Quest For the Lost Ark, Channel 4, 9pm Stephen Fry and the Gutenberg Press, BBC4, 9pm

There's an iconic scene right at the end of Raiders of the Lost Ark when the rediscovered Ark, all boxed up, is abandoned among hundreds of other crates in a US government warehouse. Indy is left on the steps outside, smouldering with anger.

The bespectacled Professor Tudor Parfitt, from London's School of Oriental and African Studies, is not quite Indiana Jones, but the culmination of his real-life 20-year quest for the Ark, televised yesterday, ended in a way that was startlingly reminiscent of his Hollywood alter ego's. What Parfitt believes to be the Ark is stuck on a shelf in the store room of a Harare museum, having been all but forgotten by everyone but him. Even its index card reads only "drum, wood", not "Ark of the Covenant, arguably the most coveted object in Judaeo-Christian culture". Parfitt's frustration with the museum staff was positively Indy-like.

The drum part might have been what threw them. The Ark of the Covenant, according to scripture, is the box the Israelites built for the tablets bearing the 10 Commandments. It was brought to King Solomon's temple in Jerusalem, from where it apparently disappeared in 586BC when the Persian king Nebuchadnezzar set fire to the place.

Did it burn in the temple, was it spirited away beforehand or did Nebuchadnezzar nick it? Short answer: we have no idea.

Parfitt, however, thinks he does know, or has a pretty good idea. He reckons the answer lies with the Lemba people of Zimbabwe and South Africa. The Lemba, who circumcise their sons and don't eat pig meat, are a "lost" Jewish tribe, who, according to oral tradition, were led out of the Middle East by priests, taking a sacred object with them. Proof of their Semitic heritage has been established with genetic fingerprinting.

Lemba culture also reveres a powerful object called the ngoma lungundu, or "drum that thunders", which was carried on poles; Parfitt believes this is the Ark. An object thought to be the ngoma lungundu was found 60 years ago in a cave but then disappeared - until Parfitt tracked it down to Harare. Carbon dating shows it to be just 600 years old. However, Parfitt is undeterred: the original would naturally have perished, he says, and its custodians would have made a succession of replicas.

It's maybe no great surprise that other archaeologists respond with a resounding "hmm" to Parfitt's theory, which draws on a wide range of sources and spans the gaps between with little leaps of faith. But categoric proof of the fate of the Ark would be impossible to establish, so theories must suffice - and this one is worthy of Indiana Jones.

There are those who baulk at the ubiquity of Stephen Fry, now an officially designated national treasure, and, if you were so minded, Stephen Fry and the Gutenberg Press might have seemed like indulgence. We know he likes books (he has a dozen to his name) and we know he likes gadgets (he writes about them for a London newspaper), so a homage to the printing press, "the most revolutionary advance in technology since the invention of the wheel", certainly pressed his buttons. It also made for a boyish excitement without which this hour-long film would have been rather staid.

The producers tried to inject some fun by getting enthusiasts to build a replica press - nice idea, but it didn't make great TV. The time might have been better spent having Fry explore the publishing explosion Gutenberg sparked (there were 20 million printed books within 50 years of his invention). A national treasure on an iconic invention: what more do you need?