Will Shakespeare (TV series)
|Also known as||
Life of Shakespeare|
William Shakespeare: His Life & Times
|Created by||John Mortimer|
|Written by||John Mortimer|
|Country of origin||United Kingdom|
|No. of episodes||6|
Lorna Mason (associate producer)
Peter Roden (co-producer)
|Production company(s)||ATV, RAI|
|Original release||13 June – 18 July 1978|
Will Shakespeare, also known as Life of Shakespeare and William Shakespeare: His Life & Times, was a 1978 historical drama series created and written by John Mortimer. Broadcast in six parts, the series is a dramatisation of the life and times of the great poet William Shakespeare, played by Tim Curry, and was co-produced by Lew Grade's ATV and RAI and distributed internationally by ITC. The two production companies had collaborated successfully the previous year on Jesus of Nazareth.
- Tim Curry as William Shakespeare
- Ian McShane as Christopher Marlowe
- Nicholas Clay as the Earl of Southampton
- Lynette Davies as the Countess of Southampton
- Paul Freeman as Richard Burbage
- John Normington as Alex Cooke
- Ron Cook as Jack Rice
- Richard Cordery as Henry Condell
- Ronald Herdman as Sam Crosse
- Roger Lloyd-Pack as Jack Heminge
- Patience Collier as Elizabeth I
Each episode was based around the creation of a single play, and the idea of Shakespeare's real life experiences influencing his writing was used as the central plot device. As there are few known facts about the life of Shakespeare, Mortimer embellished upon known stories or legends about the playwright's life. These included a supposed apprenticeship with Christopher Marlowe and a homoerotic relationship with the Earl of Southampton.
Mortimer also invented a character whom the Dark Lady of Shakespeare's sonnets was supposedly based upon. The wife of a judge, she falls in love with Shakespeare after seeing his performance as Tybalt in Romeo and Juliet, adding a secondary storyline elaborating on class divisions.
Original Literary Material
The series was initially released on VHS home video under the title William Shakespeare: His Life & Times. A Region 1 DVD release of the series, by A & E television, was released in 2008, simply titled Will Shakespeare. Network Studio released a Region 2 DVD of the series in 2009 under the same title.
- BFI screenonline page on Will Shakespeare (1978)
- Life of Shakespeare (TV Mini-Series 1978) at the Internet Movie Database