Sam Neill is to star in ITV’s epic new mini-series Tutankhamun. The Jurassic Park and Peaky Blinders actor will join forces with Max Irons to tell the story behind the discovery of the tomb of one of Ancient Egypt’s forgotten pharaohs.
Beginning in 1905, Tutankhamun follows Howard Carter (Irons) and his famous finding, aided by the dashing and eccentric Lord Carnarvon (Neill) who keeps faith in his young counterpart, continuing to back his expeditions when no one else will.
The new drama will look at the personal life of Carter, “a solitary man on the edge of society” who we meet in his early 20s as he fervently leads an expedition. Excavating in Egypt’s Valley of the Kings, he has a good relationship with the Egyptians who work alongside him. But when tempers fray, Carter is hotheaded, putting the dig and his career in jeopardy.
With his licence to dig revoked by Cairo’s Antiquities Service, Carter spends years as an outcast, living rough and selling his previously discovered relics for food, until a chance meeting with Carnarvon sparks a change in his fortunes and the pair go on to discover the final resting place of the boy king in 1921.
Produced by Simon Lewis (The C Word, The Paradise) and directed by Peter Webber (Girl with a Pearl Earring), the drama will begin shooting in South Africa in mid-October with further casting details announced later in the year.
Neill is known for his movie roles in the Jurassic Park franchise and The Piano, but has appeared on the small screen on numerous occasions, including Merlin, The Tudors and – most recently – Peaky Blinders. Irons is also better known for his work in films but played King Edward IV in the BBC’s historical drama The White Queen back in 2013.