TV drama The Tourist, starring Jamie Dornan, has had the nation on the edge of its sofas with some nerve-shredding twists and turns.
The six-part BBC thriller sees the 39-year-old Fifty Shades of Grey hunk play a Brit who wakes up in the Australian Outback after a car accident with no memory of who he is.
But while the gripping mystery isn’t based on a real story, there are plenty of fascinating real-life cases of amnesia as James Moore reveals…
Hollywood’s Matt Damon famously played Jason Bourne in the movie franchise about a government assassin who has lost his memory.
Namesake Ansel Bourne was a famous real amnesiac in the 19th century.
The US preacher, from Rhode Island, suddenly woke up hundreds of miles away in Norristown, Pennsylvania in March 1887.
He had no memory of how he’d come to be living in the town for months as storeman Albert J Brown!
After returning to his old life, Bourne was diagnosed with a form of amnesia that causes a person to lose their identity for a period of time before their memory suddenly returns.
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World War Wonder
In 1918, a French soldier who had been returned from a German POW camp after the end of World War One was found confused in a train station in the city of Lyon, without papers.
He said his name was Anthelme Mangin, but couldn’t remember where he was from and was placed in a psychiatric hospital. After his photo was circulated, hundreds of families claimed him.
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But it wasn’t until the 1930s that his true identity was established as ex-waiter Octave Monjoin. The trauma of his war experiences on the Western Front was reckoned to have caused his amnesia.
Successful British conductor and musician Clive Wearing contracted a rare form of the herpes simplex virus in 1985 that caused brain damage.
It left the married 47-year-old with two forms of amnesia, meaning he could remember few details of his past life and was only able to store new memories for 7-30 seconds before forgetting them again.
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Amazingly, he was still able play the piano because that part of his brain wasn’t affected. His story was made into a TV documentary called Prisoner of Consciousness.
Stuck in 1994!
In the film 50 First Dates, actress Drew Barrymore plays a woman who has anterograde amnesia, caused a brain injury from a car crash. It leaves her unable to make new memories.
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A similar real-life case involved British woman Michelle Philpots, from Spalding, Lincs, who had two motor accidents which, by 1994, left her with a condition that means her memory of the previous 24 hours is wiped clean.
Husband Ian, whom she married in 1997, often had to convince her they were really hitched, showing her photos from their wedding while Michelle relied on Post-it notes and mobile phone alarms to keep track of her life.
Losing The Plot
Author Agatha Christie, famous for her puzzling crime mysteries, disappeared herself in 1926 for 11 days causing a sensation.
The writer was eventually found 200 miles from her abandoned car staying in a Harrogate hotel under the name Mrs Neele.
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Her husband Archibald, who’d been having an affair with a woman called Neele, said she’d suffered a complete loss of memory, confirmed by doctors…though it later returned.
It’s thought Christie may have had psychogenic amnesia, a condition caused by a trauma. But some think she staged the whole episode for publicity.
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