BBC Drama Films and Documentaries

Plays

video Henry IV Part 2 (BBC film adaptation)

BBC Video
Type: Video

In 1978, the BBC set itself the task of filming all of William Shakespeare's plays for television. The resulting productions, renowned for their loyalty to the text, utilised the best theatrical and television directors and brought highly praised performances from leading contemporary actors.

Henry IV Part Two (1979): Prince Harry's father figures are ageing. While the King frets about the Prince's lifestyle, Falstaff continues to make merry. But there are serious matters afoot. Prince John has to lead the King's army against an uprising, and Hal is forced to reassess his attitude to responsibility as his father grows increasingly sick. Retaining the same cast and director as Part One, this production assuredly charts the transformation of the Prince. It reflects the play's darker and more intimate focus, but contrasts it with colourful scenes from Falstaff's Eastcheap as well as the bucolic Gloucestershire of Shallow and Silence.

Credits:

Starring: David Gwillim, Michele Dotrice, Jon Finch, Bruce Purchase and Brenda Bruce.

Distributed under licence from Educational Publishers LLP

video An Inspector Calls (BBC film adaptation)

BBC Video
Type: Video

Emotionally powerful and sharply relevant, this is a stylish new adaptation of JB Priestley’s timeless masterpiece. An Inspector Calls is both an enthralling mystery and a scathing critique of a hypocritical, class-obsessed society. Set in 1912, it vividly evokes a thriving industrial age built on crippling social inequality. Taking place over the course of a single night, this taut, affecting and ultimately tragic story centres on the prosperous Birling family. They receive a surprise visit from Inspector Goole who investigating the suicide of a young girl, a former factory worker of Mr Birling’s. Interrogating each family member in turn, Goole’s incisive questioning reveals that each one not only had a connection to the girl but also may have played a significant part in her demise. As the family’s callous actions are brought to light, so are dark and shameful secrets that threaten to tear the Birling household apart and destroy its reputation.

Credits:

A Drama Republic production for BBC. Director: Aisling Walsh (Wallander, Room at the Top); Adapted by: Helen Edmundson (The Suspicions of Mr Whicher, Coram Boy) from the play by JB Priestley; Producer: Howard Ella (The Interceptor, Good Cop); Executive Producers: Greg Brenman (The Honourable Woman, Peaky Blinders) Roanna Benn (My Mad Fat Diary, Prisoners’ Wives). Starring: David Thewlis (The Theory of Everything, War Horse, Harry Potter); Ken Stott (The Hobbit, The Missing, Rebus, Messiah); Miranda Richardson (Mapp & Lucia, Testament of Youth, Parade’s End).

Distributed under licence from Educational Publishers LLP

video King Lear (BBC film adaptation)

BBC Video
Type: Video

Ian Holm stars in the title role of this award-winning film version of Richard Eyre’s National Theatre production of William Shakespeare's King Lear. The cast also includes Timothy West as The Earl of Gloucester, Finbar Lynch as his bastard son, Edmund and Paul Rhys as his legitimate son, Edgar; Barbara Flynn, Amanda Redman and Victoria Hamilton as Lear's daughters Goneril, Regan and Cordelia; and Michael Bryant as the Fool.

Credits:

Director: Richard Eyre; Writer: William Shakespeare; Writer (Screen): Richard Eyre; Producer: Susan Birtwistle; Music: Dominic Muldowney; Production Design : Bob Crowley; Art Direction: Andrew Sanders; Cast: King Lear: Ian Holm, Edgar: Paul Rhys, Edmund: Finbar Lynch, Gloucester: Timothy West, Kent: David Burke, Goneril: Barbara Flynn, Regan: Amanda Redman, Cordelia: Victoria Hamilton Fool: Michael Bryant, Oswald: William Osborne.

