Revealed

The historical documentary series continues with this examination of Britain’s ancient Druids, as new archaeological discoveries suggest that they engaged in barbaric killings, ritual sacrifice and even cannibalism. The programme also explores the Druids’ revered status amongst ancient Celts, and tells the story of their bloody last stand against Rome’s conquering legions.

Contrary to their popular depiction as gentle, nature-loving mystics, the Druids of ancient Britain wielded a great deal of power. Dating back as far as 1500 BC, they acted as priests, judges, doctors, diviners, sages and scholars, and were considered amongst the wisest and most respected members of Celtic society. But was there a more sinister side to the Druids’ activities?

In 54 BC, fresh from conquering Gaul, Julius Caesar landed on the Kentish coast at the head of his battle-hardened legions. In his first dispatches back to Rome, he wrote of an island dominated by powerful shamanic priests who led their people in gruesome spectacles of human sacrifice. Caesar described one particular ritual in which the Druids herded prisoners into wicker cages shaped like giant men, before burning them alive.

Now, startling new archaeological finds suggest that Caesar’s far-fetched claims may have been based in truth. Extraordinary remains uncovered on ancient battlefields, in limestone caves and deep in Britain’s peat bogs reveal a vivid and chilling new picture of the Druids and the world of the ancient Celts. The discovery of a mass grave in northern France containing hundreds of neatly stacked headless bodies suggests that the Druids carried out ritual sacrifice. More remarkable than this, however, is the discovery of 150 bodies in a cave near Bristol, where archaeologists found signs of ritualistic cannibalism. Even Lindow Man, the most stunningly preserved British bog body, may have been the victim of a brutal Druidic ceremonial killing.

In February 2008, archaeologists unearthed an ancient grave in an Essex gravel pit containing the remains of a cloaked and jewelled body surrounded by a variety of precious objects. Among them were dozens of iron and copper surgical instruments, strange divining rods and a unique rectangular board game set with 26 carefully placed glass counters. Thought to be the only Druid burial site ever found, this grave is in stark contrast to those of the Druids’ supposed victims, and offers a unique insight into how they lived and why they killed.

The Great Druid Sacrifice: Revealed uncovers the truth about Britain’s Celtic Druids – and tells the dramatic story of their last days, from Caesar’s first incursion into Britain through to the Druids’ bloody last stand on the sacred Isle of Anglesey. The film reveals the Druids’ powerful hold over the Celtic Britons, and examines why the Roman conquerors were so determined to wipe them out as they became the centre of British resistance to the Roman onslaught.

The historical documentary series continues with this look at the tabloid pursuit of Princess Margaret. In the 1950s, the Queen’s sister became the glamorous face of royalty, hounded for her controversial affairs and notorious lifestyle. The press fascination with Margaret led to the birth of paparazzi photography and marked the end of deference to the Royal Family.

In February 1976, Princess Margaret was snapped while on holiday in the Caribbean with a male companion some 17 years her junior. The revelation of her affair with Roddy Llewellyn destroyed her marriage and marked the first time a royal scandal became front-page news. It began a new era of royal reportage, in which no story was out-of-bounds.

From the very beginning, Margaret had lived her life in the public eye. Born in 1930, she was the favourite daughter of King George VI, despite being overshadowed by her more serious elder sister. While Elizabeth received the best education for her future role as monarch, Margaret was pushed to one side. “She was very bright and she hated not being educated,” recalls her former lady-in-waiting, Anne de Courcy. “If she had had a good education, she would have learned much more self-discipline.”

As a royal without responsibility in the 1950s, Margaret soon found herself at the centre of attention for her exceptional good looks. Her great allure propelled her to the level of a film star, in the process blurring the line between royalty and celebrity. “The Royal Family survives on having a glamorous figure, and at the same time suffers for having a glamorous figure,” explains former newspaper editor Roy Greenslade. Margaret transformed the image of the Royal Family – but at the same time she had to bear immense scrutiny.

In the early 1950s, the princess began seeing Peter Townsend, an older, divorced man. The affair was common knowledge but the press refused to reveal it out of deference to the Royal Family. Then The People newspaper broke ranks and printed the story. “It was as if somebody had chucked a bomb into Buckingham Palace,” says author Christopher Wilson. “Suddenly, the whole attitude of Fleet Street changed. There was a breach in the dam.”

Newspapers had always believed that reporting royal scandals might offend their readers, but the Townsend story captivated the public. The affair was a watershed moment, and soon serious reporters began chasing the princess for the latest developments – leading to the birth of the royal press pack. Eventually, under pressure to declare her intentions, Princess Margaret announced that she would not marry Townsend. Whilst this averted a clash with the political establishment, it did nothing to stymie press interest.

