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28 October 2014

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What happens in Shakespeare's Much Ado About Nothing?

Robert Lindsay as Benedick and Cherie Lunghi as Beatrice in the 1984 BBC TV Much Ado About Nothing

This programme was broadcast on 7 November 2005. Written by David Nicholls.

When Don Pedro, Prince of Aragon, visits Messina in Sicily after a victorious battle, local govenor Leonato is happy to put him and his soldiers up. One of these soldiers, Benedick, is an old friend, who happily drops back into a long-standing "merry war" of witty banter with Leonato's neice Beatrice. Meanwhile, Benedick's dashing young friend Claudio falls for Leonato's lovely daughter, Hero, and the two are engaged to be married.

In the time before the wedding, Hero, Claudio, Leonato and Don Pedro decide that they should push Benedick and Beatrice together too. The trouble is, they're both dead set against marriage. To convince them to marry, their friends contrive to be overheard by each of them talking about how much the other loves them. They fall for it, and soon Benedick and Beatrice are both convinced the other can't live without them.

Everyone's happiness is threatened, though, by the bitter half-brother of Don Pedro. Jealous of Claudio, he plots to prevent his marriage. With the help of his crony Borachio, he tricks Claudio into believing Hero is being unfaithful to him on the night before the wedding.

At the wedding ceremony the next day, Claudio rejects Hero at the altar as unchaste, causing her to fall into a dead faint. Claudio, Don John and Don Pedro storm off, leaving Leonato, Benedick and Beatrice in the church. They are convinced of Hero's innocence, and with the Friar who was performing the wedding, come up with a plan to teach Claudio a lesson. Leonato is to report to Claudio that Hero has died of shame, and hurries off to do this. In the midst of all the sadness, Beatrice and Benedick confess their love for one another.

Meanwhile, local watchman Dogberry and his crew have caught Borachio and extracted a confession from him, which they deliver to Claudio. When he hears the truth, he is distraught, and carries out an all-night vigil at her tomb.

Convinced of Claudio's regret, Leonato puts the second stage of the plan into effect. At his request, Claudio agrees to marry someone chosen for him by the governor. But when he arrives at the ceremony, his bride turns out to be Hero once more. At the same time, Beatrice and Benedick declare their intention to marry, and the wedding becomes a double one.


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