Six months ago, I was interviewed for a “Raiders of the Last Past” (“Myth Hunters” in the US) episode focusing on the Beale Papers. Unfortunately, I managed to miss the first US airing three weeks ago of Series 3 Episode 13 “The Mystery of Thomas Beale’s Treasure”, *sigh*, and so completely failed to flag it to all you nice Cipher Mysteries readers, sorry. 🙁


However, the UK version is going to be broadcast at 9pm this Good Friday (3rd April 2015) on Yesterday (Freeview channel #19), and I heartily recommend it as a nice slice of cipher mystery TV entertainment. Of course, feel free to fast-forward past my own talking head, because if you’re reading this you probably already know what I’m going to say. 🙂

Anyway, rather than try to summarize the whole sorry saga of the Beale Papers, the film-makers have chosen to focus on George and Clayton Hart’s sustained attempts to understand and crack them. Which I think, having seen the final edit, was a pretty smart move on their part: I mean, who really wants to see a long parade of ugly battling theories?

My own conclusion on the Beale Ciphers shifted while I was getting my thoughts ready for camera, as I described here before. In short, I now think that the ciphers are very probably real, but that nearly all of the pamphlet is fake. I also think that the ciphers will prove to be crackable, with little more than a small step sideways from what we already know.

We shall see! But in the meantime, enjoy the episode! 🙂

5 thoughts on ““Raiders of the Lost Past” tackles the Beale Papers…

  1. bdid1dr on April 5, 2015 at 1:11 am said:

    How did the broadcast go? Now and then we are able to get some of the BBC’s offerings of television programs. We don’t have a TV; but rather order/rent-by-mail videos from Netflix. Our latest viewings have been “Monarch of the Glen”. Fun!

  2. bdid1dr on April 5, 2015 at 1:25 am said:

    PS: We also watch many of the “History Channel” and PBS historical presentations (rent from Netflix). So, I really enjoyed the “War of the Birds” film which one of your fans posted to your blog.
    And then there is Sir Hubert, Diane O’Donovan, Job,……who keep me somewhat out of Alzheimer’s range.

  3. It was broadcasted a couple of weeks ago on the Spanish History Channel. In spite of there being an early suspicion of hoax, one couldn’t avoid taking an interest in the life-long efforts of those two brothers to unravel the mystery. It was quite interesting, well narrated and illustrative of the things the press is ready to do when sells decline. At least, the idea that I got was that the cypher has definitely acknowledged as a hoax. By the way, Nick, you were great in your interventions.

  4. Eloy: if only it were that simple! The edit the film-makers sent through to me left it very open at the end (which would have been correct), but the one they broadcast cut all that out and left it looking like a definite hoax (which is incorrect).

    My position – that the cipher itself looks like it is a genuine cipher (the Gillogly strings etc), but that there are very strong reasons for thinking that almost all of the pamphlet was an elaboration – is probably too nuanced for TV. 🙁

  5. Heavens, Nick. The thing about TV documentaries today is they are usually quite good at entertaining. The narrative really grabs you in front of the screen. From your words, I conclude that this is yet one more case where entertainment prevails, even if it means misleading the viewer a little (a little, or a lot).

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