The Complete Dramatic Works of William Shakespeare (BBC)

The Gold Standard

In 1978, the BBC ambitiously set out to produce all of Shakespeare‘s 37 plays for television. (Alright – so it’s 38 … so they didn’t include The Two Noble Kinsmen, which is cribbed from Chaucer’s Knight’s Tale anyway. But who’s counting beans?) With casts featuring the better part of British acting nobility, including some promising (then-)newcomers, the enterprise was completed in two launches with distinct creative approaches and, for all occasional frictions in continuity, remains a one-in-a-kind endeavor: the gold standard every Shakespeare enactment must either meet or fall short of in comparison; for truthfulness to the Bard’s intent as much as for stellar acting and production values. While the complete series has since been made available on DVD in region 2 (European) and 4 (Australian) encoding, only 20 of the plays have also been released in region 1 (North American) format, in two sets of five tragedies, as well as one set each of comedies and histories: one might have wished for some additions, or more sets overall; but all available compilations are worth their price’s every penny.

Tragedies

Laced with murderous schemes, revenge, and the search for justice, love, and peace of mind, Shakespeare‘s tragedies delve into the human mind’s darkest recesses; exploring greed, envy, ambition, guilt, remorse, and pure evil next to compassion, generosity, humility, and innocence, all interwoven in timeless plots unmatched in variety, construction, and richness of characters. Interpretation is substantially left to the actors: Despite Hamlet’s litany of directions to the Players appearing in that tragedy’s “play-within-the-play” – directions representing Shakespeare‘s own grievances, including his irritation with comedian Will Kempe’s tendency for spotlight-seeking beyond his scenes’ actual confines (therefore, “let those that play your clowns speak no more than is set down for them. For [some] will … set on [the uninformed] spectators to laugh …, though [meanwhile] some necessary question of the play [must] be considered. That’s villanous and shows a most pitiful ambition in the fool that uses it,” Hamlet quips) – the ultimate actors’ playwright gives few express stage directions, leaving his own players considerable freedom, and making the world wonder, ever since their Globe Theatre premiere: What’s driving the Prince of Denmark – madness? revenge? indecision? something else entirely? Is Claudius, that tragedy’s king, evil incarnate or a man wrecked with guilt? Is Othello’s antagonist Iago bent on revenge because he “hate[s] the Moor,” or giddily enjoying his malicious plots’ every second? How much capacity for guilt has Macbeth ultimately left: is he truly, thoroughly corrupted, or has something of the king’s loyal thane remained inside him?

Region 1 Set 1
Hamlet

The set’s natural centerpiece, both for its preeminence among Shakespeare‘s plays and for this production’s superb quality, is Hamlet, the Bard‘s four-hour-long adaptation of the Danish Amleth saga. As the Prince, Derek Jacobi – the legitimate heir to Laurence Olivier and John Gielgud, and mentor to Kenneth Branagh – gives a lifetime’s performance: if you only know him as Claudius the Stutterer from the magnificent adaptation of Robert Graves’s I, Claudius, or as Cadfael from the equally magnificent series based on Ellis Peters‘s books, you’re in for a truly unexpected treat. For Jacobi‘s first love is the theater, and it shows: with near-unmatched insight into Shakespeare‘s world (particularly this play and its title character), he makes the Prince of Denmark all his own, in a portrayal easily on par with the best in existence. There’s no pulling of punches here, no wavering like Olivier’s; but no genuine madness, either – just pure, unrestrained passion, often swinging between emotional extremes within seconds: I wonder whether Mel Gibson’s vaguely similar approach in Franco Zeffirelli’s 1990 movie was based on a study of Jacobi‘s performance. The production also features Patrick Stewart as a Claudius covering emotions from Macchiavellian intrigue to deeply-felt guilt, Claire Bloom as an unrivaled, regal, but very vulnerable Getrude, Eric Porter as scheming master politician Polonius (never mind that Hamlet calls him a “tedious old fool”), Robert Swann as one of the strongest Horatios I’ve ever seen, Emrys James as a wonderfully congenial Player King, Lalla Ward as a sweet, but not too sweet Ophelia, David Robb as impetuous Laertes, Tim Wylton as the First Gravedigger and Peter Gale as Osric (both milking their scenes to optimum, but never over-the-top effect), and an outstanding cast rounded out by Patrick Allen (the Ghost), Ian Charleson (Fortinbras), Jonathan Hyde (Rosencrantz), Geoffrey Bateman (Guildenstern), and Paul Humpoletz (Marcellus).

Macbeth

The “Scottish Play”‘s impact rests almost entirely on the shoulders of its title character and his lady, and those of Nicol Williamson and – particularly – Jane Lapotaire’s breathtaking Lady Macbeth provide strong support indeed for the Thane-of-Glamis-turned-king (and murderer) and his ruthlessly ambitious wife. Brenda Bruce, Eileen Way and Anne Dyson scare you near-witless as the witches, maliciously mock-echoed by James Bolam’s Porter, and besides Ian Hogg’s Banquo and Tony Doyle’s Macduff, among the production’s most impressive performances are Jill Baker’s and Crispin Mair’s (Macduff’s wife and son).  One of my other great favorites in the entire series, and easily my second favorite in the first set of tragedies released in region 1 format.

Romeo and Juliet

If you can get over the decidedly dated (and at best, um, partly successful) set decoration and costume, Patrick Ryecart and Rebecca Saire as star-crossed lovers Romeo and Juliet (through whose story we’re guided by John Gielgud’s Chorus) are every bit as youthfully innocent but determined as Franco Zeffirelli’s and Baz Luhrman’s Leonard Whiting, Olivia Hussey, Leonardo di Caprio and Claire Danes.  Moreover, there’s Anthony Andrews as a captivatingly flamboyant Mercutio, a snapshot view of a very young Alan Rickman as brash Tybalt, plus Michael Hordern’s as always expert Capulet, and Celia Johnson’s deadpan Nurse.

