Channel 4 today reveals details of its coverage of its week of special services and events that will culminate in live coverage of the reburial of Richard III.
On 26th March 2015, Richard III – the king found under a council car park in Leicester in 2012 – will be buried in the city’s cathedral. The Archbishop of Canterbury will reinter King Richard at the service which will be held in the presence of members of the Royal Family and will be the first ceremonial burial of a British monarch since 1952.
The channel, which captured the discovery and subsequent identification of Richard’s remains in the award-winning documentary ‘Richard III: The King in the Car Park’, will be the only broadcaster to film the burial and key services live.
Thursday’s service will be the culmination of a week of extraordinary ceremonial events that begins on Sunday 22ndMarch with the procession of the King’s mortal remains from the University of Leicester where the remains were scientifically analysed, to the battlefield where he died, then back to Leicester Cathedral to lie ‘in repose’ while visitors from around the world pay their respects.
Channel 4 will broadcast these events live and exclusively from Leicester in three special programmes presented by Jon Snow with Krishnan Guru-Murthy, Arthur Williams and Sonali Shah.
Chief Creative Officer Jay Hunt says: “The discovery of the remains of Richard III was an extraordinary event which gripped the whole world. I am incredibly proud that Channel 4 was the only broadcaster to follow the story so closely from the very beginning and that we can be here as this remarkable story comes to its fitting conclusion
The channel will also be showing a new drama-documentary: ‘Who Killed the Princes in the Tower?’ in which key figures including David Starkey and Philippa Gregory debate one of English history’s darkest murder mysteries” and creating extensive online coverage.
The programmes will also explore the life, legacy and reputation of our most controversial King. For most of the five centuries that he remained lost, the predominant image of Richard was Shakespeare’s evil hunchback and child-murderer. But since his discovery – at odds described by the dig’s lead archaeologist Richard Buckley as “a million to one” – scientific scrutiny of his bones has rewritten his story and reawakened the debate around his place in history. The argument over where to bury him went as far as the High Court. Visitors to the weeks’ events are expected from around the world – 58 international media organisations have already signed up to be there. Come March, they will witness an unprecedented service, in which a Catholic King is laid to rest in an Anglican Cathedral in the presence of members of a Royal Family that still describes him on its official website as “the usurper”.
Richard III: The Return of the King
Evening of Sunday 22nd March
This programme will capture the climax of the procession of the King’s mortal remains back to the site of his death at Bosworth Battlefield through the streets of Leicester and the service that marks the king’s reception into Leicester Cathedral with a sermon given by Catholic Archbishop of Westminster, Cardinal Vincent Nichols. Channel 4 will also assemble leading historians, actors, politicians, descendants of the King and key participants in his rediscovery, to ask who Richard really was and what his place in British history should now be.
Richard III: The Burial of the King
Morning of Thursday 26th March
Live coverage of the reburial service, attended by members of the Royal Family, as the King is formally reinterred at the east end of the Cathedral. Guests at the service and key players in the King’s story will join Jon in the studio beforehand and afterwards, and a series of short films will offer glimpses of the preparations for this unique event and explore the debates surrounding it.
Richard III: The King Laid to Rest
A final programme showing highlights of the reburial service from earlier in the day and – live – a last moment of intimate ceremonial, in which those who led the campaign to find Richard and his descendants, gather to bid the King a final farewell.
The Bosworth beacon, lit when Richard’s remains arrived back at the site of his death on Sunday morning, will be extinguished as the massive tombstone is revealed for the first time.