Dictatorship, disownment and deception – it can only be a BBC Shakespeare adaptation…
King Lear, Bank Holiday Monday, 9.30pm, BBC Two/HD (CH 102/162). Also available for 30 days in Catch Up > Channels > BBC iPlayer
It’s one of the greatest tragedies in the English literary canon. King Lear tells the tale of an elderly king who divides his kingdom among his daughters, Goneril, Regan and Cordelia, according to their affection for him. When Cordelia, his youngest daughter, refuses to adulate him, he turns his back on her. What ensues is a story of chaos and betrayal.
Director Richard Eyre (Notes On A Scandal) has set this one-off adaptation in a fictional present, in which England is a military dictatorship.
At the heart of it all is Oscar- and BAFTA-winning actor Sir Anthony Hopkins (Westworld) as the conniving authoritarian ruler. Emma Thompson (Sense And Sensibility) – another multiple award winner whose own damehood is surely only a matter of time – plays his eldest daughter Goneril, reuniting her with Hopkins on-screen for the first time since 1993’s The Remains Of The Day. BAFTA winner Emily Watson (The Theory Of Everything) is middle daughter Regan, while Florence Pugh (Lady Macbeth) takes on the role of Cordelia.
And the spectacular cast list does not end there. Another Oscar and BAFTA winner – there is a theme here – Jim Broadbent (Game Of Thrones) is the Earl of Gloucester, while BAFTA winner Andrew Scott (Sherlock) is his son Edgar. John Macmillan (Chewing Gum), Jim Carter (Downton Abbey), Christopher Eccleston (The A Word) and Tobias Menzies (Game Of Thrones) also star.
Whether you’d have Shakespeare as your Mastermind subject or you just love a good old BAFTA-winners knees-up, you won’t want to miss this.
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Image credits: King Lear © Playground Entertainment – Photographer: Ed Miller