Othello

In the play that keeps me wanting to climb into the screen (or onto the stage) and yell, “Othello, wake up!!,” Anthony Hopkins gives a tour-de-force performance as the Moor (“the part [he’d] always wanted to play,” he is quoted); yet, he’s almost upstaged by Bob Hoskins’s deliciously, mirthfully evil Iago. Penelope Wilton’s Desdemona is all blameless righteousness; and the production wouldn’t be the same without the spot-on performances of Anthony Pedley (Roderigo), David Yelland (Cassio), and Rosemary Leach (Emilia).

Julius Cesar

In Shakespeare‘s look at the Ides of March from Caesar’s murderers’ and heir’s perspective, finally – that play without heroes or villains – the four principals are well-divided among Richard Pasco (Brutus), Keith Michell (Mark Antony), Charles Gray (Caesar) and David Collings (Cassius), while Virginia McKenna (Portia) and Elizabeth Spriggs (Calphurnia) make the most of roles easily overlooked in weaker actresses’ hands.

Tragedies – Region 1 Set 2
  • King Lear
  • Anthony & Cleopatra
  • Coriolanus
  • Timon of Athens
  • Titus Andronicus
Histories – Region 1
  • Richard II
  • Henry IV, Part I
  • Henry IV, Part II
  • Henry V
  • Richard III
Comedies
  • As You Like It
  • The Taming of the Shrew
  • The Tempest
  • A Midsummer Night’s Dream
  • The Merchant of Venice
The Collection’s Other Plays

(Region 2 & 4 encoding only.)

Tragedies
  • Cymbeline
  • Pericles
  • Troilus and Cressida
Histories
  • Henry VI, Part 1
  • Henry VI, Part 2
  • Henry VI, Part 3
  • Henry VIII
  • King John
Comedies
  • Measure for Measure
  • Much Ado About Nothing
  • The Comedy of Errors
  • Twelfth Night
  • All’s Well That Ends Well
  • The Merry Wives of Windsor
  • Love’s Labour’s Lost
  • The Two Gentlemen of Verona
  • The Winter’s Tale

 

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Production Credits /
Cast & Crew

Production Credits
  • Studio: BBC (1978 – 1985)
  • Plays by: William Shakespeare
  • Directors:  Rodney Bennett  (Hamlet), Jack Gold (Macbeth, The Merchant of Venice), Alvin Rakoff (Romeo and Juliet), Jonathan Miller (Othello, King Lear, Antony and Cleopatra, The Taming of the Shrew, Timon of Athens, Troilus & Cressida), Herbert Wise (Julius Caesar), Elijah Moshinsky (A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Coriolanus, Cymbeline, All’s Well That Ends Well, Love’s Labour’s Lost), Jane Howell (Titus Andronicus, Henry VI – Part 1, Henry VI – Part 2, Henry VI – Part 3, Richard III, The Winter’s Tale), David Giles (Richard II, Henry IV – Part 1, Henry IV – Part 2, Henry V, King John), Basil Coleman (As You Like It), Stuart Burge (Much Ado About Nothing), John Gorrie (The Tempest, Twelfth Night), Kevin Billington (Henry VIII), David Hugh Jones (The Merry Wives of Windsor, Pericles), Desmond Davis (Measure for Measure), James Cellan Jones (The Comedy of Errors), Don Taylor (The Two Gentlemen of Verona)
  • Producers: Cedric Messina  (Hamlet, Romeo and Juliet, Julius Caesar, Richard II, Henry IV – Part 1, Henry IV – Part 2, Henry V, As You Like It, The Tempest, Twelfth Night, Henry VIII, Measure for Measure), Shaun Sutton (Macbeth, King Lear, Coriolanus, Titus Andronicus, Richard III, Much Ado About Nothing, Cymbeline, Pericles, King John, The Comedy of Errors, Love’s Labour’s Lost, The Two Gentlemen of Verona), Jonathan Miller (Othello, Antony and Cleopatra, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, The Taming of the Shrew, The Merchant of Venice, Henry VI – Part 1, Henry VI – Part 2, Henry VI – Part 3, The Winter’s Tale, All’s Well That Ends Well, Timon of Athens, Troilus & Cressida), Alan Shallcross (Twelfth Night), Joseph Papp (All’s Well That Ends Well)
  • Music: Dudley Simpson (Hamlet, Titus Andronicus, Henry VI – Part 1, Henry VI – Part 2, Henry VI – Part 3, Richard III, The Winter’s Tale), Carl Davis (Macbeth, The Merchant of Venice), James Tyler (Romeo and Juliet, Henry VIII, Measure for Measure), Stephen Oliver (Othello, Antony and Cleopatra, Coriolanus, Timon of Athens, Henry VI – Part 1, Henry VI – Part 2, Henry VI – Part 3, Richard III, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, The Taming of the Shrew, Cymbeline, The Winter’s Tale, All’s Well That Ends Well, Love’s Labour’s Lost, Troilus & Cressida), Mike Steer (Julius Caesar), William Walton (Richard II, Henry IV – Part 1, Henry IV – Part 2, Henry V), Geoffrey Burgon (As You Like It), Joseph Horovitz (The Tempest, Twelfth Night), Simon Rogers (Much Ado About Nothing), Martin Best (Pericles), Colin Sell (King John), Richard Holmes (The Comedy of Errors)
Principal Cast

(in alphabetical order)

