A scholarly king and his three companions swear off the society of women for three years, only to have a diplomatic visit from a French princess and her three ladies-in-waiting thwart their intentions.





Cast overview, first billed only:
Jonathan Kent ...
Ferdinand, King of Navarre
Christopher Blake ...
Geoffrey Burridge ...
Mike Gwilym ...
Paddy Navin ...
Clifford Rose ...
Katy Behean ...
Petra Markham ...
Jay Ruparelia ...


When the King of Navarre and three of his cronies swear to spend all their days in study and not to look at any girls, they've forgotten that the daughter of the King of France is coming on a diplomatic visit. And the lady herself and her attendants play merry havoc with their intentions. Written by Kathy Li

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Comedy | Romance





Release Date:

5 January 1985 (UK)  »

Also Known As:

The Complete Dramatic Works of William Shakespeare: Love's Labour's Lost  »

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Did You Know?


This was the only production which John Wilders, the series literary advisor, openly criticised; specifically, he objected to the character of Moth being portrayed by an adult actor. See more »


Version of Liebe leidet mit Lust (1973) See more »

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User Reviews

Not Shakespeare's best comedy, but still worth seeing
23 September 2015 | by (Upstate New York) – See all my reviews

Love's Labour's Lost (1985) (TV) (The BBC version) is one of Shakespeare's early comedies, given a respectful interpretation by the BBC. The film was directed by Elijah Moshinsky.

Here's what I copied and pasted from my review of the movie from The Globe Theatre production of LLL:

Love's Labour's Lost (Globe Theatre Version) (2010) (V) isn't one of Shakespeare's great comedies.

There are four intertwined subplots. One involves the King of Navarre and three of his young courtiers/companions, and the Princess of France and three of her ladies-in-waiting/companions. Another involves a stereotypical Spanish nobleman and his love for a country lass. A third involves the same country lass, who may or may not be in love with a country lad (The lad, Costard, wanders in and out of all the plots.) The fourth plot involves three bourgeois officials--the preacher, the teacher, and the constable. There's also a major role for Moth, the witty servant to Don Armado, the Spaniard. To add to this there are men disguised as "Muscovites," mistaken identities, and a pageant performed by the three bourgeois men.

Surprisingly, Love's Labour's Lost is loaded with wordplay. There are endless puns, endless poems, and endless commentary about puns, poems, and words. Shakespeare was warming up. Knowing what we know now, we can sense the genius flexing his mental and verbal muscles—getting ready to give us Much Ado About Nothing and Midsummer Night's Dream.

Anyone putting on this play has to deal with a weak premise and an intricate—and not very funny—plot. The BBC series played it straight. "This is Shakespeare's play, and we're going to perform it as he wrote it. If it's not a great play, that's not our fault."

As is usual in the BBC productions, the acting was highly professional. The costumes were wonderful, and the sets were excellent. (The BBC sometimes doesn't do much with sets, but this time they did.)

The two leads--Jonathan Kent as Ferdinand, King of Navarre and Maureen Lipman as The Princess of France--are excellent actors. However, they were both in their late 30's when the movie was produced. The play is really about young love, and so in that sense they were miscast. However, suspension of disbelief goes a long way, and after a while you just admired them as they demonstrated their acting skills.

The Globe Theatre production of LLL was more of a slapstick version, which worked on its own terms. However, if you want to see LLL as you would see it on the stage--as we did, in Stratford, Ontario--this is the version for you.

The BBC's Shakespeare productions were made for TV, so, naturally, they work well on the small screen.

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