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As part of ERA’s commitment to helping licence holders make best use of the material available to them, we have decided to start highlighting our ‘top pick’ each week.

This weekend, a number of programmes centring on British theatre are being aired across the BBC.  From adaptations, to documentaries, to interviews with playwrights – these programmes offer a rich resource for English teachers, both at GCSE and FE level.

The Dresser (9pm, Saturday 31st October, BBC2)

A new adaptation of Ronald Harwood’s play.

From the BBC:

In a touring Shakespearean theatre company, backstage hand Norman is devoted to the brilliant but tyrannical head of the company, Sir. He struggles to support the deteriorating star as the company works to carry on during the London blitz during World War Two. The pathos of his backstage efforts rival the pathos in Shakespeare’s story of Lear and the Fool from his play King Lear, which is being presented on stage, as the situation comes to a crisis.


Secret Knowledge – Jacobi on Garrick: Godfather of the British Stage (7:30pm, Sunday 1st November, BBC Four)

From the BBC:

Derek Jacobi goes in search of David Garrick, 18th-century superstar and the man who reinvented acting for the modern era.


In Conversation – The Dresser: Ronald Harwood in Conversation with Richard Eyre (8pm, Sunday 1st November, BBC Four)

From the BBC:

To coincide with Richard Eyre’s television version of Ronald Harwood’s play The Dresser, the two knights discuss Harwood’s long and distinguished career as a writer of plays and screenplays. The conversation covers how Harwood’s own experience as dresser to the great Shakespearean actor Sir Donald Wolfit inspired The Dresser, and takes in other highlights of Harwood’s theatrical career, including Taking Sides and Collaboration, as well as films such as Quartet, The Diving Bell and the Butterfly and The Pianist, for which he won the Oscar for Best Adapted Screenplay in 2003.


Knights of Classic Drama (9pm, Sunday 1st November, BBC Four)

From the BBC:

In the first of a two-part series, the BBC delves into its archives to discover British acting greats as they take their first tentative steps on the road to success. Long before they were knighted for their services to drama, we see early appearances from Michael Caine in a rare Shakespearean role, Ben Kingsley, Ian McKellen, Derek Jacobi and Michael Gambon.

Featuring unique behind-the-scenes footage alongside a wealth of classic British productions like War and Peace, the Mayor of Casterbridge and the Singing Detective, it reveals many career-defining moments from the first generation of acting talent to fully embrace television drama.



Additional links:

Front Row, Harold Pinter (BBC Radio 4)

Blasted: the Life and Death of Sarah Kane (BBC Radio 4)

Front Row, Mark Lawson talks to Tom Stoppard (BBC Radio 4)

Front Row, Alan Bennett (BBC Radio 4)





Follow the hashtag #TVforTeachers and @EraResources for more lesson ideas.