Russell T Davies has said that his new BBC1 production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream would not have happened were it not for the 2012 Olympics Opening Ceremony.
The former Doctor Who showrunner told RadioTimes.com that his imaginative take on Shakespeare’s sylvan comedy of fleeing lovers and fairy magic was directly inspired by Danny Boyle’s breathtaking curtain-raiser to the sporting event nearly four years ago.
“This is the Olympic legacy,” Davies told RadioTimes.com. “The Olympic legacy is not just the velodrome and medals. That night of the opening ceremony I sat at home watching and I was so moved by it and I thought ‘you know you could do anything’.
“When you see Danny Boyle broadcasting the NHS to the world, it’s astonishing. My favourite bit was Mary Poppins fighting Voldemort. I had had A Midsummer Night’s Dream in my head for decades but the ceremony made me realise you can do anything you like on television. Get on with it. Don’t waste time. Life is short.“
Davies, who fell in love with the comedy after playing the part of the bumptious amateur thespian Bottom in a school production, added that the play is the only Shakespeare work he would think of adapting.
“It’s the only one I truly love. I wouldn’t have picked any other play if they had come to me. I wouldn’t have picked The Tempest, for example. I mean, a play about someone who gives up their magic powers at the end. Who would do that?
“A Midsummer Night’s Dream is such an unusual play. It’s like Shakespeare having a day off and going a bit mad. This play comes out of nowhere and it’s slightly bonkers.
“In the middle of all this he writes a bunch of amateur dramatics. More than any other piece of Shakespearean writing you can see him laughing at his desk. He is tapping into the history of masques and revels. It’s him putting on a show, more than writing a play.”
A Midsummer Night’s Dream is on BBC1 on Bank Holiday Monday at 8.30 pm