Shakespeare: Rise of a Genius comes to BBC Two and iPlayer with star-studded line up


The BBC has announced a star-studded William Shakespeare documentary series.

November marks the 400th anniversary of the creation of what is arguably the greatest work in English literature, the ‘First Folio,’ published seven years after William Shakespeare’s passing. Without it, much of his work would have been lost to future generations.

In celebration of this remarkable milestone, the BBC is presenting an ambitious season of content across various platforms, including TV, Radio, BBC iPlayer, and BBC Sounds.

Shakespeare Rise of a Genius 2

The centrepiece of the season is a compelling three-part documentary series for BBC Two and iPlayer titled Shakespeare: Rise of a Genius. The series boasts an A-list cast of actors, such as Dame Judi Dench, Dame Helen Mirren, Brian Cox, Adrian Lester, Lolita Chakrabarti, Martin Freeman, and Jessie Buckley, alongside academics and writers like James Shapiro, Jeanette Winterson, Lucy Jago, Jeremy O’Harris, and Ewan Fernie. Together, they offer fresh insights into the incredible story of England’s greatest writer, the time and place he inhabited, and the works he created.

Dame Judi Dench said: “His understanding of everything, of love, of anger, of jealousy, of rage, melancholy – who did it better, who has ever done it better? I wish I’d met him, oh I wish I’d met him.”

Shakespeare: Rise of a Genius will debut on 8 November on BBC Two at 9PM with all episodes available to stream from the same date on iPlayer.

Accompanying the series, BBC Four will showcase a star-studded selection of archived performances, each introduced by the likes of David Tennant on Hamlet, Sir Richard Eyre on King Lear, Dame Janet Suzman on Wars of the Roses, Gregory Doran on the Shakespeare Gala from the RSC, Russell T Davies on A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Dame Helen Mirren on As You Like It, Hugh Quarshie on Othello, Steven Berkoff on Hamlet at Elsinore, Sir Simon Russell Beale on The Hollow Crown, and Sir Ian McKellen on All is True.

BBC Four will present several acclaimed performances of Shakespeare’s greatest plays, including Hamlet from the Bristol Old Vic featuring rising star Billy Howle as the title role; Henry V from Shakespeare’s Globe with Jamie Parker in the lead role; the RSC’s Henry VI Part 1 with Sir Antony Sher as Falstaff; and the RSC’s Much Ado About Nothing.

In Shakespeare’s Sonnets: A Modern Love Story, actors Rose Ayling Ellis, Eben Figueiredo, Eloka Ivo, and Ioanna Kimbook will perform a collection of sonnets in a fresh and innovative manner.

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