David Tennant will host a live TV celebration of William Shakespeare to mark the 400th anniversary of the Bards death.
The Tenth Doctor himself will be joined in Stratford-Upon-Avon by former Doctor Who guest star Sir Ian McKellen and Dame Judi Dench.
Unveiling details of Shakespeare Live! – which will be broadcast on BBC Two on 23 April – at the launch the BBC’s Shakespeare Festival on Thursday, Tennant said: “We have opera, we have ballet, we have hip-hop – all celebrating Shakespeare and what he’s done for our cultural heritage.”
The live tribute show at the RSC theatre in Stratford coincides with Shakespeare’s birthday weekend.
It will also feature Joseph Fiennes – who played the lead in the film Shakespeare in Love – the English National Opera, Birmingham Royal Ballet, and rapper Akala, founder of the Hip Hop Shakespeare Company.
The BBC Shakespeare Festival 2016 is billed as “the most far-reaching celebration of Shakespeare’s work ever broadcast”. BBC director general Tony Hall said it aimed “to make Shakespeare irresistible to everybody”.
Other festival highlights include A Midsummer Night’s Dream by former Doctor Who showrunner Russell T Davies featuring Matt Lucas, Maxine Peake, John Hannah, Elaine Page, Richard Wilson and Bernard Cribbins, The Hollow Crown: The Wars of the Roses starring Benedict Cumberbatch Dame Judi Dench, Keeley Hawes, Sophie Okonedo, Hugh Bonneville and Sir Michael Gambon on BBC Two, Cunk on Shakespeare – a half-hour special featuring the character of Philomena Cunk (Diane Morgan), a regular on Charlie Brooker’s Weekly Wipe and a special episode of Horrible Histories on CBBC, looking at the Bard’s early life with Tom Stourton as Shakespeare.
The festival sees the BBC in partnership with a number of arts organisations, such as the RSC.
Gregory Doran, the RSC’s artistic director, said Shakespeare was still relevant and accessible after 400 years.
“Shakespeare is for everyone so we want as many people as possible to have a chance to experience his work this year,” he said.
Tennant, who played an acclaimed Hamlet for the Royal Shakespeare Company in 2008, is currently starring in the RSC’s Richard II at London’s Barbican.
Speaking of his first brush with live Shakespeare As You Like It in his school gym hall in the early 1980s.
“We all filed in and sat and watch this performance and I got blown away. I thought Touchstone was the coolest man I’d ever seen…Shakespeare has been a huge part of my life, these characters and stories are catnip for actors.”