Joss Ackland

  • Coriolanus: Menenius

Jonathan Adams

  • Antony and Cleopatra: Ventidius
  • Richard II: Gardener

Jenny Agutter

  • Love’s Labour’s Lost: Rosaline

Patrick Allen

  • Hamlet: Ghost of Hamlet’s Father
  • Pericles: King Simonides

Anthony Andrews

  • Romeo and Juliet: Mercutio

Darien Angadi

  • Julius Caesar: Cinna
  • Antony and Cleopatra: Alexas

Alun Armstrong

  • Measure for Measure: Provost

Clive Arrindell

  • Twelfth Night: Orsino

Eileen Atkins

Titus Andronicus: Tamora

Sarah Badel

  • The Taming of the Shrew: Katherine

Jill Baker

  • Macbeth: Lady Macduff

Gillian Barge

  • King Lear: Goneril

John Barron

  • Othello: Duke of Venice
  • The Taming of the Shrew: Vincentio

Alan Bennett

  • The Merry Wives of Windsor: Justice Shallow

Peter Benson

  • Henry VI – Part 1: King Henry VI
  • Henry VI – Part 2: King Henry VI
  • Henry VI – Part 3: King Henry VI
  • Richard III: King Henry VI
  • Hamlet: Second Gravedigger
  • The Winter’s Tale: Clown’s Servant

John Bird

  • King Lear: Duke of Albany
  • The Taming of the Shrew: Pedant
  • Timon of Athens: Painter

Christopher Blake

  • Love’s Labour’s Lost: Longaville

Colin Blakely

  • Antony and Cleopatra: Antony

Brenda Blethyn

  • King Lear: Cordelia
  • Henry VI – Part 1: Joan la Pucelle

Claire Bloom

  • Hamlet: Gertrude
  • Henry VIII: Katharine of Aragon
  • Cymbeline: Queen
  • King John: Constance

Jocelyne Boisseau

  • Henry V: Princess Katherine

James Bolam

  • Macbeth: Porter
  • As You Like It: Touchstone

Tom Bowles

  • Macbeth: Donalbain

Antony Brown

  • Richard III: Sir Richard Ratcliffe
  • Henry VI – Part 1: Duke of Burgundy
  • Henry VI – Part 2: Walter Whitmore / Alexander Iden
  • Henry VI – Part 3: Lewis, King of France / Sir John Montgomery

Robert Brown

  • King John: Earl of Pembroke
  • Henry IV – Part 1: Sir Walter Blunt

Brenda Bruce

  • Henry IV – Part 1: Mistress Quickly
  • Henry IV – Part 2: Mistress Quickly
  • Henry V: Hostess (Mistress Quickly)
  • Macbeth: First Witch

David Buck

  • Henry IV – Part 1: Earl of Westmoreland
  • Henry IV – Part 2: Earl of Westmoreland
  • Henry V: Earl of Westmoreland

Jeremy Bulloch

  • Richard II: Henry Percy

John Burgess

  • Coriolanus: Sicinius
  • Love’s Labour’s Lost: Sir Nathaniel

Suzanne Burden

  • Troilus & Cressida: Cressida

David Burke

  • Henry VI – Part 1: Duke of Gloucester
  • Henry VI – Part 2: Duke of Gloucester / Dick the Butcher
  • Richard III: Sir William Catesby
  • The Winter’s Tale: Camillo

Geoffrey Burridge

  • Cymbeline: Guiderius
  • Love’s Labour’s Lost: Dumain

Tyler Butterworth

  • The Two Gentlemen of Verona: Proteus

Michael Byrne

  • Richard III: Duke of Buckingham
  • Henry VI – Part 1: Duke of Alencon
  • Henry VI – Part 2: John Hume / Lieutenant
  • Henry VI – Part 3: Marquess of Montague / Father that killed his son

Anna Calder-Marshall

  • The Winter’s Tale: Hermione
  • Titus Andronicus: Lavinia

Heather Canning

  • Coriolanus: Valeria

Anne Carroll

  • Richard III: Jane Shore
  • Henry VI – Part 2: Duchess of Gloucester

John Castle

  • King John: Earl of Salisbury

Simon Chandler

  • Antony and Cleopatra: Eros
  • The Taming of the Shrew: Lucentio
  • The Merry Wives of Windsor: Fenton

Paul Chapman

  • Henry VI – Part 1: Earl of Suffolk
  • Henry VI – Part 2: Duke of Suffolk
  • Henry VI – Part 3: Earl Rivers
  • Richard III: Earl Rivers

Ian Charleson

  • Antony and Cleopatra: Octavius Caesar
  • All’s Well That Ends Well: Bertram
  • Hamlet: Fortinbras

Geoffrey Chater

  • Othello: Brabantio
  • Troilus & Cressida: Nestor

Tony Church

  • As You Like It: Duke Senior
  • Henry VIII: Prologue

Warren Clarke

  • The Tempest: Caliban

John Cleese

  • The Taming of the Shrew: Petruchio

Kenneth Colley

  • Measure for Measure: Duke Vincentio

David Collings

  • Julius Caesar: Cassius
  • The Two Gentlemen of Verona: Thurio

Geoffrey Collins

  • Antony and Cleopatra: Dolabella
  • Timon of Athens: Flaminius

Ron Cook

  • Richard III: Richard, Duke of Gloucester; later King Richard III (Richard Plantagenet)
  • Henry VI – Part 2: Richard Plantagenet
  • Henry VI – Part 3: Richard, Duke of Gloucester (Richard Plantagenet)
  • Henry VI – Part 1: Third Messinger to the King / Countess’s Porter
  • The Merry Wives of Windsor: Peter Simple

Rowena Cooper

  • Henry VI – Part 3: Lady Elizabeth Grey; later Queen Elizabeth
  • Richard III: Queen Elizabeth

George Costigan

  • King John: Philip, the Bastard

Arthur Cox

  • Henry VI – Part 1: Mayor of London / Sir John Fastolfe
  • Henry VI – Part 2: Thomas Horner / Lord Clifford
  • Henry VI – Part 3: Duke of Somerset
  • Richard III: Lord Grey / Lord Mayor of London

