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The Bard explored in new PBS series

Jeremy Irons is among all-star lineup for PBS series “Shakespeare Uncovered.”

Jeremy Irons is among the all-star lineup for the PBS series “Shakespeare Uncovered.”

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Updated: February 26, 2013 6:17AM

PBS is telling tales behind some of Shakespeare’s greatest plays.

“Shakespeare Uncovered” is a three-week, six-episode project featuring stars who’ve played celebrated characters exploring what’s behind them. It kicks off Jan. 25 (9 p.m., WTTW-Channel 11) with Ethan Hawke exploring Macbeth and Joely Richardson delving into the playwright’s comedies. Jeremy Irons tackles Henry IV and V on Feb. 1, and other episodes feature Hamlet, The Tempest and Richard II.

Each episode mixes performances, history, analysis, and the actors speaking passionately about their roles as they trek to sites imagined or visited by the author.

“One of the reasons why Shakespeare shines as the greatest dramatist of all time is he was writing about the human condition,” Irons said at a press conference. “Jealousy, envy or unrequited love, or the relationship between family members. It’s something that hasn’t changed. So when we see those plays now they still speak to us, they have a resonance, (while) hundreds of plays written since then don’t.”

Irons says the new series can “open up to this huge American audience this gold dust, and show them television doesn’t end with Downton Abbey. If you think that’s good, you’ll see what real writing, real authors and real characters are all about,” he said.

And the language of the plays requires their dialogue to be projected. “You can’t sort of mutter it in a Downton Abbey way,” he cracked, likening the hit British soap to a Ford Fiesta and Shakespeare to an Aston Martin. (He later admitted he’s never seen the series.)

Gannett News Service

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