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The beloved Sunday night drama: is Tutankhamun up to scratch?

ByRuth Connaughton

Nov 1, 2016

With memories of many a primary school afternoon spent passionately filling jotters with fun facts about Ancient Egypt and the pyramids, I was very optimistic and excited when I heard that ITV’s new Sunday night period drama was going to be about the discovery of Tutankhamun’s tomb.

Set in the early twentieth century, Tutankhamun follows the almost true story of archaeologist Howard Carter (Max Irons) on his quest to make what was considered by many at the time to be an impossible discovery of Egyptian King Tutankhamun’s treasures and his patron Lord Carnarvon (Sam Neill) by his side.

From the start, this television show had some very large shoes to fill, replacing the Sunday evening time slot of Victoria – and Downton Abbey. It is impossible not to compare these period dramas, and Tutankhamun fell short. Although the writer, Guy Burt, had exceptional material to work with in that this was one of the most iconic archaeological discoveries of the twentieth century, the script was highly over-dramatic.

It appeared that very little historical research had been done, with some aspects seeming to be entirely fabricated. The present day Lord Carnarvon was not pleased with the romance that was depicted between Carter and his patron’s daughter, Evelyn (Amy Wren), claiming there is absolutely no truth behind it. Burt admitted he used some ‘creative license and elaborated on rumours.

The acting in this programme is strong in parts, but with far too much attempt being made at being sombre and inspiring. In fairness to the actors, this was a result of the script and direction.

Tutankhamun successfully brings a very important historic event to the fore, but was overall fairly disappointing.

Image: Walkerssk @ Pixabay

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