What could be more enthralling than a story woven around the persons of Jesus Christ and Mary Magdalen, a possible blood-line rooted in their alleged progeny, and successive dramatic events in history linked not only to people who might have been their successors, but also to the secret societies who existed to keep this knowledge secret?
This two-hour enquiry into the background of Dan Brown's best-selling novel ranks amongst the best. Commissioned by Channel 4 Television, reporter Tony Robinson enquires into five main facets of the story to try and separate genuine fact from lurid fiction.
Was Leonardo da Vinci's depiction of the gentle John the Baptist at the Last Supper in Milan really a representation of MaryM, or is the painter's interest in androgynous types the reality?
Did Mary and her servant, Mary of Egypt, really sail to France after Christ's death with treasure that included the goblet holding the wine of the Last Supper that led to the founding of the Priory of Sion in southern France which was said not only to harbour that treasure, but also the secret knowledge of France's true Plantagenet royal lineage?
Were the Cathars of this region, and also the Knights Templar, privy to this knowledge and did they harbour(then bury)the treasure that included the Holy Grail, was the Grail really a Gradual (a book containing this knowledge?), or does attaining the Grail simply mean being in possession of supreme knowledge of the inner secrets of life?
Did some of the august members said to know about Christ's Bloodline (the Sang Real), which included great painters, try to indicate the secret to the world through their works of art and written documents (these included Nicolas Poussin and Jean Cocteau)?
Tony Robinson's travels take him to the Holy Land, Italy, France and finally Scotland, where the Rosslyn Chapel in Scotland, said to be an outpost of the Templars who escaped massacre, is built according to the proportions of Solomon's Temple.
So much of the background historical information can be corroborated - yet the people who finally publicised the story of the Da Vinci code and the story of the marriage of Christ and MaryM (publicised in the book Holy Blood and Holy Grail) are finally exposed by Tony Robinson as having concocted the entire thing as a blague to make fun of the gullible.
This is a very fair exercise in unravelling truth from fiction which leaves us with yet more to unpick for ourselves. Absolutely no need to read the book - just hire or buy this CD!