An old king, stepping down from the throne, disinherits his favorite daughter on a mad whim and gives his kingdom to his two older daughters, both of whom prove treacherous.



(play), (teleplay)

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Episode cast overview, first billed only:
David J. Stewart ...
Poor Tom (as Micheal MacLiammoir)
Frederick Worlock ...
Fred Sadoff ...
First Gentleman
Chris Gampel ...
First Servant


Based on Shakespeare's play: King Lear of Britain has decided to divide his kingdom into three parts, and to hand over the responsibilities of ruling to his three daughters. The two oldest daughters, Goneril and Regan, flatter their father insincerely, and are rewarded. Cordelia, the youngest, sincerely loves her father, but she cannot match her sisters' skill at false adulation - so Lear takes away her portion of the kingdom, despite the pleadings of some of his most loyal nobles. It is not long before Goneril and Regan reveal their deep ingratitude, and soon the old king finds himself in a confusing and desperate position. Written by Snow Leopard

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Plot Keywords:

daughter | king | father | sister | map | See All (43) »


Drama | History | Music





Release Date:

18 October 1953 (USA)  »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?


Television debut of Orson Welles. See more »


Orson Welles reverses the wording of one line in Act IV, Scene vii. Instead of "You have some cause, they have not," Welles says, "They have some cause, you have not," which completely reverses the meaning of the line. See more »


Version of Le roi Lear (2007) See more »

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User Reviews

Barebones Bard
22 April 2016 | by (Buffalo, New York) – See all my reviews

After watching this production of King Lear I can appreciate more and more what the BBC did in giving good productions to all the Shakespeare plays. Sad to say this has become badly dated.

Not to criticize Orson Welles who would have made a magnificent King Lear in a full blown big budget production for the big screen. He fills the role out fine here. But the production is a cut rate version literally.

Everything in the way of a subplot is a eliminated here. We only see what happens to that foolish old king when he decides to turn over power to his daughters and their husbands because he wants to enjoy a little peace and quiet. As Shakespeare said in another of his works "uneasy lies the head that wears the crown" and King Lear is looking for a life of some ease toward the end. As we know it all went disastrously wrong.

Alan Badel as the fool also stands out with his sly trenchant comments about the situation at hand. This was Orson Welles television debut and it was on the Omnibus program with Alastair Cooke's silky and intellectual narration. It also has the prehistoric look of early television.

You will see Orson Welles doing Shakespeare to better advantage in his own production of Othello, a bit less so in his MacBeth where Republic's penny pinching Herbert J. Yates constricted him considerably. But fans of Welles will definitely enjoy this.

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