I first saw this programme by accident while studying Shakespeare and it was a revelation, seeing a different way of performing his plays with a much greater emphasis on the language. John Barton's 1982 series involved many of the names which now head cast lists - Judi Dench, Ben Kingsley, Ian McKellen, Patrick Stewart, David Suchet, Donald Sinden - the list goes on.
When I accidentally saw the programme, the first actor I saw was Kevin Cline performing Hamlet's famous speech and he seemed to do it to perfection. Barton thought otherwise although everything he said was positive as he gave Cline fresh approaches to the familiar lines. The next performance was so different it amazed line and the assembled group. Barton does not look like someone who should be giving masterclasses, dressed as he usually is in an ill-fitting jumper, two sizes too big, with pockets used to carrying the complete works. He obviously does not care and, after a few minutes, viewers will not either.
It is recommended to anyone with a serious interest in reading or performing Shakespeare. It is not light viewing; the actors and Barton are seriously exploring ways to perform the plays, looking for sophisticated nuances and subtle differences in how to say these famous lines.