In the last few years I’ve appeared in around twenty documentary films in the UK and elsewhere. I see it as a very important way of bringing scholarly research to the wider public.
‘King Tut’s Last Mission’ (Blink Films for Channel 5 (2020) and The Smithsonian Channel (2019))
From the Channel 5 website: ‘Was King Tut prepared for an afterlife in which he would have to fight the forces of darkness for the good of Egypt?’
*The link doesn’t seem to work very well in Google Chrome for Mac OS but is fine in Safari so if you’re having difficulty please try another browser or the My5 app.
‘Egypt’s Lost Pyramid’ (Lion Television / AtLand for Channel 4 (2019) and The Smithsonian Channel, 2020)
From the Channel 4 website: ‘Archaeologists investigate the remains of a 4000-year-old pyramid, which contains a sealed burial chamber that has somehow been robbed – without any signs of entry.’
I’d had to keep quiet about this for a couple of years in between filming in May 2017 and the film finally going out (in the UK) in October 2019. Watching the burial chamber being opened is one of the best things I’ve had the privilege of doing.
‘The Pharaoh in the Suburb’ (Blink Films for Channel 5 and The Smithsonian Channel, 2018)
From the Channel 5 website: ‘The discovery of a gigantic statue in a suburb of Cairo shed light on an almost forgotten period of Egyptian history, and the accomplishments of one of the greatest pharaohs of all, Psamtik I.”
‘King Tut’s Treasure’ (3 episodes) (Blink Films for Channel 5, 2018)
From the Radio Times: Documentary exploring the thousands of items found with the great Egyptian pharaoh when his tomb was first uncovered, and asking what they might reveal about the life and times in which Tutankhamun lived. Howard Carter’s discovery of the Boy King’s tomb in 1922 made headlines across the world, but over the decades since the find, many of the pharaoh’s priceless goods have disappeared into museum basements and archives across Egypt. Now, all 5,398 objects are being reunited for the first time since their discovery.
My photos from the shoot are here.
Ancient Mysteries: ‘King Tut’s Tomb: The Hidden Chamber’ and ‘Lost City of the Pharaohs’ (Blink Films for Channel 5, 2016)
Most recently I fronted two episodes in the ‘Ancient Mysteries’ series: ‘King Tut’s Tomb: The Hidden Chamber’ and ‘Lost City of the Pharaohs’. These were shown back-to-back on Channel 5 in the UK in February 2016 (see here), and will, I gather, be shown in the US on The Smithsonian Channel and BBC Worldwide elsewhere in due course. Predictably, the Tut film, which focuses on Nicholas Reeves’ theory that there may be further rooms concealed behind the walls of Tut’s burial chamber (my thoughts here) got the most attention and led to a bit of press e.g. in The Guardian and the Mail Online.
Photos from the shoot are here.
Mummies Alive: The Pharaoh’s Secret (Impossible Factual for the Smithsonian Channel, 2015)
In 2015, I was the lead Egyptologist in the Egyptian episode of ‘Mummies Alive’ a series which made extensive use of animation to bring back to life a series of mummified corpses whose owners had met untimely ends. This was made primarily for an American audience but was also shown in the UK on the Yesterday Channel. There’s a bit too much arm-waving in this one for my liking but the following trailer gives you an idea of what it was about:
Some photos from the shoot are here.
Tutankhamun: The Mystery of the Burnt Mummy (Blink Films for Channel 4, 2013)
In 2013 I fronted a film about Tutankhamun and specifically some new research which suggested that he may have been killed in a chariot accident, and that his mummy may have undergone a process of spontaneous combustion shortly after his burial. This got quite a bit of press coverage, for more on which see here.
A slightly different version of the film was shown on PBS in the US as ‘Secrets of the Dead: Ultimate Tut’ which you can watch in full here. There’s also a DVD available here. It was also shown in Canada on the History Channel and around the world on National Geographic International. I gather it’s also now on Netflix in the States but being here in Blighty I can’t verify that…
The Man Who Discovered Egypt (BBC Wales for BBC4, 2012)
In 2012 I presented ‘The Man Who Discovered Egypt‘ a film about the legendary archaeologist Flinders Petrie, for BBC4. The reviews were generally good, and this one by John Crace for The Guardian was particularly gratifying: “This was yet another of those programmes that BBC4 does so well … archaeologist Chris Naunton was the ideal presenter: enthusiastic but not hyper, knowledgeable, prepared to listen to other experts and, above all, happy to let Petrie take centre stage.”
As of May 2015 the film had been repeated 25 times(!), and has also been shown in various other countries around the world. My account of the filming – an adventure involving three countries, seven different modes of transport including donkey, and an unplanned visit to A&E in Jerusalem… – is here. Yet more photos are here.
Various other things
I’ve also appeared in several other films in the last few years including: Timescanners: The Pyramids (Atlantic Productions 2013), Ancient Impossible (Wild Dream Films, 2014), Treasures Decoded: The Great Pyramid and The Nefertiti Bust (Blink Films, 2014), Ancient Egyptian Vice (Wild Dream Films, 2015), the Story of Egypt (Lion TV, 2015), Cleopatra’s Lost Tomb (Dragonfly, 2015), Treasures Decoded: Plagues of Egypt (Blink Films 2017), The Pharaoh in the Suburbs (Blink Films, 2018).
I have also appeared as an expert on Channel 4 and Al-Jazeera TV news, and The One Show (BBC1), and been interviewed for The Simon Mayo Show (BBC Radio 2), Drive Time (BBC Radio FiveLive), Newshour (BBC World Service) and numerous other TV and radio stations in the UK, Australia, Canada, Ireland, US, and elsewhere.
A showreel created for me by the very marvellous Mel Hales at Rush Talent, is here:
Some trailers and news items with me in are here:
What’s it like?
I occasionally get asked to talk about the challenges of presenting academic research on TV. The slides I used for one such presentation – ‘Petrie in Pink & Tutankhamun on Fire’ – will give you an idea of some of the things I think it’s important to consider – see here.