Distributed under licence from Educational Publishers LLP

video Lady Windermere’s Fan (BBC film adaptation)

BBC Video
Type: Video

With its author's trademark wit, social satire and outrageous paradox, Wilde’s play shows us the destructiveness of gossip and superficial judgement, and examines the ambiguous sexual morality and gender politics at the heart of the British ruling class. Lady Windermere has a happy marriage – or, at least, that’s what she believes – until one of London’s society gossips, the Duchess of Berwick, arrives with her daughter to voice her suspicions about an affair. Wilde’s exploration of adultery results in a sparkling, satirical critique of society, and of the hypocrisy that lurks behind the etiquette and perfect epigrams.

Credits:

Director: Tony Smith; Producer: Louis Marks; Playwright: Oscar Wilde; Designer: Don Taylor (1936-2003); Costume Designer: Phoebe de Gaye; Introduced by: Stephanie Turner; Script Editor: David Snodin. Cast: Ian Burford: Parker, John Clive: Mr Dumby, Gloria Connell: Mrs Cowper-Cowper, Kenneth Cranham: Lord Darlington, Diana Fairfax: Lady Jedburgh, Sara Kestelman: Duchess of Berwick Mary Kurowski: Rosalie, Robert Lang: Lord Augustus Lorton, Veronica Lang: Lady Plymdale, Helena Little: Lady Windermere Vivien Lloyd: Lady Stutfield, Geoff Morrell: Mr Hopper, Amanda Royle: Lady Agatha Carlisle, James Saxon: Cecil Graham, Stephanie Turner: Mrs Erlynne, Tim Woodward: Lord Windermere

Distributed under licence from Educational Publishers LLP

video Measure For Measure (BBC film adaptation)

BBC Video
Type: Video

A modern dress version directed by David Thacker with Corin Redgrave as Angelo and Juliet Aubrey as Isabella. Modern themes are explored in an age-old play as William Shakespeare explores the darker side of society. Sexually transmitted disease is reaching epidemic proportions. Prostitution, licentiousness and petty crime are on the increase and a new government reintroduces capital punishment for sexual offences.

Credits:

Director: David Thacker; Adapted by: David Thacker; Producer: Peter Cregeen; Starring: Tom Wilkinson, Juliet Aubrey, Corin Redgrave, Sue Johnstone.

Distributed under licence from Educational Publishers LLP

video Miss Julie (BBC film adaptation)

BBC Video
Type: Video

A BBC production of the play by August Strindberg, translated by Michael Meyer. Described by a critic as ‘a love-hate relationship played on a tightrope of tension’, this is Strindberg's drama about sex and class warfare. Janet McTeer plays the aristocratic daughter who breaks off her engagement.

Credits:

Director: Michael Simpson; Producer: Shaun Sutton; Starring: Janet McTeer, Patrick Malahide, Sarah Porter.

Distributed under licence from Educational Publishers LLP

video Samuel Beckett As The Story Was Told (BBC documentary)

BBC Video
Type: Video

Filmed with the cooperation of his nearest relatives, close friends and distinguished artistic collaborators this production is a rare testament to one of the century's most famous and original writers.

Shot on location in Dublin, London, New York, the Vaucluse in the South of France and Kassel in Germany, the film traces Beckett's life and work from his childhood in Dublin to his final days in Paris. With access to Beckett's private houses and apartments and to manuscripts of his most famous works and to a series of previously unpublished and revealing letters. Many unknown and remarkable photographs of Beckett are seen in public for the first time. Participants in this major film documentary include Beckett's nearest relatives. His cousins Edward, a musician who trained in Paris with Beckett's guidance and support; Sheila, who remained close to him throughout his life, with whom he stayed in Sussex as a refuge from Theatre and Media glare; Deidre, whose sister was the first great love of Beckett's life and is immortalised in Krapp's Last Tape.

