Like the earlier Canterbury Tales this is a brilliant idea for a classy BBC series, modern day retellings of four Shakespeare plays, shot through with pop culture references, groovy soundtracks and great casts.
Much Ado About Nothing is set in the world of a local TV Newsroom and Beatrice (Sarah Parish) and Benedick (Damian Lewis) are television news presenters who were once lovers but fell out years previously and now hate each other. Now he is hired to work alongside her on a show and they must find someway to get along.
In Macbeth Joe Macbeth (James McAvoy) is a head chef working at busy restaurant. After some strange predictions by three dustbin men and with urging from his wife Macbeth murders his senior business partner and takes over full control of the restaurant. But his guilt at his action sends him to the verge of madness.;
In The Taming of the Shrew Katherine Minola is a politician with a furious temper but has worked her way up and is on the verge of becoming leader of the opposition. Her fiery abrasive personality means she has never had a man in her life. But a friend of her sister’s boyfriend – Petruchio – is a man eager to take on a challenge and sets about to woo and tame her.
Finally in A Midsummer Nights Dream, Hermia’s father Theo (Bill Paterson) has organised a lavish party at a holiday park for her engagement – but she calls it off declaring she loves another. The king of the fairies, Oberon, and his cohorts get involved weaving magical love potions and spells to try and sort out the tangled loves of those there present.
Each production is very different in style, Macbeth is incredibly dark of course whilst Much Ado About Nothing is as light as feather.
UK / BBC One – BBC Northern Ireland – Horsebridge / 4×90 minute episodes / Broadcast 7-28 November 2005
Based on a plays by William Shakespeare / Executive Producers: Laura Mackie, Patrick Spence.
1. MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING (7 Nov 05) Adapted by David Nicholls
2. MACBETH (14 Nov 05) Adapted by Peter Moffat
3. THE TAMING OF THE SHREW (21 Nov 05) Adapted by Sally Wainwright
4. A MIDSUMMER NIGHT’S DREAM (28 Nov 05) Adapted by Peter Bowker