British Universities Film & Video Council

moving image and sound, knowledge and access

BBC Shakespeare

 BBC Shakespeare Festival

…We’ve restored lots of older material, including The Wars of the Roses trilogy and Richard III, broadcast in 1965

Beyond the archive and archival collections, there’s lots of new material coming your way in 2016. The BBC Shakespeare Festival 2016 will launch on 23 April (Shakespeare’s assumed birth and death day) and continue for a month across all BBC services. Russell T. Davies adapts the original verse of A Midsummer Night’s Dream with a cast that includes Maxine Peake, Matt Lucas and Bernard Cribbins. BBC Two is reviving one of the highlights of 2012 with three more episodes of The Hollow Crown, starring Benedict Cumberbatch, Judi Dench and many others. Upstart Crow is a Ben Elton comedy, starring David Mitchell as Shakespeare, Liza Tarbuck as his wife Anne and Harry Enfield as his dad. Promisingly, Elton says: ‘I have tried very hard to think myself into Shakespeare’s creative world, writing only with a small chicken feather and not changing my underpants for a year.’

         Shakespeare on Tour builds a digital picture of the explosion in the performance of Shakespeare’s plays, from the first performances to the present day. It brings together academic research (from Records of Early English Drama and the Arts and Humanities Research Council) about performances of Shakespeare’s plays during his lifetime. Information is taken from period manuscripts in archives across the country, together with stories of later provincial Shakespeare productions told through original playbills from the late 18th century onwards that are held in the British Library’s collections.

Maxine Peake as Titania in Russell T. Davies’ upcoming BBC production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream. (2015 © BBC / Des Willie).

Maxine Peake as Titania in Russell T. Davies’ upcoming BBC production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream. (2015 © BBC / Des Willie).


         Horrible Histories is back with a special episode delving in to the life and times of the world’s most famous writer. How did Shakespeare climb to become a royal favourite? And what was it like to be in the audience of one of his plays, where fruit was thrown at the stage, it was illegal for women to act, and there were no toilets. And of course there’s a song, featuring every one of his plays.

There are two interactive Live Lessons in partnership with the RSC, for primary school and secondary school pupils, which will broadcast from the Library of Birmingham to schools across the country. Both will be filmed in front of a live audience of school children from the West Midlands.

And then to cap it all you can Shakespeare yourself, by selecting an emoji which fits your mood and in return you will receive the perfect Shakespeare quote which best expresses that feeling.

Hopefully there’s material here which today’s audience, both general and academic, will experience as ‘delightful, high-spirited and rollicking good fun’.

« previous     1 2 3 4 5