They dug up Richard III… Could Shakespeare be next?

After Richard III's exhumation caused such a sensation, there are moves afoot to dig up the bones of the world's greatest writer

After Richard III’s exhumation proved so popular on Channel 4, where next for TV’s bone-pickers?


South African academic Francis Thackeray has said that he is keen to dig up William Shakespeare’s remains in order to find out how he died and what he looked like using facial reconstruction technology.

This is despite the playwright’s curse, etched on his tombstone in Stratford-upon-Avon, which reads: “Good friend for Jesus sake forbeare/To dig the dust enclosed here/ Blessed be the man that spares these stones/And cursed be he that moves my bones.” understands that this chilling warning has not stopped various production companies sniffing a sensation if Thackeray – or anyone else – gets their way and church authorities allow historians to disturb the remains, which currently lie underneath the nave at Stratford’s Holy Trinity Church.

But it’s no dice with the BBC – currently. “I think not for the moment,” the BBC’s arts boss Mark Bell tells, adding with a laugh, “But it’s been pitched to me a few times”.

Channel 4’s coup in securing the live rights to cover the burial of King Richard lll brought millions of viewers to the event earlier this year. C4 also filmed the excavation of the king’s remains in 2012, which was a worldwide sensation.

The body of the King had been in the shallow grave since the Battle of Bosworth in 1485 and DNA from the bones matched that of descendants of the the King’s family. His skeleton had suffered ten injuries, including eight to the skull, at around the time of death. Two of the skull wounds were potentially fatal.



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