For the rest of the 1950s, Margaret attracted reams of print devoted to her party lifestyle. Then, in 1960, she married Antony Armstrong-Jones, later Lord Snowdon, a dashing photographer with a colourful private life. Throughout the 1960s, the Snowdons were stalked by Ray Bellisario, a pioneer of paparazzi photography and the first to use a long lens to capture his subject. Bellisario’s snaps of Margaret in her swimming costume marked another milestone in the decline of deference.

By the 1970s, the press was circling as rumours of infidelity on both sides beset the Snowdons’ marriage. “They knew that sooner or later this marriage was going to break, and they wanted to be the first people to be able to write about it,” says Wilson. The exposure of Margaret’s relationship with Llewellyn marked the end of her time in the spotlight.

Princess Margaret’s withdrawal from the public eye coincided with the emergence of a new tabloid princess – Diana. The door had opened on a world of royal soap opera, and neither the Royal Family nor British attitudes would ever be the same again.

The historical documentary series continues with this look at efforts to crack the Neanderthal genome. Neanderthals are the closest relative to the modern human, and scientists are keen to discover whether they once interbred with our distant ancestors. This film follows researchers around the world as they bid to crack the Neanderthal code and solve an evolutionary mystery, while dramatic reconstructions bring the world of ancient humans to life.

Neanderthals were humans that dominated Europe for a quarter of a million years and then mysteriously became extinct. They are the closest relatives to modern humans – and the most misunderstood. Once dismissed as backward brutes, experts now want to know whether Neanderthals interbred with our ancestors, thus making all modern humans part Neanderthal.

For 150 years, archaeologists have examined Neanderthal bones from every angle. Now scientists are attempting one of the most ambitious genetic projects ever – to sequence the genome of a species that has been extinct for 30,000 years. If successful, the results could reveal not just who the Neanderthals really were, but whether their genes live on inside modern men and women.

This evolutionary detective story travels to key sites across Europe, meets the world’s leading experts and follows the painstaking progress of the genetic sequencing. The film uses dramatic reconstructions to recreate the Neanderthal world as never before, including their interactions with homo sapiens – or modern humans. These two species co-existed for several thousands years before the Neanderthals died out, leaving homo sapiens as the only living humans. For the last 20 years, conventional wisdom has held that all modern humans were descended from a woman who lived in Africa 200,000 years ago and that there was no interbreeding with other ancient humans – dubbed the ‘Out of Africa’ theory. But recently this orthodoxy has been challenged by several fossil finds that show hybrid features – part-modern human, part-Neanderthal.

The Neanderthal Genome Project began in 2005 when bones from all over Europe were sent to the Max Planck Institute in Leipzig, Germany for DNA extraction. Scientists needed to separate the true Neanderthal DNA from DNA belonging to bacteria and animals – as well as from the archaeologists who excavated the bones in the first place. They could only achieve this with the help of a technological breakthrough that made DNA sequencing 100 times faster than before.

By autumn 2007, the project had produced its first significant result with the sequencing of a gene related to pigmentation and hair colour. This gene is found in both humans and Neanderthals, and represented the first piece of evidence garnered from genes rather than fossils. But intriguingly, the Neanderthal version of the gene is subtly different from the human version, and does not indicate interbreeding.

Then scientists discovered a second Neanderthal gene that pointed to a rather different conclusion. Not only is it exactly the same as in modern humans, suggesting that it jumped between the species, but it is also a gene connected with language – the ability most closely associated with being human.

For some scientists there is now clear evidence of interbreeding from both fossils and genes. They argue that this mixing of species could have been crucial to human development, allowing new adaptations and combinations. For many others, however, the findings are still too new and incomplete. Either way, scientists are now more interested in emphasizing the similarities between modern humans and Neanderthals than the differences. And, as the Neanderthal Genome Project continues, it is hoped that it may finally explain the fate of the Neanderthals.

tutankhamun – secrets of the boy king: revealed (9/9)

The concluding film in Five’s award-winning historical documentary strand explores the legend of Tutankhamun. Lord Carnarvon, the greatgrandson of one of the men who discovered the tomb, travels across Egypt on a quest to reexamine the life of the Boy King. With the help of archaeological discoveries, computer graphics and new historical research, he presents a portrait of Tutankhamun that challenges pre-conceived wisdom about the famous but enigmatic pharaoh.

