British Universities Film & Video Council

moving image and sound, knowledge and access

Laurence Olivier Presents King Lear

Synopsis
Television production of the play, set in the year 800 and staged entirely in Granada’s Manchester studio, and one of the few not based on a prior stage production. With music specially composed by Gordon Crosse and played by members of the Halle Orchestra.Olivier’s swansong, and arguably his finest screen performance in a Shakespeare play.
Language
English
Country
Great Britain
Medium
Television
Technical information
Colour / Sound
Year of release
2002
Transmission details
3 Apr 1983 at 20:25 (Channel: Channel Four)
Duration
159 mins

Credits

Director
Michael Elliott
Producer
David Plowright
Writer
William Shakespeare
Music
Gordon Crosse
Costume
Tanya Moiseiwitsch
Art Direction
Roy Stonehouse
Cast
Laurence OlivierLear
Anna Calder-MashallCordelia
Leo McKernEarl of Gloucester
John HurtFool
David ThrelfallEdgar, later disguised as Tom o’Bedlam
Benny YoungServant of Cornwall
Brian CoxDuke of Burgundy
Colin BlakelyEarl of Kent
Diana RiggRegan
Dorothy TutinGoneril
Edward PetherbridgeKing of France
Esmond KnightOld Man
Geoffrey BatemanOswald
Jeremy KempDuke of Cornwall
Robert LangDuke of Albany
Robert LindsayEdmund

Additional Details

Production type
Television and Radio Drama
Historical period
Ancient Britain
Plays
King Lear
Subjects
Drama
Keywords
Shakespeare, William (1564-1616)

Notes

Notes
Source: Channel 4 Press Information, 2nd April - 8th April 1983
General
This was Olivier’s first-ever Shakespeare production exclusively for TV.
According to Channel 4 Press Information, the largest shower curtain in the world - 230 feet long - protected the studio electrical equipment when 900 gallons of cold water were poured down on Gielgud’s head.
History
First broadcast in the US 21 January 1984 in the Mobil Showcase Network (syndicated).
Awards
Emmy Award 1984 - Outstanding Lead Actor in a Limited Series or a Special.
Reviews
Holland, Peter ‘Two-Dimensional Shakespeare: King Lear on Film’ in Davies, Anthony & Stanley Wells (eds) Shakespeare and the Moving Image: the Plays on Film and Television’ (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1994), pp, 50-68. [Analyses interpretations by Peter Brook, Michael Elliott, Jean-Luc Godard and Kozinstev].

Production Company

Name

Granada Television

Web
http://www.granadamedia.com External site opens in new window
Phone
020 7734 8080
Fax
020 7494 6280
Address
Non-Theatric Sales
36 Golden Square
London
W1R 4AH

Archive

Name

Folger Shakespeare Library

Email
reference@folger.edu
Web
http://www.folger.edu External site opens in new window
Phone
(202) 544 4600
Fax
(202) 544 4623
Address
201 East Capitol Street, SE
Washington
DC 20003
USA
Name

Shakespeare Centre Library and Archive

Email
scla@shakespeare.org.uk
Web
https://www.shakespeare.org.uk/ External site opens in new window
Phone
01789 204016 (bookings)
Fax
01789 262073
Address
Henley Street
Stratford-upon-Avon
CV37 6QW
Name

Shakespeare Institute Library

Email
silib@bham.ac.uk
Web
http://www.is.bham.ac.uk/shakespeare External site opens in new window
Phone
01789 293384
Fax
01879 292021
Address
Church Street
Stratford-upon-Avon
CV37 6HP

Distributor

Name

Network

Email
shop@networkonair.com
Web
http://networkonair.com/ External site opens in new window
Phone
01992 657707
Address
19-20 Blythe Road
Berghem Mews
Hammersmith
London
W14 0HN
Notes
Founded in 1997, Network specialises in distributing niche television programmes, predominantly licensed from Granada Ventures and Fremantle. They have recently branched into feature film distribution. Sale via retail outlets or direct via Network’s website, which has some’web exclusive’ offers.

Distributor (Hire)

Name

BFI Film Bookings Unit

Email
bookings.films@bfi.org.uk
Web
http://www.bfi.org.uk/about-bfi/help-faq/film-bookings External site opens in new window
Phone
020 7957 8938 / 8935
Address
21 Stephen Street
London
W1T 1LN

Distributor (Sale)

Name

Trumedia Ltd

Contact
Bill Cotton
Email
sales@trumedia.co.uk
Web
https://trumedia.co.uk/ External site opens in new window
Phone
01865 847837
Fax
01865 847837
Address
9 Meadow View
Kidlington
Kidlington
OX5 2XY
Notes
Trumedia supplies video tapes and DVDs to UK schools, colleges and universities and is geared up to take official orders from educational institutions. The catalogue highlights programmes likely to be of use in the curriculum, but the company can supply any video in current UK distribution, as well as some deleted titles. Particularly strong in the areas of English literature and drama, as well as history, natural history, art & artists, and foreign language films.

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