Shakespeare season on BBC Radio

Date: 05.04.2012     Last updated: 18.03.2014 at 18.09
BBC Radio 3, BBC Radio 4 and BBC Radio 4 Extra present a special season of programmes as part of a pan-BBC celebration of the work of arguably the greatest writer in the English language, world-renowned poet and playwright, William Shakespeare.

Just some of the season highlights include:

  • BBC Audio Drama Awards 2012 winners David Tennant and Rosie Cavaliero in Twelfth Night and Romeo And Juliet (Radio 3)
  • A new 20-part series presented by British Museum Director Neil MacGregor – Shakespeare’s Restless World (Radio 4)
  • Gareth Malone, Jools Holland, Stephen Fry, Zoe Wanamaker, Rowan Williams and many more in My Shakespeare, a series of shorts where a public figure shares their thoughts about their favourite Shakespeare moment (Radio 3 and Radio 4)

Starting on Monday 16 April (1.45pm, Radio 4) British Museum Director Neil MacGregor explores what the world was like in Shakespeare’s day using objects from the time in Shakespeare’s Restless World – with Shakespeare extracts performed by a cast of actors including: Chiwetel Ejiofor, Rory Kinnear and Hattie Morahan. Shakespeare’s Restless World is made in partnership with the British Museum and is part of the World Shakespeare Festival.

In William Shakespeare’s Playlist (Sat 21 April, 10.30am, Radio 4) David Owen Norris and guests listen to Shakespeare’s favourite songs in The Swan Theatre in Stratford-upon-Avon, with Stanley Wells, Greg Doran and Lucie Skeaping.

In a special edition of The Reunion (Sun 22 April, 11.15pm, Radio 4) Sue MacGregor is joined by five people who helped create Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre on London’s South Bank: Patrick Spottiswoode, the first Director of Education; Diana Devlin, who saw the project through some of its most difficult years; architect Jon Greenfield; Claire van Kampen, the first Director of Music; and Zoe Wanamaker, Sam's actor daughter who is now Honorary President of Shakespeare's Globe.

David Tennant and Rosie Cavaliero star in Shakespeare And Love: Twelfth Night and Romeo And Juliet as Radio 3 brings together two of Shakespeare’s best loved plays performed by a single company of actors cast across both productions (Sun 22 and Sun 29 April, 8.30pm, Radio 3).

Simon Russell Beale joins Suzy Klein to read one of his favourite love sonnets each day for In Tune: Shakespeare And Love (Mon 23 to Fri 27 April, 4.30pm, Radio 3).

Five writers explore the Bard’s portrayal of love in Radio 3’s The Essay: Shakespeare And Love – with Margaret Drabble, Professor Stanley Wells, Samuel West, Professor Helen Hackett and Yasmin Alibhai-Brown (Mon 23 to Fri 27 April, 10.45pm, Radio 3).

And in The Essay: Shakespeare Around The Globe (Mon 14 to Fri 18 May, 10.45pm, Radio 3), five writers from Sierra Leone, Brazil, India, Iran and China attempt to explain why a playwright from 16th century Stratford still resonates so powerfully in their own countries – with Eldred Jones, Aimara Resende, Poonam Trivedi, Narguess Farzad and Yong Li Lan.

Drama on 3 presents a new radio production of The Tempest starring David Warner as Prospero, Carl Prekopp as Ariel, Rose Leslie as Miranda and Don Warrington as Gonzalo (Sun 6 May, 8.30pm, Radio 3).

And in a special edition of Night Waves: The Tempest, Philip Dodd leads a discussion on the enduring attraction of The Tempest for directors, scholars and performers of this extraordinary play that bears continued interpretation – with Professor Helen Hackett and Jonathan Miller, amongst others (Thu 3 May, 10pm, Radio 3).

My Shakespeare presents a series of bite-sized programmes combining a personal perspective on Shakespeare by a public figure and short readings from his work.

The shorts will be broadcast across both Radio 3 and Radio 4 from Saturday 12 to Friday 25 May and the ensemble of contributors include: Gareth Malone, Kwame Kwei Armah, Bettany Hughes, Margaret Drabble, Jools Holland, David Hare, Rowan Williams, Stephen Fry and Zoe Wanamaker – with selections performed by a cast of actors including: Chiwetel Ejiofor, Rory Kinnear and Hattie Morahan.

Their choices reflect broad and evocative themes, intimate anecdotes of past experiences, and provide a fascinating insight into the contributors themselves and into the lasting relevance of Shakespeare’s writing.

