The Hollow Crown (TV series)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The Hollow Crown
Hollow crown logo.jpg
GenreHistorical drama
Based on
Shakespearean history
Developed by
Directed by
Music by
Country of originUnited Kingdom
Original languageEnglish
Executive producerSam Mendes
ProducerRupert Ryle-Hodges
Running timevaries
Production companies
Original network
Original release30 June 2012 (2012-06-30) –
21 May 2016 (2016-05-21)

The Hollow Crown is a series of British television film adaptations of William Shakespeare's history plays.

The first series is an adaptation of Shakespeare's second historical tetralogy, the Henriad: Richard II, Henry IV, Part 1, Henry IV, Part 2 and Henry V,[1] starring Ben Whishaw, Jeremy Irons and Tom Hiddleston. Olivier Award winners Rupert Goold, Richard Eyre and Thea Sharrock directed the telefilms,[2] which were produced by Rupert Ryle-Hodges for BBC Two and executive produced by Sam Mendes and Pippa Harris under Neal Street Productions in association with NBCUniversal. The first series, which aired in the United Kingdom in 2012, received positive reviews from critics. Ben Whishaw and Simon Russell Beale won British Academy Television Awards for Leading actor and Supporting actor for their performances as Richard II and Falstaff, and Jeremy Irons was nominated for a Screen Actors Guild Award for Best Actor for his role as Henry IV. The first episode, Richard II, was nominated for the Best Single Drama at the BAFTAs.[3]

The BBC aired the concluding series in 2016 as The Hollow Crown: The Wars of the Roses, a reference to the series of English civil wars known as the Wars of the Roses,[4] starring Benedict Cumberbatch, Hugh Bonneville, Judi Dench, Sophie Okonedo and Tom Sturridge. The plays were produced in 2015 by the same team that made the first series of films but were directed by the former artistic director of Royal Court Theatre and Olivier Award winner, Dominic Cooke.[5] They are based on Shakespeare's first tetralogy: Henry VI, Part 1, Henry VI, Part 2, Henry VI, Part 3 and Richard III.[6] The adaptation presents Henry VI in two parts, incorporating all three Henry VI plays. Benedict Cumberbatch was nominated for the BAFTA Television Award for Best Leading Actor and The Wars of the Roses was nominated for Best Mini-Series.[7]

The title of the series is taken from a line in Richard II:

For within the hollow crown
That rounds the mortal temples of a king
Keeps Death his court...

— Richard II, act 3, scene 2


List indicators:

  • A dark grey cell indicates the character was not in the film.
  • Italics indicates a non-speaking cameo
Role The Hollow Crown (2012) The Hollow Crown: The Wars of the Roses (2016)
Richard II Henry IV,
Part 1
Henry IV,
Part 2
Henry V Henry VI,
Part 1
Henry VI,
Part 2
Richard III
King Richard II Ben Whishaw
King Henry IV
Henry Bolingbroke
Rory Kinnear Jeremy Irons
Queen Isabella Clémence Poésy
John of Gaunt
Duke of Lancaster
Patrick Stewart
Duke of York David Suchet
Duchess of York Lindsay Duncan
Duke of Aumerle
later Duke of York
Tom Hughes Paterson Joseph
Earl of Northumberland David Morrissey Alun Armstrong
Lady Northumberland Niamh Cusack
Thomas Mowbray
Duke of Norfolk
James Purefoy
King Henry V
Prince Hal
Tom Hiddleston
Sir John Falstaff Simon Russell Beale
Mistress Nell Quickly Julie Walters
Bardolph Tom Georgeson
Ned Poins David Dawson
Sir Henry Percy
Harry Hotspur
Joe Armstrong
Earl of Worcester David Hayman
Lady Kate Percy Michelle Dockery
Sir Edmund Mortimer Harry Lloyd Michael Gambon
Prince John of Lancaster Henry Faber
Humphrey, Duke of Gloucester Will Attenborough Hugh Bonneville
Earl of Westmorland James Laurenson
Ancient Pistol Paul Ritter
Owen Glendower Robert Pugh
Justice Robert Shallow David Bamber
Lord Chief Justice Geoffrey Palmer
Duke of Exeter Anton Lesser
Captain Fluellen Owen Teale
Montjoy Jérémie Covillault
King Charles VI of France Lambert Wilson
Louis, the Dauphin Edward Akrout
Princess Katherine Mélanie Thierry
Alice Geraldine Chaplin
Chorus John Hurt
King Henry VI Tom Sturridge
Queen Margaret Sophie Okonedo
Eleanor Cobham
Duchess of Gloucester
Sally Hawkins
Richard Plantagenet
Duke of York
Adrian Dunbar
Duchess of York
Lucy Robinson Judi Dench
Bishop of Winchester Samuel West
Earl of Warwick Stanley Townsend
Earl of Somerset Ben Miles
Duke of Suffolk Jason Watkins
Lord Talbot Philip Glenister
Joan of Arc Laura Frances-Morgan
King Richard III
Richard Plantagenet
Benedict Cumberbatch
Queen Elizabeth Keeley Hawes
Edmund Plantagenet Angus Imrie
King Edward IV
Edward Plantagenet
Geoffrey Streatfeild
George Plantagenet
Duke of Clarence
Sam Troughton
Lord Clifford Kyle Soller
Earl of Westmorland Richard Lynch
Duke of Buckingham Ben Daniels
Queen Anne Phoebe Fox
Lord Hastings James Fleet
King Louis XI of France Andrew Scott
King Henry VII
Earl of Richmond
Andrew Davies Luke Treadaway
Catesby Paul Bazely


