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Ruth Morse


During the summer of 2012, and to coincide with the Olympics, BBC2 broadcast a series called The Hollow Crown, an adaptation of Shakespeare’s second tetralogy of English history plays. The BBC commission was conceived as part of the Cultural Olympiad which accompanied Britain’s successful hosting of the Games that summer. I discuss the financial, technical, aesthetic, and political choices made by the production team, not only in the context of the Coalition government (and its attacks on the BBC) but also in the light of theatrical and film tradition. I argue that the inclusion or exclusion of two key scenes suggest something more complex and balanced that the usual nationalism of the plays'; rather, the four nations are contextualised to comprehend and acknowledge the regions - apropos not only in the Olympic year, but in 2014's referendum on the Union of the crowns of England/Wales and Scotland.