Mercury treasure tale on TV

PUBLISHED: 13:00 29 October 2008 | UPDATED: 12:07 03 July 2010

MERCURY chief reporter Liz Coates has been filmed for a French TV documentary unravelling the tale of a famous treasure wreck salvaged by fortune hunters.

MERCURY chief reporter Liz Coates has been filmed for a French TV documentary unravelling the tale of a famous treasure wreck salvaged by fortune hunters.

The hour-long programme will be screened as part of the weekly Thalassa series on France's national channel 3 which goes out on Friday nights at 8.55pm.

Filming has taken Michel Regis and Malanca Ettore of Pacifico Island Productions around the world from France and Italy to Indonesia and Great Yarmouth as they piece together the story which grabbed headlines worldwide but appeared first in the Great Yarmouth Mercury in June 2001.

The Mercury spread focused on Nick Pearson from Ormesby who with four others and the help of investors resurrected the Risdon Beazley business which specialised in marine recovery.

At the time he was keen to shout about the amazing treasure haul worth hundreds of thousands of pounds and apparently stumbled on by mistake while they were looking for tin ingots sunk with the Glen Logan.

Instead they unearthed exquisite jewellery and gold coins apparently from a vessel called the Santa Maria catalogued by the time of the interview in a glossy brochure for a London auction house.

The divers happily posed for photographs and submitted some of the salvage operation itself.

However, the auction was suddenly and sensationally cancelled amid accusations the precious artefacts had in fact been taken without permission from the wreck of the treasure-laden Polluce, a paddlewheel steamboat sunk off the island of Elba.

At the time Mr Pearson told Liz: “There were moments of total desperation. We were really after tin. If it had not been for the fact we had found a few gold coins we would have given up.”

She interviewed him at Scratby's Duncan Hall School which he was converting into luxury homes.

“It was quite a long time ago but I did recall being impressed by their daring and spirit of adventure. The story unfolded like something from a boys' own adventure and was quite incredible. I had no reason to take them on anything other than face value. They seemed very open and genuine,” she said.

Thalassa is the oldest TV series in France, running for more than 30 years and focusing on every aspect of the sea. It is broadcast in 30 countries. The treasure is of museum quality and in the hands of experts in Florence.

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