Gareth Neame came to Summer TV Press Tour 2013 to talk about PBS’ broadcast of The Hollow Crown – NBCUniversal International’s filmed adaptations of four of Shakespeare’s most gripping history plays: Richard II; Henry IV, Part 1; Henry IV, Part 2; and Henry V. Collectively, they’re the first miniseries, says Neame, the managing director of Carnival Films (Downton Abbey) – the production company he sold to NBCU in ’08. The lavish series chronicles the rise and fall of three kings who shaped English history. The series starts with vain, self-indulgent Richard II (Ben Whishaw), who is ultimately overthrown by his cousin Bolingbroke (Rory Kinnear), who ascends the throne as Henry IV (Jeremy Irons). Henry IV’s reign is marred by his own guilt over Richard’s death, civil war, and the fear that his son Hal (Tom Hiddleston) is a wastrel and unworthy of the throne.
These Shakespearan plays are completely interconnected and intertwined, Neame said this afternoon. “And in this age where we’re all talking about these 10 or 12-part [miniseries] about power and family, I looked at this as the beginning of it… These four together, watch the continuity of them, and it is amazing to look at – 300 years ago the same sense of narrative as modern narratives.”