Last Updated on October 17, 2022
She’s back! Popular historian Lucy Worsley turns detective, using new evidence and modern techniques to solve some of British history’s most enduring mysteries. “Lucy Worsley Investigates,” a new four-part series, premieres on PBS in 2022.
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The first two episodes premiered in May, and beginning in September, Worsley continues to explore some of British history’s most haunting mysteries in two new installments.
Read on for more info and episode airtimes; as always, check local listings. Some stations will air the first two episodes again, leading up to the premiere of episodes three and four.
Who killed the princes in the Tower of London in 1483? What actually caused the Black Death? Why did a witch hunt craze sweep through 16th century Britain and America? And was King George III really mad?
These are some of the most enduring and perplexing questions that have baffled academics and fascinated history buffs for years. Now the popular British historian Lucy Worsley turns sleuth to reexamine these infamous mysteries.
In each episode, Lucy mounts a thorough investigation into a single event using historical and contemporary evidence and a range of experts to completely reframe the past. Lucy also reveals how contemporary attitudes towards children, gender politics, class and mental health helped obscure the truth of these cases.
The series uncovers new victors and victims, challenges our perceptions and provides fresh answers to each renowned mystery.
“I’m thrilled to be revisiting some of the big-hitting stories from history that just keep sucking us in,” says Lucy Worsley. “And like everyone who works at the Tower of London, I just can’t wait to share the next twist in the tale of what we think we know about the ‘murder’ of the Bloody Tower’s ‘Little Princes.’ I really love the fact that this isn’t just a series about the past. It’s also about what the past means today: an investigation of our own ideas about childhood, feminism, pandemics and mental health.”
Lucy Worsley Investigates Episode Descriptions & Airtimes
Episode One: “Princes in the Tower”
Premieres Sunday, May 15, 8-9 PM ET
Lucy tackles one of history’s greatest unsolved crimes — the supposed murder of two young princes in the Tower of London. Was it their power-hungry Uncle Richard who had Edward and Richard killed? Their mysterious disappearance in 1483 and a surprising lack of historical evidence have led to centuries of speculation.
If the boys weren’t murdered at the behest of Richard III, who else might have benefitted from their death? Or were they not killed at all, but simply banished? Lucy delves into the period of their demise — the cutthroat era of the War of the Roses — and uncovers a fascinating chain of events leading up to the princes’ disappearance.
After conferring with an array of historians who have spent decades trying to crack the case, Lucy ultimately makes up her mind about Richard’s guilt and reveals new insight about the life of a royal child in Medieval England.
Episode Two: “Madness of King George”
Premieres Sunday, May 22 8-9 PM ET
Lucy delves into the madness of King George to ask what we can learn about how attitudes toward mental health were affected by Britain having a so-called ‘mad’ monarch. Lucy examines recently released royal papers and explores the king’s profoundly tragic personal trauma: the death of two of his young children.
She also explores the enormous political pressures on George as ruler at a time of political upheaval. Revolution was brewing in France; an emperor had been murdered in Russia and Britain was facing the imminent loss of the American colonies after nearly two centuries of British rule.
Speaking with leading experts in psychiatry, it becomes clear to Lucy that all of these enormous stresses led to his bouts of mental illness, which would now have been diagnosed as bipolar disorder. She also investigates how an attempt on his life by a mentally ill woman named Margaret Nicholson affected the King and eventually led to a change in the understanding and treatment of mental illness.
Episode Three: “The Black Death”
Premieres Sunday, September 25 8-9 PM ET
Lucy re-examines Britain’s deadliest pandemic, the Black Death, which struck in 1348 and killed an astonishing three million people — half of the country’s population. Scientists, historians and other experts help Lucy explore the wide-ranging effects of this unprecedented calamity on British society.
For centuries, no one could be certain what caused the 1348 plague. Then, in the 1980s, a vast mass grave containing the skeletons of 600 victims was uncovered in London. Lucy learns how DNA extracted from the teeth of these skeletons enabled scientists to finally identify the cause of the Black Death, a bacteria called yersinia pestis — a pathogen to which the population had no immunity. Lucy then travels to a small Suffolk village where rare court rolls reveal how the plague affected the lives of ordinary people. These fragile documents provide a unique window into the epidemic’s social, political and psychological impacts, revealing how the enormous death toll transformed religious beliefs, class structure, work and women.
Episode Four: “The Witch Hunt”
Premieres Sunday, October 2, 8-9 PM ET
The series concludes with a harrowing look at the events that sparked a craze for witch hunts across Britain and America more than 400 years ago. Lucy uncovers the extraordinary story of one supposed witch, a midwife and folk healer from rural Scotland named Agnes Sampson, who was caught up in King James’ determination to prove himself a just and godly king and figurehead of the Reformation. While Christianity and a belief in the supernatural had co-existed for centuries, the new puritanical Christianity of Scotland’s John Knox began targeting women who had an exalted role in society. Agnes’s trial and execution lit the fuse for the state-sanctioned torture and murder of thousands more like her across Britain and in America’s Salem Witch Trials. Lucy examines how the upheaval of the Reformation, the ambitions of the King and a suspicion of women in authority and female sexuality set the stage for these brutal killings.
After they air, episodes will be available to stream for a limited here on PBS, and after that, will be available here.
The host of several popular PBS specials, including LUCY WORSLEY’S ROYAL PALACE SECRETS, SECRETS OF THE SIX WIVES, A VERY BRITISH ROMANCE WITH LUCY WORSLEY, 12 DAYS OF TUDOR CHRISTMAS, VICTORIA & ALBERT: THE WEDDING, TALES FROM THE ROYAL BEDCHAMBER and more, Lucy Worsley is a royal historian, TV host, chief curator at Historic Royal Palaces (the charity which looks after the Tower of London, Hampton Court Palace, Kensington Palace and other historic places) and author of numerous books, including Queen Victoria: Twenty-Four Days that Changed Her Life, Jane Austen at Home, Eliza Rose, The Art of the English Murder and others.
If you enjoyed this post, wander over to The Period Films List. You’ll also want to see Secrets of the Six Wives, A Very British Romance, Lucy Worsley’s Royal Palace Secrets, Lucy Worsley’s Royal Photo Album, Lucy Worsley’s Royal Myths & Secrets and our series of posts about the period dramas that have aired on PBS Masterpiece.