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Stars shine to celebrate Shakespeare

Wherever you are in the world, you’ll be able to join a star-studded cast as they celebrate the life and works of William Shakespeare on the 400th anniversary of his death.

Leading arts organisations across the UK will make available performances, analysis, talks and fun, all streamed on Shakespeare Day Live, a digital pop-up channel co-curated by the BBC and the British Council which kicks off Shakespeare Lives, a six month online festival available to audiences in the UK and across the globe.

Richard II from the RSC starring David Tennant

As the culmination of Shakespeare Day Live, from 10.30pm (BST) on 23rd April 2016 the Royal Shakespeare Company production of Richard II starring David Tennant will be released internationally to watch online in a Shakespeare Lives exclusive.

Shakespeare Day Live features special contributions from the Royal Opera House, Shakespeare’s Globe, BFI, the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust, Hay Festival and the Royal Shakespeare Company, all broadcast online via this website,

Friday April 22nd 2016

Shakespeare Odes: Live Broadcast

19.30 - 21.30 British Summer Time

Shakespeare's grave at Holy Trinity Church, Stratford-upon-Avon (c) BBC

Holy Trinity Church, Stratford-upon-Avon

A world-premiere commemorative concert in the church where Shakespeare was baptised and buried.

Choral group Ex Cathedra and City Musick perform Thomas Arne’s 18th century musical setting of An Ode to Shakespeare by David Garrick – the 18th century actor and theatre manager responsible for our modern-day appreciation of The Bard; and A Shakespeare Masque, specially written for the event by the Poet Laureate Dame Carol Ann Duffy, and composed by Sally Beamish, and narrated by actor Sam West.

Presented by Sara Mohr-Pietsch and broadcast in conjunction with BBC Radio 3.

Saturday April 23rd 2016

Breakfast with the Bard: Live Broadcast

08.00 - 09.00 BST

Shakespeare Birthplace Trust

New Place, Stratford-upon-Avon

Shakespeare Day Live has exclusive access to New Place, the site of Shakespeare’s home and the place where he died.

The area is being reimagined as a commemorative garden with exhibitions in neighbouring Nash House, formerly owned by Shakespeare’s granddaughter and her husband.

Presenter Suzy Klein and guests discuss Shakespeare the man, the archaeology of his home; the newly commissioned artworks and a look ahead to the day’s events in Stratford.

BBC Birmingham: Live Broadcasts

Mailbox, Birmingham

Shakespeare Digital Touch Table

Throughout the day, presenter Andy Akinwolere broadcasts live from the home of BBC Birmingham with guests, facts, films and fun about Shakespeare. Andy challenges our preconceptions of Shakespeare and brings him up to date with interactive films, a look at the touch-screen table developed in conjunction with the University of Birmingham; all hosted from the Blue Room; the BBC’s home of innovation.

The Complete Walk: Live Broadcast

11.00 - 11.30 BST

Shakespeare’s Globe, Bankside, London

Presenter Katie Derham celebrates the opening of The Complete Walk, all 37 Shakespeare plays each represented by new films created by Shakespeare’s Globe and shown on 37 big screens stretching from Westminster Bridge to Tower Bridge on this special day.

Hamlet Returns: Live Broadcast

12.30-13.00 BST

Shakespeare’s Globe, Bankside, London

After a two-year world tour to almost every country, Shakespeare’s Globe’s production of Hamlet returns home. Katie Derham joins the cast and crew on their triumphant return to the Globe stage as they are welcomed back by Artistic Director Dominic Dromgoole.

The Late Plays: Live Broadcast

17.30-18.30 BST

Shakespeare’s Globe, Bankside, London

With exclusive performances from inside the candle-lit Sam Wanamaker Playhouse, Katie Derham explores the world of Shakespeare’s Late Plays which Dominic Dromgoole has been staging to mark the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death.

See the full Shakespeare Day Live Line Up

Find out what's on and when. Catch up afterwards and see more clips and photos from the Shakespeare celebrations.

See the full Line Up

Get involved

Follow, join in and share your own Shakespeare celebrations using #ShakespeareLives on social media.


#ShakespeareMe - Your emotions, Shakespeare's words. Pick up to three emojis to find your perfect quote. Share. "Live a little, comfort a little, cheer thyself a little"

Be part of the crowd on London's Bankside and take part in The Globe's Complete Walk or join the festivities in Stratford-upon-Avon, home of the Royal Shakespeare Company.

For more information on booking tickets for the BBC Radio 3 concerts visit the Royal Shakespeare Company and BBC Shows and Tours websites.

Shakespeare Day Live: Presenters

Suzy Klein, Ore Oduba, Matthew Sweet, Sara Mohr Pietsch, Andy Akinwolere, Jamie McDougall and Katie Derham will present the online celebration of Shakespeare, co-curated by the BBC and British Council and produced by the Shakespeare digital team based in Birmingham, to mark the 400th anniversary of William Shakespeare’s death.

