Max 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.