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The Hollow Crown is a lavish new series of filmed adaptations of four of Shakespeare’s most gripping history plays; Richard II, Henry IV, Parts I and II and Henry V on Great Performances Sundays at 4 PM. beginning September 22 on WKNO and Fridays at 8 PM beginning September 20 on WKNO2.

The films – chronicling a bloody tale of family, politics and power — tell the rise and fall of three Kings and how their destiny shaped English history. Richard II (Ben Whishaw) is a vain, self-indulgent man who rules with little regard for his people’s welfare. He is ultimately overthrown by his cousin Bolingbroke (Rory Kinnear), who ascends the throne as Henry IV (Jeremy Irons). Henry IV’s reign is marred by his own guilt over Richard’s death, civil war, and the gnawing fear that his son Hal (Tom Hiddleston) is a total wastrel unworthy of the throne. When Hal comes to the throne as Henry V he is left to bury the ghosts of his father’s past while fighting both the French forces as well as his own inner demons.

Neal Street Productions, NBCUniversal Internatinonal, and THIRTEEN have brought new life to William Shakespeare’s history plays in these epic adaptations. And this marks the first time these four plays have been seen on PBS since the epic BBC Shakespeare Plays series presented domestically by THIRTEEN in the early 1980s.

Several events are planned in relation to The Hollow Crown . Visit The Hollow Crown events page for information.

Richard II Order the DVD Now

KING RICHARD (Ben Whishaw) is called upon to settle a dispute between his cousin HENRY BOLINGBROKE (Rory Kinnear) and THOMAS MOWBRAY (James Purefoy). RICHARD calls for a duel but then halts it just before swords clash. Both men are banished from the realm. RICHARD visits JOHN OF GAUNT (Patrick Stewart), BOLINGBROKE’s Father, who, in the throes of death, reprimands the King. After seizing GAUNT’s money and lands, RICHARD leaves for wars against the rebels in Ireland. BOLINGBROKE returns to claim back his inheritance. Supported by his allies, NORTHUMBERLAND (David Morrissey) and the DUKE OF YORK (David Suchet), BOLINGBROKE takes RICHARD prisoner and lays claim to the throne.

Henry IV, Part I Order the DVD Now

The heir to the throne, PRINCE HAL (Tom Hiddleston), defies his father, KING HENRY (Jeremy Irons), by spending his time at MISTRESS QUICKLY’s (Julie Walters) tavern in the company of the dissolute FALSTAFF (Simon Russell Beale) and his companions. The King is threatened by a rebellion led by HAL’s rival, HOTSPUR (Joe Armstrong), HOTSPUR’s father NORTHUMBERLAND (Alun Armstrong) and his uncle WORCESTER (David Hayman). In the face of this danger to the state, PRINCE HAL joins his father to defeat the rebels at the BATTLE OF SHREWSBURY and kill HOTSPUR in hand-to-hand combat. Michelle Dockery plays HOTSPUR’s wife, KATE PERCY.

Henry IV, Part II Order the DVD Now

In the aftermath of the Battle of Shrewsbury, NORTHUMBERLAND learns of the death of his son. THE LORD CHIEF JUSTICE (Geoffrey Palmer) attempts, on behalf of the increasingly frail King, to separate FALSTAFF from PRINCE HAL. The rebels continue to plot insurrection. FALSTAFF is sent to recruit soldiers and takes his leave of his mistress, DOLL TEARSHEET (Maxine Peake). The rebel forces are overcome. This brings comfort to the dying King, who is finally reconciled to his son. FALSTAFF rushes to HAL’s coronation with expectations of high office, only to be rebuffed by the former prince who has now become King HENRY V.

Henry V Order the DVD Now

HENRY V has settled onto the throne and has the makings of a fine King. The French AMBASSADOR (Jérémie Covillault) brings a challenge from the FRENCH DAUPHIN. Inspired by his courtiers, including EXETER (Anton Lesser) and YORK (Paterson Joseph), HENRY swears that he will, with all force, answer this challenge. The CHORUS (John Hurt) tells of England’s preparations for war and HENRY’s army sails for France. After EXETER’s diplomacy is rebuffed by the FRENCH KING (Lambert Wilson), HENRY lays a heavy siege and captures Harfleur. The French now take HENRY’s claims seriously and challenge the English army to battle at Agincourt. HENRY and his meager forces prove victorious against all odds.




Major funding for GREAT PERFORMANCES is provided by the Irene Diamond Fund, The Starr Foundation, Vivian Milstein, Rosalind P. Walter, the LuEsther T. Mertz Charitable Trust, The Philip and Janice Levin Foundation, Joseph A. Wilson, Jody and John Arnhold, The Agnes Varis Trust, and PBS.
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