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).