In Search of Shakespeare

Watch In Search of Shakespeare

  • 2005
  • 1 Season
  • 8.0  (240)

In Search of Shakespeare is a four-part documentary series from BBC Two that explores the life, times, and works of the world's most famous playwright, William Shakespeare. The series was presented by historian and broadcaster Michael Wood, and it was first broadcast in 2004.

The series takes viewers on a journey through the streets of Stratford-upon-Avon, the theatres of Elizabethan London, and the mind of William Shakespeare himself. It uses a combination of historical analysis and dramatic reconstructions to tell the story of a man whose genius has captivated audiences for over four hundred years.

The first episode, "A Time of Revolution," sets the scene by exploring the political, social, and religious upheavals of Shakespeare's time. We learn about the religious turmoil of the Reformation, the rise of English nationalism, and the growing divide between rich and poor. We also get a sense of Shakespeare's early life in Stratford, where he was born in 1564, and we hear from experts who have studied his family, his education, and his early influences.

The second episode, "The Lost Years," delves deeper into Shakespeare's early career as an actor and playwright in London. We learn about the playwrights who came before him, such as Christopher Marlowe and Ben Jonson, and we hear from actors and directors who have brought his plays to life on the stage. We also explore the dark side of Elizabethan society, with its rampant disease, poverty, and crime, and we see how Shakespeare's plays reflected these harsh realities.

The third episode, "The Duty of Poets," focuses on Shakespeare's mature years, when he wrote his greatest works, including Hamlet, Othello, and King Lear. We learn about the social and cultural context in which these plays were written, including the reign of James I, the Gunpowder Plot, and the growing power of the Puritans. We also hear from historians and literary scholars who have analyzed the themes, characters, and language of Shakespeare's plays, and we see how they continue to resonate with audiences today.

The final episode, "For All Time," looks at Shakespeare's legacy and his enduring impact on the world of literature, theatre, and culture. We see how his plays have been translated, adapted, and reinterpreted in different languages and cultures around the globe, and we hear from actors, directors, and scholars who have studied his works. We also see how Shakespeare's influence extends beyond the world of art, into politics, philosophy, and even science.

Throughout the series, Michael Wood is joined by a talented cast of actors who bring Shakespeare's characters to life, including Desmond Barrit, Ray Fearon, Nancy Carroll, and Julian Glover. The series also features stunning locations, beautiful costume and set designs, and a haunting musical score that transports viewers back in time.

In Search of Shakespeare is a masterful exploration of one of the greatest figures in human history, a man whose words have changed the world. It is a must-watch for anyone who loves literature, history, or theatre, and it is a testament to the enduring power of human creativity and imagination.

In Search of Shakespeare
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For All Time
4. For All Time
December 5, 2005
Michael Wood traces events in the playwright's life during the reign of King James I, examining his role in the coronation and revealing how, following the Gunpowder Plot in 1605, Shakespeare penned a play about conspiracies and paranoia - Macbeth. He also tracks down the neighbourhood in London where the Bard stayed with a French family, and looks at a fragment of a lost play discovered during the filming of the series.
The Duty of Poets
3. The Duty of Poets
November 28, 2005
In the third part of this series Michael Wood uncovers Shakespeare's rise to fame and fortune in Elizabethan London. With Romeo and Juliet and A Midsummer Night's Dream, Shakespeare becomes England's top entertainer. But now tragedy strikes, as his only son Hamnet dies at the age of 11. Plunged into a mid-life crisis William falls in love with a beautiful teenage nobleman, has a passionate affair with a mysterious married woman and is summonsed for GBH! Meanwhile his theatre company builds the Globe Theatre, and is caught up in the rebellion against Queen Elizabeth. But in the midst of it all, William creates some of the greatest characters in the literature of the world.
The Lost Years
2. The Lost Years
November 21, 2005
Shakespeare's "missing years" have mystified scholars for centuries. In Episode Two - The Lost Years - Michael Wood explores conflicting theories of how Shakespeare spent the ten years between his marriage to Anne Hathaway and his emergence as a star writer in London. Apart from the birth of his three children, absolutely nothing is known about Shakespeare's life between the ages of 18 and 28, but there are some intriguing clues. Wood first checks out a fascinating theory which takes young William up to serve in an old Catholic house near Preston in Lancashire. There Michael meets the Hoghton family, who believe a family will proves Shakespeare lived with them. Wood also investigates the possibility that Shakespeare first trod the boards in an ancient hall at Rufford near Liverpool.
A Time of Revolution
1. A Time of Revolution
November 14, 2005
The first episode sets Shakespeare's life in the early years of Elizabeth's reign, at the beginning of Elizabeth's Cultural Revolution. We set the scene with the seesaw politics of England in the twenty years since Henry VIII's split with Rome. The age is marked by the battle of conscience and power, which will lead to religious and class struggle, and eventually to Civil War. Through local documents - and with the help of the modern-day town councilors - we follow William's father's career in a small town, rising to become Alderman and Mayor. Contrary to the myth, Shakespeare came from an upwardly mobile family
  • Premiere Date
    November 14, 2005
  • IMDB Rating
    8.0  (240)