King Lear: The Film, starring Don Warrington, to begin free online release from 11th July

KING LEAR: THE FILM

FREE RELEASE, BEGINNING 11 JULY, 2016

FILMED AT THE ROYAL EXCHANGE THEATRE, MANCHESTER

Watch at bbc.co.uk/shakespeare from July to September 2016

The epic production of King Lear: The Film starring Don Warrington begins its free release from 11th July 2016, when it will initially be available on-demand through the BBC in the UK and internationally as part of the BBC/ British Council Shakespeare Lives digital festival for three months online at bbc.co.uk/shakespearelives.

It will also be available on BBC iPlayer, as part of the corporation’s plans to provide a richer service to audiences and help foster growth in the creative industries.



Captured at the Royal Exchange Theatre Manchester, King Lear played to sell out theatre crowds during its run, winning 4 and 5 star reviews across the board and was described by the Guardian as ‘as close to definitive as can be’. 

The original ‘intelligent and theatrical’ (Guardian) stage production was directed by Michael Buffong (A Raisin in the Sun, Moon on a Rainbow Shawl, All My Sons) and was a co-production between Talawa Theatre Company and the Royal Exchange Theatre in association with the Birmingham Repertory Theatre. 

King Lear is a brutal portrait of a man unraveling – pitted against his daughters, against nature and against the universe itself. In an ancient Britain bound by loyalty to the clan and the power of the sword, King Lear decides to give up his crown. As he divides the kingdom between his daughters, family ties disintegrate, order disappears and the land slides into chaos.

Don Warrington’s portrayal of the title role resonates particularly as the UK’s awareness of the impact of Dementia on family bonds and decision-making grows. Meanwhile the casting of King Lear’s family as black reminds us that the presence and influence of black people is potentially un-documented in our ancient history. The casting also addresses the debate about the lack of availability of roles for black actors in the UK. 


Award-winning actor Don Warrington has been highly praised for his brutal and powerful portrayal of King Lear. He can be currently seen in the BBC’s hugely successful series Death In Paradise. His career spans television (Waking the Dead, Casualty, Rising Damp), radio and the stage (All My Sons, Driving Miss Daisy, The Mysteries) and he has had a long-standing relationship with Talawa Theatre Company both on and off the stage. 

The recording brings the audience even closer to the family feuds, elemental attacks and epic battles of King Lear, and serves to extend the audience of an already dynamic and widely attended production. Supporting Don Warrington are Alfred Enoch as Edgar (How To Get Away With Murder, Harry Potter), Miltos Yerolemou (Game of Thrones, Star Wars, The Danish Girl) as the Fool and Philip Whitchurch (Waking the Dead, Billy Elliot, Dark Road) as the Earl of Gloucester.

The outstanding cast also includes Fraser AyresRakie AyolaRhys BevanNorman BowmanThomas CoombesSam GlenWil JohnsonDebbie KorleyPepter LunkuseMiles MitchellMark Springer and Sarah Quist.


Michael Buffong, Artistic Director, Talawa Theatre Company and Director, King Lear comments: “We are always seeking to push ourselves as artists, always trying to go beyond what is expected.   The staged version of King Lear was hugely successful and received passionate responses form audiences and critics alike.   King Lear: The Film represents an exciting opportunity to bring this epic story of family conflict against a backdrop of a father’s deteriorating mental health to a wider audience.   It’s a first for Talawa, and we’re excited to be working with our partners in delivering King Lear: The Film.”


The film has been produced as part of Talawa’s 30th anniversary and the Royal Exchange’s 40th anniversary celebrations and demonstrates the Royal Exchange Theatre’s commitment to capturing productions digitally and reaching wider audiences across the UK and internationally.

 King Lear: the Film is a Talawa Theatre Company / Royal Exchange Theatre / Saffron Cherry TV production in association with Lion Eyes TV.

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