ITV has given the green-light to Tutankhamun, a four-part “event mini-series” from sister company ITV Studios which tells the story of archaeologist Howard Carter’s discovery of the tomb of the boy-king Tutankhamun in the 1920s.
Tutankhamun opens in 1905 when Carter, in his early-20s, is fervently leading an expedition. He has an easy manner with the Egyptian men who work alongside him, but when tempers fray Carter is hot-headed and puts the dig and his career in jeopardy. With his license to dig revoked, Carter spends years ostracised, dishevelled and living rough. A chance meeting with a British aristocrat brings a change of fortunes. Lord Carnarvon keeps faith with Carter and continues to back him when no one else will. 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.
“Tutankhamun is a story of epic proportions,” said ITV’s Director of Drama Steve November, who commissioned the series alongside Controller of Drama Victoria Fea. “Against the backdrop of World War One, conflict, murder, corruption, romance and the unlikeliest of friendships, Tutankhamun sees Howard Carter’s determination pay off in spectacular style when he discovers one of the greatest archaeological treasures of the modern world”.
The four-part event series is being penned by Jekyll & Hyde and The Bletchley Circle scribe Guy Burt and is set up at ITV Studios. The Body Farm’s Simon Lewis is serving as the series producer, while Hannibal Rising Peter Webber is attached to direct. The executive producers are Francis Hopkinson and Catherine Oldfield. Casting for the main roles is currently underway, with production set to commence in South Africa during the winter of 2015 and early part of 2016. The series is expected to air on ITV in 2016. ITV Studios Global Entertainment is handling global sales.
“This is a fascinating and compelling story with real historical significance”, said Tutankhamun executive producer Catherine Oldfield. “It’s based on true events and reveals how Carter desperately tries to persuade his patron (Carnarvon) to continue to bankroll the excavation. Ultimately it’s the story of what happens when you stake everything on one last roll of the dice.”