Actress Joanna Lumley braves danger in search of Noah’s ark in Iran
Joanna Lumley, the actress, will defy Foreign Office advice and travel to Iran to film a documentary about Noah's ark.
The star of Absolutely Fabulous tells Mandrake that she is to defy Foreign Office advice and journey into Iran, in search of Noah’s ark Photo: REX
By Richard Eden
7:30AM GMT 18 Mar 2012
Joanna Lumley has campaigned on animal welfare issues, fought for the rights of Gurkhas, and even attempted to win membership of the all-male Garrick Club. Now, however, the actress is planning her most daunting mission yet.
The star of Absolutely Fabulous tells Mandrake that she is to defy Foreign Office advice and journey into Iran, in search of Noah’s ark.
“I’m going to have to get my hard hat on and my bulletproof vest,” she says. “I’ve got a new documentary to make for the end of the year, where I’m going to try and find Noah’s ark. They’ve found the ruins of something that looks like a big ship in the hills.”
The Foreign Office warns that all but essential travel to Iran should be avoided, as the drums of war beat louder over its nuclear programme. The mullahs expelled the British Ambassador last November.
During a demonstration, the British Embassy in Tehran was attacked and set on fire. All British staff have been evacuated. In 2007, 15 Royal Navy personnel were captured by Iranian forces and held hostage for 13 days.
Lumley, who turns 66 in May, admits: “It will be dangerous and, of course, I’ll do a lot of prep in case there is a situation.”
In 2006, an expedition by the Bible Archaeology Search and Exploration Institute discovered a rock formation high in the mountains of north-western Iran that its members said resembled Noah’s ark.
“How fascinating is it going to be to see the mountains of Iran,” says Lumley. “I mean, that’s somewhere where not many people would go. I’ll be setting off in the autumn.”
Speaking at the Prince’s Trust Celebrate Success Awards, at the Odeon Leicester Square in London, the actress adds: “Sometimes, you have to learn how to be sensible, which, in my case, I will be.
“There are local people who are going to have to come with you and that endangers their lives. You can fly out and they can’t, so you have to be terribly careful about how you do things like that.
“I might be going places that are tricky, but I’m no war reporter, so I won’t be getting messy, hopefully, or causing them too many problems."
This sounds like a really interesting documentary to me although I have to admit, I am a little worried about her safety. I know she won't deliberately get herself into danger but you'll never know. I am not sure if I would be brave enough to travel there I am sure she will be well prepared and I hope that she'll have a safe journey and I am looking forward to watching the new documentary!