On the eve of the Tutankhamun exhibition at the 02 Arena in London – which will bring priceless artefacts to the UK for the first time in 30 years – this timely documentary provides a comprehensive review of the pharaoh’s life. The young king reigned for only a decade some 3,000 years ago, dying in mysterious circumstances at around the age of 19. Although there are few hard facts about the Boy King, the established view has always held that Tutankhamun was a sickly, fragile prince whose poor health most likely accounted for his demise. However, this new film questions these old perceptions as Lord Carnarvon follows new clues to Tutankhamun’s true nature.

Few people are more haunted by the Tutankhamun legend than George Herbert, the eighth Earl of Carnarvon. The head of one of Britain’s grandest families, a former page-boy to the Queen and confidante of the Royal Family, the Earl was raised on tales of how his greatgrandfather risked the family fortune and ultimately lost his life in the quest for the pharaoh. It was the fifth Earl of Carnarvon who bankrolled Howard Carter’s expeditions and witnessed the opening of the tomb in 1922 – only to die seven weeks later. In popular myth, the Earl was the first victim of the infamous ‘curse of Tut’.

The present Earl is a keen amateur Egyptologist. His vast ancestral home, Highclere Castle in Berkshire, houses an exhibition of rare treasures recovered by his great-grandfather and himself. Fuelled by stories of his ancestor’s discovery, the Earl says he has always been obsessed by one burning question: “Who was Tutankhamun – the flesh and blood figure behind the iconic funeral mask?”

To this end, the Earl embarks on a journey across Egypt. Along the way, he puts forward a new theory as to the identity of the Boy King’s mother, who is believed to have died in childbirth, and names the woman who really raised the young prince: a wet nurse called Maia.

Lord Carnarvon locates the desert palace where Tutankhamun was born, and explores the latest archaeological finds from his reign – including clothes from the tomb which reveal that Tutankhamun really did have the peculiar pearshaped body depicted in the art of the time. There is also a re-examination of chariots, bows and other artefacts that indicate the Boy King was an active hunter. Elsewhere, forensic clues throw new light on his premature death and reveal that a later, 20th-century robbery of the tomb obscured much of the key evidence.

This programme provides an unprecedented look into Tutankhamun’s world and shows for the first time how the young pharaoh actually lived.

tutankhamun – secrets of the boy king: revealed

The historical documentary strand continues with an investigation into the truth about Tutankhamun. On the eve of the Tutankhamun exhibition at the O2, Lord Carnarvon travels across Egypt to examine new research and archaeological findings to present a fascinating new insight into the life of the Boy King.

George Herbert, the eighth Earl of Carnarvon, was raised on tales of how his great-grandfather risked the family fortune and ultimately lost his life in the quest for Tutankhamun. It was the fifth Earl of Carnarvon who bankrolled Howard Carter’s expeditions and witnessed the opening of the tomb in 1922.

The present Earl is a keen amateur Egyptologist. His vast ancestral home, Highclere Castle in Berkshire, houses an exhibition of rare treasures recovered by his great-grandfather, with others added by himself. Fuelled by family stories of the great discovery, the Earl says he has always been obsessed by one burning question: “Who was Tutankhamun –the flesh and blood figure behind the iconic funeral mask?”

This programme will provide an unprecedented look into Tutankhamun’s world and see how a young pharaoh actually lived.

the family that defied hitler: revealed (8/9)

This next film in Five’s award-winning historical documentary strand explores the extraordinary and hitherto unknown case of an entire Jewish family that survived the Holocaust to be reunited again after the war.

In the dark days of the Nazi regime, Jews faced a desperate and often futile battle to save their lives. It was extremely rare for more than one child in a family to survive, and even rarer for a married couple to escape alive. But a few years ago, filmmaker Michael Attwell discovered within his circle of friends a true story that is among the most amazing of all: the survival of an entire family – including the father, mother and two daughters. Only one other whole family in Nazi-occupied Europe is thought to have survived Hitler’s rule.

This film recounts the history of the family that defied Hitler through an astonishing combination of guile, nerve and luck. Their story is even more extraordinary because not only did they survive to be reunited after the war, but the parents voluntarily gave up their children once again to help them escape communist rule.

The tale begins with the Nazi invasion of Poland in 1939, when a young Polish officer left his wife and two young daughters to fight for his country. Within a week, the battle was lost and the man was missing, presumed dead. His family were told that they had to move to a Jewish area, despite being highly assimilated into Polish society. The mother and her daughters found themselves fighting to survive in the notorious Warsaw ghetto, where they were to live for three years.

The girl’s mother adopted numerous strategies to make life possible. She befriended the ghetto doctor as a protector; sold her possessions for food; and even taught her daughters to pick the typhus-carrying lice out of their hair for two hours each day. Eventually, the girls were smuggled out of the ghetto and found their way to a nunnery outside Warsaw, whilst their mother was taken to a death camp at Ravensbruck in Germany.

