Holbein's Skull. Copyright: BBC.

Holbein's Skull

BBC Radio 4 comedy drama about artist Hans Holbein. 1 episode in 2018. Stars Jack Farthing, Sam Alexander, Lauren Cornelius and Clive Hayward.

Holbein's Skull

Comedy drama about Hans Holbein and his painting The Ambassadors

Comedy Drama
BBC Radio 4
Jack Farthing, Sam Alexander, Lauren Cornelius and Clive Hayward
Martyn Wade
Tracey Neale

A deliciously funny play about art, relationships and sexuality. It just happens to have taken place in London a few hundred years ago. Hans Holbein, an up-and-coming artist, is about to begin work on his painting The Ambassadors.

Hans Holbein's painting, The Ambassadors, is one of the star attractions in London's National Gallery and the writer, Martyn Wade, has taken a peek behind the painting to find an imaginative solution to the enigma that surrounds it. There are two young men in the picture but there are so many other items portrayed - it seems overloaded with potential meaning. So let's go back to London a few hundred years ago.

Jean de Dinteville and Georges de Selve are the two Ambassadors. Hans Holbein is the up-and-coming artist on his second stint in London. Margery Horsman is a lady-in-waiting to Anne Boleyn - who takes a shine to Jean and is always at the ready with a good idea.

Jean is in England to try and persuade King Henry that his actions regarding Anne Boleyn will jeopardise relations with France but by the time he arrives in London this is Diplomatic Mission Impossible. When Holbein agrees to paint Jean and Georges's picture he has an intriguing suggestion. But things don't quite go according to plan. How did the painting end up with so many eye catching artefacts? This fresh, sharp and witty drama zips along with its imaginative take as to why that might be.

Production Details

Production company
Also known as
  • Afternoon Drama: Holbein's Skull (Other official name)
Laugh track

Broadcast details

First broadcast
Thursday 5th April 2018 on BBC Radio 4 at 2:15pm
Episode length
45 minutes
Last repeat
Tuesday 12th May 2020 at 2:15pm