Rachael Stirling as Hermione in 'The Winter's Tale' at the Globe's Sam Wanamaker Playhouse (Image credit: Marc Brenner)
Shakespeare's Globe

Silent Shakespeare with BFI: Live Broadcast

11.30-12.00 BST

Silent Shakespeare (Image (c) BFI)

Mailbox, BBC Birmingham

Presenter Andy Akinwolere takes a look at the first ever Shakespeare plays on film, starting with King John in 1899. He explores Shakespeare adaptations made during the silent era and looks at how early film pioneers squeezed a whole play into approximately ten minutes without words; how hand-coloured treatments were used through painstakingly touching up frame-by-frame; and some of the earliest special effects ever seen on the big screen.

Ballet, Opera and the Bard from the Royal Opera House: Live Broadcast

13.00 - 14.00 BST

Covent Garden, London

Great music and performance from the world of ballet and opera, presented by Ore Oduba.

We join Royal Ballet stars Lauren Cuthbertson and Edward Watson as they rehearse The Winter’s Tale.

Also featured; the potion scene from Kenneth MacMillan’s classic Romeo and Juliet and music from Verdi’s two great Shakespearean operas Otello and Falstaff.

New Shakespeare Songbook: Live Broadcast

14.00 - 15.00 BST

Oxmo Puccino (Image (c) Oleo Films)

Mailbox, Birmingham

Shakespeare was a great songwriter – with songs appearing in many of his greatest plays.

To mark the 400th anniversary of his death, the BBC and the European Broadcasting Union have commissioned a New Shakespeare Songbook inviting composers and musicians throughout Europe to write new songs based on the Bard’s texts.

Presenter Andy Akinwolere takes us on a musical journey through Europe as contemporary songwriters respond to the poetry of Shakespeare’s sonnets and plays.

Sound of Cinema: Live Broadcast

15.00 - 16.00 BST

King Edward VI School, Stratford upon Avon

The BBC Concert Orchestra celebrates the music of Shakespeare on film.

Classic scores from Olivier’s Henry V, Greenaway’s Prospero’s Books to Branagh’s Much Ado About Nothing are given the full symphonic treatment under the baton of Shakespeare enthusiast and BBC CO Principal Conductor Keith Lockhart.

Presented by Matthew Sweet.

Dream On: Live Broadcast

19.00 - 20.00 BST

Students from The Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, Glasgow University and Glasgow School of Art collaborate with the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra on a programme of delights featuring music, dance, composition and British Sign Language.

The performance features four intertwining pieces inspired by Midsummer Night’s Dream, including a special recording by David Tennant.

The programme is curated by Graham McLaren, currently associate director for the National Theatre of Scotland, and presented by Jamie MacDougall.

Festival Highlights: available on demand

Richard II


David Tennant stars as the doomed Richard II in Greg Doran’s critically-acclaimed Royal Shakespeare Company production, available for the first time online across the world.

Talking About Shakespeare

Hay Festival

Through a mixture of new short films and the festival’s extensive archive top authors, actors, academics and thinkers including Stephen Fry, Germaine Greer and Dame Judi Dench explore Shakespeare, his works and his legacy.

Shakespeare on Stage, Screen and Elsewhere, with Ian McKellen


Sir Ian McKellen shares his unique insights into the problems and joys of interpreting Shakespeare for the theatre, television, radio and cinema.

Being Hamlet


Two of the greatest contemporary Hamlets, Simon Russell Beale and Adrian Lester discuss this most celebrated and challenging of roles. Their discussion of the Prince of Denmark fittingly takes place on Danish soil in the elegant surroundings of the ambassador’s residence in London. From Gielgud to Branagh, Olivier to Plummer, they explore the rich variety of approaches to a role to which so many actors aspire.

The Works

Set on a Peckham council estate, this short film, written and directed by Elliot Barnes Worrell celebrates Shakespeare’s timeless themes with a cast headed by Ralph Fiennes. Using only the words of Shakespeare, The Works explores the vast complexities that exist within a community of young Londoners who refuse to be defined by their circumstances.

Edward Watson as Laertes in 'The Winter's Tale'
Bute Hall (Image (c) University of Glasgow)

Shakespeare Lives

Find out more about this unique and pioneering online festival hosted and distributed by the BBC, co-produced with the British Council and in partnershp with the RSC, Shakespeare's Globe, the BFI, the Royal Opera House and Hay Festivals.

About Shakespeare Lives

Shakespeare on Tour

Discover stories of Shakespeare performances across England from the 16th Century to the present day.

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Related Links

Shakespeare on Tour: Around the country