Tim Minchin and Al Murray to star at BBC Shakespeare Festival

Tim Minchin and Al Murray to star at BBC Shakespeare Festival

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By Ed Gove,
Monday, 29th February 2016
Shakespeare, Benedict Cumberbatch,
Benedict Cumberbatch stars in Richard III, part of The Hollow Crown: The War of the Roses series

The BBC has announced a star-spangled list of names for Shakespeare Live! from The RSC.

The event is part of the BBC Shakespeare Festival which will take place in April to mark 400 years since the writer’s death.

The live television event will be hosted by David Tennant and directed by RSC Artistic Director Gregory Doran, and will feature Dame Judi Dench, Sir Ian McKellen, Joseph Fiennes, the English National Opera and more.  

Also announced to perform as part of the event are Rufus Wainwright, Tim Minchin, Al Murray, Meera Syal, Alison Moyet, Sanjeev Bhaskar, Paapa Essiedu, Pippa Nixon, Alexandra Galbraith, Noma Dumezweni, The Royal Ballet and The Orchestra of the Swan.

The BBC Shakespeare Festival takes place throughout April 2016 across TV, radio, online and the world.

On BBC One, Russell T Davis is adapting on of Shakespeare’s best loved plays A Midsummer Night’s Dream which will star Maxine Peake as Titania, Matt Lucas as Bottom and John Hannah as Theseus. Elaine Paige, Javone Prince, Nonso Anozie, Hiran Abeysekera, Richard Wilson and Bernard Cribbins complete the cast.

The cream of UK talent, Hugh Bonneville, Benedict Cumberbatch, Judi Dench and Michael Gambon, will star in The Hollow Crown: The War of the Roses on BBC Two, a series of three new Shakespeare adaptations, Henry VI (in two parts) and Richard III.


Elsewhere on the BBC



Cunk on Shakespeare

Starring Charlie Brooker’s Weekly Wipe contributor Philomena Cunk (Diane Morgan), Cunk on Shakespeare will offer a unique and humorous perspective on the Bard’s work from a Scholar of the Human Condition herself. 


Upstart Crow

New comedy from Blackadder writer Ben Elton, Upstart Crow starring David Mitchell will also air as part of the Festival.


Arena: All the World’s a Screen 

Part of the BBC's critically acclaimed and long-running documentary series, this programme will look at the complex heritage, history and achievements of Shakespeare and will incorporate contributions from Laurence Olivier, Orson Wells, Roman Polanski and Baz Luhrmann.


The One Show will be marking the anniversary of Shakespeare's death in April (Credit: BBC/Ray Burmiston)

The One Show

Gyles Brandreth will interview living William Shakespeares to find out what it’s like to share the name of the world’s most famous playwright and seven men named William Shakespeare will recite Sonnet 18.



The Countryfile Shakespeare special visits the landscapes that inspired the writer’s work. Travelling from the Forest of Arden to Birnam Wood, the show will also follow the old routes that were taken when touring Shakespeare’s new plays.


Doctors will be inspired by Shakespeare's sonnets during the festival (Credit: BBC)


From 18 to 22 April, each Doctors episode will be inspired by a Shakespearian sonnet.


For Kids

For children, CBeebies A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Horrible Histories, Magic Hands, Blue Peter, How to be Epic @ Shakespeare, and online BBC Bitesize and Passport to Shakespeare, will inspire the next generation to love and understand Shakespeare.


Shakespeare Day Live and Shakespeare Lives

Shakespeare Day Live and Shakespeare Lives are digital events accessible across the world and is co-curated by the BBC and the British Council, in collaboration with the Royal Opera House, Shakespeare’s Globe, the British Film Insitiute, Hay Festival and the Royal Shakespeare company. The live stream will take place on April 23, and will be available internationally at www.bbc.co.uk/shakpearelives.




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The BBC has announced a star-spangled list of names for Shakespeare Live! from The RSC.