Shedloads of Shakespeare
Along with the pageant of the Diamond Jubilee and the passion of various sports this summer, the BBC is blessing us with some of Shakespeare's history plays and a plethora of surrounding programmes about the great man himself. These documentaries can be hit and miss affairs in proportion to how much of Shakespeare's work they involve. Some are like music shows that don't play any tunes but concentrate instead on what someone else felt or thought about them: interesting enough but not really the point.
Enter Simon Schama's Shakespeare, which sees the historian on top form, gossipingly informative and eager that another's words take centre stage. Part One considered the construction of English identity and managed to bring you into the drama of the plays themselves, telling the story with frequent and excellent readings. It's available online until Friday 6th July, Part Two will be broadcast on Friday 29th June.
I've also enjoyed Neil MacGregor's radio series, Shakespeare's Restless World which takes little details and see big pictures. Naturally, I'm most looking forward to The Hollow Crown, new productions of Richard II, Henry IV parts I & 2 and Henry V, which starts on Saturday 30th June. What with all this and a great football tournament going on I'm a very happy viewer and consider my licence fee, not for the first time, to be some of the best money I spend.