Documentary in award win

Drs Joann Fletcher and Stephen Buckleywith their team and the mummified body of Alan Billis
Drs Joann Fletcher and Stephen Buckleywith their team and the mummified body of Alan Billis

A SCARBOROUGH couple who played a key role in a ground-breaking documentary about modern-day mummification are celebrating after the programme won a prestigious award.

Dr Stephen Buckley and Dr Joann Fletcher were nominated in the science category of the Royal Television Society Programme Awards for their programme Mummifying Alan, which was screened on Channel 4 last year.

The duo helped mummify Torquay taxi driver Alan Billis, who was terminally ill with lung cancer, after he put himself forward for the project, which is the culmination of years of research by the Scarborough pair.

The judging panel said the documentary was “ambitious, engaging, entertaining and told a fascinating story” and awarded it the honour ahead of the two other nominees in the category, David Attenborough’s Frozen Planet and Professor Brian Cox with Stargazing Live.

The winners were announced this week in a ceremony at the Grosvenor House Hotel, London, hosted by actor, comedian and radio presenter Rob Brydon.

A delighted Dr Fletcher, an Egyptologist at the University of York, told the Evening News: “We are over the moon, I mean, we even beat David Attenborough! We didn’t think we would win in a million years, we were convinced of it.

“When we saw who we were up against, we thought we could never beat Attenborough, the man is a legend.

“So much of it was filmed in Scarborough too, so we are all rather happy. I just can’t believe it!”

Dr Buckley and Dr Fletcher have lived in Scarborough for more than 10 years.

They enjoy doing regular talks in schools and to groups in the area, and throughout Yorkshire.

The show, which is going to be screened in America later this year on the Discovery Channel, attracted around 1.8 million viewers when it was broadcast on Channel 4 last October.

Mr Billis’s body has now been taken to King’s College, London, in their teaching museum which is used for medical students from both King’s and Guy’s hospitals.

Operation Hospital Food With James Martin, which was filmed last year at Scarborough Hospital, was also nominated for an award in the Daytime category but lost out to Deal Or No Deal Live.

The awards honour excellence in key genres of television programming.