Hamlet for the cross-platform age

Wednesday 16 December 2009, 10:41

George Entwistle George Entwistle Director General of the BBC

Tagged with:

"Whatever happened to Fortinbras?" was just one of the questions preoccupying a packed Q&A session at the BFI on London's South Bank on Monday night. It came after the first public screening of Hamlet the movie - the RSC's magnificent performance, starring David Tennant and Patrick Stewart, adapted for the BBC by John Wyver's production company Illuminations. What we hope will be a wider audience still can see it this Christmas on BBC Two on Boxing Day at five past five in the afternoon.

On stage to answer questions from Front Row presenter Mark Lawson were Patrick Stewart - whose exceptional rendition of Claudius is one of the glories of the film - and the director Greg Doran, who revealed he'd dropped the Act V, Scene II appearance of Fortinbras mostly because he doesn't like it. Other insights included how an arras turned into a shattered mirror (much to the discomfiture of the director of photography), and how there's less difference between acting to camera and acting to a live audience than tradition insists.

This film version of Hamlet is three hours long, so scheduling it in the early evening of Boxing Day, during television's famously competitive Christmas season, represents a genuine act of determination by Janice Hadlow, the Controller of BBC Two. But if you choose to gamble on Hamlet, it's reassuring to know that the lead role is taken by none other than David Tennant, who'll be appearing elsewhere on BBC TV this Christmas in a more familiar guise.

Tennant's performance is a revelation. Familiar soliloquies are made to sound as if extemporised. His physical presence and kinetic energy lock you to the screen. Around him, Oliver Ford Davies' Polonius brings comedy and pathos to the "wretched, rash, intruding fool", while a consistently excellent company brings the plotting and paranoia of Elsinore irresistibly to life. The digested read: this film really is worth watching.

The reason we co-commissioned Hamlet, and the reason the project is so near to our hearts, is that we believe this version, with this cast, has the potential to engage audiences who wouldn't normally turn up for Shakespeare. For those who watch and find their appetite stimulated, BBC Learning - again in partnership with the RSC - has produced a wonderful website. We hope it will offer irresistible online journeys for anyone inspired by this superb TV version of the play, and provide an accessible, lasting record of the creativity and inspiration that went into the performance.

bbc.co.uk/hamlet launches this week and will feature behind-the-scenes stills and footage; specially-shot interviews with the actors talking about their characters and how they approached the play; key excerpts from a range of historical performances; and a comprehensive range of links through to BBC Learning and the OU's content on Shakespeare, and RSC Education's content on Shakespeare in performance.

Back at the BFI last night, one audience member disclosed she was a student, currently studying versions of Hamlet on film. She asked whether director Greg Doran had studied any of them himself, prior to shooting. "Not really," came the reply. Then a question straight back from Greg: "Which is best?"

"Oh..." she said, "this one."

Tagged with:

Comments

Jump to comments pagination
 
  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 1.

    what a wonderful blog, I was privelaged to be at the screening on monday too and really enjoyed the scren versio of Hamlet, having seen it more than once on stage I was interested to see how the transition to screen would turn out. Although, stage will always be better due to its immediacy, the screen version does well to capture it as best as it can. I will happily sit down at christmas with my friends confident that they will see wha I have been going on about for the last year. I hope it will do for Hamlet what Baz Luhrmann did for Romeo and Juliet in bringing Shakespear to a new generation.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 2.

    George:

    Thanks for the excellent blog about Hamlet!



    ~Dennis Junior~

 
 

This entry is now closed for comments

Share this page

More Posts

Previous
The BBC Academy and College of Journalism

Tuesday 15 December 2009, 14:36

Next
The Blue Peter team brings Christmas to Cumbria

Friday 18 December 2009, 10:58

About this Blog

This blog explains what the BBC does and how it works. We link to some other blogs and online spaces inside and outside the corporation. The blog is edited by Jon Jacob.

Follow About the BBC on Twitter

Blog Updates

Stay updated with the latest posts from the blog.

Subscribe using:

What are feeds?

External links about the BBC

BBC Three online proposals set out as relaunch scheduled for autumn 2015 (Digital Spy)
"This is not moving a TV channel and putting it online. This is new. We are the first broadcaster in the world to propose something like this."

BBC Three to cut Don't Tell the Bride and other reality TV shows when channel moves online (Independent)

BBC theme park featuring Doctor Who and Top Gear set to open in 2020 (Telegraph)

JK Rowling's Cormoran Strike crime novel The Cuckoo's Calling will be turned into BBC series (Daily Mail)
"With the rich character of Cormoran Strike at their heart, these dramas will be event television across the world."

Yentob leads the BBC fightback: we're being smeared for exposing Fake Sheikh (Independent)

BBC Makes Unprecedented Counter-Attack To Sun Editorial Accusing It Of Left-Wing Bias (Huffington Post)

Serial podcast set to air on Radio 4 Extra (Radio Times)
"We know we already have tons of Serial listeners in the UK but we love that the BBC will help us reach many, many more than we ever could with podcast alone"

BBC iPlayer launches on Xbox One (Broadband TV News)

BBC ‘a great British company, not a government department’: Danny Cohen (Guardian)
"I ask you to stand by the BBC in the year ahead. Support it, make the case for it, speak up for it, celebrate its achievements and help us make sure we can keep offering such an extraordinary range of programmes for all audiences."

See Doctor Who, Miranda, more in BBC Christmas trailer (Digital Spy)

The BBC is right to point out failure on debt. Osborne is wrong to complain about it (The Spectator)

Chris Morris returns to airwaves with new sketch on BBC 6 Music on Sunday (Guardian)
"Blue Jam and On the Hour satirist’s first radio sketch in 15 years will be broadcast on Mary Anne Hobbs’ morning show"

BBC releases game maker kit for kids (Ariel)

BBC Music Sound of 2015 longlist revealed (Guardian)
"Solo artists such as James Bay, George The Poet and Raury make up most of this year’s list of musicians tipped for big things in 2015"

Why Gillian Anderson is the new Helen Mirren (Telegraph)

War and Peace to take over Radio 4: Ten-hour production of Tolstoy's novel to be broadcast on station on New Year's Day (Daily Mail)

Sherlock returns: BBC confirms special with picture of Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman back filming (Mirror)

The Reith Lectures explain why doctors fail (Telegraph)
"Dr Atul Gawande delivered an excellent first lecture on the fallibility of medicine, says Gillian Reynolds"

Nine-year-old Katie Morag star on winning BAFTA award and juggling TV series with school lessons (Scottish Daily Record)

Strictly Come Dancing 2014: Same-sex couple dance received positively (Metro)

Doctor Who, Andrew Scott and Sir Ian McKellen up for BBC Audio Drama Awards 2015 (Radio Times)
"Maxine Peake, Marcus Brigstocke and Toby Jones also scoop nominations for their work in audio drama"

Last updated Thursday 11 December 2014

Blogs from across the BBC

Selected by the About the BBC Blog team.

Making radio [BBC Outreach & Corporate Responsibilty]
Award-winning research [Media Action]
BBC Online Briefing Winter 2014: keynote [Internet]
Booking agents: how they can develop your act [BBC Introducing]
Introducing Emma Smith one of our new 2015 Fellows [BBC Performing Art Fund]


MatOf ThDay At 50: onic theme even has a banjo [TV]