Entertainment & Arts

iPlayer marks Shakespeare anniversary with partner content

David Tennant (centre) in Richard II Image copyright Kwame Lestrade
Image caption The RSC's production of Richard II starring David Tennant originally opened in 2013

The 400th anniversary of Shakespeare's death will be marked on the BBC iPlayer by a digital pop-up channel showcasing content from outside the corporation.

Shakespeare's Globe and the Royal Opera House are among the contributors to the Shakespeare Lives portal.

The channel will also host live content on Saturday, marking the actual date of William Shakespeare's 1616 demise.

Tony Hall, the BBC's director general, said the initiative was "another step towards an open BBC".

"Co-curated" by the BBC and the British Council, the Shakespeare Lives site will host content from the Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC), the British Film Institute (BFI) and other arts organisations.

Offerings include the RSC's production of Richard II starring David Tennant, available to view online from 22:30 BST on Saturday, and Sir Ian McKellen discussing the challenges of interpreting Shakespeare for theatre, TV and cinema.

The Shakespeare Day Live programme kicks off on Friday with a live broadcast of a commemorative concert in the Stratford-upon-Avon church where the Bard was baptised and buried.

The line-up continues on Saturday with live broadcasts from Stratford-upon-Avon and in Birmingham, as well as from Shakespeare's Globe and the Royal Opera House in London.

Other programmes, available on demand, include Simon Russell Beale and Adrian Lester talking about "Being Hamlet", and a short film about young Londoners, featuring Ralph Fiennes, that only uses Shakespeare's words.

"This weekend we're experimenting live with digital formats like never before," said Lord Hall. "For the first time, the BBC will be showcasing the great talent we have in our leading cultural institutions on BBC iPlayer."

The initiative follows a speech Lord Hall gave last year, in which he pledged the BBC would act like "a curator, bringing the best from Britain's great cultural institutions and thinkers to everyone."

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