BBC censors suicide from Shakespeare but Kim Kardashian should play Bottom
Did you know that watching William Shakespeare on the telly is dangerous to any young minds tuning in? As part of the year’s Shakespeare celebration, the BBC is going large on the Bard. In the Times, Russell T Davies, executive producer of the BBC’s new adaptation of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, explains why he’s censored the original script. It is wonderful nonsense, entirely in keeping with the kind of bilge people in the arts spout when they talk about Will. Invariably, they make it all about themselves:
Russell T Davies said that he had excised the scenes in which Helena threatens suicide over her love for Demetrios because he believed that they were not fit for broadcast in the modern day. He said that he did not want the suggestion that a young woman would commit suicide because of thwarted love…
When a member of the audience at the Hay Festival asked whether he would change the ending of Romeo and Juliet, so that a young woman did not herself over love, he described the question as trite, and said he was offended that the comparison had been drawn.
Shakespeare is not set in stone. Adaptation keep it all alive an relevant, not least of all the pupils in class forced to study it, who seek shortcuts to the tricky texts through TV and video. But when you start cutting out the bits you don’t like it all smacks of censorship:
“I don’t care what Shakespeare was thinking, I don’t care, it is my name on it. It was standard in 1590 for a woman in a love story to say that I am about to kill myself. It is not standard now. I am deliberately hoping to get young girls watching. I will not transmit lines in which women are so much in love that they are threatening to commit suicide.”
Exit, pursued by a chicken.
PS – if you want young girls to watch, hire Kim Kardashian to play Bottom.