Tony Robinson’s Gods and Monsters, a new five-part series, begins on British television on Saturday night with a look at a history of the undead in Britain over the last two thousand years.
Robinson, who is famous for hosting history shows like Time Team, takes a look at the darker side of the British Isles, including human sacrifices during the Iron Age, supernatural medicine of the Middle Ages,and horrifying witch-hunts and exorcisms of the 16th and 17th centuries.
Using a mixture of experiments, demonstrations and dramatic reconstruction Tony reveals the terrifying world our forefathers really thought they lived in. A world almost everyone, from kings to commoners, believed was populated by demons, sprites, walking corpses, witches and evil spirits, all out to do them harm. The first episode focuses on the undead.
In an interview with the JournalLive, Robinson said, “The first references to belief in staking the undead to stop them rising again are in the 12th Century, near the border with Scotland. There’s a story that this rather dodgy bloke thought his wife was having an affair, so he crept up into the rafters of Alnwick Castle to spy on her and, sure enough, saw her having a bit of hanky-panky and slipped out of the rafters, crashed to the floor and died, whereupon he was buried.
“But then he broke out of the confines of his coffin at night and went into Alnwick breathing pestilence and spraying blood at people, before disappearing back into the grave. Eventually the local villagers ripped up the earth and plunged a stake into him.”
The following programme also focus on a major belief of the British, including evil spirits, supernatural causes of disease, witches, and gods.
The first episode of Tony Robinson’s Gods and Monsters airs on Channel 4 on Saturday, November 26th at 20:15. The programme will also soon be airing in the United States on the National Geographic channel.
See also ‘Crying to Heaven for Revenge’: The Bleeding Corpse and its Significance in History – a post about filming one of the episodes