Spartacus

Pre-production has begun on a six-part Spartacus: Blood and Sand prequel to air in January, Starz announced Tuesday.

The untitled project, which will start shooting this summer, will focus on the rise of the House of Batiatus and its champions before Spartacus entered the picture as a captured slave.

Watch full episodes of Spartacus: Blood and Sand

The prequel will star Spartacus' Lucy Lawless and John Hannah and new characters such as the gladiator who was champion of the House of Batiatus. The series will also feature appearances from cast members including Peter Mensah, Manu Bennett, Antonio Te Maioha, Nick Tarabay, Lesley-Ann Brandt as well as series star Andy Whitfield.

Spartacus star diagnosed with cancer; production halted

Whitfield is undergoing treatment for non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, which forced Starz to delay production on Spartacus' second season. According to Starz, Whitfield's doctors indicate the actor is responding well.

"The prequel story maintains the excitement and entertainment value of the first season of Spartacus, giving audiences the engaging experience they've come to expect," said Starz President Chris Albrecht. "Fortunately, Andy is responding to his treatments, and will be able to be part of this prequel in a limited capacity. As soon as he's able, we look forward to continuing the Spartacus story."

 Will you tune into the Spartacus prequel?