Tutankhamun filmed in South Africa

Tutankhamun on locationITV Studios filmed its new TV drama Tutankhamun in South Africa, using the country as a stand in for early 20th century Egypt. Producer Simon Lewis talks to The Knowledge about the shoot.

Tutankhamun was filmed both on location and in an adapted studio. Location work took place in the north-west of the country 370 miles from Cape Town along the Orange River, which marks the border with Namibia. 

“The service company tried to discourage us from filming there because of its sheer distance from civilisation,” Lewis tells The Knowledge. “There were issues with basic supplies – we ended up taking three tonnes of ice with us.”

The production team stayed in established camp sites along the river through the shoot.

Expansive tomb sets were built in an old community centre in Cape Town, which became an adapted studio space.

“There’s a real premium on studios,” Lewis says. “The US shows block-book studios a year in advance, regardless of whether or not they end up using them. But the community centre actually gave us more floor space and it worked out better for us as we built our tomb sets to scale.

Tutankhamun on set“The downside was that the space wasn’t soundproofed and there were birds in the rafters the whole time – that all had to be sorted in post-production.

“We filmed some scenes on location in the city as well, as the business areas of Cape Town are relatively easy to shut down at weekends.”

South Africa is long established as a popular filming location for UK shoots, having hosted shows like female-focussed war drama Our Girl and the action series Strike Back.

Historical drama Troy – Fall of a City, from Kudos Film and Television, is scheduled to film locally next year. 

British producers are attracted by a competitive exchange rate, good locations and nice weather. The two countries in fact formalised a TV production treaty over the summer.

“There is well-established collaboration between UK and South African TV production companies,” said Max Rumney, deputy chief executive of PACT, when the treaty was signed in July.

“It’s important to the independent production sector that these relationships are strengthened and formalised, and PACT’s members look forward to creating more co-production opportunities with our South African counterparts.”

Images: ITV


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