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The Edinburgh Companion to Shakespeare and the Arts$
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Mark Thornton Burnett and Adrian Streete

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780748635238

Published to Edinburgh Scholarship Online: March 2012

DOI: 10.3366/edinburgh/9780748635238.001.0001

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Shakespeare on Television

Shakespeare on Television

Chapter:
(p.522) 28 Shakespeare on Television
Source:
The Edinburgh Companion to Shakespeare and the Arts
Author(s):

Stephen Purcell

Publisher:
Edinburgh University Press
DOI:10.3366/edinburgh/9780748635238.003.0029

This chapter considers the BBC Television Shakespeare of 1978–85, the Animated Tales of 1992–4 and the ShakespeaRetold series of 2005 as decisive conjunctures. It is highlighted that television Shakespeare is, like silent cinema, in urgent need of reconsideration. It then evaluates what might be called ‘Shakespeare on television’ and ‘Shakespeare as television’ respectively, before turning its attention to a broader analysis of some of the ways in which television has presented ‘Shakespeare’ the cultural icon. It is striking that the most effective of the ‘straight’ television Shakespeares tend to be those that emphasize their own theatrical qualities. A television format that can provide the site for a more literal contestation of Shakespeare's cultural status is the workshop. It finally addresses Slings and Arrows because it embodies many of the recurring concerns and contradictions of Shakespeare on television.

Keywords:   BBC Television Shakespeare, Animated Tales, ShakespeaRetold, straight television, Slings and Arrows

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