In Search of Shakespeare
This is not your father's Shakespeare - that boring bloke who's suffered the slings and arrows of outraged school kids for generations. Michael Wood's Shakespeare is funny, poignant, profound and sexy, a writer who's been wowing audiences for more than 400 years. Wood, a historian, writer and documentary filmmaker (Conquistadors; In the Footsteps of Alexander the Great) hosts this 4-part series that explores the life of the world's greatest writer. As fashioned by Wood, it is a historical "whodunit," mixing travel, adventure, interviews and specially filmed sequences with the Royal Shakespeare Company on the road. The programs set the life of the "Great Briton" in the turbulent times in which he lived, a world far from the one suggested by the prim portrait of the balding bard with a ruff and a quill pen.
A Time of Revolution (#101) Duration: 56:46 STEREO TVPG
Using new evidence from spies' reports, local archives and even a coded prison diary, Michael Wood uncovers the dark side of Shakespeare's world, tracing William's early days, his schooling, his father's shady business deals and the dark secret that ruined the family. Finally, Wood untangles the riddle of William's shotgun marriage, which left him a teenage father with decidedly slim career prospects.
The Lost Years (#102) Duration: 56:46 STEREO TVPG
Michael Wood explains how Shakespeare became a star of the London stage, and uncovers a tale of religious conflict behind his lost years. Wood travels with the Royal Shakespeare Company, who perform the plays in a Tudor inn yard as Shakespeare's company did, and using Tudor maps and remarkable Victorian photos, he brings Shakespeare's first London home back to life. He also follows Shakespeare's great rival, Christopher Marlowe, on his fateful journey by river to Deptford and the murder that left 29-year-old William the star of Elizabethan London.
The Duty of Poets (#103) Duration: 56:46 STEREO TVPG
In the third episode, Wood uncovers Shakespeare's rise to fame and fortune in Elizabethan London. Romeo and Juliet and A Midsummer Night's Dream fuel this rise, but tragedy strikes as his son Hamnet dies at the age of 11. Plunged into a mid-life crisis, he falls in love with a teenage nobleman, has a passionate affair with a mysterious married woman and is charged with assault. Meanwhile, his theatre company builds the Globe and becomes caught up in the rebellion against Queen Elizabeth. In the midst of it all, Shakespeare creates some of the greatest characters in world literature.
For All Time (#104) Duration: 56:46 STEREO (Secondary audio: none)
In the final episode, Michael Wood examines Shakespeare's life in the era of King James I. He unearths Shakespeare's neighborhood in London and visits the current queen's robe-makers for evidence of Shakespeare's role in the royal coronation. Shakespeare's world is transformed in 1605 by the Gunpowder Plot, a Jacobean September 11. The entertainment industry responded, and Shakespeare contributed Macbeth, a daring play about the murder of a king. Finally, Wood follows Shakespeare back to Warwickshire and looks at the riddle of Shakespeare's will and its strange bequest to his wife, Anne.