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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A great Shakespeare comedy and the best version I've ever seen of it
For me this production is simply perfect. I can't fault a single moment but also I simply love this story anyway. Like many people I think, I'm appalled by Claudio's appalling behaviour and enthralled by Beatrice and Benedict's edgy romance.

Especially recommended - Robert Lindsay, a great favourite of mine. I had originally seen him as Citizen Smith, oh years...
Published on 27 Feb 2009 by Helen

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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars It's nothing compared to Kenneth Branagh's Film
I bought this as a teaching tool; mistake number one! The sound quality isn't good enough and while it is the full play, it really doesn't engage as a comedy; there isn't enough shade between the dark and light moments. Lindsay and Lunghi are 'good' - but a director with a more imaginative approach would have been better - it's stiff and dull, and I don't quite...
Published 7 months ago by Mrs Harris


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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A great Shakespeare comedy and the best version I've ever seen of it, 27 Feb 2009
This review is from: Much Ado About Nothing - BBC Shakespeare Collection [1984] [DVD] (DVD)
For me this production is simply perfect. I can't fault a single moment but also I simply love this story anyway. Like many people I think, I'm appalled by Claudio's appalling behaviour and enthralled by Beatrice and Benedict's edgy romance.

Especially recommended - Robert Lindsay, a great favourite of mine. I had originally seen him as Citizen Smith, oh years ago. In this Beeb series he has several outings, improving all the time and showing what a great actor he is. I was thrilled to see him as Benedict. I had earlier enjoyed the DVD of Branagh's production of this play but it pales besides the Beeb's - partly I think because Lindsay is better as Benedict even than Branagh. Branagh has lots of charm but the whole production is a little too frothy and dazzling. The Beeb's version, doubtless restrained by costs but perhaps fortunately, comes over as more realistic. I didn't feel for Branagh's Benedict at all. I feel for Lindsay's because his portrayal is I think just as he was himself as the actor - finding his way and succeeding so well, a little hesitant, uncertain what to do about Beatrice, just as Benedict surely should be after years of assuring himself he wasn't in love with her, instead of Branagh's just too starry and bright Benedict. Branagh can put over the uncertainty too, but it was just acting, whilst with Lindsay it struck true.

Well, OK, I'm biased, I would prefer Robert Lindsay to Branagh in anything anyway... I've a copy of each version, both well worth having.

As for the BBC productions in general, I bought three individually including this one, my favourites, then I couldn't bear it any more and bought the whole lot. Awesome, a treasured possession.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautifully acted, 11 Feb 2010
This review is from: Much Ado About Nothing - BBC Shakespeare Collection [1984] [DVD] (DVD)
I'd agree with the other reviewer who said "simply perfect". And I cant really understand all the praise that big name productions often get, when they simply dont live up to it. Case in point a couple of Branagh productions, where he always seems to lose presence and act instead, or more recently Tennent's much touted Hamlet which suffers from similar flaws - very fake acting indeed.

Back to this title, the whole play is just perfectly executed from beginning to end. The performances are fresh, the directing is simple and effective, the play vividly communicated. Most noteworthy for me were the following:
Jon Finch oozes charm, style and grace as Don Pedro;
Robert Lindsay's Benedick is full of sharp wit, cynicism and humour;
Lee Montague's Leonato is a character fully realised;
Cherie Lunghi's sexy Beatrice is a match to Benedick in every department;
Vernon Dobtchef is a wonderful vilain in Don John, and what superb diction; and finally
Michael Elphick being Michael Elphick - what a great casting for Dogberry.

To those who may note Katharine Levy's Hero's abscence from my list let me be blunt: she is certainly a great actress and her performance doesn't lack in any department. However she simply doesn't fit the part visually. Much as people like to be proper and correct and deny such seemingly superficial claims, they are important, particularly in view of the given production's Claudio. This however, is a very minor blemish.

