Max Irons, Sam Neill To Star In ITV’s ‘Tutankhamun’ Miniseries

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Max Irons-Sam NeillMax Irons (The White Queen) and Sam Neill (Alcatraz) have been set as the two leads in ITV’s four-part miniseries Tutankhamun from sister company ITV Studios and Jekyll & Hyde scribe Guy Jenkinss, TVWise has learned.

Max Irons will play lead character Howard Carter, the archaeologist who unearthed the tomb of the tomb of the boy-king Tutankhamun in the 1920s; while Jurassic Park actor Sam Neill has been cast as the dashing and eccentric Lord Carnarvon who keeps faith with Carter and continues to back his expeditions when no one else will.

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 British aristocrat Lord Carnarvon  brings a change of fortunes. 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.

Speaking at the time the miniseries was commissioned, ITV’s Director of Drama Steve November said: “Tutankhamun is a story of epic proportions. 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 remaining main roles is presently underway, with production set to commence in South Africa next month for a 2016 premiere. ITV Studios Global Entertainment is handling international sales.

  • Sounds good. Mr Neill
    presumably for the part of that old devil Lord Carnarvon. The Earl 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. The young actor Irons makes
    a super choice to catch followers galore female and male . No doubt Peter
    Webber and Guy Burt ( the writer ) will deliver a memorable epic. . As for the
    publicity blurb it’s a promising start too – albeit the summary of Carter’s
    fall is not without fault, moreover the two men knew of each other before 1905
    – Carter was by then trading in selling art and robbed relics he’d picked up on
    various jobs, ancient sites and also selling drawings – including some of his
    own work. He was a very fine artist, draftsman and a talented excavator ( read
    grave robber ) and traded on and off the black market. Although he fell out of
    favour with authority – 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. Carnarvon
    always had an eye for a striking young man and a bargain buy and was flush with
    his wife Almina’s Rothschild money. His lordship was exactly the punter that
    Carter wanted to attract and Carnarvon had others make purchases from Carter’s
    legal and illegal caches. 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
    Almina to get Carnarvon out of her hair . The years that followed are otherwise
    neatly enough described in this piece. One looks forward to more on the series
    as 2015-6 unfolds. Will Cross, South Wales, UK.