Two teenagers fall in love, but their feuding families and fate itself cause the relationship to end in tragedy.




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Cast overview, first billed only:
Celia Johnson ...
Joseph O'Conor ...
Jacqueline Hill ...
Christopher Strauli ...
Christopher Northey ...
Paul Henry ...
Roger Davidson ...


Two households, both alike in dignity, in fair Verona where we lay our scene, from ancient grudge break to new mutiny where civil blood makes civil hands unclean. From forth the fatal loins of these two foes a pair of star-cross'd lovers take their life whose misadventur'd piteous overthrows doth with their death bury their parents' strife. Written by William Shakespeare

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Drama | Romance





Release Date:

3 December 1978 (UK)  »

Also Known As:

The Complete Dramatic Works of William Shakespeare: Romeo and Juliet  »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?


Part of the long running BBC Television Shakespeare project which ran between 1978 and 1985. See more »


Version of Romeo and Juliet (1968) See more »

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User Reviews

Not Good
3 March 2007 | by See all my reviews

Celia Johnson is good as the Nurse. Michael Hordern is good as Capulet, though it's his usual neighing and whinnying and not a patch on his King Lear. John O'Conor reads the verse well as Friar Laurence though he never takes it anywhere. Alan Rickman is good as Tybalt, in the first of his "yuk" roles that would make him famous. Christopher Strauli's Benvolio is sympathetic.

The sets are pretty, if not stunning as in some of the other BBC Shakespeare's.

And that's it. The rest is weak to dreadful. Rebecca Saire turned 15 during production, and hasn't a clue about how to act Juliet - she opens her eyes real wide and whines every line in exactly the same way. Patrick Ryecart is poorly matched to her, and his self-regard is inexplicable. The Balcony Scene flows smoothly and uneventfully with zero emotional or erotic impact. Their deaths come as a relief. If I had a dagger, I would have offered it to them hours earlier.

Anthony Andrews is unspeakable as Mercutio, a great shock if you remember his fine work in "Brideshead Revisited." He breaks the mirror of Shakespeare's verse into a thousand shards of two or three words each, and then shouts the fragments in as disconnected and unintelligible manner as possible. In this production, Queen Mab abdicates. Awful.

The director, Alvin Rakoff, shows only an intermittent gift of putting the camera where it will show us what we want to see. The opening brawl is notably incoherent. However there is humor when in a later fight, Romeo apparently knees Tybalt right in the cobblers. Tybalt then grabs the offended region. However did that get through?

R&J is a long play. This version is not recommended for classroom use, or much else.

11 of 18 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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