Kenneth Cranham

  • The Merchant of Venice: Gratiano

Annette Crosbie

  • Richard III: Duchess of York
  • Twelfth Night: Maria
  • Pericles: Dionyza

Graham Crowden

  • Much Ado About Nothing: Friar Francis
  • Cymbeline: Caius Lucius

Frances Cuka

  • Henry IV – Part 2: Doll Tearsheet

John Curless

  • Richard II: Lord Fitzwater
  • The Winter’s Tale: Cleomenes

Julian Curry

  • King Lear: Duke of Cornwall

Cyril Cusack

  • The Comedy of Errors: Aegon

Sinéad Cusack

  • Twelfth Night: Olivia

David Daker

  • Henry VI – Part 1: Reigner, Duke of Anjou / Vernon
  • Henry VI – Part 2: Duke of Buckingham
  • Henry VI – Part 3: Lord Hastings
  • Richard III: Lord Hastings

Roger Daltrey

  • The Comedy of Errors: Dromio of Ephesus / Dromio of Syracuse

Phil Daniels

  • A Midsummer Night’s Dream: Puck

Sam Dastor

  • Julius Caesar: Casca
  • The Comedy of Errors: Angelo

Nigel Davenport

  • A Midsummer Night’s Dream: Theseus

Roger Davenport

  • Henry IV– Part 2: Duke of Clarence
  • Henry V: Duke of Clarence

Alexander Davion

  • Othello: Gratiano
  • Julius Caesar: Decius Brutus

Judy Davis

  • The Merry Wives of Windsor: Mistress Ford

Brian Deacon

  • Henry VI – Part 1: Earl of Somerset
  • Henry VI – Part 2: Duke of Somerset / Smith the Weaver
  • Henry VI – Part 3: Earl of Oxford
  • Richard III: Henry, Earl of Richmond / Second Citizen / First Messenger

Mark Dignam

  • Macbeth: Duncan

David Dixon

  • The Tempest: Ariel

Vernon Dobtcheff

  • Much Ado About Nothing: Don John
  • Romeo and Juliet: Apothecary
  • Troilus & Cressida: Agamemnon

David Dodimead

  • Richard II: Lord Ross
  • Henry VIII: Bishop of Lincoln

Michele Dotrice

  • Henry IV – Part 1: Lady Percy, Hotspur’s Wife
  • Henry IV – Part 2: Lady Percy, Hotspur’s Widow

Angela Down

  • All’s Well That Ends Well: Helena

Tony Doyle

  • Macbeth: Macduff

Keith Drinkel

  • Henry V: Lewis, the Dauphin

Anne Dyson

  • Macbeth: Third Witch

Robert Eddison

  • Henry IV – Part 2: Justice Robert Shallow

Rob Edwards

  • Henry IV – Part 1: Prince John of Lancaster
  • Henry IV – Part 2: Prince John of Lancaster
  • Henry V: Duke of Bedford

Michael Elphick

  • Much Ado About Nothing: Dogberry

Tenniel Evans

  • Richard III: Lord Stanley
  • Henry VI – Part 1: Duke of Bedford / Mortimer, Earl of March / French General
  • Henry VI – Part 2: Earl of Salisbury / Cler of Chartham
  • Henry VI – Part 3: Messenger to York / First Keeper / First Watchman
  • The Merry Wives of Windsor: Sir Hugh Evans

Lynn Farleigh

  • Antony and Cleopatra: Octavia

Debbie Farrington

  • The Winter’s Tale: Perdita

Jon Finch

  • Richard II: Henry of Bolingbroke
  • Henry IV – Part 1: King Henry IV (Henry of Bolingbroke)
  • Henry IV – Part 2: King Henry IV (Henry of Bolingbroke)
  • Much Ado About Nothing: Don Pedro

Julia Foster

  • Henry VI – Part 1: Margaret, Daughter of Reignier
  • Henry VI – Part 2: Queen Margaret
  • Henry VI – Part 3: Queen Margaret
  • Richard III: Queen Margaret

Clive Francis

  • As You Like It: Oliver

John Franklyn-Robbins

  • The Merchant of Venice: Antonio
  • The Taming of the Shrew: Baptista

Peter Gale

  • Hamlet: Osric
  • The Merchant of Venice: Prince of Arragon

Nicholas Gecks

  • Titus Andronicus: Bassanius
  • Julius Caesar: Volumnius

John Gielgud

  • Richard II: John of Gaunt
  • Romeo and Juliet: Chorus

Brian Glover

  • A Midsummer Night’s Dream: Bottom

Julian Glover

  • Henry V: The French Constable
  • Henry VIII: Duke of Buckingham

Patrick Godfrey

  • Coriolanus: Cominius
  • Pericles: Helicanus

Gordon Gostelow

  • Henry IV – Part 1: Bardolph
  • Henry IV – Part 2: Bardolph
  • Henry V: Bardolph
  • The Merry Wives of Windsor: Bardolph
  • Pericles: Fisherman of Pentapolis

Michael Gough

  • Cymbeline: Belarius

Charles Gray

  • Julius Caesar: Gaius Julius Caesar
  • Richard II: Duke of York
  • The Comedy of Errors: Solinus, Duke of Ephesus
  • Troilus & Cressida: Pandarus

Richard Griffiths

  • The Merry Wives of Windsor: Sir John Falstaff

Christopher Guard

  • The Tempest: Ferdinand

Pippa Guard

  • A Midsummer Night’s Dream: Hermia
  • The Tempest: Miranda
  • All’s Well That Ends Well: Diana

David Gwillim

  • Henry IV – Part 1: Henry, Prince of Wales
  • Henry IV – Part 2: Henry, Prince of Wales
  • Henry V: King Henry V

Mike Gwilym

  • Pericles: Pericles, Prince of Tyre
  • Coriolanus: Aufidius
  • Love’s Labour’s Lost: Berowne

