Channel 4 Commissioning Editor John Hay has ordered a special follow-up programme for More4, to build on the success of the world exclusive Richard III: The King in the Car Park. The first programme told the story of how Richard III's body came to be found by an alliance of amateur enthusiasts intent upon rehabilitating Richard's reputation and leading archaeologists from the University of Leicester. Richard III: The Unseen Story – made by the same team from Darlow Smithson Productions who won exclusive access to film the investigation – zeros in on the five months of archaeological and scientific detective work that led to this extraordinary result. The programme uses unseen footage and new interviews with the lead scientists to tell the story of the investigation in unprecedented detail, revealing multiple new dimensions to the hunt for England's long-lost king.
John Hay says: “The more detail you get on this story, the more extraordinary it gets, so we wanted to give viewers the chance to appreciate and enjoy the University of Leicester’s amazing scientific detective work in full.”
Airing the same day as the global story broke that the remains of our most infamous King, lost for 500 years, had been discovered, Richard III: The King in the Car Park provided the full inside story of the hunt for Richard III. It proved a hit with 4.9 million viewers (consolidated) and the film was referenced in 60,000 tweets. The discovery of the body and the battery of scientific tests to establish its identity had been carried out in complete secrecy and no footage of them had been seen by anyone but the investigating team until the programme aired.
This follow-up film will look in-depth at some of the most intensive archaeological and scientific analysis ever conducted to uncover and investigate a single individual skeleton. The project involved dozens of specialists in the fields of archaeology, osteology, history, forensic pathology, genealogy and DNA analysis. Richard III: The Unseen Story will piece together the critical steps in the archaeological excavation – revealing how the Greyfriars Church in Leicester was uncovered. It will reveal the dig’s other major finds – from the church architecture to additional human remains and reveal how the most important grave was identified - following the painstaking process of exhumation.
In the labs of the University of Leicester, the programme will follow the scientists as they examine the skeleton, revealing Richard's diet, clues to his social status and traces of the diseases he endured. A series of astonishing twists and turns in the scientific enquiry will be charted – including the point at which researchers believed the skeleton could, in fact, be female. The film will reveal how the doubts were dispelled, the living relatives were traced and the DNA match with Richard III was made.
The minute forensic examination of the cause of death will also feature. Piecing together CT scans and microscopic analysis the team identified the major injuries that Richard suffered in the last moments of his life and shortly afterwards.
Darlow Smithson Executive Producer Simon Young says: “Archaeological discoveries of this kind rarely happen. What is even more incredible is that we were there to capture every moment. These films truly glimpse history in the making.”
Richard III: The Unseen Story will air on More 4 on Wednesday 27 Feb at 9pm. Programme credits:
Prod/Dir: Dick Bower, Louise Osmond
Exec Prod: Simon Young, Julian Ware
Prod Co: Darlow Smithson Productions
Comm Eds: Ralph Lee, Julia Harrington & John Hay