Listen at: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b09jqtfs

Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss Shakespeare’s best known, most quoted and longest play, written c1599 – 1602 and rewritten throughout his lifetime. It is the story of Hamlet, Prince of Denmark, encouraged byhis father’s ghost to take revenge on his uncle who murdered him, and is set at the court of Elsinore. In soliloquies, the Prince reveals his inner self to the audience while concealing his thoughts from all at the Danish court, who presume him insane. Shakespeare gives him lines such as ‘to be or not to be,’ ‘alas, poor Yorick,’ and ‘frailty thy name is woman’, which are known even to those who have never seen or read the play. And Hamlet has become the defining role for actors, men and women, who want to show their mastery of Shakespeare’s work.

The image above is from the 1964 film adaptation, directed by Grigori Kozintsev, with Innokenty Smoktunovsky as Hamlet.


Sir Jonathan Bate
Provost of Worcester College, University of Oxford

Carol Rutter
Professor of Shakespeare and Performance Studies at the University of Warwick


Sonia Massai
Professor of Shakespeare Studies at King’s College London

Producer: Simon Tillotson.

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