Max Irons and Sam Neill star in ITV’s Tutankhamun

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Max Irons and Sam Neill have signed up to appear in the new epic four-part mini series Tutankhamun, produced by ITV Studios.

Tutankhamun is based on the compelling story of Howard Carter played by Max Irons and his discovery of the tomb of one of Ancient Egypt’s forgotten pharaohs, the boy-king Tutankhamun. Sam Neill takes the role of the dashing and eccentric Lord Carnarvon who keeps faith with Carter and continues to back his expeditions when no one else will.

Set against the great sweep of ochre sands, looming cliffs and baking heat of Egypt’s Valley of the Kings, the story unfolds in 1905 when Carter, an eminent British archaeologist who we meet in his early 20’s, is fervently leading an expedition. Amidst the chaos scattered across the Valley floor, Carter’s grim determination to find lost antiquities is only too apparent. He has an easy manner with the Egyptian men who work alongside him, but when tempers fray Carter is hotheaded and puts the dig and his career in jeopardy.

With his license to dig revoked by Cairo’s Antiquities Service, Carter spends years ostracised, dishevelled and living rough and resorting to selling previously discovered archaeological relics to buy food. A chance meeting with the privileged and fast living British aristocrat, Lord Carnarvon, brings a change of fortunes as the enthusiastic amateur needs an experienced archaeologist to help him with a series of random excavations. Carter and Carnarvon begin the most unlikely friendship, in spite of their differences in background and character. After years of searching for the tomb, Carter and Carnarvon successfully discover the last resting place of the boy-king in 1921 against all odds and at great personal expense.

The story has been written by The Borgias screenwriter Guy Burt and focuses on the legendary personal story of Carter, a solitary man on the edge of society who became an iconic figure and an unlikely hero. Filming will take place in South Africa from mid October 2015.

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One Reply to “Max Irons and Sam Neill star in ITV’s Tutankhamun”

  1. Oh dear ! One hoped that this new series would offer an account of Carter and Carnarvon’s great find – and the background to it that was reliable – not bad history! The floppy history is already apparent in the various publicity blurbs. The tomb of the boy King Tutankhamun was discovered in 1922 ( not 1921 ). Carter did not have his digging rights removed – he resigned as Inspector of Antiquities for Lower Egypt . Carter’s biographer H V Winstone suggests that Carter may have merely been asked to take extended leave . Since the documents on this were suppressed for over 50 years there is some conflict of facts . This rumpus forcing Carter to step down followed from an incident at Saqqara involving a bunch of drunken Frenchmen – who complained of being roughed up by Carter and his staff – a complaint was made – Carter refused to apologise to the Frenchmen and was brought to task by his bosses in Cairo. Carter returned to private life – selling and painting. He was a stubborn, proud man but could adapt and did.

    After resigning his post of Inspector Carter traded in selling art and robbed relics he’d picked up on various jobs, ancient sites and also sold drawings – including some of his own work. He was a very fine artist, draftsman and a talented grave robber and traded on and off the black market. Although he fell out of favour with authority – and some people snubbed him – he never ever starved or was reduced to a beggar state as is implied – he’d been in Egypt for several years and although there were lean times he lived well enough and had several fingers in pies.

    George Herbert, 5th Earl of Carnarvon was never dashing, he was so messed up with disease and injuries from car accidents that he was a kind of Edwardian version of Steve Austin. His Lordship was exactly the punter that the ambitious Carter wanted to attract and Carter was exactly the dealer that Carnarvon wanted to secure to supply him with ancient treaures. Carnarvon had others make purchases from Carter’s legal and illegal caches. So the two men knew of each other anyway but these were two conceited Englishmen abroad – they needed someone to introduce them. The destiny of the two men forming a partnership needed a go-between, with Lord Cromer the gaffer at the Cairo Residency being the patsy, theirs was not a chance meeting but it was fated and encouraged by the rich Almina, the Earl wife’s to get Carnarvon out of her hair.

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