The Two Johns – Rae & Franklin

By Bernie Bell

Many readers of TON are probably watching  ‘The Terror’  at 9pm Wednesdays on BBC2 which in the telly paper is euphemistically described as a ‘re-imagining’ of the tale of John Franklin’s expedition searching for the North-West Passage.

I don’t think much of this kind of ‘re-imagining’ and would prefer to remind folk of the man, and his crew, who did find, and map, the North-West Passage – Orcadian Dr. John Rae.

The John Rae Society is presenting a series of on-line talks about the good Doctor’s adventures and discoveries ……..

Never mind fabricated spooky goings-on – the adventures of both of the Johns, and their crews, show that real life can be stranger and more dangerous than fiction.

I’d better add a caveat that these are my personal views of ‘The Terror’ television re-working of the tale, and that they don’t reflect the views of the John Rae Society.

But, seriously, turning such a truly tragic tale into cheap sensationalism, is, to me, inexcusable.

The trouble is, when a story is presented in that way in the media – film or television – it can become accepted as being what actually happened, though it ain’t necessarily so.

On the plus side, fans of the series might want to visit Orkney to see Login’s Well in Stromness, where the  ships of the Franklin expedition took on fresh water before embarking on their journey……

That would have to be when Covid restrictions are lifted, but it might help to give the Orkney tourist trade a bit of a lift after the lean times.

“It’s also worth mentioning that the Orkney Archaeology Society has linked up with Orkney Heritage Society and the John Rae Society to present a talk about recent archaeological excavations at, and future plans for, the Hall of Clestrain, birth place and home of John Rae…..

The Two Johns – sculpture and photograph by Andrew Appleby – President of the John Rae Society

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