Garrick Hagon

  • Julius Caesar: Octavius Caesar
  • Henry V: Mountjoy

Edward Hardwicke

  • Titus Andronicus: Marcus

Robert Hardy

  • Twelfth Night: Sir Toby Belch

Nigel Hawthorne

  • The Tempest: Stephano

Tony Haygarth

  • The Two Gentlemen of Verona: Launce

Nicky Henson

  • A Midsummer Night’s Dream: Demetrius

Joan Hickson

  • The Taming of the Shrew: Widow

Bernard Hill

  • Henry VI – Part 1: Duke of York / Master Gunner Of Orleans
  • Henry VI – Part 2: Duke of York
  • Henry VI – Part 3: Duke of York
  • Richard III: First Murderer / Sir William Brandon

Wendy Hiller

  • Richard II: Duchess of York
  • The Comedy of Errors: Aemilia

Ian Hogg

  • Macbeth: Banquo

Anthony Hopkins

  • Othello: Othello

Michael Hordern

  • King Lear: King Lear
  • The Tempest: Prospero
  • Romeo and Juliet: Capulet
  • All’s Well That Ends Well: Lafeu
  • Cymbeline: Jupiter

Bob Hoskins

  • Othello: Iago

Alan Howard

  • Coriolanus: Caius Marcius Coriolanus

John Hudson

  • The Two Gentlemen of Verona: Valentine

Derek Jacobi

  • Hamlet: Hamlet, Prince of Denmark
  • Richard II: King Richard II

Emrys James

  • Antony and Cleopatra: Enobarbus
  • Hamlet: Player King

Peter Jeffrey

All’s Well That Ends Well: Parolles

Paul Jesson

  • Henry VI – Part 2: John Holland / George Plantagenet
  • Henry VI – Part 3: George, Duke of Clarence (George Plantagenet)
  • Richard III: George, Duke of Clarence (George Plantagenet)
  • Henry VI – Part 1: Second Messenger to the King
  • Coriolanus: First Citizen
  • Cymbeline: Cloten
  • Love’s Labour’s Lost: Costard
  • The Winter’s Tale: Clown

Celia Johnson

  • Romeo and Juliet: Nurse
  • All’s Well That Ends Well: Countess of Rousillon

Richard Johnson

  • Cymbeline: Cymbeline

Gemma Jones

  • The Merchant of Venice: Portia

Barbara Kellerman

Henry VIII: Anne Boleyn

Jeremy Kemp

  • The Winter’s Tale: Leontes
  • Henry VIII: Duke of Norfolk

Felicity Kendal

  • Twelfth Night: Viola

Merelina Kendall

  • Henry VI – Part 3: Lady Bona
  • The Winter’s Tale: Emilia
  • Troilus & Cressida: Andromache

Jonathan Kent

  • Love’s Labour’s Lost: Ferdinand, King of Navarre

Janet Key

  • Antony and Cleopatra: Charmian

Ben Kingsley

  • The Merry Wives of Windsor: Frank Ford

Michael Kitchen

  • The Comedy of Errors: Antipholus of Ephesus / Antipholus of Syracuse
  • King Lear: Edmund

Esmond Knight

  • Antony and Cleopatra: Lepidus
  • Romeo and Juliet: Old Capulet
  • Troilus & Cressida: Priam

Estelle Kohler

  • A Midsummer Night’s Dream: Hippolyta

Jane Lapotaire

  • Macbeth: Lady Macbeth
  • Antony and Cleopatra: Cleopatra

Phyllida Law

  • King John: Lady Faulconbridge

Rosemary Leach

  • Othello: Emilia
  • All’s Well That Ends Well: Widow of Florence

Anton Lesser

  • King Lear: Edgar
  • Troilus & Cressida: Troilus

Robert Lindsay

  • Much Ado About Nothing: Benedick
  • A Midsummer Night’s Dream: Lysander
  • Twelfth Night: Fabian
  • Cymbeline: Iachimo
  • All’s Well That Ends Well: Captain Dumain

Maureen Lipman

  • Love’s Labour’s Lost: The Princess of France

Geoffrey Lumsden

  • A Midsummer Night’s Dream: Egeus
  • Cymbeline: Philario

Cherie Lunghi

  • Much Ado About Nothing: Beatrice

Crispin Mair

  • Macbeth: Macduff’s Son
  • The Merry Wives of Windsor: William Page

Janet Maw

  • Richard II: Queen
  • King John: Blanch

Joanna McCallum

  • Coriolanus: Virgilia
  • Henry VI – Part 1: Countess d’Auvergne

Alec McCowen

  • Twelfth Night: Malvolio
  • Henry V: Chorus

Peter McEnery

  • A Midsummer Night’s Dream: Oberon

Cassie McFarlane

  • Antony and Cleopatra: Iras

Virginia McKenna

  • Julius Caesar: Portia

Cherith Mellor

  • A Midsummer Night’s Dream: Helena

Keith Michell

  • Julius Caesar: Marc Antony

Frank Middlemass

  • King Lear: Fool
  • Henry VI – Part 1: Cardinal Beaufort
  • Henry VI – Part 2: Cardinal Beaufort
  • Measure for Measure: Pompey

Helen Mirren

  • As You Like It: Rosalind
  • A Midsummer Night’s Dream: Titania
  • Cymbeline: Imogen

Warren Mitchell

  • The Merchant of Venice: Shylock

Richard Morant

  • The Merchant of Venice: Lorenzo

Mary Morris

  • King John: Queen Elinor
  • Richard II: Douchess of Gloucester

Robert Morris

  • Henry IV – Part 1: Edmund Mortimer, Earl of March

Kate Nelligan

  • Measure for Measure: Isabella

John Nettles

  • The Merchant of Venice: Bassanio

Joseph O’Conor

  • Othello: Lodovico
  • Romeo and Juliet: Friar Laurence
  • Henry VI – Part 1: Duke of Exeter / Shepherd

