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Last Updated: Friday, 22 August, 2003, 01:30 GMT 02:30 UK
Live theatre comes to digital TV
Mark Rylance as Richard II at the Globe
Mark Rylance will play Richard II in the live broadcast
Digital TV channel BBC Four is to make the first live broadcast of a theatre performance for years.

Shakespeare's Richard II will be screened live from the Globe theatre in London - with viewers even able to listen to a commentary by a theatre critic.

The event, to be aired on 7 September, will be "a very risky, very exciting project for us", the channel's controller Roly Keating said.

The station was not sure if it was a television first - but it has not been attempted for many years.

"I don't think we've ever seen Shakespeare like this on TV," Mr Keating said.

Viewers will be able to choose different camera angles or the commentary using digital interactive services.

The National Trust
The National Trust will follow a year in the life of the heritage institution
And the theatre is open to the elements - a faithful reconstruction of how the theatre would have been in Shakespeare's day.

"That's really part of the flavour of it," Mr Keating said.

The play stars Mark Rylance, who was recently seen playing Leonardo da Vinci in BBC One's recent biography series.

The broadcast was announced as a part of BBC Four's autumn season.

Also on the schedule will be a follow-up to author Simon Reeve's Holidays in the Axis of Evil.

In Holidays in the Danger Zone, he will travel to the former Soviet republics known as "the Stans".

Comedian Rich Hall will present a chat show from a fishing boat
Comedian Rich Hall will present a chat show from a fishing boat
A year in the life of the National Trust will be profiled, while Art Safari will explore the inspirations for some of today's quirkiest artists.

The 25th anniversary of dance festival Dance Umbrella will provide the basis for a week of dance programmes while composer Leonard Slatkin will present shows about two Hollywood music icons.

Comedies are represented by a new series of cult US show Curb Your Enthusiasm and Rich Hall's Fishing Show - in which the comedian ponders life from a fishing boat in Scotland.

And artist Gerald Scarfe will be followed as he creates caricatures of 35 British figures - from Posh and Becks to John Logie Baird - for the National Gallery.

"This season on BBC Four truly marks the channel's coming of age, offering up the richest and most diverse mix of programmes to date," Mr Keating said.

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