On Sunday 28 August 2011, Darlow Smithson Productions began filming what would become Channel 4’s highest rated specialist factual documentary in its 30-year history: ‘Richard III: The King in the Car Park’. In 2011, the team followed Philippa Langley in Leicester as she completed her final research – a Ground Penetrating Radar survey – as part of her eight-year long quest for the lost grave of King Richard III of England (1452-1485).
Bringing in television to document the search for the king was part of the permissions Philippa applied for and was granted by Leicester City Council, the landowner of the Social Services car park (where the king was found). Main filming began on Friday 24 August 2012 when the media was invited to the car park. The film crew would remain on site to document the search for the king, returning to record the identification process for the remains discovered on the first day of the dig beside the letter ‘R’ in the northern end of the car park.
On the evening of Tuesday 4 February 2013, following the announcement of the identification of the remains of King Richard III of England, the King in the Car Park documentary (90 minutes) was broadcast.
2013 Royal Television Society (RTS) Award for Best History Programme
2013 Broadcast Awards – Highly Commended in Best Documentary category
2013 Broadcast Press Guild Awards – nominated for Best Single Documentary
2014 BAFTA – nominated for Huw Wheldon Award for Television – Best Specialist Factual
In late summer 2012, a group of researchers and archaeologists began digging up a Leicester car park in search of the body of King Richard III, who died at the Battle of Bosworth in 1485. Initially the world’s press showed little interest and this event might have gone largely unrecorded, if it hadn’t been for the ‘King in the Car Park’ documentary team. Two years in the making, this film follows everyone involved as they embark on an astonishing journey, to make one of the archaeological finds of the century.
The King in the Car Park was based on the original ‘Looking for Richard’ project, devised and developed by Philippa Langley.
Director (dig): Pete Woods
Director (identification): Louise Osmond
Executive Producers: Simon Young, Julian Ware
Assistant Producer: Alex Rowson
Associate Producer: Philippa Langley
Presenter: Simon Farnaby
Ground Penetrating Radar Survey: 28 August 2011.
Letter R, northern end, Social Services car park.
Search begins: Trench 1, northern end.
Trench 3: former Grammar School playground and car park.
Trench 1: excavation of remains beside letter R.
Trench 1: discovery of Richard III beside letter R: 5 September 2012. Day 12 of search, Langley and Ashdown-Hill.
Philippa Langley and Simon Farnaby: 6 December 2012.
Royal Television Society award: 18 March 2014.