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4.5 out of 5 stars20
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Showing 1-10 of 14 reviews(5 star). Show all reviews
on 27 February 2009
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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on 11 February 2010
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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on 23 January 2013
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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on 14 June 2012
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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on 2 April 2013
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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on 8 June 2015
This is a superb production and very well acted. Robert Lindsay is a marvellous Benedick and Jon Finch is a revelation as Don Pedro. Who would have thought that Michael Elphick could be such a wonderful Dogberry? Heartily recommended.
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on 11 April 2016
One of my favourite Shakespeare adaptations by a mile. It's essentially a rom-com - quite dark in places but overall it is, as Shakespeare says, much ado about not very much!
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on 31 January 2013
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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on 8 February 2013
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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on 6 July 2014
Brilliantly designed and acted.marvellous cast. Great actors.
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