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Will Shakespeare (ITV Drama, Tim Curry, Ian McShane)

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In this lavish 6 part period drama we are given a semi fictionalised account of the life of Will Shakespeare (Tim Curry), especially his early years when he was trying to make a name for himself as a struggling actor before teaming up with Christopher Marlowe (Ian McShane) to help him complete his play Doctor Faustus, before making a mark of his own as a playwright.

The serial moves on to cover all the key points of Shakespeare’s life, including his strained relationship with Anne Hathaway (Meg Wynn Owen).

The settings are fantastic, the Globe theatre wonderfully realised, it always looks quite stagey though which actually works in its favour. it’s all very busy at first but settles down after the first episode.

Mortimer plays pretty fast and loose with the facts of Shakespeare’s life, it’s highly doubtful that he ever worked with Marlowe for instance but so little is really known about his life that the production gets away with it.

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Tim Curry is very good as Will and there are plenty of prominent names popping up in key roles from Ian McShane as Christopher Marlowe to Andre Morell as Edward Alleyn. There are also appearances from Simon MacCorkindale, Paul Freeman and ex Angel Shirley Cheriton as a waitress who Shakespeare is having a fling with but who dies of plague in episode two.

Cast: TIM CURRY as William Shakespeare; IAN McSHANE as Christopher Marlowe; DEREK ROYLE as William Kempe; MICHAEL HADLEY as Augustine Phillips; RON COOK as Jack Rice; RICHARD CORDERY as Henry Condell; FRED BRYANT as William Slye; IRENE SUNTERS as Mistress Rice; MEG WYNN OWEN as Anne Hathaway; PAUL FREEMAN as Dick Burbage; ANDRE MORELL as Edward Alleyn; ROGER LLOYD PACK as Jack heminge; SIMON MacCORKINDALE as Sir Thomas Walsingham; SHIRLEY CHERITON as Kate

Writer: John Mortimer / Fights arranged by B.H. Harry / Costumes: David Walker / Scenery designed by Henry Graveney and Michael Bailey / Music: Richard Hill / Story Consultant: Peter Wood / Producer: Cecil Clarke

UK / ITV – ATV / 6×60 minute episodes / Broadcast 13 June – 18 July 1978

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THE EPISODES 13 June – 18 July 1978
1. DEAD SHEPHERD
2. ALMS FOR OBLIVION
3. OF COMFORT AND DESPAIR
4. THE LOVED BOY
5. REBELLION’S MASTERPIECE
6. THE LIVING RECORD


Alastair James is the editor in chief for Memorable TV. He has been involved in media since his university days. Alastair is passionate about television, and some of his favourite shows include Line of Duty, Luther and Traitors. He is always on the lookout for hot new shows, and is always keen to share his knowledge with others.

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