Max Irons (Woman In Gold, The White Queen) and Sam Neill (Peaky Blinders, Jurassic Park) star in ITV’s epic new Tutankhamun mini series.
Written by Guy Burt (Jekyll and Hyde, The Bletchley Circle), the four-part drama is based on the compelling story of Howard Carter and his discovery of the tomb of one of Ancient Egypt’s forgotten pharaohs, the boy-king Tutankhamun. Lord Carnarvon is the dashing eccentric who keeps faith with Carter and continues to back his expeditions when no one else will.
Sunday 16 October 2016, 9pm
In 1905, archaeology in Egypt is a rich man’s game, the preserve of aristocrats and tycoons… except for the lone figure of Howard Carter.
Carter is a genius and someone that even expert archaeologists turn to for advice. One of them is Maggie Lewis, a member of the New York Met Museum’s dig team. Maggie is fond of Carter and tries to get him to join her dig but Carter is determined to plough his own furrow.
Maggie brings to Carter’s attention a faience cup and sets the archaeologist off on a trail of discoveries that points to something incredible. Carter becomes convinced that there is a royal tomb that’s forgotten by history and waiting to be discovered. He believes the tomb belongs to the boy king Tutankhamun, a little known Pharaoh whose legacy has been lost to the sands of time. Maggie dismisses Carter’s theories out of hand but he pursues it with single-minded determination.
Only one man has enough faith in Carter’s brilliance to financially back him, Lord Carnarvon. He and Carter form the unlikeliest of partnerships: the dashing maverick aristocrat and the outcast genius, who had no formal training in archaeology. Together they join forces to unearth the greatest archaeological marvel the world has ever seen…
Carnarvon’s teenage daughter Evelyn is swept away by the magic of the Valley of the Kings and she believes Carter’s theory of a lost tomb. An off-hand comment from Evelyn leads Carter to think that the tomb might be right under their noses, in the centre of the Valley of the Kings.
But the outbreak of World War 1 means that Carter’s dream has to be put on hold – perhaps forever.
Sunday 23 October 2016, 9pm
In 1918, World War 1 is drawing to a close. Determined to renew his search for the lost tomb, Carter resumes work at his dig site. Also, returning to Egypt is Maggie – keen to pick up romantically where she left off with Carter.
Lord Carnarvon comes out to see what progress is being made and is accompanied by his daughter, Evelyn, now a beautiful young woman. Evelyn shares Carter’s passion for Egypt and the two form a deep bond.
Maggie’s keen to take her relationship with Carter to the next level. But it’s clear to her that his heart lies elsewhere with Evelyn.
Meanwhile the dig has hit a dead end. Carnarvon, having spent vast swathes of his family fortune, can no longer afford the dig and he has to cut his losses. Carter tries to convince his patron to stick with him and vows to sell his home as well as all his belongings to finance the dig himself. Evelyn takes Carter’s side and Carnarvon gives into his daughter’s persuasion. Carnarvon allows Carter one last roll of the dice not knowing that his daughter and Carter have embarked on a clandestine love affair.
The gamble pays off and they discover a tomb entrance under the sand. Could this be Tutankhamun’s tomb?
Sunday 30 October 2016, 9pm
As the stairway is cleared, a doorway is revealed. Carter is vindicated: it is Tutankhamun’s tomb. The question is: is there anything left inside?
Carter and Evelyn continue their secret romance. Evelyn sees no barrier to their love, but Carter’s more realistic. She’s an heiress. He’s lowly archaeologist. But they cannot let anyone get wind of their affair. Especially as heightened political tensions mean Carnarvon is keeping a watchful eye over his daughter.
Carter and Carnarvon are supposed to wait for the authorities to be present for the official opening of sealed doorway… but it’s impossible. Along with Evelyn they break into the tomb. It’s an Aladdin’s cave. of priceless wonders. But this is just an ante-chamber. The real burial chamber lies beyond… and the seals on this door are entirely intact.
The Official Opening follows. The world’s press are there. Carter is a global star. He assembles a top team of archaeologists to help him remove, catalogue and preserve the contents of the tomb.
And that’s when it all starts to go wrong. The new head of the Antiquities Service, Lacau, shows up. The law has changed: the British cannot walk off with Egypt’s greatest treasures. Everything must go to Cairo. Carter and Carnarvon keep nothing.
Carter is furious. Carnarvon is horrified. He’s effectively broke; not recouping the expense of the dig could ruin him. Carter makes the mistake of giving The Times a world exclusive, and in doing so earns himself the anger of every other newspaper. Soon the headlines turn on Carter: how he and Carnarvon are plotting to to steal Tutankhamun’s treasures. In Cairo, there are protests, attacks, riots in the streets. Carter is suddenly a figure of hate.
Things turn ugly when Carnarvon finds out about Carter and Evelyn. Carnarvon feels betrayed. The old battle-lines of class, seemingly suspended between these two men, come crashing down: a commoner like Carter is not good enough for Carnarvon’s daughter. The dig, and their friendship, are at an end.
Sunday 6 November 2016, 9pm
Evelyn tries to heal the breach between her father and Carter. But Carter is stubbornly proud and won’t even speak to his former patron. He’s hiding out back in his tomb, feeling like the whole world has turned against him.
An insect bite on Carnarvon’s face gets infected. While angry mobs in the streets outside his hotel chant and shout against him – there are still rumours that he wants to steal Tutankhamun’s mummy away from its resting place – Carnarvon succumbs to blood poisoning.
The news that Carnarvon he has very little time left to live shocks Carter, and causes a change of heart. Evelyn persuades him to come to the hotel room where Carnarvon lies dying… and the two men finally make their peace with each other. Carnarvon dies in his sleep. Carter is still at his bedside. Evelyn goes back to England to deal with his estate.
With the world’s press harping on the subject of the ‘curse of the tomb’, Carter returns to the digsite. His goal isn’t profit or treasure. All he wants is to come face to face with Tutankhamun. But Lacau has other plans. He immediately declares the tomb and its contents forfeit. He now controls the dig site, and Carter is out of a job. Carter has literally nothing to show for his eleven years of painstaking work and keeping the faith.
Evelyn returns to Egypt. She entreats the Antiquities Service to allow Carter to finish the job he started. There is, simply, no-one else who can do this job. Lacau agrees: if Carter apologizes.
Evelyn meets with Carter. Carter proposes to her. Or rather – he tries to. Evelyn gravely tells him that she’s getting married. A suitable aristocratic match – to protect her late father’s estate. Once she’s done here, she’s returning to England for the wedding.The endless possibilities of the Valley have, finally, been exhausted. There’s no fairy-tale ending here.
All Carter has left is Tutankhamun: the boy King he has spent nearly two decades pursuing. The now world-famous death mask of Tutankhamun is revealed for the first time. Carter oversees the last of the treasures, including the mask, being removed. But Tutankhamun will not be put in a museum: this is where he went to join his ancestors in eternity, and this is where he’s staying.
Carter tells the expectant press that this was Lord Carnarvon’s personal wish: that the mummy remain here, forever.
Watch the trailer…
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