BBC making 1,000-strong Shakespeare archive available to students

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The BBC has made its archive of Shakespeare content, including productions starring Dame Maggie Smith, Billie Piper and James McAvoy, free to schools, colleges, and universities.

The combined collection contains nearly 1,000 TV series, interviews and programmes spanning more than 70 years and is now accessible to all UK educational institutions that hold a licence with the Educational Recording Agency (ERA).

Included in the archive are comedies such as Monty Python and Upstart Crow, The Hollow Crown starring Ben Whishaw, Jeremy Irons and Tom Hiddleston, Russell T Davies’ production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Horrible Histories.

Billie Piper
Billie Piper stars in an adaptation of Much Ado About Nothing (Matt Crossick/PA)

Also available to view is a 1967 production of Much Ado About Nothing starring Dame Maggie and Robert Stephens, and a ballet based on The Winter’s Tale performed at the Royal Opera House.

David Tennant also makes an appearance in the title role of Hamlet in the Royal Shakespeare Company’s (RSC) 2009 production, as does Sir Patrick Stewart in BBC Four’s 2010 film Macbeth.

The Shakespeare Re-Told adaptations include Much Ado About Nothing with Piper and Macbeth with McAvoy.

Pupils also have access to the RSC’s production of As You Like It, broadcast in 1963, starring a young Vanessa Redgrave as Rosalind.

Vanessa Redgrave
Veteran actress Vanessa Redgrave (Ian West/PA)

Peter Rippon, executive editor of BBC Archive, said:

“The BBC’s Shakespeare collection offers a fabulous insight into how interpretations and performances have evolved. It also gives us a glimpse of early performances by some of today’s most famous actors.
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“The demand for audio and video content in education is growing sharply and this partnership with the ERA is a brilliant way for the BBC to open its precious archive in new ways.”

Helena Djurkovic, chief executive of ERA said:

“We are delighted to be partnering with the BBC to provide access to such a wealth of brilliant resources through our video streaming platform.

“Educators and students will be able to easily search a vast range of fantastic and historically important BBC broadcasts to support teaching, learning and research.

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“From riveting productions dating back to the 1950s to contemporary interpretations and critical analyses of Shakespeare’s work, this BBC Archive is a clear illustration of the immense educational value of broadcast recordings to the education sector.”

The resource is available online.

What Shakespeare did you study at school?
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