Acclaimed BBC Production of Hamlet, Starring David Tennant (Doctor Who) and Patrick Stewart (Star Trek)

In 2008 the Roy­al Shake­speare Com­pa­ny drew rave reviews for its pro­duc­tion of William Shake­speare’s Ham­let, which fea­tured the Scot­tish actor David Ten­nant, star of the hit BBC sci­ence fic­tion show Doc­tor Who, as the trag­i­cal­ly inde­ci­sive Prince of Den­mark.

“Gre­go­ry Doran’s pro­duc­tion is one of the most rich­ly tex­tured, best-act­ed ver­sions of the play we have seen in years,” wrote Michael Billing­ton in The Guardian. “And Ten­nant, as any­one famil­iar with his ear­li­er work with the RSC would expect, has no dif­fi­cul­ty in mak­ing the tran­si­tion from the BBC’s Time Lord to a man who could be bound­ed in a nut­shell and count him­self a king of infi­nite space. He is a fine Ham­let whose virtues, and occa­sion­al vices, are insep­a­ra­ble from the pro­duc­tion itself.”

The cast includ­ed Mari­ah Gale as Ophe­lia, Peter de Jer­sey as Hor­a­tio, Oliv­er Ford Davies as Polo­nius, Pen­ny Down­ie as Gertrude, and Patrick Stew­art of Star Trek fame in what Charles Spencer of The Tele­graph called “the strongest, scari­est per­for­mance as Claudius I have seen. A mod­ern tyrant in a sur­veil­lance state full of spies, inform­ers and two-way mir­rors in Doran’s thriller-like pro­duc­tion, he presents a façade of smil­ing, bespec­ta­cled genial­i­ty.” Stew­art also played the Ghost of Ham­let’s father.

“This is a Ham­let of quick­sil­ver intel­li­gence, mimet­ic vigour and wild humour,” wrote Billing­ton: “one of the fun­ni­est I’ve ever seen.” Accord­ing to Nicholas de Jongh of The Evening Stan­dard, Ten­nant brought new insights into his char­ac­ter’s unpre­dictable behav­ior: “His humor­ous Ham­let emerges as an undi­ag­nosed man­ic depres­sive, whose mood swings ren­der him tem­pera­men­tal­ly inca­pable of ful­fill­ing a revenge sce­nario.”

For those of us unable to see the stage pro­duc­tion, we’re for­tu­nate that Doran held the orig­i­nal cast togeth­er long enough to make a film ver­sion, first broad­cast on BBC Two in 2009. You can watch the com­plete three-hour movie online over at PBS. A scene where Ten­nant per­forms Ham­let’s Solil­o­quy can be viewed above. And for more of Ham­let and Shake­speare, you can access text and audio ver­sions of the great writer’s com­plete works in our Free eBooks and Free Audio Books col­lec­tions.

The BBC pro­duc­tion of Ham­let has been added to our col­lec­tion, 4,000+ Free Movies Online: Great Clas­sics, Indies, Noir, West­erns, Doc­u­men­taries & More.


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