Series 1 (2012)[edit]

No. in
TitleDirected byWritten byOriginal air date
11"Richard II"Rupert GooldRupert Goold & Ben Power30 June 2012 (2012-06-30)
22"Henry IV, Part 1"Richard EyreRichard Eyre7 July 2012 (2012-07-07)
33"Henry IV, Part 2"Richard EyreRichard Eyre14 July 2012 (2012-07-14)
44"Henry V"Thea SharrockBen Power & Thea Sharrock21 July 2012 (2012-07-21)

Series 2 (2016)[edit]

No. in
TitleDirected byWritten byOriginal air date
51"Henry VI, Part 1"Dominic CookeDominic Cooke & Ben Power7 May 2016 (2016-05-07)
62"Henry VI, Part 2"Dominic CookeDominic Cooke & Ben Power14 May 2016 (2016-05-14)
73"Richard III"Dominic CookeDominic Cooke & Ben Power21 May 2016 (2016-05-21)


The second series of The Hollow Crown is based on Shakespeare's history plays about Henry VI (left) and Richard III (right).

The BBC scheduled the screening of Shakespeare's history plays as part of the 2012 Cultural Olympiad, a celebration of British culture coinciding with the 2012 Summer Olympics.[8] Sam Mendes signed up as executive producer to adapt all four plays in September 2010.[9] He is joined as executive producer by Pippa Harris (both representing Neal Street Productions), Rupert Ryle-Hodges as producer, Gareth Neame (NBCUniversal), and Ben Stephenson (BBC).[10]

Parts of the series were filmed in Kent at Squerryes Court and Penshurst Place.[11]

The concluding series of plays were produced in 2015 by the same team that made the first series and were directed by Dominic Cooke. Richard III was played by Benedict Cumberbatch. Executive producer Pippa Harris stated, "The critical and audience reaction to The Hollow Crown series set the bar high for Shakespeare on screen, and Neal Street (Productions) is delighted to be making the concluding part of this great history cycle. By filming the ‘Henry VI’ plays as well as ‘Richard III,’ we will allow viewers to fully appreciate how such a monstrous tyrant could find his way to power, bringing even more weight and depth to this iconic character."[12] The production returned to Kent for The Wars of the Roses, filming at Dover Castle, Leeds Castle and Penshurst Place.[13]

Faithfulness of adaptation[edit]

The first series is largely faithful to the plays, although the text is abridged and lines are occasionally cut. The second series notably compresses the three-part Henry VI into two episodes. Significant scenes involving Talbot and Joan of Arc are cut and Jack Cade's Rebellion is not included. Additionally, many elements from the Suffolk part are incorporated into the character of Somerset. While the text does not directly specify which Duke of Exeter is depicted in Henry VI, Part 3, it is widely assumed to be Henry Holland, 3rd Duke of Exeter given the play's setting between 1445 and 1471. However, the portrayal by Anton Lesser implies that it is the same person as Lesser's Thomas Beaufort from Henry V and Henry VI, Part 1, who had died in 1426 in reality.[citation needed]


The first four plays aired on consecutive Saturday evenings on BBC Two between 30 June and 21 July 2012. The start time of Henry IV, Part 1 on 7 July was delayed by an hour because of coverage of the 2012 Wimbledon Championships, and the play was shown a second time the following evening on BBC Four.[14] The plays were shown in the United States from 20 September to 11 October 2013 as part of the PBS Great Performances series.[15]

All four plays were shown again on consecutive evenings on BBC Four in April 2016 as part of the BBC Shakespeare Festival commemorating the 400th anniversary of the playwright's death. The second series of plays aired on consecutive Saturday evenings on BBC Two commencing Saturday 7 May 2016.[16][17]

Home media[edit]

The overseas and DVD rights for The Hollow Crown series are owned by NBC Universal.[18] A Region 2 DVD set of the four films was released on 1 October 2012.[19] A Region 1 DVD set was released on 17 September 2013.[20] A 2-disc DVD set of The Wars of the Roses was released on 20 June 2016.

