Series 1

1 :01x01 - Much Ado About Nothing

When the bickering between broadcasters Beatrice and Benedick gets too much to take, their colleagues at South West TV come up with a cunning plan to shut the pair up. Meanwhile, lovely weathergirl Hero and dashing reporter Claude are a match made in heaven - but does everyone want to see them so happy?

Sarah Parish, Damian Lewis, Tom Ellis and Billie Piper star in David Nicholls updating of Shakespeare's Much Ado About Nothing - one of the Bard's best loved and funniest plays.
Guest Stars: Sarah Parish as Beatrice | Nina Sosanya as Margaret | Michael Smiley as Peter | Damian Lewis as Benedick | Billie Piper as Hero | Tom Ellis as Claude | Martin Jarvis as Leonard | Derek Riddell as Don Reid | Olivia Colman as Ursula

2 :01x02 - Macbeth

Top chef Joe Macbeth has worked hard to make Duncan Docherty's restaurant a success. So, when he's told it'll all be his one day, what's to stop him taking it now?

James McAvoy, Keeley Hawes, Joseph Millson and Toby Kebbell star in Peter Moffat's updating of Shakespeare's darkest tragedy - Macbeth.
Guest Stars: Toby Kebbell as Malcolm | James McAvoy as Joe Macbeth | Keeley Hawes as Ella Macbeth | Joseph Millson as Billy | Richard Armitage as Peter MacDuff

3 :01x03 - The Taming of the Shrew

Katherine Minola is a succesful politician, tipped for the leadership of her party. The only problem is, her awful temper has left her a 38 year old singleton, and everyone, from her party chairman to her sister, wants her to get married. Is passionate eccentric Petruchio the answer to her prayers?

Shirley Henderson, Rufus Sewell, Jaime Murray, Stephen Tompkinson, Twiggy Lawson and David Mitchell star in Sally Wainwright's updating of Shakespeare's comedy about the battle of the sexes.
Guest Stars: Federico Zanni as Tranio | Shirley Henderson as Katherine Minola | Rufus Sewell as Petruchio | Stephen Tompkinson as Harry Kavanagh | Twiggy Lawson as Mrs Minola | Jaime Murray as Bianca Minola | David Mitchell as Tim Agnew | Santiago Cabrera as Lucentio

* As opposed to the rest of the series, this episode aired on BBC 4

An intense drama about the passionate and destructive love triangle that consumed Shakespeare in his troubled middle years - adapting some of the most celebrated, sexual, raw, bitter and vitriolic love poems ever written.

Shakespeare’s sonnets are the most compelling source for an emotional and dramatic journey into the psychology of the man himself. Self-analytical, brutally honest, they allow us to go behind the scenes of this complex genius.

Shakespeare (Rupert Graves) is in his troubled middle years, emotionally bereft by his separation from Anne Hathaway (Anna Chancellor), and grieving after the death of his son Hamnet. Shakespeare takes a commission from the Countess of Pembroke (Zoe Wanamaker) to pen a sonnet sequence, celebrating an androgynous young patron, William Herbert, (Tom Sturridge) son of the Countess and soon to be Earl of Pembroke.

Behind the lyrical, beautifully crafted language, a brooding obsession with the “Lovely Boy” and Shakespeare’s extra-marital relationship with a “Dark Lady” (Indira Varma) is revealed. The sonnet sequence is his unique meditation on love, sex, mortality and the creative urge, which has tantalised scholars and casual readers alike.

First and foremost, this drama is located in the text of the sonnets: it’s a lively and irreverent study of the creative impulses and verbal tics of a glove-maker’s son from Warwickshire, frenetically putting feather to parchment. We see the subject and object of Will’s desire, reading between the lines of his beautifully crafted entreaties of love.

A Waste of Shame is partly a chamber-piece that captures the solitary nature of writing, but also conversely identifies the key figures in Shakespeare’s personal and professional life. It dramatises the burlesque world of players, whores and whoremongers, from which the Bard drew his inspiration. Bombast Burbage, Brothel Keeper George Wilkins and Brainiac Ben Jonson – all familiar faces in Southwark – are brought to life.

A Waste of Shame shares the sexual candour of Garcia’s book Love in the Time of Cholera, similarly pointing to larger patterns of social and political disorder: a seamy, violent, chaotic age where you get your kicks where you can find them. As our story of the affair unravels, so the tone of the piece shifts from light and bawdy to dark and tawdry. The closure of the theatres in 1603 scatters the vagrants, whores and drunks into the blind alleyways of Southwark, and we see Shakespeare’s stomping ground under siege from the plague.

The character of Shakespeare changes dramatically, too: he becomes tougher, more cynical, but his wit always lightens the darkness for us. A Waste of Shame makes him flesh and blood, a man with all the anxieties and ambitions of his audience today. He’s flawed, jaded, but ultimately a hero.
Guest Stars: Rupert Graves as Shakespeare | Tom Sturridge as William Herbert | Indira Varma as Lucie | Anna Chancellor as Anne Hathaway | Zoë Wanamaker as Countess of Pembroke

4 :01x04 - A Midsummer Night's Dream

Theo and Polly have come to Dream Park to celebrate their daughter Hermia's engagement. But the course of true love never did run smooth, and the night ahead holds revelations, fairies, transformations and plenty of love juice.

Imelda Staunton, Bill Paterson, Sharon Small, Lennie James and Johnny Vegas star in Peter Bowker's updating of Shakespeare's romantic comedy A Midsummer Night's Dream.
Guest Stars: Sharon Small as Titania | Dean Lennox Kelly as Puck | Imelda Staunton as Polly | Bill Paterson as Theo | Lennie James as Oberon | William Ash as James | Rupert Evans (1) as Xander | Johnny Vegas as Bottom | Zoe Tapper as Hermia | Michelle Bonnard as Helena
Writer: Peter Bowker
Classification: Scripted
Genre: Drama
Status: Canceled/Ended
Network: BBC one ( United Kingdom)
Airs: Mondays at 08:30 pm
Runtime: 90 Minutes
Premiere: November 07, 2005
Ended: November 28, 2005
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