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The First Part of Henry the Sixth (1983)

Following his father's early death and the loss of possessions in France, young Henry VI comes to the throne, under the protection of the Duke of Gloucester. He is unaware that there are ... See full summary »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
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Basset / French Sergeant
Peter Benson ...
...
Antony Brown ...
Duke of Burgundy (as Anthony Brown)
...
...
Paul Chapman ...
Earl of Suffolk
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Third Messinger to the King / Countess' Porter
Arthur Cox ...
Mayor of London / Sir John Fastolfe
David Daker ...
Reignier, Duke of Anjou / Vernon
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Earl of Somerset
Tenniel Evans ...
Duke of Bedford / Mortimer, Earl of March / French General
Derek Farr ...
Earl of Salisbury / Sir William Lucy
...
Margaret, Daughter of Reignier
Derek Fuke ...
Talbot's Captain / Gloucester's Servant
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Storyline

Following his father's early death and the loss of possessions in France, young Henry VI comes to the throne, under the protection of the Duke of Gloucester. He is unaware that there are other claimants to the throne, Plantagenet of York and Somerset of Lancaster, whose factions will ultimately cause the Wars of the Roses. Ignorant of the schisms, Henry tries to unite them in the Hundred Years' War, capturing Joan of Arc, before he marries Margaret of Anjou to unite England and France. However, there is no dowry, angering the court. Margaret finds the pious Henry a dull husband and embarks upon an affair with Somerset as well as crossing Gloucester's wife Eleanor. When Gloucester is arrested for alleged treason because of Eleanor, Henry is too feeble to prevent his death or the country slipping into civil war.

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2 January 1983 (UK)  »

Also Known As:

The Complete Dramatic Works of William Shakespeare: Henry VI, Part One  »

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Did You Know?

Trivia

The "anti-illusionist" set was also used as a means of political commentary; as the four plays progressed, the set decayed and became more and more dilapidated as social order becomes more fractious. In the same vein, the costumes become more and more monotone as the four plays move on - The First Part of Henry the Sixt features brightly coloured costumes which clearly distinguish the various combatants from one another, but by Richard III (1983), everyone fights in similarly coloured dark costumes, with little to differentiate one army from another. See more »

Connections

Followed by The Second Part of Henry the Sixth (1983) See more »

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User Reviews

 
Superb exposition in a basic setting
7 October 2005 | by (United Kingdom) – See all my reviews

The BBC TV Shakespeare hadn't a lot to spend on settings, and none could be more basic than this, with rickety doors representing the gates of Orleans and other cities. There's also a lot of doubling, which means that, e.g., Tenniel Evans as the French general reappears within seconds as the brave Duke of Bedford. Yet the complex plot is unravelled with wonderful clarity, thanks to fine speaking which does full justice to the young Shakespeare's verse, shrewd casting and Jane Howells' spirited direction. Trevor Peacock's staunch Talbot, Frank Middlemass's baleful Wichester/ Cardinal Beaufort and David Burke's sturdy Gloucester, Lord Protector, stand out. Joseph O'Conor, veteran Derek Farr and Bernard Hill are excellent, and if Brenda Blethyn as Joan La Pucelle is too much the pantomime principal boy, she goes movingly to her terrible end. Peter Benson seems rather old for the supposedly youthful King Henry, but speaks beautifully. I can hardly wait for Part 2 (like this, now available on DVD).


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