Tutankhamun (ITV 2016, Sam Neill, Max Irons)


Four-part drama series Tutankhamun is based on the true story of Howard Carter’s epic quest to discover the lost tomb of the boy-king Tutankhamun, set against the sweeping backdrop of an Egypt caught in the violent spasms of the First World War and revolution.

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 an outcast, awkward and difficult to deal with, but he is also a genius, 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.

Only one man has enough faith in his brilliance to back him. Lord Carnarvon is a gambling man, a risk-taker and a daredevil. Carnarvon’s teenage daughter Evelyn is swept away by the magic of the Valley of the Kings. She believes Carter’s theory of a lost tomb and it is an off-hand comment from her that leads Carter to believe that the tomb might be right under their noses, in the centre of the Valley of the Kings. Everyone else says the Valley is ‘dug out’, but Carter is convinced that they are wrong. But the outbreak of WWI means that Carter’s dream is put on hold – perhaps for ever.


Max Irons who plays Carter said of playing the man “Howard was a different breed of a man. When you hear people’s opinions on Howard Carter it ranges. Some people put him firmly on the autistic spectrum. Other people say, ‘No, he wasn’t. He was just very single-minded.’ Very focused and passionate about what he did with a true love and imagination for this period that wasn’t shared by his contemporaries. Howard didn’t have some of the airs and graces and social platitudes that were needed. He was a one-off. He was said to prefer the company of dead people, thousands of years old, to the living.”

production details
UK / ITV / 4×60 minute episodes / Broadcast from Sunday 16 October 2016 at 9.00pm

Writer: Guy Burt / Producer: Simon Lews / Production Design: Mike Berg / Costume Design: Diana Cilliers / Music: Christian Henson / Executive Producers: Francis Hopkinson, Catherine Oldfield / Director: Peter Webber

Max Irons as Howard Carter
Sam Neill as Lord Carnarvon
Amy Wren as Lady Evelyn Carnarvon
Catherine Steadman as Maggie Lewis
Jonathan Aris as Winlock
Anthony Higgins as Theodore Davis
Rupert Vansittart as Flinders Petrie
Vincent Grass as Sir Gaston Maspero
Nicolas Beaucaire as Pierre Lacau
Waleed Elgadi as Selim
Martin Hutson as Merton