Jonathan Miller utilised a "board and drapes" approach to the play; all interiors were shot on or near a plain wooden platform whilst all exteriors were shot against a cycloramic curtain with dark tarpaulins. As such, although exteriors and interiors were clearly distinguished from one another, both were nonrepresentational.
Jonathan Miller also used colour to connect characters; the Fool wears white makeup which washes off during the storm, Edgar wears a white mask when he challenges Edmund to fight, and Cordelia wears white make-up after her death. Similarly, the Fool has red feathers in his hat, Edgar has a red tunic, and Cordelia's red welts on her neck stand out starkly against the white of her skin after her death.
Jonathan Miller had previously directed a Nottingham Playhouse production of King Lear in 1969, starring Michael Hordern as Lear and Frank Middlemass as the Fool. In 1975, he remounted that same production for the BBC Play of the Month, a heavily truncated version, which happened to be the BBC's last Shakespeare production prior to the beginning of the Television Shakespeare. During his producership, Miller tried to persuade the BBC to use the Play of the Month production as their Lear, but they refused, saying a new production had to be done. At the end of the fourth season, Miller's last as producer, his contract stipulated that he still had one production to direct. In-coming producer Shaun Sutton offered him Love's Labour's Lost, but Miller wanted to do one of the three remaining tragedies; Lear, Macbeth or Coriolanus. He had never directed Macbeth or Coriolanus before, but he felt so comfortable with Lear that he went with it. However, the production was basically the same as his 1969/1975 version, with the same two leading actors, the same costumes design, the same lighting, and the same design concept. The only significant difference is that more of the text is used in the latter production.