MIPCOM: Smithsonian Channel to Explore 'The Curious Life and Death of...' Brittany Murphy, Pablo Escobar

Lindsey Fitzharris - P 2019
Courtesy of Smithsonian Networks

University of Oxford-educated author and medical historian Lindsey Fitzharris will host the series and "use science, tests and demonstrations to shed new light on famous murders, suicides and freak diseases."

CBS Corp.'s Smithsonian Channel, a joint venture between Showtime Networks and the Smithsonian Institution, has commissioned new series The Curious Life and Death of..., which will explore mysterious deaths of famous people.

Host Lindsey Fitzharris, an author and medical historian who has a doctorate from the University of Oxford, will "use science, tests and demonstrations to shed new light on famous murders, suicides and freak diseases," the network said in unveiling the news at MIPCOM in Cannes. "Working alongside a variety of experts and eyewitnesses, Dr. Fitzharris will uncover the secrets of icons ranging from drug lord Pablo Escobar to Hollywood starlet Brittany Murphy to magician Harry Houdini."

Adds the show description: "Using her lab to perform virtual autopsies, experiment with blood samples, interview witnesses and conduct real-time demonstrations, Dr. Fitzharris will put everything about these mysterious deaths to the test. Along the way, she’ll be joined by a revolving cast of experts, including Scotland Yard detectives, medical examiners, weapons gurus and more."

The hourlong series will premiere on the Smithsonian Channel in the U.S., U.K. and beyond in 2020.

"The Curious Life and Death of… will transport our viewers into a world of mysterious deaths and shadowy figures, and investigate the fascinating and often strange lives of the deceased,” said David Royle, chief programming officer, Smithsonian Networks. "Lindsey Fitzharris brings a unique blend of personality, wit and expertise — and is the perfect person to explore these historic personalities through the lens of morbid science."

"For many famous departed, death was just the beginning of their extraordinary afterlife," said Roy Ackerman, executive producer at Blakeway Productions, which is part of Britain's Zinc Media Group and is making the series. 

Claire Lasko serves as showrunner for Blakeway. Tim Evans and Royle are executive producers for the Smithsonian Channel.