British Universities Film & Video Council

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Much Ado About Nothing

Synopsis
Televised adaptation based on a National Theatre stage production by Franco Zeffirelli, starring real-life married couple Maggie Smith and Robert Stephens as Beatrice and Benedick.
Language
English
Country
Great Britain
Medium
Television
Recording date
11 Jan 1967
Transmission details
5 Feb 1967 at 20:25 (Channel: BBC1)
Duration
125 mins

Credits

Director
Alan Cooke
Producer
Cedric Messina; Robert Stephens
Writer
William Shakespeare
Music
Nino Rota
Art Direction
Mel Cornish
Contributor
Franco Zeffirelli; Robert Graves
Cast
Maggie SmithBeatrice
Robert StephensBenedick
Michael ByrneClaudio
Derek JacobiDon Pedro
Frank FinlayDogberry
Caroline JohnHero
Carolyn JohnsMargaret
David HargreavesBorachio
David RyallSexton
Denis De MarneA Lord
Edward PetherbridgeConrade
Gerald JamesLeonato
Graham CrowdenVerges
Harry LomaxAntonio
John McEneryGentleman
Neil FitzpatrickBalthasar
Paul CurranFriar Francis
Ronald PickupDon John
Wynnne ClarkUrsula

Additional Details

Theatre
Old Vic Theatre
Theatre company
National Theatre Company
Production type
Television and Radio Drama
Historical period
19th Century
Plays
Much Ado About Nothing
Subjects
Drama
Keywords
Shakespeare, William (1564-1616)

Notes

Notes
The cast of 43 actors spent more than 3 weeks in rehearsal for the televised version, which was pre-recorded in the studio on January 11, 1967. Alan Cooke, who adapted the play for television, observes: "Paradoxically, one needed to change a great deal to make it come out the same [...]. The original was a very two-dimensional production; I tried on television to create the feeling of being among a performance going on" (qtd. in Bernard Adams, "Much Ado", Radio Times, 2 February 1967, p.11).

The Library of Congress copy is from a transmission on PBS.
General
Future stars Michael Gambon and Christopher Timothy appear in minor roles.

The BFI’s Screenonline includes 12 minutes of clips available only to UK schools, higher education institutions and public libraries, though 8 production stills can be seen by all. Available at: http://www.screenonline.org.uk/tv/id/565168/index.html
History
The National Theatre production of the play opened at the Old Vic , London, on February 16, 1965. The televised broadcast was transmitted in two parts with a ten-minute interval. The play was broadcast on PBS in the NET Playhouse series. To fit in with the show’s 90 minute slot it was shown in two parts - Part 1 (72min) March 11 1971, and Part 2 (59 min) March 18th.
Stills
A still of the production with Maggie Smith as Beatrice is reproduced in Radio Times, 2 February 1967, p.11.
Reviews
Zeffirelli’s conception of the play was irreverent enough to cause one of the major theatrical furores of 1965. The Times drama critic reported: "A nattily uniformed town band parades the streets blaring forth crudely harmonised marches: the troops swagger back from the war in dress swords and plumed pill-box hats and are mobbed by a welcoming crowd of frock-coated civilians. And as for civic statuary, Zeffirelli has provided it in the shape of self-assembling monuments - ethereal girls who drift on and freeze into Ondines at the base of a fountain, and an unearthly warrior who clambers on to a pedestal and takes up martial stance as a local hero covered in bird droppings." (" It All Ends on a Note of Magic", 17 February 1965). According to Variety Zeffirelli was unhappy with the programme and requested that his name be removed from it.

Production Company

Name

BBC

Notes
The British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC)

Archive

Name

Library of Congress, Motion Picture, Broadcasting and Recorded Sound Division

Web
http://loc.gov/rr/record External site opens in new window
Phone
(202) 707-7833
Address
Recorded Sound Reference Centre
101 Independence Avenue, S.E.
Room LM-113
Washington, DC 20540

Record Stats

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