Shakespeare’s early histories used to be written off. Harold Bloom, in his massive book on Shakespeare, devotes a derisory seven pages to the three Henry VI plays and tells us “they do not live now”. But, as RSC revivals of the complete trilogy by Michael Boyd and Terry Hands have proved, they make terrific theatre. I would guess that the first two-hour segment of the BBC version, broadcast on Saturday night, will have also kept viewers riveted to their screens, astonished that Shakespeare could outdo Game of Thrones.
Condensing the trilogy into two sections, as Ben Power and Dominic Cooke have done here – and as Peter Hall and John Barton did in their 1963 Stratford production of The Wars of the Roses – inevitably means some loss.