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24 September 2014
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History comes alive in Bonekickers - new "groundbreaking" drama for BBC One


From the multi-award-winning co-creators of Life On Mars and Ashes To Ashes comes a new BBC One drama that is groundbreaking in every sense.


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Bonekickers is a highly original six-part series about a dynamic team of archaeologists, led by Professor Gillian Magwilde (Julie Graham) and featuring Dr Ben Ergha (Adrian Lester), Professor Gregory Parton (Hugh Bonneville), Viv Davis (Gugu Mbatha-Raw) and Professor Daniel Mastiff (Michael Maloney).


Set against the backdrop of Bath, a city steeped in 3,000 years of history, each week the team uncovers a compelling mystery from the past that tells viewers something profound and revelatory about the present. Archaeology has never been so dramatic.


Julie Graham (Dalziel & Pascoe, William And Mary) is Gillian, a feisty Celt who heads up a team of archaeologists, working out of Wessex University.


Adrian Lester (Hustle, Ballet Shoes) is Dr Ben Ergha, a forensic expert who brings an objective understanding to the team, Hugh Bonneville (Miss Austen Regrets, Tsunami, Filth) is the encyclopaedic but terminally louche Professor Gregory Parton and Gugu Mbatha-Raw (Spooks, Trish Jones in Doctor Who) is the eager, young, post-grad intern, Viv Davis.


As a team their skills combine under a variety of imperatives to extract bodies, books, weapons and all manner of artefacts which lead them into an investigation of the past that will unlock dangers and mysteries in the present.


From the excavation of murdered 18th-century slaves to the possible discovery of the True Cross, each episode is a window on a period of history but, more importantly, a reflection on how we live now.


Running through the series is a greater puzzle that Gillian keeps to herself for fear of ridicule: the hunt for the greatest treasure in the history of Humankind, a hunt that drove her brilliant mother insane and a hunt that pits her wits against her academic nemesis – the arrogant, urbane TV historian, Professor Daniel Mastiff, played by Michael Maloney (The Forsyte Saga, The Jury, Truly Madly Deeply) – and that will culminate at the end of series one in a desperate race for glory which may destroy her in the process.


From Matthew Graham and Ashley Pharoah (Monastic Productions), the writers and creators of the hit series Life On Mars and Ashes To Ashes, and Michele Buck and Damien Timmer of Mammoth Screen, Bonekickers is a thrilling adventure series packed with historical mystery and contemporary relevance.


Based in fact, the series has on board the expertise of Professor Mark Horton, Head of Archaeology at Bristol University, a specialist in the archaeology of historical societies around the world and Bonekickers consultant on the factual evidence and background to the relics featured in each episode.


Polly Hill, BBC Commissioning Editor for Independent Drama, says: "This is an exciting, bold, new series for BBC One, from the wonderful Matthew Graham and Ashley Pharaoh.


"They have created a contemporary show, which brilliantly brings history to life – our archaeologists investigate huge mysteries that may start in the past, but which are very much still alive and dangerous today.


"As you would expect from Matthew and Ashley, this is a challenging unique format, which has attracted a wonderful cast."


Bonekickers is produced by Rhonda Smith (Fairy Tales, Marie Lloyd) and executive produced by Matthew Graham and Ashley Pharoah of Monastic Productions and Michele Buck and Damien Timmer of Mammoth Screen.


The drama is commissioned by Jane Tranter, Controller, BBC Fiction.


Never forget ... history is now!


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