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24 September 2014
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Shakespeare on the BBC
Much Ado About Nothing


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.


David Nicholls is the writer who has adapted Shakespeare's works - with a modern twist - for BBC ONE.


Interview with David Nicholls


"I've always loved Much Ado About Nothing. It's got everything: a tremendous comedy with a powerful dark undertone, scenes of high farce, combined with wonderful, bitter-sweet moments, and an ending that's both funny and tremendously moving.


"In many ways, it's the archetypal romantic-comedy, the original and best.


"So many of the elements are familiar - the teasing banter, the overheard remarks, the comic misunderstanding, the wedding that goes disastrously wrong.


"Even though it's really not the main plot, it's the Beatrice/Benedick scenes that everyone knows and loves, and that central comic relationship - the witty, wise, independent couple whose apparent mutual dislike melts into love - is a story motor that powers so many tremendous books, plays and films.


"It's the beginning of a tradition that continues through Pride and Prejudice and Private Lives, right up to contemporary romantic comedy.


"So as well as Shakespeare, we've taken our inspiration from the golden age of American screwball, those battle-of-the-sexes comedies that managed to combine sharp, cynical wit with moments of swooning romance - wry, wise Hepburn/Grant movies like The Philadelphia Story and Bringing Up Baby, as well as more contemporary films like When Harry Met Sally and Four Weddings and a Funeral.


"Yet alongside that bright, sexy, playful material, there's a tremendously dark story of jealousy, revenge and deceit.


"I love the way Shakespeare's two plots intertwine and eventually collide in the wonderful scenes at Hero and Claude's wedding.


"The latter half of Shakespeare's story is big, passionate, violent, at times bordering on the operatic - Hero does, after all, appear to 'die of shame'.


"Creating a contemporary version of these extreme events has been the most challenging element of the task, but I'm pleased at the way our apparently bright, sunny comedy shades into something so emotional and stormy.


"I hope we've come up with something that compliments the original text, that captures some of its wit and warmth as well as its darker hues, and that inspires and encourages people to return to Shakespeare's original.


"The whole process of rewriting Shakespeare is hugely daunting; he is, after all, The Greatest Writer of All Time.


"But once I'd got over that initial fear, found a setting and style that worked for the story, and started to have fun with the piece, this really was a complete pleasure to work on.


"It's impossible to imagine more exciting, inspiring raw material than Shakespeare, and I don' t think I've ever enjoyed writing a script more. I just hope some of that enjoyment comes across on the screen."



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