BBC looks to follow Hollow Crown films with Shakespeare’s Roman plays

The Beeb is talking to producers Neal Street Productions about taking on classics including Julius Caesar and Coriolanus

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If you’ve been enjoying the Henry VI and Richard III Hollow Crown dramas with Benedict Cumberbatch et al on the BBC, you may be glad to hear that the Corporation is considering taking on Shakespeare’s Roman plays for the next batch of the Bard.

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Discussions are ongoing but RadioTimes.com understands that Julius Caesar, Anthony and Cleopatra, Coriolanus and possibly the bloodiest of all Shakespeare’s plays, Titus Andronicus, are being mooted for an adaptation by Hollow Crown producers Neal Street Productions.

The discussions are said to have reached an advanced stage, and follow the success of the last two series of the Hollow Crown dramas.

In the first season, adaptations of Richard II and Henry IV parts 1 and 2 and Henry V attracted a star-studded cast including Ben Whishaw as the tragic Richard II, plus Tom Hiddleston, Rory Kinnear, Simon Russell Beale and Jeremy Irons.

The current season has seen the three-part Henry VI adapted in two parts, with Richard III starring Benedict Cumberbatch as the hunchbacked King concluding the run this Sunday.

The Roman plays are just as well-loved and regarded, with the tragedy Anthony and Cleopatra adorning many an A-Level syllabus.

However they are much less connected in terms of plot, unlike the English history plays that formed the spine of The Hollow Crown.

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Coriolanus (above, played on stage by Tom Hiddleston) is a taut and violent tale of a single man’s military ambitions and triumphs and the fatal personal flaws that see his undoing. 

Julius Caesar tells the story of the assassination of the Roman General and the ensuing conflict between his supporters led by Mark Anthony and Caesar’s idealistic assassin led by Brutus.

Meanwhile Titus Andronicus is the bloody story of military conquest and plotting in Ancient Rome which, if it is commissioned, may also upset the squeamish.

It is an extremely brutal play and contains a scene in which one of the characters, Lavinia, is raped and has her hands and tongue cut off.

A BBC spokesman said: “Nothing has been confirmed, it’s too early to say what will be next. Richard III is still to come on Saturday night.”

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Richard III starring Benedict Cumberbatch is on BBC2 on Saturday at 9pm