Jamie Theakston on solving mysteries in Forbidden History

"I’m fascinated by the processes at work to try and stop people uncovering the truth. That, for me, is more interesting than the original story itself"

Ex-children’s TV presenter and Heart FM’s breakfast show host Jamie Theakstonis turning his hand to history’s unsolved mysteries for a new series on Yesterday. He sat down with RadioTimes.com to tell us what it’s all about… 


So what is Forbidden History?

It’s not really like a traditional history show in so much as, I’m not a history expert. I have no assumed knowledge of what it is that I‘m investigating, much in the same way that I’m guessing most of the audience won’t. The idea behind it is that you and I will together investigate just quite why there are certain stories in history where there are still question marks remaining.

Did you know anything about these mysteries when you started? 

There were various things I’d heard of. I’d heard of the Knights’ Templar, simply by having read The Da Vinci Code. I was aware of the bloodline theory that possibly Jesus had a relationship with Mary Magdalene and possibly they might have had a child. I was aware of that but I certainly didn’t really know anything more. I was as cynical as anyone should be going into the making of the show.

Have you a bit of a history nut?

I think it’s more that I’ve always been interested in a good story, that’s probably what attracted me more than the history. The fact that it happened in a time in history was only really the backdrop to the story. It’s not a show about history, it’s about mystery. 

Which mystery did you get most immersed in?

I was most fascinated by the bloodline story. Simply because if you believe small elements of the story then the impact that it has on history is massive. For instance, many people think that Christ existed around 2000 years ago – there was a rabbi in Jerusalem teaching about what became Christianity and the Romans didn’t like it. That’s believable. I think that the story of Christ being crucified and going to heaven… it starts to become a little more tricky to get your head around, certainly from a scientific point of view. The idea that he lived, I get that.

But the idea that he possibly was never crucified and lived and went on to father children… all of the a sudden the whole Bible story collapses. It’s the impact of something that doesn’t take much to believe in, that’s not beyond the realms of possibility. The fact that there have been 2000 years of the church telling us ‘this is what happened’ and that might not have been the case, that for me was really fascinating.

The fact that what we are told isn’t necessarily the truth?

We do a story called the third secret of Fatima. The story itself is about these kids who have a prophecy in 1920. They’ve seen the Virgin Mary. But they are only 9. It could have been anything. What’s more fascinating is the way that the Vatican then dealt with covering up, why they covered it up.

I’m fascinated by the processes at work to try and stop people uncovering the truth. That, for me, is more interesting than the original story itself. It’s only through finding out more about those stories that you then start to question the bigger things that surround it…

Talking of bigger things. Don’t you go in search of giants?! 

The giants one was…. There’s always been a lot of mythology, this idea of giants one day roaming Sardinia. Now, when we are talking about giants, we’re not talking about fe-fi, giants 100 ft tall – although that is what I thought when they first said ‘we are going to go and look for giants’. I was like, ‘really?!’

The reason for it is that a lot of farmers claim to have found bones that would be bigger than normal size human remains. Problem is, it would be difficult to find any evidence of these bones…

So you weren’t quite convinced? 

I’m quite a cynical sort of person. What I have found is that it’s interesting to see the extent certain organizations will go to to protect their own best interests. Whether that be the church, or the state in some cases. That’s been quite fascinating. Often it’s not necessary the resolution of the mystery but the story that it takes us on that’s the exciting part of it. It’s a fun thing to do. 

Forbidden History starts tonight at 9:00pm on Yesterday