Franklins Lost Men

Franklin’s Lost Ships

Production Designer, Locations, Casting

Original Air Date: CBC “Nature of Things” 9-April-2015, 8:00pm EST, Genre: Documentary

Production Company: 90th Parallel Productions Ltd (CAN) / Lion TV (UK), Producer: Andy Gregg, Director: Stuart Elliott

Broadcaster: CBC Nature of Things (CAN); Channel 4 (UK); PBS Nova (US)

In 1845 Sir John Franklin set off for the Northwest Passage in the Erebus and the Terror with 128 men. This was to be the Polar veteran’s third attempt and the ships were fitted with state-of-the-art steam engines and reinforced hulls… What could go wrong? They never came home…

The enduring questions surrounding their disappearance have made this the greatest mystery in world exploration. But in 2014, one of the ships – HMS Erebus – was finally located; lying in shallow waters in what is now the Canadian Arctic archipelago. It’s an incredible discovery – and it forces us to reconsider the last tragic months of this doomed expedition.

90th Parallel Productions in Canada and Lion TV in the UK partner to bring you their story.

For 170 years, scores of ships have returned to the Arctic, to look for clues – and more people have died searching for Franklin, than were originally lost.

Franklin’s body has never been found, but notes, artifacts and human remains suggest that the expedition met a gruesome end. When they became stuck in the ice, the ships were abandoned – and a nearby island is littered with bodies, some of which were even half-eaten – as the crew resorted to cannibalism to eke out their existence. But the remains don’t account for all 129 men. And another intriguing clue has always mystified historians; suggesting there could be more to the story than first suspected…

The Inuit have lived in this part of the Arctic for thousands of years, long before its so-called discovery by British sailors.

Their encounters with Franklin’s men provide evidence, which sadly, has often been ignored by those looking for Franklin in the 19th century. But one story has always stuck out… the idea of a ghost-ship – drifting in the ice, some 50 miles south of where the ships were originally abandoned, and still with signs of life onboard…

That ghost-ship has now been found – exactly where Inuit accounts say it sank.

But what can the ship tell us? Could some of Franklin’s men have survived to sail their ship again, in search of rescue? It’s a tantalising idea, opening up a whole new chapter in the story of the worst disaster in polar exploration history…