Who would have thought that even a few years ago the BBC1 would devote two hours on a Saturday night to a celebration of the work of William Shakespeare?
There was a time when Shakespeare played an important in early television. One of the great pieces of television was The Age of Kings (1960); another was The War of the Roses (shortly to be released on DVD).
When most of the television plays were originally written for the theatre, it was not that surprising that Shakespeare’s plays ended up being transmitted on television.
The BBC from December 1978 to April 1985 turned all of Shakespeare’s plays into television plays. This series did very well indeed. However it was almost 30 years later before Shakespeare was looked at again for a TV series.
The Hollow Crown was a great success and another batch of plays should appear this year. When television came to create its own plays there was less need to use the theatre for inspiration.
However this year is the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death. This Saturday night at 8.30pm David Tennant will be hosting Shakespeare Live.
In recent years David has become an outstanding Shakespearean actor and on Saturday he will be appearing alongside Catherine Tate one of his co-stars from Doctor Who.
This live event will be coming from the stage of the Royal Shakespeare Theatre in Stratford-upon-Avon and will include musicals, dance, opera and jazz with special guests including Judi Dench, Ian McKellen, David Suchet, Joseph Fiennes, Dame Helen Mirren, Meera Syal and Benedict Cumberbatch.