BBC to celebrate Shakespeare anniversary from Birmingham

City will help showcase the Bard’s work to the world.

BBC Director General Tony Hall has launched the BBC’s plans to mark the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death with its most far-reaching celebration of Shakespeare’s work ever broadcast, The Shakespeare Festival.

Birmingham will play a key role hosting the celebrations with a collection of activity across digital, television, live events and educational initiatives coming straight from the city.

Joe Godwin, Director of BBC Birmingham said: “The ambitious plans we have set out for the Shakespeare Festival are incredibly exciting. The whole organisation is collaborating closely to create really bold content to entertain and educate on the genius of Shakespeare, and BBC Birmingham is proud to play a key part in it. Amongst the many of the things we are up to, we will be delivering an online festival of performances called Shakespeare Lives which will be accessible to watch from anywhere in the world. There will be lots to look out for from here and of course from Shakespeare’s Midlands home in Stratford-Upon-Avon.”

Helen Boaden, Lead on the BBC Shakespeare Festival, added: “From searching for the ‘Best Bottoms in the Land’, to new exciting drama and documentary commissions across TV and radio; live programming from Stratford to an irreverent on line game using Shakespearian quotes and BBC Local Radio documenting on their websites where and how Shakespeare’s plays have been performed; our aim is to make Shakespeare simply irresistible. We want to reach out to every generation and all parts of the UK to ensure everyone can explore the enduring magic of our greatest ever writer.”

A specialised digital team at BBC Birmingham will be bringing the genius of William Shakespeare to life across the globe in Shakespeare Day Live and the Shakespeare Lives Festival where the nation’s greatest performing arts institutions come together in a single online Shakespeare festival – accessible anywhere in the world. On April 23rd 2016 in partnership with the British Council and in collaboration with the Royal Opera House, the British Film Institute, the Royal Shakespeare Company, the Space and the Hay Festival will bring a remarkable collection of interpretations of Shakespeare’s work together in one digital space for audiences in the UK and around the world to experience. Following the live stream on 23 rd April this diverse collection of work will be available internationally for six months at

At the centre piece of the Shakespeare Festival in Stratford-Upon-Avon will be Shakespeare Live! From the RSC, broadcast during the weekend of Shakespeare’s birthday, hosted by David Tennant, directed by Gregory Doran and produced for television by John Wyver, Shakespeare 400: Live from the RSC will celebrate Shakespeare’s enduring influence on all art forms. A stellar cast, including Dame Judi Dench, Joseph Fiennes, English National Opera, (ENO), Birmingham Royal Ballet, Ian Bostridge, and Akala (Hip Hop Shakespeare) will perform in a unique star-studded tribute to the genius and influence of the world’s greatest playwright and story teller.

There will be a BBC Radio 3 residency in Stratford-upon-Avon from 22nd-24th April where the station will broadcast live from the birthplace of Shakespeare, including the world premiere of new work by Carol Ann Duffy.

On television screens, produced by the English Regions team in Birmingham for BBC One, Best Bottoms in the Land will follow the RSC’s quest to put on A Midsummer Night’s Dream: A Play for the Nation where, for the first time, professionals will be joined by local amateur theatre companies and, in a TV first.

BBC Live lessons will be broadcast from the Library of Birmingham for school children across the UK. In partnership with the RSC, BBC Learning will offer lessons that explore the language and work of Shakespeare. As part of a special CBeebies production of A Midsummers Night Dream there will be nine short films to feature on CBeebies website and You Tube channel supported by Daniel Tyler from The Birmingham Rep. This will features four Birmingham primary schools.

BBC One daytime soap Doctors will offer storylines during the anniversary of the week Shakespeare died inspired by a Shakespearian Sonnet and Home Front, Radio 4’s daily drama set in WW1 Britain, will conceal a Shakespeare phrase in every episode until 31st December.

BBC English Regions based in Birmingham will produce Shakespeare on Tour – building a digital picture of the explosion in the performance of Shakespeare’s plays, from the first performances to the present day. Having partnered up with up with the British Library and the Records of Early English Drama, the BBC has produced over 200 stories which mark iconic performances across England from the time Shakespeare himself was performing with his group of actors – through to the Victorian times – and including more modern performances of his work in regional theatres across the land. These stories will be broadcast across every local BBC radio station across the country.