The Hollow Crown: Richard II

The Hollow Crown: Richard II

Series 1



There’s a scene in this 2012 production where King Richard idly writes his name in the sand of a beach with the end of his sceptre. It’s an affecting moment from Ben Whishaw, who makes a wonderfully fey, self-absorbed monarch, often toying with the trappings of power like a bored teenager. (He has a pet monkey who later returns to scowl at Bolingbroke.)

Television has been known to make a right hash of Shakespeare but if the other three versions in this Hollow Crown series are as sure-footed as this one, we’re in for a feast. The adaptation (which unfolds in period settings and doesn’t much bother straining for relevance) is poised, intense and beautifully filmed.

It’s style with substance: when John of Gaunt (a gruff Patrick Stewart) delivers his famous speech on the glories of England (“This sceptr’d isle...”) then denounces Richard, it feels as televisually thrilling as a power-play in The Sopranos. With a cast to die for (Davids Suchet and Morrissey are both superb) this is one to watch, record and treasure.


The BBC presents four of Shakespeare's history plays - Richard II, Henry IV Parts One and Two, and Henry V - following events during 16 years of monarchy, from the machinations of the royal court to the bloody battlefields of England and France. Ben Whishaw heads the cast in the first of these as King Richard, who is asked to settle a dispute between his cousin Henry Bolingbroke and Thomas Mowbray, but when the quarrel gets out of hand he banishes both men from the realm - setting in motion a chain of events that will come back to haunt him. Rory Kinnear, David Suchet, Patrick Stewart, Lindsay Duncan and David Morrissey co-star.

Cast & Crew

King Richard Ben Whishaw
Bolingbroke Rory Kinnear
Duke of York David Suchet
Earl of Northumberland David Morrissey
Duchess of York Lindsay Duncan
Thomas Mowbray James Purefoy
Queen Isabella Clemence Poesy
Duke of Aumerle Tom Hughes
Gardener David Bradley
John of Gaunt Patrick Stewart
Abbot of Westminster Richard Bremner
Groom Daniel Boyd
Lord Ross Peter De Jersey
Sir Stephen Scroop Tom Goodman-Hill
Sir Henry Green Harry Hadden-Paton
Sir John Bushy Ferdinand Kingsley
The queen's serving lady Isabella Laughland
Lord Marshall Finbar Lynch
Welsh captain Rhodri Miles
Bishop of Carlisle Lucian Msamati
Bagot Samuel Roukin
Lord Willoughby Adrian Schiller
Gardener's assistant Simon Trinder
Adapted By Rupert Goold
Adapted By Ben Power
Director Ruport Goold
Producer Rupert Ryle-Hodges
see more