BBC School Radio launches ‘Shakespeare Retold’ adaptations of the Bard’s plays for primary schools

BBC School Radio, part of BBC Learning’s online service for schools, has launched ‘Shakespeare Retold’ – a series of retellings of ten of Shakespeare’s most famous plays – specially adapted for modern primary school audiences.

Available to download from the BBC website, the stories have been written by leading children’s authors such as Frank Cottrell Boyce, Pamela Butchart and Jamila Gavin, and readers include Simon Callow, Shirley Henderson and Julian Rhind-Tutt.

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King Lear

The retellings range from the irreverent silliness of Andy Stanton’s King Lear (who wears a ceremonial nose and eats a lot of pineapple) to the touching poignancy of Horatio Claire’s Hamlet Lives Forever, which sees Shakespeare telling the story of the doomed Prince of Denmark to the ghost of his late son Hamnet.

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Hamlet Lives Forever

They also include Pamela Butchart’s Macdeath, in which Shakespeare’s bloodiest tragedy is recounted by a young schoolgirl to her horrified class and teacher (and in which we learn that Lady Macbeth has a habit of pinching crisps from the other children on the playground!).

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Macdeath

In The Isle Of Noises, sailor Ned Blood helps out Mr. Shakespeare with the special effects for the Bard’s first production of The Tempest at the Blackfriars Indoor Playhouse, giving children a historical insight into the era’s theatre and stagecraft.

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The Isle of Noises

Each episode is 15 minutes long, and is accompanied by an audio interview with the author and a full set of downloadable teachers’ notes, giving ideas on how each play could be used in class.

“These stories should ensure that a new generation of Shakespeare fans are inspired by his incredible stories on the 400th anniversary of his death,” says Lisa Percy of BBC Learning.

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Henry V

Stuart Rathe, who wrote the teachers’ notes for the series, adds, “Primary School children love exciting stories, and these retellings are so much fun. They are a great way to celebrate both Shakespeare Week and as part of a wider whole school celebration of Shakespeare’s legacy in this very special year.”

BBC School Radio’s Shakespeare Retold has just been launched. Go here to access the broadcasts, downloads and teachers’ notes.

Shakespeare Week runs from 14-20 March. Go here to find out about Shakespeare Week.