Jeremy Irons on The Henrys  21554

  • Productions used include:
    • Henry IV – Part I from The Globe with Jamie Parker and Roger Allam (2010)
    • Olivier’s film of Henry V
    • Branagh’s film of Henry V
    • 2012 versions of Henry IV (Richard Eyre) and Henry V (Thea Sharrock).


  • 01:46 Dismantling “The Theatre” and transporting across the river to rebuild as “The Globe”. Henry V first play to be performed there. Opening of Olivier film.
  • 03:50 Jonathan Bate: first time big political/social issues explored on stage. Places in society these can be explored. Dangerous on stage.
  • 05:00 2010 Globe production of Henry IV – Part I.
  • 07:00 Dominic Dromgoole on the unique features of the Globe.
  • 09:00 Jonathan Bate: Hal not living up to the promise of a King.
  • 10:15 Hotspur. Old-fashioned virtues of honour, courage and no-nonsense.
  • 11:30 Falstaff. Jonathan Bate: interesting that he’s fat. What is it about fat people? Laziness / gluttony, but also life.
  • 12:30 Historical characters, inc Sir John Oldcastle. Justin Champion on Holinshed.
  • 13:15 Richard Eyre directing new films of Henry IV.
  • 14:00 Tom Hiddleston on Hal.
  • 15:00 Simon Russell Beale as Falstaff.
  • 16:00 Richard Eyre: none of the characters unalloyed good or bad. Ambiguity is Shakespearean.
  • 16:45 Falstaff playing King Henry scene. Jonathan Bate: greatest scene Shakespeare ever wrote; play within a play. Shift of verb tense between “I do, I will”.
  • 25:00 Jeremy Irons at site of Abbey where Henry stayed the night before Shrewsbury. 26:00 SRB: Falstaff’s analysis of lots of situations, including his own, is accurate. Honour is just a word.
  • 27:15 Filming in snow in Rickmansworth in 2012. Then Irons on actual site of the battle. Hal just 16 at the time of the battle.
  • 28:30 Tom Hiddleston: changes who Hal is. Alters his moral compass, and sees Falstaff differently. Shoulders broadening, not just literally but metaphorically.
  • 30:00 Shakespeare chooses to be historically inaccurate for dramatic effect – making Hal and Hotspur the same age despite 30 year age difference.
  • 31:00 Church built, possibly on site of mass graves. Shift of focus onto Henry having himself deposed a King. Difficult to imagine now the sort of guilt he felt. Sleep speech to “uneasy lies the head” read by Irons in church.
  • 34:00 Jonathan Bate: King and country’s growing sickness connected. Irons in Jerusalem chamber. Letter R over and over again in roof, R for Richard II, who built room.
  • 37:00 Henry V prologue.
  • 39:00 Jeremy Irons on Eurostar as we investigate the English claim to France. Justin Champion similarity of Canterbury speech to Holinshed, but [Irons] we can’t know what he thought of the claim.
  • 41:00 Thea Sharrock: not pro- or anti-war, but wars happen all the time.
  • 42:30 “Once more unto the breech” as very first take of the film. Inevitable comparisons with Olivier and Branagh. Sharrock: Henry is not directing himself + a woman is directing. Highs and lows of emotion that the character is capable of.
  • 45:00 Terrible threat at Harfleur. Sharrock: I think he shocks himself with what he says. That affects him afterwards, for sure. Hiddleston: fine to celebrate homecoming heroes, but Shakespeare and (hopefully current team) will be frank about how those wars are won. Cutting of speech in Olivier’s film.
  • 48:10 Scene the night before the battle.
  • 49:50 Irish Guards watching the soldiers’ discussion scene before returning to Afghanistan.
  • 50:45 Source of “What’s he that wishes so” in Holinshed. Hiddleston: part of a generation that doesn’t trust rhetoric. But speech basically appeals to basic courage, which is very old-fashioned. Olivier and Branagh do it in front of whole army. Hiddleston and Sharrock decide to do it to a small group.
  • 54:00 Irons on horse at actual battlesite.
  • 56:00 Layers of subversion, ambiguity and doubt. Ordinary people with little to gain and everything to lose who do lose everything. Leaders cannot be sure of consequences of actions. Henry dead by 35 and all achievements lost. “Have we learned anything?” and pan to WWI cemetery.


Topics covered by this tv

  1. Henry IV (drama)
  2. Henry V (drama)
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