Bettany Hughes visits Crete to recount the story one of the greatest archaeological discoveries ever made.
The tale of the Minotaur and the Labyrinth is perhaps the most compelling of all Greek myths. Just over 100 years ago, English archaeologist Arthur Evans went to the 'Minotaur's Island' to explore the roots of this myth and discovered instead a sophisticated Bronze Age civilisation that had been lost to history for thousands of years.
He called them The Minoans, and the riches of their culture astonished the world, prompting Evans to proclaim them the first civilisation of the Western World.
But was this view unduly romantic? Recent archaeological discoveries have added fascinating layers of complexity to the picture originally painted by Evans.
“For the more serious-minded viewer, there’s a fine two-hour documentary, The Minoans (C4). This is presented by the excellent Bettany Hughes, who always does a good, sober job, with no dashing about and no exploitation of her undoubted physical charms.”
Nigel Andrew, Daily Mail, Weekend, 23/10/04
“Bettany is the latest and fairest of all…overtaking the It girls and It boys like Jon Snow’s son and that little popsy who does Nelson.”
AA Gill, Sunday Times, 24/10/04
“No series ever presented by Bettany Hughes could go disastrously wrong – she is one of those natural television presenters”
The Observer, 23/11/04
“Bettany Hughes, is the good-looking young face of ancient history.”
Mail on Sunday, 17/10/04
“The Minoans in contrast was simply magnificent. Granted two hours in which to trace the arc of one of the world’s founding civilisations, Bettany Hughes was resolutely unpatronising and, somehow, intellectually glamorous to boot. She made ancient history exciting and spoke her bits of antique Greek almost casually.”
The Glasgow Herald, 25/10/04
“Classics stunner Bettany Hughes broke into ancient Greek three times in her two hour documentary about The Minoans. In anybody else this would be viewed as a piece of gratuitous elitism, but in Bettany it was actually quite a turn on. To her credit she is not pole dancing like everyone else in the British Isles but using her appeal to show the nation there is more to the ancient world than just bloodthirsty Romans and the nancy-boy Greeks.”
Daily Telegraph 30/10/04
“The tale she told was a fascinating one, and so was Hughes’ physical prowess”
Daily Express, 25/10/04
The Evening Standard, 22/10/04
“It is hard to know which is supposed to be more eye-catching, history-babe Bettany Hughes tootling around Crete on her scooter, or the spectacular art, artefacts and architecture she displays in this engaging survey”
The Daily Telegraph, 23/10/04
“Thankfully there is scant recourse to cheesy voiceover, intrusive soundtrack or crappy reconstruction… Bettany Hughes comes over as a bookish Nigella Lawson, or perhaps a coquettish Kenneth Clarke.”
Time Out, 20/10/04
“An absorbing story told with a minimum of TV-history cliché.”
Martin Hoyle, Financial Times, 23/10/04
“If Greek civilisation is all Greek to you, this terrific documentary will enlighten your views on ancient Greek culture.”
Radio Times, 19/10/04
“ Bringing history to life.”
BBC History Magazine