The original music soundtrack from The Hollow Crown: The Wars of the Roses composed by Dan Jones was released on the Wave Theory Records label in June 2016 and performed by the BBC National Orchestra of Wales.[21][22]

Reception and accolades[edit]

Mike Hughes of The Salinas Californian wrote, "Amazing TV – perfectly filmed."[23]

Series 1[edit]

Award Result Category Recipient
Music & Sound Awards 2013 Nominated Sound Design (TV Programme) The Hollow Crown
South Bank Sky Arts Awards 2013 Nominated Best TV Drama
Won Times Breakthrough Tom Hiddleston
Broadcasting Press Guild 2013 Won Best Single Drama The Hollow Crown
Nominated Best Actor Ben Whishaw
BAFTA Television Awards 2013 Won Leading Actor (Richard II)
Won Supporting Actor Simon Russell Beale (Henry IV Part 2)
Nominated Single Drama Richard II
RTS Programme Awards 2013 Won Single Drama
BAFTA Craft Awards 2013 Won Original Television Music Stephen Warbeck (Henry IV)
Won Sound (Fiction) Tim Fraser, Adrian Rhodes, Keith Marriner (Richard II)
Nominated Costume Design Odile Dicks-Mireaux (Richard II)
British Society of Cinematographers Nominated Best Cinematography in a Television Drama Ben Smithard
4th Critics' Choice Television Awards Nominated Best Miniseries The Hollow Crown

Series 2[edit]

Award Result Category Recipient
BAFTA Television Awards 2017 Nominated Best Leading Actor Benedict Cumberbatch
Nominated Best Mini-Series The Hollow Crown: The Wars of the Roses
BAFTA Television Craft Awards 2017 Nominated Best Costume Design Nigel Egerton (Richard III)


  1. ^ "The Hollow Crown: Series Info". Retrieved 28 August 2013.
  2. ^ Lawson, Mark (29 June 2012). "The Hollow Crown: as good as TV Shakespeare can get?". The Guardian. Retrieved 28 August 2013.
  3. ^ "TV Baftas 2013: all the winners". The Guardian. 12 May 2013. Retrieved 13 May 2013.
  4. ^ "BBC Two announces further casting for The Hollow Crown: The Wars Of The Roses". BBC Media Centre. 21 August 2014. Retrieved 19 April 2016.
  5. ^ BBC Two (6 April 2014). "Richard III..." Twitter. Retrieved 19 April 2016.
  6. ^ "Tony Hall announces greatest commitment to arts for a generation". BBC Media Centre. 25 March 2014. Retrieved 19 April 2016.
  7. ^ "Bafta TV awards 2017: full list of winners". The Guardian. 14 May 2017. Retrieved 22 January 2018.
  8. ^ "Liverpool actor David Morrissey to star in new BBC production of Richard II". Liverpool Echo. 30 May 2011. Retrieved 30 December 2011.
  9. ^ "Sam Mendes for BBC Shakespeare season". BBC News. 29 September 2010. Retrieved 30 December 2011.
  10. ^ "Cast confirmed for BBC Two's cycle of Shakespeare films" (Press release). BBC Drama Publicity. 24 November 2011. Archived from the original on 1 January 2012. Retrieved 30 December 2011.
  11. ^ Kent Film Office. "Kent Film Office The Hollow Crown – Henry V Article".
  12. ^ Barraclough, Leo (6 April 2014). "Benedict Cumberbatch to Play Richard III in Neal Street's Film for BBC". Variety. Retrieved 19 April 2016.
  13. ^ Kent Film Office. "Kent Film Office The Hollow Crown: The Wars of the Roses Article".
  14. ^ "Henry IV – Part 1". Retrieved 8 September 2013.
  15. ^ "The Hollow Crown: Shakespeare's History Plays – About the Series". PBS. 9 July 2013. Retrieved 12 October 2013.
  16. ^ "Benedict Cumberbatch stars as Henry VI". UPI. Retrieved 25 April 2016.
  17. ^ "The best star studded Shakespeare TV adaptations". UK Radio Times. Retrieved 25 April 2016.
  18. ^ Brown, Maggie (2 July 2012). "Sam Mendes: BBC Worldwide rejected 'Hollow Crown' Shakespeare films". The Guardian. Retrieved 17 July 2012.
  19. ^ "The Hollow Crown (4 Discs)". Retrieved 14 July 2012.
  20. ^ "The Hollow Crown: The Complete Series". Amazon. Retrieved 8 September 2013.
  21. ^ "The Hollow Crown: The Wars of the Roses (Film music soundtrack by Dan Jones)". Wave Theory Records. 24 November 2014.
  22. ^ "The Hollow Crown: The Wars of the Roses (Dan Jones & BBC National Orchestra of Wales)". Amazon UK.
  23. ^ Hughes, Mike (10 December 2016). "WEEKEND TV: Disney hits 'Mary Poppins' and 'Frozen'". The Salinas Californian. Retrieved 29 May 2022.

External links[edit]