Category: Factual & Arts TV
Exploring hundreds of years of history, Richard Hammond embarks on an entertaining travelogue examining the popular and enduring myths and legends surrounding the Holy Grail.
Thought by many to be the very cup from which Jesus drank at the Last Supper, the Holy Grail has haunted public imagination for centuries but left many unanswered questions. Does the Grail exist or not and what exactly is it?
Richard Hammond and the Holy Grail (BBC ONE) is an intriguing 5,000- mile journey to find out.
It is a quest that takes Richard to ancient scrolls in the Vatican's secret archive; medieval knights and hidden treasure in the South of France; Hitler's search for the Grail; holy relics in Constantinople; a psychic in Scotland; a crop circle symposium in Glastonbury; and to Paris where he explores the latest Grail fever phenomenon.
He poses the question: why are so many people intrigued by the Grail and why does it hold such enchantment?
The Grail is supposed to have magical powers and is considered to be the most important religious relic in the western world.
Many theories abound as to exactly what happened to it and the story goes that it was seen by pilgrims in the fifth century before disappearing from Palestine.
By the 13th century, it is claimed, the Grail was held by the people of Constantinople - now Istanbul - and it is here that Richard's quest begins.
Although the search for the Grail is laced with historical fact, Richard also soon discovers that it is awash with contradictions, conundrums and twists and turns.
He says: "Every time you think you get close to the Grail, the story moves you on. Just as you knock down one story, another pops up to tempt you along."
Continuing his travels, his quest takes him from Turkey to London on the trail of the Knights Templar.
The Knights sparked a myriad of myths and legends about the Holy Grail but could Temple Church, 'a little piece of Jerusalem' in the heart of London, really be its final resting place?
The questions keep coming and Richard find himself at a mysterious 15th century church in Scotland which claims that clues to the Holy Grail's whereabouts are hidden in the church's medieval carvings.
The Grail trail then propels him on to Glastonbury where he explores tales of King Arthur before he moves on to discover a literary treasure in the British Library.
Here, a fascinating trail leads him from Tennyson, to Sir Thomas Mallory and back to an obscure author in the Champagne region in France and he examines the possibility of the legend as a literary invention.
Lured by a conspiracy theory to the south of France, Richard explores the medieval city of Carcassonne, and an amazing Cathar castle high up in the Pyrenees. This is beautiful country with a magical feeling but one which has a dark past. could the mystery of the Grail be solved here?
The journey ends in Rome, where Richard gains entry to the Vatican's secret archives.
Is the Grail a cup from which Jesus supposedly drank at the Last Supper? Or could it be something more sinister - a secret about a sacred bloodline? And in fact does the Grail exist at all?