Richard Owens

  • Henry IV – Part 1: Owen Glendower
  • Richard II: Thomas Mowbray

Richard Pasco

  • Julius Caesar: Brutus
  • As You Like It: Jaques

John Paul

  • Romeo and Juliet: Montague
  • Antony and Cleopatra: Canidius

Trevor Peacock

  • Titus Andronicus: Titus Andronicus
  • Twelfth Night: Feste
  • Henry VI – Part 1: Lord Talbot
  • Henry VI – Part 2: Sheriff / Jack Cade
  • Pericles: Boult

Tessa Peake-Jones

  • The Two Gentlemen of Verona: Julia

Joanne Pearce

  • The Two Gentlemen of Verona: Silvia
  • The Comedy of Errors: Luciana

Anthony Pedley

  • Othello: Roderigo
  • Antony and Cleopatra: Agrippa
  • Coriolanus: Junius Brutus
  • The Taming of the Shrew: Tranio
  • Troilus & Cressida: Ajax

Michael Pennington

  • Cymbeline: Posthumus

Edward Petherbridge

  • Pericles: Gower

Ronald Pickup

  • Henry VIII: Thomas Cranmer, Archbishop of Canterbury

Tim Pigott-Smith

  • Henry IV – Part 1: Henry “Hotspur” Percy
  • Henry IV – Part 2: Henry “Hotspur” Percy
  • Measure for Measure: Angelo

Eric Porter

  • Hamlet: Polonius

Bryan Pringle

  • Henry IV – Part 2: Pistol
  • Henry V: Pistol

Brian Protheroe

  • Henry VI – Part 2: Edward Plantagenet
  • Henry VI – Part 3: King Edward IV (Edward Plantagenet)
  • Richard III: King Edward IV (Edward Plantagenet)
  • Henry VI – Part 1: Bastard of Orleans
  • Titus Andronicus: Saturninus

Jonathan Pryce

  • Timon of Athens: Timon

Bruce Purchase

  • Henry IV – Part 1: Henry Percy, Earl of Northumberland
  • Henry IV – Part 2: Henry Percy, Earl of Northumberland

Anthony Quayle

  • Henry IV – Part 1: Sir John Falstaff
  • Henry IV – Part 2: Sir John Falstaff

Christopher Ravenscroft

  • Pericles: First Knight, Gentleman of Ephesus

Amanda Redman

  • Pericles: Marina

Angharad Rees

  • As You Like It: Celia

Robert Reynolds

  • Much Ado About Nothing: Claudio

John Rhys-Davies

  • The Merchant of Venice: Salerio
  • Henry VIII: Capucius (Chapuys), Ambassador from Emperor Charles V

Alan Rickman

  • Romeo and Juliet: Tybalt

David Rintoul

  • Henry VIII: Lord Abergavenny

David Robb

  • Hamlet: Laertes

Norman Rodway

  • King Lear: Earl of Gloucester
  • Pericles: Cleon of Tarsus
  • Timon of Athens: Apemantus

Clifford Rose

  • Love’s Labour’s Lost: Boyet
  • Richard II: Bishop of Carlisle

Leonard Rossiter

  • King John: King John

John Rowe

  • Henry VIII: Thomas Cromwell
  • Macbeth: Lennox
  • Coriolanus: First Roman Senator

Patrick Ryecart

  • Romeo and Juliet: Romeo
  • Pericles: Lysimachus

Rebecca Saire

  • Romeo and Juliet: Juliet

Prunella Scales

  • The Merry Wives of Windsor: Mistress Page

Mohammad Shamsi

  • Antony and Cleopatra: Mardian

John Shrapnel

  • King Lear: Earl of Kent
  • Timon of Athens: Alcibiades
  • Troilus & Cressida: Hector

Elizabeth Spriggs

  • Julius Caesar: Calpurnia
  • The Merry Wives of Windsor: Mistress Quickly

Tony Steedman

  • Troilus & Cressida: Aeneas
  • Othello: Montano

Robert Stephens

  • The Winter’s Tale: Polixenes

Juliet Stevenson

  • Pericles: Thaisa

Patrick Stewart

  • Hamlet: Claudius

Brian Stirner

  • As You Like It: Orlando

Kevin Stoney

  • All’s Well That Ends Well: Rinaldo
  • Measure for Measure: Escalus

Ken Stott

  • King Lear: Curan

Christopher Strauli

  • Romeo and Juliet: Benvolio
  • Measure for Measure: Claudio

John Stride

  • Henry VIII: King Henry VIII

Donald Sumpter

  • Antony and Cleopatra: Pompeius

Robert Swann

  • Hamlet: Horatio

Clive Swift

  • Henry IV – Part 1: Thomas Percy, Earl of Worcester
  • Pericles: Lord Cerimon

John Thaw

  • King John: Hubert de Burgh

Hugh Thomas

  • Cymbeline: Cornelius
  • Timon of Athens: Lucius

Zoë Wanamaker

  • Richard III: Lady Anne

Lalla Ward

  • Hamlet: Ophelia

Eileen Way

  • Macbeth: Second Witch

Timothy West

Henry VIII: Cardinal Wolsey

Benjamin Whitrow

  • Troilus & Cressida: Ulysses

William Whymper

  • King John: Chatillon
  • Richard II: Sir Stephen Scroop
  • Henry V: Earl of Cambridge

Nicol Williamson

  • Macbeth: Macbeth

Penelope Wilton

  • Othello: Desdemona
  • King Lear: Regan

Mark Wing-Davey

  • Henry VI – Part 1: Earl of Warwick
  • Henry VI – Part 2: Earl of Warwick
  • Henry VI – Part 3: Earl of Warwick
  • Richard III: Sir James Tyrrel

John Woodvine

  • Pericles: King Antiochus

Irene Worth

  • Coriolanus: Volumnia

Tim Wylton

  • Hamlet: First Gravedigger
  • Henry V: Fluellen

David Yelland

  • Othello: Cassio

 

Favorite Quotes

Hamlet

“This above all: to thine own self be true,
And it must follow, as the night the day,
Thou canst not then be false to any man.”

“Brevity is the soul of wit.”

