BBC broadcasts season of content celebrating 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s First Folio

A man portraying William Shakespeare walks down a period-appropriate street

The programming is being broadcast across TV, radio, iPlayer and BBC Sounds, and features both archival and original content.

The First Folio compiles 36 of Shakespeare’s plays, 18 of which had never been published prior, including such major works as Macbeth, Julius Caesar and Twelfth Night. As such, it is often credited with preventing these works from becoming lost to time.

This week's top TV: 9 - 15 May


Upstart Crow



David Mitchell appears as Britain's foremost playwright, William Shakespeare, in this new comedy depicting the life of the Bard as he juggles family life with a career in the theatre.

In episode one, William is having troubles with his latest play Romeo and Juliet as England's leading 'female' actor is apparently too old to play the teenaged Juliet and his nemesis plots to close down the whole production.  

BBC to feature external content on iPlayer

BBC iPlayer

The plans are part of the BBC's aims to encourage the growth of not-for-profit creative institutions, and broaden its cultural offering online. Organisations in the deal are all involved in the Shakespeare Lives festival 2016. 

"We’re experimenting live with digital formats like never before," said BBC Director General Tony Hall. "For the first time, the BBC will be showcasing the great talent we have in our leading cultural institutions on BBC iPlayer. It’s another step towards an open BBC – something we all believe in.”

Our Friend in the Midlands: Joe Godwin

Joe Godwin

As the quadricen­tenary of Shakespeare’s death approaches, my thoughts turn to a less well-known Midlands anniversary. To work for the BBC was my midsummer night’s dream and, 30 years ago, I wrote to Kay Alexander at Midlands Today, asking for her advice about a career in television.

She kindly arranged for me to speak to someone in personnel and, eventually, I found myself working as a Regional Station Assistant – not in Birmingham, but in Southampton.

Tim Minchin and Al Murray to star at BBC Shakespeare Festival

Shakespeare, Benedict Cumberbatch,

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.