The Hollow Crown is a stunning new series of filmed adaptations which include seven of Shakespeare’s best-loved history plays; Richard II, Henry IV Parts 1 and 2, Henry V, Henry VI Parts 1 and 2 and Richard III. The series will premiere on SBS commencing Sunday, 13 November at 8.30pm.
The seven-part series is an epic tale of family, politics and power. The films tell the rise and fall of five Kings and how their destiny shaped England’s history.
The Hollow Crown features some of the most revered British actors. The Kings are played by Ben Whishaw (Richard II), Jeremy Irons (Henry IV), Tom Hiddleston (Henry V) Tom Sturridge (Henry VI) and Benedict Cumberbatch (Richard III).
The Kings are supported by a phenomenal cast including Rory Kinnear, Patrick Stewart, David Suchet, David Morrissey on Richard II; Simon Russell Beale, Julie Walters and Maxine Peake for Henry IV; and John Hurt, Anton Lesser and Paterson Joseph for Henry V. Judi Dench plays Cecily, Duchess of York, alongside Benedict Cumberbatch’s Richard III. Sophie Okonedo portrays Queen Margaret in the last three films. Hugh Bonneville plays Humphrey, Duke of Gloucester, and Sally Hawkins is his wife Eleanor, Duchess of Gloucester in Henry VI Part I. Keeley Hawes plays Queen Elizabeth in Henry VI, Part II and Richard III.
‘The first thing we do, let’s kill all the lawyers.’ - King Henry VI, Part 2
Episode one: Richard II
Airs: Sunday, 13 November at 8.30pm on SBS
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.
Episode two: Henry IV Part 1
Airs: Sunday, 20 November at 8.30pm on SBS
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), his 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 single combat.
Episode three: Henry IV Part 2
Airs: Sunday, 27 November at 8.30pm on SBS
In the aftermath of the Battle of Shrewsbury Northumberland (Alun Armstrong) learns of the death of his son. The Lord Chief Justice (Geoffrey Palmer) attempts on behalf of the increasingly frail King (Jeremy Irons) to separate Falstaff (Simon Russell Beale) from Prince Hal (Tom Hiddleston). 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.
Episode four: Henry V
Airs: Sunday, 4 December at 8.30pm on SBS
Henry V (Tom Hiddleston) 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, 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.
Episode five: Henry VI Part 1 - France and Rebellion
Airs: Wednesday, 7 December at 8.30pm on SBS
The King is dead and England is in crisis. War rages with the French and divisions within the English court threaten the crown. Young Henry VI (Tom Sturridge) causes outrage by marrying Margaret of Anjou (Sophie Okonedo), forcing an unwanted truce; the scene is set for Civil War.
Episode six: Henry VI Part 2 - Civil War
Airs: Sunday, 11 December at 8.30pm on SBS
Bitter rivalries erupt into the Wars of the Roses. The feeble King Henry (Tom Sturridge) is overshadowed by Queen Margaret (Sophie Okonedo) and her faction of Lancastrian Lords, his reign further undermined by disaffected nobles supporting the House of York. Battle and bloodshed ensues and the Yorkists triumph. Edward IV (Geoffrey Streatfeild) takes the thrown, but his youngest brother Richard has his eyes firmly on the crown.
Episode seven: Richard III- Tyrany and Murder
Airs: Wednesday, 14 December at 8.30pm on SBS
Richard (Benedict Cumberbatch), the most notorious of Shakespeare’s kings, manipulates and betrays his way through the court on a bloodthirsty and ruthless path to the throne. But after Richard’s defeat at the battle of Bosworth Field, the Houses of Lancaster and York—the red rose and the white—are united, bringing to an end the Wars of the Roses and long tumultuous period of civil strife.
The Hollow Crown is a Neal Street co-production with Carnival / NBCUniversal and Thirteen for the BBC.