As an actor, I cherished every moment of this dvd, and that is something I rarely say for Shakespeare productions, from which I often come away disappointed by the intellectualisation and fakeness of the performances and their lack of flow and presence. Definitely not the case here - a masterclass!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The best version I have found so far, 2 April 2013
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Mr. S. A. Moss (Bicester, Oxfordshire) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Much Ado About Nothing - BBC Shakespeare Collection [1984] [DVD] (DVD)
I am studying this play as part of my English GCSE course.
Robert Lindsey is very good and Cherie Lunghi is outstanding. The costumes look slightly overblown. However, as part of the BBC Shakespeare series, the script is as faithful to the full text as any other recorded version. Recommended.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Great, 8 Feb 2013
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This review is from: Much Ado About Nothing - BBC Shakespeare Collection [1984] [DVD] (DVD)
Was a present for my dad. He loved it. Great price, great product and good for the whole family to enjoy.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Superb, 31 Jan 2013
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This review is from: Much Ado About Nothing - BBC Shakespeare Collection [1984] [DVD] (DVD)
All characters are fantastic in this BBC production. Great for GCSE or A level students needing to bring the text to life.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Still one of my favourite productions, 23 Jan 2013
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This review is from: Much Ado About Nothing - BBC Shakespeare Collection [1984] [DVD] (DVD)
I first watched this as a 17 year old to broaden my knowledge of comedy while studying A Winters Tale and Othello for A level, and was totally enthralled by Robert Lindsay's portrayal of Benedict. Previously I had only seen him as a slightly absurd character in Citizen Smith.

A couple of weeks ago a US friend mentioned a bbc Shakespeare collection of the full works dating from that period and I managed to trace this. I wondered whether this 1984 version would still impress me nearly 30 years later. Well the answer is yes. Admittedly the set is clearly a bit cheesy and made of plywood, but then the play is a comedy. Cherie Lunghi is great as Benedict's witty but reluctant fiancée Beatrice, who incites Benedict to murder. The pair work well together. If I'm honest I'd rather see a live RSC version - the lack of audience interaction makes the production seem a little flat- there is no music score or fancy camera work to mask that and no canned or studio laughter). But theatre visits are expensive and not always practical. So I watched this with my 16 year old daughter instead...and she was also impressed!
Note this is the full unabridged play.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Best of the Collection, 14 Jun 2012
This review is from: Much Ado About Nothing - BBC Shakespeare Collection [1984] [DVD] (DVD)
I agree with other reviewers that this is perfect. I've been working my way through the BBC Shakespeare collection over the last few years and have enjoyed many moments and interpretations but this tops the lot. Centrally both Robert Lindsay and Cherie Lunghi separately and together bring out the magic of the dialogue and the relationship with skills unique to them.

And they are surrounded by toned down but intelligently crafted performances from others - Michael Elphick as Dogberry is one, but there are many - which really let the characters speak for themselves and the comedy and romance sparkle.

One I'll be watching again - and although I like Kenneth Branagh and enjoyed the film - I agree that this is better. It seems to try less hard, it has nothing in the way of distractions and the production frames the story and allows it to speak for itself.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Check the differences and the details, 1 Dec 2010
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This review is from: Much Ado About Nothing - BBC Shakespeare Collection [1984] [DVD] (DVD)
Enter this comedy with the image of the devil in mind. It is a diabolical tale of unrequited and unpunished treachery. But fate has it so that good prevails over the evil of that treacherous bastard brother of the prince.

This 1599 comedy is a satire of people who cannot hold their tongues and think that wit is all the best when it is cruel. Beatrice and Benedick have it quite right when they wittingly say: "BEATRICE A bird of my tongue is better than a beast of yours. BENEDICK. I would my horse had the speed of your tongue, and so good a continuer." The tongues of those witty young and not so young people are animals, wild and fast, and remember fast leads to quick and no one likes being hurt to the quick by some witty retort.

And they all know how bad a tongue can be when it becomes multiple. As Don Pedro says: "'Nay,' said I, 'he hath the tongues.' 'That I believe' said she, 'for he swore a thing to me on Monday night, which he forswore on Tuesday morning: there's a double tongue; there's two tongues.'" And then that kind of multiple tongue can become the worst weapon you can imagine. And don't believe Cupid can be better with his tongue. "He hath a heart as sound as a bell, and his tongue is the clapper; for what his heart thinks his tongue speaks." That clapper makes more noise and damage than the arrow of Cupid.