“What is a man, if his chief good and market of his time be but to sleep and feed? a beast, no more. Sure he that made us with such large discourse, looking before and after, gave us not that capability and god-like reason to fust in us unused.”

“Those friends thou hast, and their adoption tried,
Grapple them to thy soul with hoops of steel;
But do not dull thy palm with entertainment
Of each new-hatch’d, unfledg’d comrade.”

“Not a whit, we defy augury: there’s a special providence in the fall of a sparrow. If it be now, ’tis not to come; if it be not to come, it will be now; if it be not now, yet it will come: the readiness is all.”

“Rich gifts wax poor when givers prove unkind.”

“Could beauty, my lord, have better commerce than with honesty?”

As You Like It

“All the world’s a stage.”

“Love is merely a madness.”

“Men have died from time to time, and worms have eaten them, but not for love.”

“The fool doth think he is wise, but the wise man knows himself to be a fool.”

Much Ado About Nothing

“I had rather hear my dog bark at a crow, than a man swear he loves me.”

“If [God] send me no husband, for the which blessing I am at him upon my knees every morning and evening …”

“Thou and I are too wise to woo peaceably.”

“LEONATO: Well, then, go you into hell?
BEATRICE: No, but to the gate; and there will the devil meet me, like an old cuckold, with horns on his head, and say ‘Get you to heaven, Beatrice, get you to heaven; here’s no place for you maids:’ so deliver I up my apes, and away to Saint Peter for the heavens; he shows me where the bachelors sit, and there live we as merry as the day is long.”

“LEONATO: Well, niece, I hope to see you one day fitted with a husband.
BEATRICE: Not till God make men of some other metal than earth. Would it not grieve a woman to be overmastered with a pierce of valiant dust? to make an account of her life to a clod of wayward marl? No, uncle, I’ll none: Adam’s sons are my brethren; and, truly, I hold it a sin to match in my kindred.”

“DON PEDRO: Come, lady, come; you have lost the heart of Signior Benedick.
BEATRICE: Indeed, my lord, he lent it me awhile; and I gave him use for it, a double heart for his single one: marry, once before he won it of me with false dice, therefore your grace may well say I have lost it.
DON PEDRO: You have put him down, lady, you have put him down.
BEATRICE: So I would not he should do me, my lord, lest I should prove the mother of fools.”

“Yes, faith; it is my cousin’s duty to make curtsy and say ‘Father, as it please you.’ But yet for all that, cousin, let him be a handsome fellow, or else make another curtsy and say ‘Father, as it please me.”

“Wooing, wedding, and repenting is as a Scotch jig, a measure, and a cinque-pace: the first suit is hot and hasty like a Scotch jig – and full as fantastical; the wedding, mannerly modest, as a measure, full of state and ancientry; and then comes repentance and with his bad legs falls into the cinque-pace faster and faster, till he sink into his grave.”

“Time goes on crutches till love have all his rites.”

“For it falls out
That what we have we prize not to the worth
Whiles we enjoy it, but being lacked and lost,
Why, then we rack the value, then we find
The virtue that possession would not show us
While it was ours.”

“To be a well-favoured man is the gift of fortune; but to write and read comes by nature.”

A Midsummer Night’s Dream

“Lord, what fools these mortals be!”

“The course of true love never did run smooth.”

“Though she be but little, she is fierce!”

The Taming of the Shrew

“If I be waspish, best beware my sting.”

Macbeth

“Let every man be master of his time.”

“Things without all remedy should be without regard: what’s done is done.”

“What’s done cannot be undone.”

Henry V

“Men of few words are the best men.”

“All things are ready, if our mind be so.”

“O for a Muse of fire, that would ascend
The brightest heaven of invention,
A kingdom for a stage, princes to act
And monarchs to behold the swelling scene!
Then should the warlike Harry, like himself,
Assume the port of Mars; and at his heels,
Leash’d in like hounds, should famine, sword and fire
Crouch for employment. But pardon, and gentles all,
The flat unraised spirits that have dared
On this unworthy scaffold to bring forth
So great an object: can this cockpit hold
The vasty fields of France? or may we cram
Within this wooden O the very casques
That did affright the air at Agincourt?
O, pardon! since a crooked figure may
Attest in little place a million;
And let us, ciphers to this great accompt,
On your imaginary forces work.
Suppose within the girdle of these walls
Are now confined two mighty monarchies,
Whose high upreared and abutting fronts
The perilous narrow ocean parts asunder:
Piece out our imperfections with your thoughts;
Into a thousand parts divide on man,
And make imaginary puissance;
Think when we talk of horses, that you see them
Printing their proud hoofs i’ the receiving earth;
For ’tis your thoughts that now must deck our kings,
Carry them here and there; jumping o’er times,
Turning the accomplishment of many years
Into an hour-glass: for the which supply,
Admit me Chorus to this history;
Who prologue-like your humble patience pray,
Gently to hear, kindly to judge, our play.”

“What infinite heart’s-ease
Must kings neglect, that private men enjoy!
And what have kings, that privates have not too,
Save ceremony, save general ceremony?
And what art thou, thou idle ceremony?
What kind of god art thou, that suffer’st more
Of mortal griefs than do thy worshippers?
What are thy rents? what are thy comings in?
O ceremony, show me but thy worth!
What is thy soul of adoration?
Art thou aught else but place, degree and form,
Creating awe and fear in other men?
Wherein thou art less happy being fear’d
Than they in fearing.
What drink’st thou oft, instead of homage sweet,
But poison’d flattery? O, be sick, great greatness,
And bid thy ceremony give thee cure!
Think’st thou the fiery fever will go out
With titles blown from adulation?
Will it give place to flexure and low bending?
Canst thou, when thou command’st the beggar’s knee,
Command the health of it? No, thou proud dream,
That play’st so subtly with a king’s repose;
I am a king that find thee, and I know
‘Tis not the balm, the sceptre and the ball,
The sword, the mace, the crown imperial,
The intertissued robe of gold and pearl,
The farced title running ‘fore the king,
The throne he sits on, nor the tide of pomp
That beats upon the high shore of this world,
No, not all these, thrice-gorgeous ceremony,
Not all these, laid in bed majestical,
Can sleep so soundly as the wretched slave,
Who with a body fill’d and vacant mind
Gets him to rest, cramm’d with distressful bread;
Never sees horrid night, the child of hell,
But, like a lackey, from the rise to set
Sweats in the eye of Phoebus and all night
Sleeps in Elysium; next day after dawn,
Doth rise and help Hyperion to his horse,
And follows so the ever-running year,
With profitable labour, to his grave:
And, but for ceremony, such a wretch,
Winding up days with toil and nights with sleep,
Had the fore-hand and vantage of a king.
The slave, a member of the country’s peace,
Enjoys it; but in gross brain little wots
What watch the king keeps to maintain the peace,
Whose hours the peasant best advantages.”

