BBC Two to air Shakespeare works Richard II, Henry IV Parts I and II and Henry V

A major new cycle of Shakespeare’s four most acclaimed historical works will be brought to BBC Two in 2012 as part of a season based on the Bard’s life and works.


Involving some of the most pre-eminent Shakespearian actors and directors of our time, the films will consist of bold adaptations of Richard II, Henry IV Parts I and II and Henry V, set in the Medieval period and filmed on locations around the UK and Europe.

Filming on Richard II, the first of the four films, will commence next month in Wales. Locations include St David’s Cathedral and Pembroke Castle, both being used for the first time as filming locations for a production of this scale. Production designer will be Andrew McAlpine, with Danny Cohen as Director of Photography and Odile Dicks Mireaux as Costume Designer.

Ben Stephenson, Controller, BBC Drama, says, “A fitting ensemble of some of this country’s finest acting talent have assembled for Richard II, the first of four film versions of Shakespeare’s History plays on BBC Two in 2012. Shooting entirely on location, the director Rupert Goold brings a scale never before attempted on TV to the work by using St David’s Cathedral and Pembroke Castle in Wales to give audiences something entirely unique.”

Ben Whishaw will play King Richard II with Rory Kinnear as his challenger, Bolingbroke. John of Gaunt will be played by Patrick Stewart, with David Suchet as The Duke of York and David Morrissey as Northumberland. Tom Hughes will play Aumerle and Mowbray will be played by James Purefoy. Clemence Poésy will play the role of Queen Isabella and Lindsay Duncan will play The Duchess of York. Other confirmed cast members include Lucian Msamati and David Bradley.

Pippa Harris, Executive Producer for Neal Street Productions, says, “With the backing of the BBC and NBC Universal, this is a fantastic opportunity to bring Shakespeare to a worldwide TV audience, in a vivid and enthralling way. It’s hugely exciting to be working with such an array of talent.”

Co-produced by Neal Street Productions with NBC Universal and WNET, and commissioned by Ben Stephenson, Controller, BBC Drama, and Janice Hadlow, Controller, BBC 2, these four films will be linked to the Cultural Olympiad of 2012.