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Great Performances: The Hollow Crown

Airs Fridays, September 20 - October 11, 2013 at 9 p.m. on KPBS TV

Above: Ben Whishaw As Richard II and Rory Kinnear as Henry Bolinbroke in "The Hollow Crown: Richard II."

THE HOLLOW CROWN, a lavish, four-part miniseries, assembles four of Shakespeare’s history plays — "Richard II," "Henry IV, Part I," & "Henry IV, Part II" and "Henry V" — into a single chronological narrative. The original “Game of Thrones” has inspired bold film adaptations with a cast of leading British and Hollywood talent including Jeremy Irons, Tom Hiddleston, Ben Whishaw, Rory Kinnear, Patrick Stewart, John Hurt, Julie Walters, David Suchet, Michelle Dockery and David Morrissey. This series premieres on THIRTEEN’s GREAT PERFORMANCES beginning Friday, September 20, 2013 at 9 p.m.

"Richard II" airs Friday, Sept. 20 at 9 p.m. - King Richard (Ben Whishaw) is called upon to settle a dispute between his cousin Henry Bolingbroke (Rory Kinnear) and Thomas Mowbray (James Purefoy). Richard calls for a duel but then halts it just before swords clash. Both men are banished from the realm. Richard visits John of Gaunt (Patrick Stewart), Bolingbroke’s Father, who, in the throes of death, reprimands the King.

Infographics: Shakespeare’s Game of the Hollow Crown

Using Shakespeare’s "Richard II," "Henry IV, Part I" and "Henry IV, Part II" as your map, follow the history of rebellion in turn of the 15th century England and the successive stories of three kings: Richard II, Henry IV and Henry V.

David Horn, executive producer of GREAT PERFORMANCES, affirms, “THE HOLLOW CROWN continues our series’ commitment to bringing exceptional Shakespeare performances to the series, following, as it does, our recent productions of "King Lear," "Hamlet," and "Macbeth," and of course, THIRTEEN’s SHAKESPEARE UNCOVERED series earlier this year which featured tantalizing clips from these very productions which we’re now so pleased to be showing in full.”

After seizing Gaunt’s money and lands, Richard leaves for wars against the rebels in Ireland. Bolingbroke returns to claim back his inheritance. Supported by his allies, Northumberland (David Morrissey) and the Duke of York (David Suchet), Bolingbroke takes Richard prisoner and lays claim to the throne.

"Henry IV, Part I" airs Friday, Sept. 27 at 9 p.m. - The heir to the throne, Prince Hal (Tom Hiddleston), defies his father, King Henry (Jeremy Irons), by spending his time at Mistress Quickly’s (Julie Walters) tavern in the company of the dissolute Falstaff (Simon Russell Beale) and his companions.

The King is threatened by a rebellion led by Hal’s rival, Hotspur (Joe Armstrong), Hotspur’s father Northumberland (Alun Armstrong) and his uncle Worcester (David Hayman). In the face of this danger to the state, Prince Hal joins his father to defeat the rebels at the Battle of Shrewsbury and kill Hotspur in hand-to-hand combat. Michelle Dockery plays Hotspur’s wife, Kate Percy.

"Henry IV, Part II" airs Friday, Oct. 4 at 9 p.m. - In the aftermath of the Battle of Shrewsbury, Northumberland learns of the death of his son. The Lord Chief Justice (Geoffrey Palmer) attempts, on behalf of the increasingly frail King, to separate Falstaff from Prince Hal.

The rebels continue to plot insurrection. Falstaff is sent to recruit soldiers and takes his leave of his mistress, Doll Tearsheet (Maxine Peake).

The rebel forces are overcome. This brings comfort to the dying King, who is finally reconciled to his son. Falstaff rushes to Hal’s coronation with expectations of high office, only to be rebuffed by the former prince who has now become King Henry V.

"Henry V" airs Friday, Oct. 11 at 9 p.m. - Henry V has settled onto the throne and has the makings of a fine King. The French Ambassador (Jérémie Covillault) brings a challenge from the French Dauphin. Inspired by his courtiers, including Exeter (Anton Lesser) and York (Paterson Joseph), Henry swears that he will, with all force, answer this challenge. The Chorus (John Hurt) tells of England’s preparations for war and Henry’s army sails for France. After Exeter’s diplomacy is rebuffed by the French King (Lambert Wilson), Henry lays a heavy siege and captures Harfleur. The French now take Henry’s claims seriously and challenge the English army to battle at Agincourt. Henry and his meager forces prove victorious against all odds.

GREAT PERFORMANCES is on Facebook.

The Hollow Crown: Shakespeare's History Plays

Shakespeare's “Richard II,” “Henry IV, Parts 1 and 2,” and “Henry V” stars a distinguished cast including Ben Whishaw, Jeremy Irons, Tom Hiddleston, Rory Kinnear, Simon Russell Beale, Michelle Dockery, and Patrick Stewart airs September 20 – October 11, 2013.

The Hollow Crown: Richard II - Preview

Witness Ben Whishaw’s performance as Richard in this television adaptation of Shakespeare’s play.

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The Hollow Crown: Henry IV Part I - Preview

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The Hollow Crown: Henry IV Part II - Preview

The Hollow Crown: Henry V

In this excerpt from Henry V, the king (Tom Hiddleston) rallies his English troops prior to battle with the French. Second only to Hamlet's to be or not to be, Henry V's "Band of Brothers" speech at Agincourt is one of the most famous speeches in English literature.

Tom Hiddleston Talks About The Hollow Crown & Social Media

Tom Hiddleston talks about the important role social media has played in connection with The Hollow Crown.

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Shakespeare and the Divine Right of Kings

Above: Go behind-the-scenes of the gripping new film adaptations of Shakespeare’s History Plays: The Hollow Crown. This featurette on the making-of the series brings you even closer to the action with exclusive interviews with the directors and actors of the highly acclaimed films.

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