Once the war was over, the girls faced the bitter prospect of life as orphans. Yet the elder girl still held hope of seeing her parents again, and returned to her old home in Warsaw to leave a message containing the whereabouts of her and her sister. The girls’ prayers were answered when one day they were visited at the nunnery by a strange man – their long-lost father.

It transpired that the father had cheated death in almost miraculous circumstances. Captured by the Nazis, he was challenged to a game of chess by a senior Gestapo officer, who promised to save his life if he won the match. The father duly won the game and spent the rest of the war in the Gestapo headquarters in Budapest.

The family’s good fortune was further sealed when the girls’ mother appeared at their convent, bearing her own remarkable story. She had survived malnourishment and hard labour in the fields of her concentration camp to be liberated.

Against the odds, each member of the family had survived the Holocaust, but the twist in the tale came with the rise of communism in Poland. In a bid to spare their children the harshness of this new regime, the parents convinced a rabbi to take them to England. The daughters moved to North London, while their parents remained in Poland and were allowed to make short visits to see their children.

This documentary recreates the history of this fortuitous family, with frank and moving interviews with the two surviving daughters – now aged 71 and 74 respectively. The film also uses archive footage, photographs and dramatic reconstructions to illustrate a tale of survival that, sadly, too few Jews were able to emulate.

surviving the holocaust – the family that defied hitler: revealed

This next film in Five’s award-winning historical documentary strand explores the extraordinary and hitherto unknown case of an entire Jewish family that survived the Holocaust.

Using interviews with the two surviving daughters, photographs from the time and dramatic reconstructions, the documentary brings to life this inspirational story. The family were separated, forced to endure the Warsaw ghetto, placed into concentration camps and tormented by the Gestapo, but through an astonishing combination of guile, nerve, perseverance and luck, they managed to find each other again and were reunited after the war.

the yorkshire ripper – mind of a killer: revealed (7/9)
20.00–21.00

Part of Five’s historical documentary strand, tonight’s programme focuses on the controversial case of Peter Sutcliffe –the man responsible for the deaths of 13 women between 1975 and 1980. The film examines Sutcliffe’s behaviour throughout his 25 years behind bars to shed new light on his true mental state and address the question that has been asked ever since the man’s arrest: could the Yorkshire Ripper have been suffering from paranoid schizophrenia at the time he committed his crimes?

It is now 26 years since the Yorkshire Ripper was arrested in Sheffield for murdering 13 women and attacking a further seven across West Yorkshire and Manchester. At first, the authorities thought they were dealing with a straightforward – if appalling –multiple murder case, but things got more complicated when Sutcliffe claimed that he had carried out his attacks after hearing God tell him to kill all prostitutes.

At his trial in May 1981, Sutcliffe pleaded guilty to manslaughter on the grounds of diminished responsibility because of what psychiatrists diagnosed as paranoid schizophrenia. The jury rejected his story and found him guilty of 13 counts of murder and seven of attempted murder, and the judge sentenced the killer to 20 life terms. However, three years after Sutcliffe’s incarceration began, psychiatrists got their way and saw him transferred to Broadmoor –the high-security psychiatric hospital in Berkshire.

Ever since the trial, controversy has raged about the state of Sutcliffe’s mind –did he fake the symptoms of schizophrenia in order to avoid prison, or was he genuinely suffering from mental illness? Tonight’s documentary examines the 25 years that Sutcliffe has spent in jail to discover what his behaviour tells us about his mental state.

The film features interviews with key figures who have met Sutcliffe and played a significant part in his story since his arrest –including police officers, the prosecuting counsel at his trial, a nurse from Broadmoor and the victim of one of his attacks. Possibly the most significant contributions come from a formerly devoted pen pal who fell in love with Sutcliffe while he was in prison and, in his first full television interview, the Ripper’s brother, Carl.

Using archive footage from the 1970s and 80s, the documentary paints a vivid picture of the Yorkshire Ripper’s life since his arrest in 1981, featuring details of his nonchalant behaviour in court; the alleged attempts by the authorities to make him confess to other crimes; the women who considered a convicted mass murderer to be a suitable pen friend and the various attacks on his life since his imprisonment. However, only Peter Sutcliffe will ever know for sure if voices in his head really drove him to become one of the most notorious killers in British history.

the yorkshire ripper – mind of a killer: revealed

It is now 26 years since the Yorkshire Ripper was arrested in Sheffield for murdering 13 women and attacking a further seven. Claiming to have staged his attacks after hearing a message from God, Peter Sutcliffe pleaded guilty to manslaughter on the grounds of diminished responsibility, but denied murder. However, the jury refused to accept that he suffered from schizophrenia, and Sutcliffe was given 20 life sentences.

