Medicine’s Dark Secrets: A Trailer

Ever since starting The Chirurgeon’s Apprentice, my life has gotten strange. I know what you are thinking—how much stranger can it get when you spend every waking minute reading and writing about the horrible ways in which people in the past succumbed to death?

Well, let me tell you…

Six months ago, I was approached by Lesley-Anne Morrison and Gregg McNeill at Big Baby Productions in Scotland. They had read several articles of mine, and wanted to film a television series based off the website. At first, I was apprehensive. After all, I am a historian who spends most days with my head buried in 18th-century books. The idea of being in front of a camera seemed ludicrous.

That was, until I met Lesley-Anne and Gregg.

They were not only passionate about filmmaking, but they were also sensitive to the types objects I would be interacting with in the series.  These were two people who understood that the past which I write about on The Chirurgeon’s Apprentice isn’t really about the blood and gore. It’s about the people who died. It’s about the surgeons who overcame great physical and emotional obstacles in order to learn more about the very thing that makes us human: our bodies.

I may be a historian. I may be an academic. But above all, I am a storyteller.

And so, driven by this desire to share these stories with a wider audience,  we took to the streets of London a few months ago and began shooting a trailer for broadcasters. The programme, which is called ‘Medicine’s Dark Secrets,’ will be in 3 parts. Viewers will join me as I explore subjects such as anthropodermic bibliopegy (binding books with human skin), criminal dissection, body-snatching, and medical curiosities in the 18th and 19th centuries.

And so, without further ado, here is a trailer for ‘Medicine’s Dark Secrets!’

I hope you enjoy watching it as much as I enjoyed writing and filming it.

A very special thanks to those who helped with this trailer: Lesley-Anne Morrison (Director), Gregg McNeill (Cinematographer), Alex Anstey (editor), Victoria Yorke-Edwards (Bio-Archaeologist, UCL), Chris Skaife (Ravenmaster, Tower of London), Elma Brenner (Librarian, Wellcome Library), Ross MacFarlane (Librarian, Wellcome Library), Gemma Angel (Researcher at UCL/Tattooist), Carla Valentine (Curator of St Bart’s Pathology Museum), Tania Guatama (Makeup Artist) and Leanna Lambourne (Hair Stylist).

By | 2012-10-11T11:22:39+00:00 October 11th, 2012|Casebooks|27 Comments


  1. Suzie Lennox October 11, 2012 at 11:49 am - Reply

    Brilliant and congratulations! It’s about time the ‘darker side’ of medicine was highlighted – I am of course referring to bodysnatching! Can’t wait for it to be broadcast.

    • The Chirurgeon's Apprentice October 11, 2012 at 12:01 pm - Reply

      Thanks Suzie! I was a bit nervous about it – it’s great to hear positive feedback. I will be looking at a diary belonging to a body-snatcher for the series. Stay tuned 🙂

  2. Andrew Lahman October 11, 2012 at 1:39 pm - Reply

    Wow Lindsey, really pleased for you… and us 🙂 We get to peek into a world that is somewhat hidden these days. Can’t wait to watch the series.
    Huurah!!! 🙂

  3. Lynda Payne October 11, 2012 at 2:06 pm - Reply

    This is wonderful news.

  4. Elizabeth October 11, 2012 at 2:12 pm - Reply

    So wonderful – looks like it will be a great series! Will we be able to watch it in the US? I assume you will send out a link. 🙂

  5. kimhartinvenice October 11, 2012 at 2:36 pm - Reply

    Wow – looks fab – I’d totally watch it! The subject matter is already so fascinating and creepy that I hope the creators of the show don’t engage in too many special visual effects as that could risk the show losing credibility. But aside from that little niggle it looks solid, well grounded in facts, and your presenting style was very professional and engaging. Well done!

  6. septimus007 October 11, 2012 at 6:46 pm - Reply

    As one who researches and re-enacts resurrection man I look forward to seeing the series.
    For those of us in the U.K. it should tie in well with the forthcoming exhibition at the Museum of London on Anatomists and grave robbers.
    I’m really looking forward to performing there early next year.
    Well done

  7. septimus007 October 11, 2012 at 6:50 pm - Reply

    As one who researches and reenacts Resurrection man this should be a fascinating series. For those of us in the U.K. interested in this period of medical history I can recommend the forthcoming exhibition on Anatomists and Grave Robbers at the Museum of London, which I am looking forward to contributing to, with two re-enactment displays early next year.