And there’ll be another chance to hear Radio 3’s 2011 production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream (recorded in Sussex woodland) as Lesley Sharp, Toby Stephens, Freddie Fox and Roger Allam head an all-star cast (Sun 13 May, 8.30pm, Radio 3).

Radio 4 Extra’s celebration of the Bard begins with The Reduced Shakespeare Company – Hamlet from May 1994 (Wed 18 April, 11pm). The play's the thing, as the boys try and tackle the famous Dane.

In Shakespeare: Thereby Hangs A Tale – A Celebration of the Swan of Avon (Sat 21st April, 9.00am, repeated 7.00pm), Simon Russell Beale presents a selection of shows about and inspired by The Bard: Great Lives, Shakespeare Stories, Lenny and Will, Mrs Shakespeare, Macbeth and Desmond Olivier Dingle.

In a Radio 4 Extra Debut, The Jacobean Box (Tue 24 April, 10.00am, repeats 3.00pm and 3.00am), Shakespearian academic, Brian Blake learns a large item awaits collection at a remote northern station, starring Stephen Moore.

In The Reduced Shakespeare Company – The Comedies from May 1994 (Wed 25 April, 11.00pm) – from 'Merry Wives' to a 'Merchant' – are the mixed-up Bard's comedies actually funny? And Another Shakespeare (Thu 26 April, 11.15am, repeats 9.15pm and 4.15am) is a drama inspired by the true life story of an 18th century forger of the Bard, starring Julian Rhind-Tutt and James Grout.

The BBC Shakespeare Season ‘Shakespeare Unlocked’ in partnership with the Royal Shakespeare Company, the British Museum and the World Shakespeare Festival is a pan-BBC celebration of the life and work of Britain’s best-known playwrights – for full programme information visit bbc.co.uk/shakespeare.

For further information contact:

BBC Radio 3 Publicity, Tel. 020 7765 4934/0088 or email radio3publicity@bbc.co.uk

BBC Radio 4 Publicity, Tel. 020 7765 5337/0088 or email radio4publicity@bbc.co.uk

Notes to Editors

Radio 3 broadcast schedule

  • Drama on 3: Twelfth Night - Sunday 22nd April, 8.30pm
  • Drama on 3: Romeo and Juliet – Sunday 29th April, 8.30pm
  • In Tune: Shakespeare and Love – Monday 23rd-Friday 27th April, 4.30pm
  • The Essay: Shakespeare and Love – Monday 23rd-Friday 27th April, 10.45pm
  • Night Waves: The Tempest – Thursday 3rd May, 10pm
  • Drama on 3: The Tempest – Sunday 6th May, 8.30pm
  • Drama on 3: A Midsummer Night’s Dream (repeat) – Sunday 13th May, 8.30pm
  • The Essay: Shakespeare Around The Globe – Monday 14th-Friday 18th May, 10.45pm
  • My Shakespeare – Monday 14th-Sunday 20th May (throughout the day)

Radio 4 broadcast schedule

  • Shakespeare’s Restless World – weekdays at 1.45pm (repeated at 7.45pm) starting Monday 16th April
  • William Shakespeare’s Playlist – Saturday 21st April, 10.30am
  • The Reunion – Sunday 22nd April, 11.15am
  • My Shakespeare – Saturday 12th-Friday 25th May, Radio 4 (throughout the day)

Radio 4 Extra broadcast schedule

  • The Reduced Shakespeare Company – Hamlet from May 1994 – Wednesday 18th April, 11pm
  • Shakespeare: Thereby Hangs A Tale – A Celebration of the Swan of Avon – Saturday 21st April, 9.00am, repeated 7.00pm
  • The Jacobean Box - Tuesday 24th April, 10.00am, repeats 3.00pm and 3.00am
  • The Reduced Shakespeare Company – The Comedies from May 1994 – Wednesday 25th April, 11.00pm
  • Another Shakespeare - Thursday 26th April, 11.15am, repeats 9.15pm and 4.15am

The BBC Shakespeare Season is part of the BBC’s contribution to the Cultural Olympiad and London 2012 Festival.

As host nation broadcaster for London 2012 the BBC is broadcasting a wide range of Olympic programming in 2012; including the London 2012 Festival, the Olympic Torch Relay and the London 2012 Olympic Games.

The BBC will have extensive coverage of the Games from 27 July to 12 August on television, radio, online and mobile, including live action of every sport from every venue where it’s happening throughout every day on bbc.co.uk/sport.

For all BBC Olympic-related programming, news, general information visit: www.bbc.co.uk/mediacentre/mediapacks/bbc2012/

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