“WESTMORELAND: O that we now had here
But one ten thousand of those men in England
That do no work to-day!
KING: What’s he that wishes so?
My cousin Westmoreland? No, my fair cousin;
If we are mark’d to die, we are enow
To do our country loss; and if to live,
The fewer men, the greater share of honour.
God’s will! I pray thee, wish not one man more.
By Jove, I am not covetous for gold,
Nor care I who doth feed upon my cost;
It yearns me not if men my garments wear;
Such outward things dwell not in my desires.
But if it be a sin to covet honour,
I am the most offending soul alive.
No, faith, my coz, wish not a man from England.
God’s peace! I would not lose so great an honour
As one man more methinks would share from me
For the best hope I have. O, do not wish one more!
Rather proclaim it, Westmoreland, through my host,
That he which hath no stomach to this fight,
Let him depart; his passport shall be made,
And crowns for convoy put into his purse;
We would not die in that man’s company
That fears his fellowship to die with us.
This day is call’d the feast of Crispian.
He that outlives this day, and comes safe home,
Will stand a tip-toe when this day is nam’d,
And rouse him at the name of Crispian.
He that shall live this day, and see old age,
Will yearly on the vigil feast his neighbours,
And say ‘To-morrow is Saint Crispian.’
Then will he strip his sleeve and show his scars,
And say ‘These wounds I had on Crispian’s day.’
Old men forget; yet all shall be forgot,
But he’ll remember, with advantages,
What feats he did that day. Then shall our names,
Familiar in his mouth as household words –
Harry the King, Bedford and Exeter,
Warwick and Talbot, Salisbury and Gloucester –
Be in their flowing cups freshly rememb’red.
This story shall the good man teach his son;
And Crispin Crispian shall ne’er go by,
From this day to the ending of the world,
But we in it shall be remembered –
We few, we happy few, we band of brothers;
For he to-day that sheds his blood with me
Shall be my brother; be he ne’er so vile,
This day shall gentle his condition;
And gentlemen in England now-a-bed
Shall think themselves accurs’d they were not here,
And hold their manhoods cheap whiles any speaks
That fought with us upon Saint Crispin’s day.”

Twelfth Night

“If music be the food of love, play on.”

The Tempest

“What’s past is prologue.”

“Thought is free.”

The Winter’s Tale

“Though I am not naturally honest, I am sometimes so by chance.”

“Exit pursued by a bear.”
[Stage direction (III, iii)]”

“I have drunk and seen the spider.”

Henry IV, Part 2

“Enter RUMOUR, painted full of tongues.”
[Stage direction, Induction]

“RUMOUR: Upon my tongues continual slanders ride,
The which in every language I pronounce,
Stuffing the ears of men with false reports.”

“Rumour is a pipe
Blown by surmises, jealousies, conjectures
And of so easy and so plain a stop
That the blunt monster with uncounted heads,
The still-discordant wavering multitude,
Can play upon it.”

Henry VI, Part 3

“To weep is to make less the depth of grief.”

The Merchant of Venice

“How far that little candle throws his beams! So shines a good deed in a weary world.”

“If to do were as easy as to know what were good to do, chapels had been churches, and poor men’s cottages princes’ palaces. It is a good divine that follows his own instructions: I can easier teach twenty what were good to be done, than be one of the twenty to follow mine own teaching.”

“So may the outward shows be least themselves:
The world is still deceived with ornament.
In law, what plea so tainted and corrupt,
But, being seasoned with a gracious voice,
Obscures the show of evil? In religion,
What damned error, but some sober brow
Will bless it and approve it with a text,
Hiding the grossness with fair ornament?
There is no vice so simple but assumes
Some mark of virtue on his outward parts.”

“Look on beauty,
And you shall see ’tis purchased by the weight;
Which therein works a miracle in nature,
Making them lightest that wear most of it:
So are those crisped snaky golden locks
Which make such wanton gambols with the wind,
Upon supposed fairness, often known
To be the dowry of a second head,
The skull that bred them in the sepulchre.
Thus ornament is but the guiled shore
To a most dangerous sea; the beauteous scarf
Veiling an Indian beauty; in a word,
The seeming truth which cunning times put on
To entrap the wisest.”

“All that glisters is not gold;
Often have you heard that told:
Many a man his life hath sold
But my outside to behold:
Gilded tombs do worms enfold.”

Julius Caesar

“The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars, but in ourselves.”

“The evil that men do lives after them;
The good is oft interred with their bones.”

Antony and Cleopatra

“In time we hate that which we often fear.”

King Lear

“Fortune love you.”

Romeo and Juliet

“There is thy gold, worse poison to men’s souls,
Doing more murder in this loathsome world,
Than these poor compounds that thou mayst not sell.”

Othello

“O, beware, my lord, of jealousy;
It is the green-ey’d monster, which doth mock
The meat it feeds on.”

Measure for Measure

“Our doubts are traitors,
and make us lose the good we oft might win,
by fearing to attempt.”

 

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