Shakespeare's Globe Theatre in London
Shakespeare's Globe Theatre in London

Wherever you are in the world, you’ll be able to join a star-studded cast as they celebrate the life and works of William Shakespeare on the 400th anniversary of his death.

Leading arts organisations across the UK will make available performances, analysis, talks and fun, all streamed on Shakespeare Day Live, a digital pop-up channel co-curated by the BBC and the British Council.

You can watch Shakespeare Day Live here.


Friday 22 April 2016 – Shakespeare Odes: Live Broadcast

21.30–23.30 / 19.30–21.30 British Summer Time (BST)

Holy Trinity Church, Stratford-upon-Avon

A world-premiere commemorative concert in the church where Shakespeare was baptised and buried.

Choral group Ex Cathedra and City Musick perform Thomas Arne’s 18th century musical setting of An Ode to Shakespeare by David Garrick – the 18th century actor and theatre manager responsible for our modern-day appreciation of The Bard, and A Shakespeare Masque, specially written for the event by the Poet Laureate Dame Carol Ann Duffy, composed by Sally Beamish and narrated by actor Sam West.

Saturday 23 April 2016 – Breakfast with the Bard: Live Broadcast

10.00–11.00 / 08.00–09.00 BST

New Place, Stratford-upon-Avon

Shakespeare Day Live has exclusive access to New Place, the site of Shakespeare’s home and the place where he died.

The area is being reimagined as a commemorative garden with exhibitions in neighbouring Nash House, formerly owned by Shakespeare’s granddaughter and her husband.

BBC Birmingham: Live Broadcasts

Mailbox, BBC Birmingham

Throughout the day, presenter Andy Akinwolere broadcasts live from the home of BBC Birmingham with guests, facts, films and fun about Shakespeare. Andy challenges our preconceptions of Shakespeare and brings him up to date with interactive films, a look at the touch-screen table developed in conjunction with the University of Birmingham, all hosted from the Blue Room, the BBC’s home of innovation.

Silent Shakespeare with BFI: Live Broadcast

13.30–14.00 / 11.30–12.00 BST

Mailbox, BBC Birmingham

Presenter Andy Akinwolere takes a look at the first-ever Shakespeare plays on film, starting with King John in 1899. He explores Shakespeare adaptations made during the silent era and looks at how early film pioneers squeezed a whole play into approximately ten minutes without words, how hand-coloured treatments were used through painstakingly touching up frame-by-frame, and some of the earliest special effects ever seen on the big screen.

Hamlet Returns: Live Broadcast

14.30–15.00 / 12.30–13.00 BST

Shakespeare’s Globe, Bankside, London

After a two-year world tour to almost every country, Shakespeare’s Globe’s production of Hamlet returns home. Katie Derham joins the cast and crew on their triumphant return to the Globe stage as they are welcomed back by Artistic Director Dominic Dromgoole.

Ballet, Opera and the Bard from the Royal Opera House: Live Broadcast

15.00–16.00 / 13.00–14.00 BST

Covent Garden, London

Great music and performance from the world of ballet and opera, presented by Ore Oduba.

We join Royal Ballet stars Lauren Cuthbertson and Edward Watson as they rehearse The Winter’s Tale.

Also featured: the potion scene from Kenneth MacMillan’s classic Romeo and Juliet and music from Verdi’s two great Shakespearean operas Otello and Falstaff.

New Shakespeare Songbook: Live Broadcast

16.00–17.00 / 14.00–15.00 BST

Mailbox, BBC Birmingham

Shakespeare was a great songwriter – with songs appearing in many of his greatest plays.

To mark the 400th anniversary of his death, the BBC and the European Broadcasting Union have commissioned a New Shakespeare Songbook inviting composers and musicians throughout Europe to write new songs based on the Bard’s texts.

The Complete Walk: Live Broadcast

16.30–17.00 / 14.30–15.00 BST

Shakespeare’s Globe, Bankside, London

Presenter Katie Derham celebrates the opening of The Complete Walk, all 37 Shakespeare plays each represented by new films created by Shakespeare’s Globe and shown on 37 big screens stretching from Westminster Bridge to Tower Bridge on this special day.

Sound of Cinema: Live Broadcast

17.00–18.00 / 15.00–16.00 BST

King Edward VI School, Stratford upon Avon

The BBC Concert Orchestra celebrates the music of Shakespeare on film.

Classic scores from Olivier’s Henry V, Greenaway’s Prospero’s Books to Branagh’s Much Ado About Nothing are given the full symphonic treatment under the baton of Shakespeare enthusiast and BBC CO Principal Conductor Keith Lockhart.

The Late Plays: Live Broadcast

19.30–20.30 / 17.30–18.30 BST

Shakespeare’s Globe, Bankside, London

With exclusive performances from inside the candle-lit Sam Wanamaker Playhouse, Katie Derham explores the world of Shakespeare’s Late Plays, which Dominic Dromgoole has been staging to mark the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death.

Dream On: Live Broadcast

20.45–22.15 / 18.45–20.15 BST

Students from The Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, Glasgow University and Glasgow School of Art collaborate with the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra on a programme of delights featuring music, dance, composition and British Sign Language.

The performance features four intertwining pieces inspired by A Midsummer Night’s Dream, including a special recording by David Tennant.

Festival highlights: available on demand

You can watch the highlights listed below – and much more – on the BBC Shakespeare Lives website.

David Tennant as Richard II in a Royal Shakespeare Company production
David Tennant as Richard II in a Royal Shakespeare Company production, which you can watch online from 23 April 2016. Photo by Kwame Lestrade ©

Royal Shakespeare Company

Richard II – Available from 00.30 / 22.30 BST onwards

Royal Shakespeare Company

David Tennant stars as the doomed Richard II in Greg Doran’s critically-acclaimed Royal Shakespeare Company production, available for the first time online across the world.

Talking about Shakespeare

Hay Festival

Through a mixture of new short films and the festival’s extensive archive, top authors, actors, academics and thinkers including Stephen Fry, Germaine Greer and Dame Judi Dench explore Shakespeare, his works and his legacy.

Shakespeare on stage, screen and elsewhere, with Ian McKellen

British Film Institute

Sir Ian McKellen shares his unique insights into the problems and joys of interpreting Shakespeare for the theatre, television, radio and cinema.

Being Hamlet


Two of the greatest contemporary Hamlets, Simon Russell Beale and Adrian Lester, discuss this most celebrated and challenging of roles. Their discussion of the Prince of Denmark fittingly takes place on Danish soil in the elegant surroundings of the ambassador’s residence in London. From Gielgud to Branagh, Olivier to Plummer, they explore the rich variety of approaches to a role to which so many actors aspire.

The Works

Set on a Peckham council estate, this short film, written and directed by Elliot Barnes Worrell, celebrates Shakespeare’s timeless themes with a cast headed by Ralph Fiennes. Using only the words of Shakespeare, The Works explores the vast complexities that exist within a community of young Londoners who refuse to be defined by their circumstances.