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Shakespeare: Broadcasting and the Cinema (BBC Radio, 04/Mar/1937)

A short debate in which Val Gielgud (brother of actor John Gielgud) and director Alfred Hitchcock argued the merits of radio and film adaptations of Shakespeare's plays respectively.

A written version of the debate was printed in the BBC's The Listener magazine under the title "Much Ado About Nothing?" (10/Mar/1937).

Gielgud had recently produced a radio adaptation of "Antony and Cleopatra", which was broadcast on Sunday 28th February 1937.

Broadcast Details

  • broadcast on BBC Radio (National 200 Kc/s. 1,500m.)
  • date: 04/Mar/1937
  • length: approx 20 minutes


Eighth in a series of talks on Shakespeare and theatre given by producers, actors and scholarly authorities on Shakespeare. In this radio talk Hitchcock replies to Granville-Barker’s proposition that Shakespeare’ plays could not be represented adequately on the air or the screen from the point of view of the filmmaker. Val Gielgud, BBC Drama Director at the time, replies for broadcasting.


  • It is highly unlikely any copies of the broadcast have survived.




Bludgeon and rapier were used by Alfred Hitchcock and Val Gielgud this week when they defended their respective media — screen and radio — against recent attacks of Granville Barker on the subject of Shakespeare. Despite Mr. Hitchcock's brusque declarations that the film humanised the Bard, however, it was impossible not to feel that, professionally, he did not greatly care whether it did or did not. The day of Shakespeare as a prop in the film industry is not yet. Mr. Gielgud, on the other hand, gave a clever speech — delicate, barbed and, indeed, a work of literature in itself. This again tended to defeat its object. Admiring Mr. Glelgud's composition one was likely to forget that it really did contain some forceful arguments in favour of Shakespeare by way of the radio. The two talks contained a good deal to think about, and not the greatest point was the defence of Cine — or radio — Shakespeare.
Yorkshire Post (06/Mar/1937) - Broadcasting of the Week