Shakespeare on Television

Stephen Purcell

in The Edinburgh Companion to Shakespeare and the Arts

Published by Edinburgh University Press

Published in print October 2011 | ISBN: 9780748635238
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780748652297 | DOI:
Shakespeare on Television

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This chapter considers the BBC Television Shakespeare of 1978–85, the Animated Tales of 1992–4 and the ShakespeaRetold series of 2005 as decisive conjunctures. It is highlighted that television Shakespeare is, like silent cinema, in urgent need of reconsideration. It then evaluates what might be called ‘Shakespeare on television’ and ‘Shakespeare as television’ respectively, before turning its attention to a broader analysis of some of the ways in which television has presented ‘Shakespeare’ the cultural icon. It is striking that the most effective of the ‘straight’ television Shakespeares tend to be those that emphasize their own theatrical qualities. A television format that can provide the site for a more literal contestation of Shakespeare's cultural status is the workshop. It finally addresses Slings and Arrows because it embodies many of the recurring concerns and contradictions of Shakespeare on television.

Keywords: BBC Television Shakespeare; Animated Tales; ShakespeaRetold; straight television; Slings and Arrows

Chapter.  10887 words. 

Subjects: Shakespeare Studies and Criticism

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