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13 July 2014
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Shakespeare on the BBC
Shakespeare's Happy Endings

ShakespeaRe-Told

This autumn across the BBC


 

This autumn, the BBC brings Shakespeare and his stories to audiences with a variety of new programmes and initiatives across its services – television, radio, online and interactive.

 

Shakespeare on BBC FOUR

 

Shakespeare's Happy Endings

 

BBC FOUR embraces the many misinterpretations of Shakespeare's plays in a comic genealogy, presented and performed by Patrick Barlow.

 

Meet Professor Simon Starkman - a desperate man with a huge ego, he fancies himself as the new face of TV academia.

 

Thanks to the forthcoming BBC season of Shakespeare, Starkman has been given a chance to present the show Shakespeare's Happy Endings, letting the audience in on this surprising and little-known literary history, whilst seizing at his one opportunity for documentary superstardom…

 

Patrick Barlow is Professor Simon Starkman: Shakespearean academic, amateur thesp, and novice documentary presenter, Starkman is our guide through the myriad and mad re-workings of the Bard's greatest stage hits.

 

Included in the dramatic reconstructions will be: the revised Romeo and Juliet with a happy ending; the Bowdler's version of Othello that struggled to make sense of the play without the sex and violence; a radical musical version of Macbeth and a host of other delights.

 

Shakespeare's Happy Endings uses every device at the disposal of the Arts Documentary genre. This has a less-than-positive effect on Starkman's companion, William Shakespeare, played by Kevin Eldon.

 

David Garrick, Nathum Tales and James Burbage also make appearances, all played by Henry Goodman.

 

Witty, entertaining and surprisingly informing, Shakespeare's Happy Endings is a comedy mockumentary in the vein of BBC FOUR's recent successful satires In the Thick of It and Curb Your Enthusiasm, written by Simon Lys, with an original score by Howard Goodall (Blackadder, TV writer-presenter).

 

Produced by Ben Evans and directed by Stephen Leslie; broadcasts on BBC FOUR in November.

 

A Waste Of Shame

 

Inspired by Shakespeare's sonnets, William Boyd's A Waste of Shame offers an insight into the man himself - a story told in his very own words.

 

Rupert Graves stars as love-torn Shakespeare, Indira Varma as Lucie 'the dark lady' and Tom Sturridge as William Herbert 'the fair youth' in this intense drama about the passionate and destructive love triangle that consumed Shakespeare in his troubled middle years.

 

Adapting some of the most celebrated, sexual, raw, bitter and vitriolic love poems ever written, the drama explores the inspiration behind the sonnets.

 

Internationally-acclaimed novelist and screenwriter William Boyd brings to life Shakespeare's inner thoughts, the biographical drama focusing on Shakespeare's mysterious relationships with the 'lovely boy' and his extramarital relationship with the prostitute Lucie - 'the dark lady' of his Sonnet sequence.

 

Based on academic sources, this BBC/Open University co-production for BBC FOUR delves into the mystery of who these people really were and how they influenced and affected the greatest writer in our literary canon.

 

Shakespeare is presented as a corpulent, middle-aged writer and businessman, separated from his wife and grieving for the death of his son.

 

Desperate for work, Shakespeare takes a commission from Lady Pembroke, played by Zoë Wanamaker, to write 17 sonnets for an androgynous young lord, William Herbert, the soon-to-be Earl of Pembroke.

 

Herbert and 'the dark lady' provide the inspiration for the most celebrated love poems ever written.

 

Produced by Chrissy Skinns and directed by John McKay. Broadcasts on BBC FOUR in November.

 

BBC FOUR will also be showing three performances of original plays: a repeat of Peter Brook's stage version of Hamlet; Mark Rylance's Globe Theatre production of Richard II, which was first shown live on BBC FOUR; and Trevor Nunn's 1996 film of Twelfth Night.


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