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The Tempest (1980)

TV-14 | | Drama | TV Movie 27 February 1980
Exiled Prospero lives on a desolate island with his daughter, Miranda. When Prospero's usurping brother sails by the island, Prospero conjures a storm that wrecks the ship and changes all of their lives.


John Gorrie


William Shakespeare (play)

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Cast overview, first billed only:
Michael Hordern ... Prospero
Derek Godfrey Derek Godfrey ... Antonio
David Waller David Waller ... Alonso
Warren Clarke ... Caliban
Nigel Hawthorne ... Stephano
David Dixon David Dixon ... Ariel
Andrew Sachs ... Trinculo
John Nettleton ... Gonzalo
Alan Rowe Alan Rowe ... Sebastian
Pippa Guard ... Miranda
Christopher Guard Christopher Guard ... Ferdinand
Kenneth Gilbert Kenneth Gilbert ... Boatswain
Edwin Brown ... Master
Paul Greenhalgh Paul Greenhalgh ... Francisco
Christopher Bramwell Christopher Bramwell ... Adrian


Exiled Prospero lives on a desolate island with his daughter, Miranda. When Prospero's usurping brother sails by the island, Prospero conjures a storm that wrecks the ship and changes all of their lives.

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis




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Release Date:

27 February 1980 (UK) See more »

Also Known As:

The Complete Dramatic Works of William Shakespeare: The Tempest See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:




Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


Sir Alec Guinness was offered the role of Prospero, but withdrew after the producers balked at his concept of basing his characterization on the aging Leo Tolstoy. See more »

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User Reviews

Perchance to dream
7 February 2019 | by TheLittleSongbirdSee all my reviews

'The Tempest' is one of my favourite Shakespeare plays. It contains one of his most imaginative settings, which can be truly wondrous with the right budget. Again, Shakespeare's mastery of text is evident throughout with many memorable, iconic in some cases, lines, speeches and scenes. And the characters are not easy to forget, with the play boasting two of for me Shakespeare's greatest characters in Prospero and Caliban.

BBC's Television Shakespeare productions running between 1978 and 1985 is mostly most worthwhile and really fascinating, for the opportunity to see every one of Shakespeare's plays performed as one project the BBC Television Shakespeare series is a must. Not all the productions are great, but regardless of any misgivings with production values or stage direction it is great to see so many talented actors (some experienced in Shakespeare and some in early roles), seeing all of Shakespeare's work as one big project and Shakespeare adapted and performed relatively faithfully. The series' production of 'The Tempest' is a decent one with many great merits, but to me it fell short and somewhat disappointing, considering that this was one of the productions that should have been great.

It primarily suffers from looking woefully under-budgeted, as unfair as it sounds one does not at all get a sense of the wondrous place described in the text. It just looked too drab and sparse.

Some of the sound quality can be an issue, particularly at the start where the sound effects are far too loud and render the dialogue and action incomprehensible. Actually found the acting to be fine on the most part, but do agree with those who found David Dixon too mannered as Ariel.

However, Shakespeare's writing is out of this world and has a lot of impact throughout. Despite the low budget, there are some nice visual touches, and the understated camera work complements well here, and mostly a good job is done with the stage directing. It's coherent, is done in good taste and the committed performances and nice detail to the character relationships stop it from being static. The magic may be missing here, but the humour, emotion, suspense and romance are not. The music during the extended masque towards the end is really quite lovely.

Dixon aside, the acting is fine. The standouts being Michael Hordern's powerful, noble and moving Prospero with plenty of authority and Warren Clarke managing a perfect balance of monstrous and sympathetic as Caliban. Nigel Hawthorne also stands out, he (and Andrew Sachs) being vastly entertaining without thankfully overdoing the clownishness. His and Sachs' characters are problematic in how easy it is for the actors to do that. Christopher and Pippa Guard are appealing, not as strong as Hordern, Clarke and Hawthorne, but in all fairness their roles are not as meaty. Derek Godfrey sinks his teeth into Antonio.

Concluding, decent production of 'The Tempest' albeit not a great one. 7/10 Bethany Cox

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