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The third was The Spread of the Eagle (1963), directed and produced by Dews.

Almost immediately upon pitching the idea to his colleagues, however, Messina began to encounter problems.

He had anticipated that everyone in the BBC would be excited about the concept, but this did not prove so.

The complete set is a popular collection, and several episodes represent the only non-theatrical production of the particular play currently available on DVD.

The concept for the series originated in 1975 with Cedric Messina, a BBC producer who specialised in television productions of theatrical classics, while he was on location at Glamis Castle in Angus, Scotland, shooting an adaptation of J. Barrie's The Little Minister for the BBC's Play of the Month series.

Featuring nine sixty-minute episodes, the series adapted the Roman plays, in chronological order of the real life events depicted; Coriolanus, Julius Caesar and Antony and Cleopatra.

The fourth series was not an original TV production, but a made-for-TV "re-imagining" of a stage production; The Wars of the Roses, which was screened in both 19.

a Sunday Night Theatre live performance of Lionel Harris' musical production of The Comedy of Errors, starring David Pool as Antipholus of Ephesus and Paul Hansard as Antipholus of Syracuse (); There were also four multi-part made-for-TV Shakespearean adaptations shown during the 1950s and 1960s; three specifically conceived as TV productions, one a TV adaptation of a stage production.

The first was The Life and Death of Sir John Falstaff (1959).

Initially the adaptations received generally negative reviews, although the reception improved somewhat as the series went on, and directors were allowed more freedom, leading to interpretations becoming more daring.

Several episodes are now held in high esteem, particularly some of the traditionally lesser known and less frequently staged plays.

Although An Age of Kings, which was the most expensive and ambitious Shakespearean production up to that point was a critical and commercial success, The Spread of the Eagle was not, and afterwards, the BBC decided to return to smaller scale productions with less financial risk.