Artistes who encapsulated the spirit of Beckett's work also feature: Billie Whitelaw, celebrated interpreter of his work on both Broadway and in The Royal Court Theatre, London; Joselyn Herbert, world-famous designer who for years worked with the great man at the Royal Court; Jean Martin, who played the part of Lucky in the first production of En Attendant Godot in Paris. Other contributors include Avigdor Arika, the renowned Israeli artist who was, for more than two decades a close friend of Beckett; John Calder and Barney Rosset, publishers in London and New York who championed Beckett throughout their careers (Rosset was producer of Beckett's film which starred Buster Keaton); and Patrick Magee, with extracts from his classic television performance of Krapp's Last Tape. Extracts from Beckett's works are read by Stephen Rea with a series of impromptus played by John O'Conor, the distinguished Irish concert pianist and a music score from Schubert, Beckett's favourite composer.

Credits:

Producer/director: Sean O'Mordha, winner of an International Emmy for his film on James Joyce, Is There One Who Understands Me?; Executive Producers: Roger Thompson, Nigel Williams.

Distributed under licence from Educational Publishers LLP

video Shakespeare in Italy Episode 1 - Land of Love (BBC documentary)

BBC Video
Type: Video

Shakespeare was in love with Italy. A third of his plays are set in the country. For the Elizabethan playwright, it was the stage on which to explore his greatest themes - love and war, fidelity and betrayal, and above all, politics - and a treasure house of legend and stories that fuelled his imagination. Combining Italian travelogue with revelations about the bard's most famous works, Francesco da Mosto visits the spectacular locations, traces the Italian myths and reveals how a long dead, foreign playwright's imagination continues to influence and shape real Italian cities, even now.

Credits:

Executive Producer: Basil Comely (The Art of America, Seven Ages of Britain); Presenter: Francesco da Mosto.

Distributed under licence from Educational Publishers LLP

video Shakespeare in Italy Episode 2 - Land of Fortune (BBC documentary)

BBC Video
Type: Video

Shakespeare was in love with Italy. A third of his plays are set in the country. For the Elizabethan playwright, it was the stage on which to explore his greatest themes - love and war, fidelity and betrayal, and above all, politics - and a treasure house of legend and stories that fuelled his imagination. Combining Italian travelogue with revelations about the bard's most famous works, Francesco da Mosto visits the spectacular locations, traces the Italian myths and reveals how a long dead, foreign playwright's imagination continues to influence and shape real Italian cities, even now.

Credits:

Executive Producer: Basil Comely (The Art of America, Seven Ages of Britain); Presenter: Francesco da Mosto.

Distributed under licence from Educational Publishers LLP

video Shakespeare Uncovered Series 1, Episode 1 - Joely Richardson on Shakespeare's Women (BBC documentary)

BBC Video
Type: Video

In Twelfth Night and As You Like It, actress Joely Richardson investigates (with a major contribution from her mother, Vanessa Redgrave) the legacy of the two great comedies and the great comic heroines created by Shakespeare in those hugely popular plays. Shakespeare's comic heroines are well known to be some of his greatest creations and in this film Joely looks at Viola in Twelfth Night, washed up on a foreign shore, having (for her own safety) to disguise herself as a man and then falling in love with the man she is working for. Then there is the legendary Rosalind in As You Like It, who also spends much of the play disguised as a man but in the process torments and teases the man she loves in an effort to uncover how sincere he is. Joely investigates the reason why these heroines spend much of their time dressed as men - it was because they were originally created for young men to play. But at the same time we find that Shakespeare revealed an acute understanding and sympathy for women when he wrote these characters. A variety of film versions are studied alongside productions at Shakespeare's Globe, and with contributions from the world's greatest Shakespearean scholars such as Jonathan Bate and Germaine Greer and from actors like Vanessa Redgrave and Helen Mirren, this film reveals the legacy of strong, sassy, witty women that we inherit from William Shakespeare's great comedies.

Distributed under licence from Educational Publishers LLP

This collection features stunning film adaptations of classic and contemporary plays from Sophocles and Shakespeare, to Oscar Wilde, Henrik Ibsen, August Strindberg, Bernard Shaw and contemporary writers, Michael Frayn and Joe Penhall.