Ever since the trial, controversy has raged about the state of Sutcliffe’s mind –whether he faked the symptoms of schizophrenia or whether he was genuinely mentally ill. Another documentary in Five’s Revealed strand, The Yorkshire Ripper – The Prison Years examines the 25 years that Sutcliffe has spent in jail to discover what his behaviour tells us about his mental state.

The film features interviews with key figures who have met Sutcliffe and played a significant part in his story since his arrest –including police officers, lawyers, a psychiatric nurse and the victim of one of his attacks. Also contributing are Sutcliffe’s brother, Carl, and a former pen pal of the killer who fell in love with him while he was in prison.

Using archive footage from the 1970s and 80s, the documentary paints a vivid picture of the Yorkshire Ripper’s life since his arrest in 1981. However, as the debate continues, only Peter Sutcliffe will ever know for sure if voices in his head really drove him to become one of the most notorious killers in British history.

the plot to kill jfk – the cuban connection: revealed(6/8)
20.00–21.00

The historical documentary strand revisits one of the most shocking events of the 20th century with a fresh examination of the assassination of John F Kennedy. A three-year investigation across four countries by award-winning German filmmaker Wilfrid Huismann has revealed what may be the missing link between JFK’s assassin, Lee Harvey Oswald, and the Cuban secret service.

With the help of newly released documents and eyewitness testimony, this film presents a startling new insight into the events of November 22, 1963. Wilfrid Huismann has persuaded key figures in the US and Cuban intelligence services to talk for the first time about their role in JFK’s story. The documentary also explores the volatile relationship between the US and Cuba, demonstrating a link between the CIA’s plots to remove Fidel Castro and the death of Kennedy.

Among the new evidence is a top-secret US memo which reveals that a high-ranking member of G2 – the Cuban secret service – flew out of Dallas airport hours after JFK’s death. The film tracks down this man, Fabien Escalante, 40 years on to hear his story for the very first time. Escalante denies any involvement in Kennedy’s assassination, but Huismann soon finds other exCuban agents who are prepared to talk.

Huismann travels to Madrid to meet Rolando Cubela, a disaffected Cuban who was apparently hired by Kennedy’s brother, Robert, as part of a covert CIA operation to kill Castro – who was perceived to be a grave threat to US security. Huismann also tracks down former Cuban agent Oscar Marino, who reveals that G2 regarded Cubela as a traitor. “We knew that Cubela wanted to kill Castro,” he says. “He was a double agent.”

In a bid to learn more about the plot against Kennedy, Huismann goes on the trail of Lee Harvey Oswald. He discovers that Oswald, an ardent Marxist, went to live in the Soviet Union in 1959, where he was spied on by the KGB. In Russia, Huismann tracks down a former KGB agent who claims to have a telegram that proves that, when Oswald returned to the US in 1962, the Cuban secret service asked to take over surveillance of him from the KGB. This telegram is described as “completely false” by Fabien Escalante. However, Oscar Marino confirms that G2 contacted Oswald in November 1962 – one year before Kennedy was killed.

Huismann suspects that Oswald was enlisted by the Cubans while he was in Mexico City in 1962. After Kennedy’s assassination, the FBI sent a team there to investigate Oswald’s movements. Huismann meets the leader of this team, former FBI agent Laurence Keenan, in Mexico City, where they are able to study secret Mexican documents for the first time. There they find strong evidence that Oswald did indeed meet with G2 agents at the Cuban embassy – but this was never fully investigated by the FBI.

Keenan claims this is because the consequences of proving Cuba’s involvement in JFK’s death would have been devastating. “They didn’t want to know the truth for fear we would go to war,” he says of the FBI. The question remains: if Oswald were recruited in Mexico City, who recruited him? Huismann contacts one eyewitness who alleges that it was Fabien Escalante who met with Oswald – another claim that the former agent denies. Oscar Marino, meanwhile, indicates that it was none other than Rolando Cubela who recruited Oswald. If this is the case, it suggests that the man hired by Robert Kennedy to kill Castro was in fact a double agent who enlisted JFK’s killer. Did Castro sanction the G2 operation against Kennedy? And was this his retaliation to the CIA plots against him? To find out the truth of these extraordinary claims, Huismann challenges Cubela to give his side of the story. Will the truth finally emerge?

  • BBC One
  • BBC Two
  • BBC Three
  • ITV1
  • ITV2
  • 4
  • E4
  • Film4
  • More4
  • Five
  • Fiver
  • Sky1