The BBC has signed some heavyweight directing and screenwriting talent, including Sam Mendes, Jane Campion and David Hare, as part of a drive into upscale domestic drama.
Mendes will helm what BBC head of drama Ben Stephenson described as an “epic film version” of Shakespeare’s “Henry V,” while Campion and Hare are working on new original fare.
The BBC will also make the Bard’s “Richard II” and “Henry IV” part I and II.
Mendes and Pippa Harris will exec produce all four for Neal Street Prods., while the other directors involved include Richard Eyre and Rupert Goold, who helmed legit satire “Enron,” which was a hit in the U.K. but flopped on Broadway.
The Shakespeare films will air on BBC2 as part of a £10 million ($16 million) season in 2012 that will include a live broadcast of another play, yet to be revealed.
Campion’s serial “Top of the Lake,” which she has co-written with Gerard Lee and will direct, is set in her native New Zealand and tells the story of the disappearance of a 12-year-old girl who is five months pregnant.
Pic will be shot next year. It is produced by Emile Sherman and Iain Canning of See-Saw Films.
Details of Hare’s project, a single play that he will direct, are to be announced later. It was commissioned by BBC Films’ creative director Christine Langan.
The flurry of high-end drama is being interpreted as a move by the pubcaster to show off its upscale credentials as it prepares to enter delicate negotiations over its funding with the new coalition government.