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Episode Four

Premiering Wednesday, February 25, 2004 (Check local listings)

"For All Time"

Episode 4, For All Time
Episode 4, For All Time
In the final episode of his historical detective story, Michael Wood uncovers the story of Shakespeare's life in the "New Age" of King James I. We discover Shakespeare's neighborhood in London where he lived with a French Huguenot family - and played a fascinating part in the marriage of their daughter. Wood visits the present Queen's robe makers - Ede and Ravenscroft - and finds evidence for Shakespeare's role in the royal coronation.

But the early optimism was blown apart by the Gunpowder Plot in November 1605 – a Jacobean September 11th. The entertainment industry responded with plays about plots and paranoia: Shakespeare's contribution was "Macbeth," a play about the murder of a Scottish King! Back in Stratford, William's daughter Susanna received a court summons for her refusal to take Protestant communion. We find the manuscript of a play in William's hand and visit the Stationers Company who licensed his plays.

With the help of the RSC we see Shakespeare's masterpiece "King Lear" played by Julian Glover. Despite all his success in London, William never loses his links to Stratford and he is back with the family for the marriage of his daughter Susanna. But Civil War is on the horizon and social revolt sweeps Warwickshire in the very week of the wedding. Times are changing fast. In London Shakespeare keeps pushing one step ahead of opposition.

The Company buys a hall in the Blackfriars so they now have an indoor theatre, with lighting and higher class audiences. We see a scene from Shakespeare's lost play "Cardenio," identified by Michael Wood in preparing films, this Blackfriars play is seen here for first time since his day. Then Shakespeare writes "The Tempest" often seen as his farewell to the stage, but things are never that simple with William.

During his so-called "retirement" in Stratford he buys a house in London, a former Catholic safe house next to the Blackfriars, and collaborates with young, up and coming writers. In his final play he turns to the history of his own times – "King Henry VIII" or "All is True" - the story of the split that shook up his parents' lives and shaped his own.

Finally Wood follows Shakespeare back to Warwickshire, where we hear the story of his death and the riddle of his will, with its strange bequest to his wife Anne of the second best bed. Thus concludes the story of an Elizabethan life, but says Wood, Shakespeare's story - and the search for him - continues!

Available on ShopPBS:


Episode 1 - A Time Of RevolutionEpisode 1

Episode 2 - The Lost YearsEpisode 2

Episode 3 - The Duty Of PoetsEpisode 3

Episode 4 - For All TimeEpisode 4

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