient history.

Interest in the subject is said to have soared on the back of big budget movies focusing on the civilisations as old as time.

Troy, Hollywood's take on the Iliad, the epic Greek poem about the siege of the ancient city, starred Brad Pitt as the legendary warrior Achilles.

And Colin Farrell starred as Alexander the Great in Alexander, the story of the king of Macedon who conquered Persia, Egypt, Syria and Mesopotamia.

Students will be able to study the history behind Hollywood blockbusters such as Troy, starring Brad Pitt

Now the OCR board has unveiled an ancient history GCSE a year after threatening to scrap the subject at A-level.

It was saved after campaigners backed by Tory MP and London mayoral candidate Boris Johnson warned the subject could disappear from state schools for ever.

The exam board says there has been strong demand from schools to present the subject to a younger audience.

GCSE pupils taking the subject will study the foundation of Rome and Greece along with the Persian wars.

Figures such as Alexander the Great, the Carthaginian general Hannibal and Roman empress Agrippina the Younger will feature in the course.

It will also cover ancient civilisations such as the Egyptians, the Minoans, the Persians, the Hellenes world and the Celts.

The movie Troy, which featured the legends of the Trojan horse and Helen of Troy, was released in 2004, one of a batch of productions reflecting Hollywood's fascination with history.

Last year 300, starring Gerard Butler, focused on the Battle of Thermopylae of the fifth century BC.

300, based on the fifth-century BC Battle of Thermopylae when 300 Spartans held back 1,000,000 Persians for several days, is another film that has sparked new interest in ancient history

Details of the ancient history GCSE, to be introduced in September next year, are on their way to exam watchdogs for approval.

Professor Tom Harrison, chairman of the Joint Association of Classical Teachers, said: "With the huge public interest in the ancient world, classics nationally is buoyant and this new qualification will bring the subject to a younger, even broader, audience."

The new GCSE is expected to differ from current subjects such as classical civilisation and Latin, which emphasise language, art and architecture.

Ancient history will focus on the study of original sources, such as archaeological evidence and translated literature.