And Hero is slandered by the brother of the local prince and Claudio she was going to marry rejects her publicly in front of the friar who was to marry them. She faints in the process and the friar dissimulates the fainting into an announced death caused by the slandering and the grief. Few are in the secret that Antonio, Hero's uncle, sums up as follows: "Content yourself. God knows I lov'd my niece; / And she is dead, slander'd to death by villains, / That dare as well answer a man indeed / As I dare take a serpent by the tongue. / Boys, apes, braggarts, Jacks, milksops!"

The father Leonato and his brother will force thus Claudio and the Prince to shame themselves and repent their crime. All the more because at this moment two ruffians who had been arrested during the night and tried in the morning are brought to the Prince and just as they had done with the judge, they do not hold their tongues and they spill out the whole truth about the bastard brother of the Prince financing them heftily to set up the fake nightly rendez-vous of Hero with some man.

Then on the following evening and in the night Claudio and the prince make penance for Hero's death at the funeral monument of her family. And Claudio hangs there his written epitaph to Hero. "Done to death by slanderous tongues / Was the Hero that here lies: / Death, in guerdon of her wrongs, / Gives her fame which never dies. / So the life that died with shame / Lives in death with glorious fame."

We know of course better and Shakespeare can finish up on the following morning with a "masque" of his own to present to Claudio who had accepted, Hero's cousin Beatrice he is supposed to marry as a punishment, and her personality is not exactly a gift of God. But the masks enable Claudio to marry Hero and discover her real identity when all is said. That enables then Benedick to marry Beatrice who he loves though she has the witty tongue of a viper. Another serpent who will be tamed like any shrew that Shakespeare put on the stage.

The bastard brother of the Prince will not be punished and we don't even know what happens to him, and who cares. The genius of this production is that the rhythm is really good and sustained as brisk from beginning to end. Then the artificiality of the situation and successive events are like some variations on themes we have already seen or met, like the false death of the girl (Romeo and Juliet), the ceremony in the family funeral monument (Romeo and Juliet but also Hamlet and Ophelia's burial, not to speak of Cleopatra's death) and many others. Of course we have two weddings (quite a common event in Shakespeare's plays though it is not enough to bring Juno down like in A Midsummer Night's Dream where there are four couples united or reunited at the same time.

This is probably the best part about this long trip of mine through Shakespeare's thirty-two plays. We find some themes and motifs, and every single time something comes back again, there is a variation on that something that makes it different. With a few ideas Shakespeare created a whole constellation of variations. He is a real dramatic jazzman of the stage.

Dr Jacques COULARDEAU, University Paris 1 Pantheon Sorbonne, University Paris 8 Saint Denis, University Paris 12 Créteil, CEGID
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Robert Lindsay rocks Benedick, 12 Mar 2011
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This review is from: Much Ado About Nothing - BBC Shakespeare Collection [1984] [DVD] (DVD)
There is nothing so good that some Robert Lindsay cannot make it better. Despite the fact that Branagh's _Much Ado_ has many many features which make it the better overall version (Emma Thompson, Michael Keaton, Ben Elton, Kate Beckinsale, fountains, dancing, cinematography,and a jolly setting), Robert Lindsay's Benedick is the most wonderful I have ever seen. He lends an air of authenticity to the role and projects naturalness in the most lively, sumptious and somewhat ridiculously wonderful costumes. If you love "Much Ado", this is a must-see.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars It's nothing compared to Kenneth Branagh's Film, 16 Sep 2013
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This review is from: Much Ado About Nothing - BBC Shakespeare Collection [1984] [DVD] (DVD)
I bought this as a teaching tool; mistake number one! The sound quality isn't good enough and while it is the full play, it really doesn't engage as a comedy; there isn't enough shade between the dark and light moments. Lindsay and Lunghi are 'good' - but a director with a more imaginative approach would have been better - it's stiff and dull, and I don't quite understand why everyone looks like an Italian pirate! The set is acceptable - but it's neither stage nor film. Watch the master, Branagh, instead.
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