21st Century Bard: The Making of Twelfth Night 

Documentary series looking at the creative, financial and technological aspects involved in making a contemporary film version of William Shakespeare's Twelfth Night.


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Credited cast:
Michael Maloney ...  Malvolio (2003)
Parminder Nagra ...  Herself / ... (as Parminder K. Nagra)


This documentary, aired as a TV series, details the creation of Channel 4's updated version of Shakespeare's Twelfth Night. Including interviews with the director and cast, comparisons with previous adaptations of the Bard's works, and behind-the-scenes looks at the making of this TV movie, which intertwines classic literature with the modern-day issues of interracial romance and the plight of asylum-seekers in Europe. Written by Jean-Marc Rocher <rocher@fiberbit.net>

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Official Sites:

channel 4 [UK]





Release Date:

3 October 2003 (UK) See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Projector Productions See more »
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Technical Specs


(4 episodes)


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Did You Know?


This series documented the making of Twelfth Night, or What You Will (2003). The episodes were titled: 1. The Business of Film 2. The Language of Film 3. The Art of Film 4. The Technology of Film Shown by Channel 4 [uk] as part of the 4-Learning programmes, and also made available for viewers to buy on video. See more »


Follows Twelfth Night, or What You Will (2003) See more »

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User Reviews

Expansive but interesting look at the process of making a film, using 2003's Twelfth Night as its case study
18 July 2007 | by bob the mooSee all my reviews

In 2001, channel 4 decided to commission a new version of Shakespeare's Twelfth Night. With a limited budget and limited time to make it, pre-production begins with brainstorming of how to do it, followed with the fleshing out of the ideas decided upon. It is well over a year later before shooting begins in the four week schedule and then many more months before post-production is completed and the film screened on television in 2003. This documentary series follows the creative process throughout in an examination of creating a film version of Shakespeare.

Shown so late at night that the sun must have been coming up on anyone watching it live (can anyone have been watching it live?) this four-part documentary series looks at the creative process of realising channel 4's commissioned version of Twelfth Night. After a short while it becomes clear that the series doesn't have one tight goal for what it is covering at any level below this overarching concept and thus we cover a lot of ground and a lot of factors involved in making the film. On one had we look at the language of Shakespeare's play, then on the other we are in the editing suite to look at the editing process and the accessibility of technology to television films and how it can cut costs rather than increase them.

The wide topic means that the target audience are students looking to work in the film industry because it does cover all parts of the process – albeit some parts at a very superficial level. To the casual viewer the downside is that the series does feel like it is trying to cover too much but the fact that most of it is actually pretty interesting will help cover this up. Contributions from a range of the cast and crew really help get inside the process, with Supple, Bannerman, Nagra and others (from the editor and cinematographer through to the grip and focus puller) all giving interviews that are edited together to good effect. As a fan of his, I did think it was a shame that Ejifor was not involved, but other than that I didn't feel the film missed him, Overall then an interesting overview of the making of Twelfth Night. It doesn't matter at all if you haven't seen the film because really it could have been about any film as it genuinely is a "making of" documentary rather than a promo piece on a DVD. Best suited for those looking to understand how the whole process works for studying reasons but it has value for the casual viewer with a passing interest as well.

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