  8. allhomosapienswelcome October 11, 2012 at 6:52 pm - Reply

    I love it! I hope to watch to whole three parts when it comes out! =D I agree with the first commenter though; the visual effects can become a bit too much, especially if it continues through the whole full length video. Great job though!

  9. Dave October 12, 2012 at 12:47 am - Reply

    is the going to be broadcast in the US? I would make a point of watching as well as telling others – this is fascinating work, great “conversation starters”.

    • The Chirurgeon's Apprentice October 12, 2012 at 12:49 am - Reply

      Thanks Dave! At the moment, it is being shopped around to various broadcasters, so it is possible it will be picked up by a US network! I will keep everyone posted 🙂

  10. nightsmusic October 12, 2012 at 1:28 am - Reply

    Oh, Lindsay! Sign me up. I love programs like this and whether or not you think you were nervous, you came across as a natural. Fascinating subject, knowledgeable and personable presenter, I’m in!

  11. Melissa S. October 12, 2012 at 3:06 am - Reply

    Congratulations! This is amazing. I hope we will be able to tune in in the US. I would love to visit and meet you in person.

  12. Linds October 12, 2012 at 3:28 am - Reply

    That’s great news, I hope they can find someone to pick it up.

    I stumbled across information on resurrectionists while researching for a novel earlier this year and I found it fascinating. The idea of body snatchers is there in literature from the period, but I’d had no idea it was so common and so profitable.

    I also really enjoy your website. I find the subject really fascinating. Have you seen the new PBS documentary on Death and the Civil War?

  13. Iuliana Cosmina October 12, 2012 at 12:01 pm - Reply

    Congrats for the trailer, is looking really good and I hope the series will be as interesting and catchy as your blog.
    I wish you the best of luck!

  14. Dan Stout (@DanStout) October 13, 2012 at 5:19 pm - Reply

    Great news! I’ve been enjoying your work on the Chirurgeon’s Apprentice, and this looks like a terrific way to bring your research to a wider audience. Best of luck, and please let us know when we can see more.

    • The Chirurgeon's Apprentice October 14, 2012 at 12:07 am - Reply

      Thanks Dan! I was a bit apprehensive about working in this kind of medium but I really enjoyed it and hope that the series will get commissioned! It’s wonderful to hear such positive feedback.

  15. David Harley October 16, 2012 at 1:22 am - Reply

    Many congratulations. Knock ’em dead, or slightly diseased.

  16. Tessa Harris October 22, 2012 at 4:22 pm - Reply

    Really excellent presentation. Congratulations on your professionalsm, too, Lindsey. When can we see this in the UK? I can’t wait!

    • The Chirurgeon's Apprentice October 24, 2012 at 2:57 pm - Reply

      Thank you so much, Tessa! We are shopping it around to broadcasters at the moment – will know more about where it will air once we secure the commission!

  17. Janae Dirksen October 26, 2012 at 5:54 am - Reply

    What a fantastic series this would be! Everyone must admit that they do have what we commonly refer to as morbid curiosity about all things in surgery, death, deformity, etc. Today’s society “hides” death…from using body bags to immediately cover and remove a dead body, a hearse or coroners van to whisk away the dead to hidden, cold morgues. Then the dead are prepped to look as if they were not dead, only sleeping, for the funeral mourners and the immediate survivors. It is either hidden or “prettied up” for explanation to children. Back less than 100 years ago if someone died, they would be brought home, laid out on a couch or bed, cleaned up by the mother, spouse, children and allowed to lay in wake for a period of time to allow for mourners to view the body and say their goodbyes. It baffles me as to WHY we now hide death…it’s a taboo subject in many cases.

    This series would bring to light how our ancestors dealt with death, deformity, grave robbing and its unlikely/unknown additions it made to healthcare education and to how advanced our health care/surgery is today. When i speak about this past (the societal handling of death – death was an everyday occurrence, the resurrectionists/grave robbers and the anatomists) some people are intrigued and want to know more, some are grossed out…but for the most part people are “awakened” to the real history of our ancestors that has led to where we are now…good, bad or ugly. I applaud your passion and dedication and look forward with great anticipation to this series!! Wish I could join your team! Best of luck!

  18. […] New television program by Chirurgeon’s Apprentice! See the details as well as the trailer for “Medicine’s Dark Secrets” […]

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