Museum Secrets, a BBC and National Geographic co-production, is a popular international documentary series that reveals the truths behind interesting artefacts and artworks hidden away in the world’s most famous -or well hidden- museums.
This season, they put out the call for a swashbuckler to research the role of D’Artagnan, the would-be musketeer made famous by Dumas’ novel The Three Musketeers, and the subsequent slew of Hollywood adaptations.
After interviewing with the Canadian production company on Skype, in which I enthused about my preference for the Oliver Reed/Michael Yorke version and the differences between historical and sports fencing, stage fighting, Italian and French practitioners. After speaking with the director the following day, they decided to offer me the part and put me on the Eurostar the following week.
As soon as I arrived, they had me learning the French style of ‘Artistic Fencing’ from former world champions in the art, all in full costume against the backdrop of the beautiful Vaux Le Vicomte palace, the grandeur of which is said to have given birth to Versailles.
On the second day, I interviewed a Professor of History at the Sorbonne on the real-life D’Artagnan, and discovered a very different individual from the romanticised hero of the story.
The piece will be airing worldwide early in the new year, and in the first quarter in the UK.