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TV Column
Posted at 03:14 PM ET, 04/02/2013

Smithsonian Channel snags rights to Richard III exhumation docu


Removing the tarmac in the docu. (University of Leicester)
Smithsonian Channel has snagged exclusive North American program rights to that documentary about the discovery of King Richard III’s remains under a parking lot in central England, ending a 500-year mystery last February.

When “The King’s Skeleton: Richard III Revealed” made its world debut on Channel 4 in the UK, nearly 5 million viewers tuned in.

You know Richard III – bad-back, nasty guy, snuffed his young nephews in the Tower of London to snag the throne, then decided he’d trade his kingdom for a horse? Played over the years by Kenneth Branagh, Al Pacino, Kevin Spacey, Ian McKellen, and Laurence Olivier?

Well, apparently that gag about trading his kingdom for horse — or words to that effect — was delivered just under where now stands a parking lot, at the site of a former monastery not far from where the Battle of Bosworth took place. That’s where archaeologists dug up the skeleton that got DNA tested, proving correct the hunch of a screenwriter/member of the worldwide Richard III Society who led the whole effort — and who we vote to be played by Cate Blanchett in the sure-to-be-coming HBO flick on the improbable parking-lot treasure hunt.

“The King’s Skeleton: Richard III Revealed” will debut Sunday, April 21 at 9; it’s produced by the only team allowed access to the archaeological dig in the parking lot, the testing of the skeleton to determine its identity, blah, blah, blah.

Richard III was killed at the BoB in 1485, after which he was pretty thoroughly trashed by the winning Tudor dynasty, Smithsonian Channel – the joint venture between the Smithsonian Institution and Showtime Networks Inc. -- reminds in Tuesday’s news.

“We all love a villain in TV. Richard is the archetypal bad guy: The man who would murder his defenseless nephews in his pursuit of power,” said David Royle, Executive Vice President for Programming and Production, Smithsonian Channel. “But maybe we got the story all wrong. DNA has rescued many convicts from the despair of prison. Now it may be rescuing an innocent king from the twisted annals of history.”

By  |  03:14 PM ET, 04/02/2013

Tags:  smithsonian channel, smithsonian institution, king richard III

 
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