Denmark Hill. Copyright: Catherine Bailey Productions Limited.

Denmark Hill

Denmark Hill

Alan Bennett's black comedy drama taking Shakespeare's Hamlet into a contemporary suburban setting

Genre
Comedy Drama
Broadcast
2014
Channel
BBC Radio 4
Episodes
1
Starring
Bryony Hannah, Penny Downie, Robert Glenister, Samuel Barnett, Geoffrey Palmer, Malcolm Sinclair, Stephen Critchlow, Cathy Sara and Alan Bennett
Writers
Alan Bennett and Honor Borwick
Director
Tristram Powell
Producer
Marilyn Imrie

Alan Bennett is in black comedy mode in this, his idiosyncratic take on the Hamlet story, adapted for radio and seen largely through the beady eyes of a 15-year-old schoolgirl.

The drama is set in a leafy south London suburb, in the year of an election. Gwen's husband, Frank, lies ill in bed upstairs while downstairs Harriet, her daughter, is struggling with an essay on "Shakespeare's view of the family".

In the aftermath of Frank's death listeners slowly realise they are being drawn into a strangely familiar story - a suburban Hamlet. In different guises here come Claudius, Gertrude, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, Polonius and Ophelia. Even the players play their part.

Denmark Hill was originally written as an un-commissioned TV/film screenplay in 1981/2. For whatever reasons (Bennett can't recall), he kept it in a drawer until it went with all his papers to the Bodleian Library for archival storage. Honor Borwick urged Tristram Powell (director), with Bennett's permission, to search the archives. At last Powell unearthed the hand-typed script.

Production data