Will Shakespeare: The Complete Series

In DVD/Blu-ray by Paula Hammond - Features Editor

Rating: 4/5.

Release Date: 20th February 2023
No. of Discs: 2.
Screen Ratio: 1.33:1 / Colour.
Running Time: 300 mins

Think of Tim Curry and it’s hard not to think of that sweet transexual, that demonic clown, and that gloriously kooky pirate. And, thanks to those iconic roles, it can be easy to overlook his more serious work. 

Will Shakespeare AKA William Shakespeare: His Life & Times, was conceived and written by John Mortimer (Rumpole of the Bailey), with each episode based around the creation of a different Shakespearian play. Focussing on the sixteen years that William Shakespeare is known to have spent in London, Mortimer weaves together known events and contemporary interpretations to show how key moments in the Bard’s life may have inspired some of his greatest works.

Tim Curry’s performance is, as ever, a delight to watch and, even if Curry and Mortimer don’t always succeed it weaving a convincing narrative, the way that the drama explores the frailties and strengths of one of the world’s greatest dramatists is engaging enough to keep you tuning in.

Shakespearean scholars may baulk at some of details but no one can fault the lavish set dressing, which convincingly brings to life the bustling taverns and theatres of Elizabethan London,.

Co-starring Ian McShane (as Marlowe), Paul Freeman, Meg Wynn Owen and Nicholas Clay, Network’s release is a welcome reissue of a classic ‘70s  drama that’s been unavailable for almost 15 years.