The Hollow Crown is a series of British television historical drama films which adapts the four plays in William Shakespeare's second historical tetralogy, the Henriad, chronicling a bloody tale of family, politics and power which tells the rise and fall of three Kings and how their destiny shaped English history.
The series aired in the UK on BBC Two from 30 June to 20 July, 2012, as part of the 2012 Cultural Olympiad, a celebration of British culture coinciding with the 2012 Summer Olympics. There are four hour-long films in the series.
The Hollow Crown premiered in South Africa on DStv's M-Net Movies Premiere channel on Thursday 7 November 2013, at 20h30. New episodes broadcast in a double bill, weekly.
Set in the medieval period, these bold adaptations of four of Shakespeare's most acclaimed history plays produce some of the most ambitious television of recent years.
The films – chronicling a bloody tale of family, politics and power — tell the rise and fall of three Kings and how their destiny shaped English history.
Richard II (Ben Whishaw) is a vain, self-indulgent man who rules with little regard for his people's welfare. He is ultimately overthrown by his cousin Bolingbroke (Rory Kinnear), who ascends the throne as Henry IV (Jeremy Irons).
Henry IV's reign is marred by his own guilt over Richard's death, civil war, and the gnawing fear that his son Hal (Tom Hiddleston) is a total wastrel unworthy of the throne.
When Hal comes to the throne as Henry V he is left to bury the ghosts of his father's past while fighting both the French forces as well as his own inner demons.
The Kings are played by Ben Whishaw, Jeremy Irons and Tom Hiddleston respectively, supported by a cast including Rory Kinnear, Patrick Stewart, David Suchet, David Morrissey in Richard II; Simon Russell Beale, Michelle Dockery, Julie Walters and Maxine Peake in Henry IV; and John Hurt, Anton Lesser and Paterson Joseph in Henry V.
The plays were filmed on location in England between Summer 2011 and Spring 2012 and are all set in their authentic medieval period.
In the first film of the cycle, Ben Whishaw (The Hour) plays King Richard II with Rory Kinnear (Hamlet) as his challenger, Bolingbroke.
John of Gaunt is played by Patrick Stewart (The RSC's Merchant of Venice), with David Suchet (Poirot) as The Duke of York and David Morrissey (South Riding) as Northumberland.
Tom Hughes (Silk) plays Aumerle and Mowbray is played by James Purefoy (Rome). Clemence Poésy (Harry Potter) plays the role of Queen Isabella and Lindsay Duncan (Alice in Wonderland) plays The Duchess of York.
Other confirmed cast members include Lucian Msamati (The No.1 Ladies' Detective Agency) and David Bradley (Harry Potter).
Completing the confirmed cast of Richard II are Isabella Laughland, Daniel Boyd, Finbar Lynch, Richard Bremmer, Harry Hadden Paton, Ferdinand Kingsley, Samuel Roukin, Tom Goodman-Hill, Adrian Schiller, Peter De Jersey, Simon Trinder and Rhodri Miles.
Richard II Production designer is Andrew McAlpine (An Education, The Piano), with Danny Cohen (The King's Speech) as Director of Photography and Odile Dicks Mireaux (The Constant Gardner) as Costume Designer.
Richard II is directed by Rupert Goold who also adapted the play with Ben Power, Associate Director of the National Theatre.
Henry IV (Parts I and II)
The second and third films see Jeremy Irons (The Borgias) playing Henry IV, supported by Tom Hiddleston (Thor) as Prince Hal. Simon Russell Beale (Spooks) plays Falstaff and Julie Walters (Mamma Mia, Mo) plays Mistress Quickly.
Hotspur is played by Joe Armstrong (Robin Hood) and Michelle Dockery (Downton Abbey) plays Lady Percy alongside Maxine Peake (Criminal Justice) as Doll Tearsheet.
Lady Northumberland is played by Niamh Cusack (A Touch of Frost) with Alun Armstrong (New Tricks) as Northumberland. Reece Shearsmith (The League Of Gentlemen) plays the role of Davy, Tom Georgeson (Notes on a Scandal) plays Bardolph, Pistol is played by Paul Ritter (Friday Night Dinner) and Douglas Henshall (South Riding) plays Mowbray.
Iain Glen (Downton Abbey) plays Warwick and Geoffrey Palmer (As Time Goes By) plays Lord Chief Justice.
Completing the confirmed cast of Henry IV are Henry Faber, James Laurenson, David Hayman, Robert Pugh, Alex Clatworthy, Stephen McCole, David Dawson, Ian Conningham and Nick Jones.
Henry IV Production Designer is Donal Woods (Downton Abbey, Cranford). Director of Photography is Ben Smithard (Cranford) with Annie Symons (Gideon's Daughter, The Crimson Petal and the White) as Costume Designer.
Henry IV is directed and adapted for the screen by Richard Eyre (Notes on a Scandal, Iris).
Tom Hiddleston (Thor) plays Henry V in the final film. John Hurt (Merlin, Tinker, Tailor, Solider, Spy) plays The Chorus and Julie Walters (Mamma Mia, Mo) plays Mistress Quickly.
Lambert Wilson (The Matrix) plays the King of France with Mélanie Thierry (Babylon A.D) as his daughter, Princess Katherine.
Anton Lesser (The Hour) plays Exeter, Paterson Joseph (The No.1 Ladies' Detective Agency) plays York and Edward Akrout (The Borgias) plays Louis, The Dauphin.
Stanley Weber (Borgia) plays the Duke of Orleans, Owen Teale (Game of Thrones) plays Fluellen and Richard Griffiths (The History Boys) plays the Duke of Burgundy. Tom Georgeson (Notes on a Scandal) and Paul Ritter (Friday Night Dinner) return as Bardolph and Pistol.
Completing the cast of Henry V are Malcolm Sinclair, Nigel Cooke, James Laurenson, Richard Clothier, Tom Brooke, George Sargeant, Gwilym Lee, John Dagleish, Paul Freeman, Geraldine Chaplin, Thomas Dennis, Philippe De Brougada, Maxime Lefrancois and Jeremie Corvillault.
Henry V was adapted by Ben Power, Associate Director of The National Theatre. Production Designer is Alan MacDonald (The Queen). The Director of Photography is Michael McDonough (Winter's Bone) with Annie Symons (Gideon's Daughter, The Crimson Petal and the White) as Costume Designer.
Henry V is directed by the acclaimed theatre director Thea Sharrock (Equus, The Misanthrope).
Executive Producers are Pippa Harris (Revolutionary Road, Stuart A Life Backwards) and Sam Mendes (American Beauty, Jarhead) for Neal Street Productions, Gareth Neame (Downton Abbey, State of Play) for NBCUniversal International and Ben Stephenson for the BBC.
The Producer is Rupert Ryle-Hodges, co-producer of Cranford.