EXCLUSIVE:  Max Irons and Sam Neill have boarded the cast of the ITV’s event series Tutankhamun. Acclaimed directer Peter Webber (Emperor) will be at the helm for the whole series, which follows the epic story of Howard Carter’s discovery of the tomb of one of Ancient Egypt’s forgotten pharaohs, the boy-king Tutankhamun. Irons (Woman In Gold) will play Carter. Sam Neill will play Lord Carnarvon, who sponsored Carter’s expeditions.

Guy Burt (Jekyll And HydeThe Borgias) is writing and the story will focus on the personal story of Carter, a solitary man on the edge of society who became an iconic figure and an unlikely hero. The story unfolds from 1905 when Carter, an eminent British archaeologist then in his 20’s, is fervently leading an expedition only to have his license to dig revoked by Cairo’s Antiquities Service. Carter spends years ostracized, disheveled and living rough and resorting to selling previously discovered archaeological relics to buy food. A chance meeting with British aristocrat, the dashing and eccentric Lord Carnarvon, brings a change of fortunes as the enthusiastic amateur needs an experienced archaeologist to help him with a series of random excavations. Carter and Carnarvon begin the most unlikely friendship, in spite of their differences of background and character. Privileged and fast living, Carnarvon keeps faith with Carter and continues to back him when no one else will. After years of searching for the tomb, Carter and Carnarvon successfully discover the last resting place of the boy-king in 1921 against all odds and at great personal expense.

The drama will be exec produced by ITV Studios Creative Director of Drama Francis Hopkinson (Wallander) and Catherine Oldfield (Foyle’s War). Simon Lewis (The C Word, The Paradise, Five Daughters) will produce. Filming will take place in South Africa during the winter of 2015 and early part of 2016. ITV Director of Drama Steve November and Controller of Drama Victoria Fea have commissioned the series.

Irons is repped by Tavistock Wood and UTA. Sam Neill is repped by Shanahan Management, Curtis Brown and ICM.