Photo credit: The Winter’s Tale (Photo courtesy of BBC)

Full details announced for BBC Lights Up initiative, starring Giles Terera and Juliet Stevenson

The RSC's new production of 'The Winter's Tale' will receive a televised world premiere.

Sophie Thomas
Sophie Thomas

As part of the BBC's Culture in Quarantine series, the corporation will be collaborating with London theatres and regional venues to showcase new works. Full details for the BBC Lights Up programme have been confirmed, including a new Royal Shakespeare Company production, as well as television play adaptations and works by Olivier Award-winning actors.

Director of BBC Arts, Jonty Claypole said: "We asked theatres and producers across the UK to come up with ideas for a virtual theatre festival to be staged in lockdown. The result is BBC Lights Up: eighteen new productions for television, radio and online. They bring together household names with groundbreaking new talent. They are joyful, moving, funny, poetic and, in many cases, probing and provocative plays."

For the first time in RSC history, a production will premiere on television rather than on stage. The Winter's Tale, directed by Erica Whyman was originally scheduled for a summer 2020 run, but was postponed due to the pandemic. Now, the 1960s inspired The Winter's Tale will be seen on screen, premiering on BBC Four on 25 April at 9pm.

Casting has also been confirmed for two radio plays. Constellations will star Gugu Mbatha-Raw and George Mackay, with Juliet Stevenson, Deborah Findlay and Marilyn Nnadebe in Elegy.

New plays announced today as part of BBC Lights Up include:

Braids: Set in Durham, local hairdresser Abeni is putting purple braids in customer Jasmine's hair. During the appointment, they have a life-changing talk, opening Jasmine's mind to new ways of seeing the world.

Dedication: Inspired by the 400th anniversary of William Shakespeare's passing in 2016, Nick Dear's work shares how the Bard has impacted our lives.

Folk: Simon Russell Beale plays folk musician Cecil Sharp in Nell Leyshon's new work. Folk was originally scheduled to run at the Hampstead Theatre, but was postponed.

J'Ouvert: Yasmin Joseph's award-winning play has been staged once more, filmed at the Harold Pinter Theatre. Set during Notting Hill Carnival, best friends Jade and Nadine fight for their own spaces in a world where their bodies are under threat. J'Ouvert will open as part of Sonia Friedman Productions RE:EMERGE season, including Walden starring Gemma Arterton and Anna X starring Emma Corrin. Read more about J'Ouvert here.

Orpheus in the Record Shop: Fusing spoken word, beatboxing and classical music, rapper Testament's newest work is inspired by Greek myth. Classical music is played live by the Orchestra of Opera North.

Stripe by Stripe And Other Stories: Exploring how Black and mixed race women view life in Wales, Rakie Ayola will read a collection of life-affirming short stories. The production was originally streamed online over the course of three nights.

The Meaning of Zong: Olivier Award-winning actor Giles Terera writes and stars in his debut play, dramatising the travels of slave ship Zong in late 18th-century Britain. Terera is joined by Samuel West, developed by Bristol Old Vic and the National Theatre.

Welcome to Iran: First seen at Theatre Royal Stratford East, Nadia Fall's semi-autobiographical piece sees a young woman travel to the Middle East to better understand her family.

Plays previously announced for BBC Lights Up include Sitting, both written and starring Katherine Parkinson, as well as a radio presentation of The Fishermen. Other shows include Adam, Buttercup, Harm, Half Breed, Pale Sister and Sadie.

Photo credit: The Winter's Tale (Photo courtesy of BBC)

Article Updated: 14 March 2021

Originally published on

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