New adap­ta­tion has a very French con­nec­tion

Macclesfield Express - - TVWEEK -

Wil­liam Shake­speare is like one of those tour buses that take tourists around his home town of Strat­ford-upon-Avon – you wait years for a de­cent adap­ta­tion of one of his works to come along and then, to be or not to be, loads of them ap­pear at once.

That’s be­cause, to put it bluntly, he’s been dead for 400 years. The BBC likes to mark an event by throw­ing lots of pro­grammes at it (see the cur­rent David At­ten­bor­ough sea­son for an ex­am­ple), and so the Bard is the lat­est in a long line of ven­er­a­ble in­sti­tu­tions to be cel­e­brated.

That might sound like a crit­i­cism, but it’s not. Our first taste of Shake­speare tends to come from lessons at school and, if the teacher isn’t par­tic­u­larly in­spir­ing, he can come across as rather dry and in­de­ci­pher­able. If that’s been your ex­pe­ri­ence of him so far, then the lat­est in­stal­ment of The Hol­low Crown may turn you from be­ing ap­a­thetic into a gen­uine fan.

In 2012, as part of a cel­e­bra­tion of Bri­tish cul­ture around the time of the Lon­don Olympics, the BBC broad­cast the first se­ries, which was an award-win­ning adap­ta­tion of sev­eral of Shake­speare’s his­tory plays fea­tur­ing an all-star cast.

Four years on and at last, the se­cond se­ries, sub­ti­tled The Wars Of The Roses, is head­ing out way and which per­for­mances of Henry VI, Parts I, II and III (the last two have been con­densed into one film), and Richard III.

Tom Stur­ridge plays Henry in The Hol­low Crown: TheWars of the Roses – Henry VI Part I (Satur­day, BBC2, 9pm), which fo­cuses on the loss of Eng­land’s French ter­ri­to­ries. So­phie Okonedo, Michael Gam­bon and Hugh Bon­neville are among the sup­port­ing cast.

"To have the chance to work with some of Bri­tain’s most tal­ented ac­tors is a dream come true,” says ex­ec­u­tive pro­ducer Pippa Har­ris. “We couldn't be more de­lighted to have them on board."

“Build­ing on the crit­i­cal suc­cess of The Hol­low Crown, this ex­tra­or­di­nary cast and pro­duc­tion team will raise the bar of Bri­tish drama once more and build on BBC Two’s rep­u­ta­tion for dis­tinc­tive drama,” adds Ben Stephen­son, con­troller of BBC drama com­mis­sion­ing.

While much is ex­pected from tonight’s fea­ture-length drama, it’s next week’s pro­gramme that could at­tract record au­di­ence fig­ures for a Shake­spearean adap­ta­tion thanks to the fact that it stars flavour of the month Bene­dict Cum­ber­batch in the lead role of Richard III.

Royal ap­point­ment Tom Stur­ridge stars in the drama.

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