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Judi Dench and Hugh Bonneville join Benedict Cumberbatch for BBC Shakespeare adaptations

The actors will be starring in the next BBC Two Hollow Crown series

Judi Dench, Hugh Bonneville and Sally Hawkins have joined the BBC’s latest Shakespeare adaptations, one of which will see Benedict Cumberbatch take on the role of Richard III.

Three classic plays will make up BBC2 series The Hollow Crown: The Wars of the Roses: Henry IV Part 1 & 2 and Richard III.

Bonneville, known for playing Robert, Earl of Grantham in Downton Abbey, will star as Humphrey, the Duke of Gloucester in Henry IV Part 1, while Oscar nominee Hawkins will play his wife.

Dench has signed on after Cumberbatch personally asked her to star alongside him during a live Q&A at the Hay Festival.

“Would you like to be in Richard III with me?” the Sherlock actor asked as the crowd cheered. “Yeah!” the Oscar-winning actress replied.

Keeley Hawes and Sophie Okonedo are also among the cast, playing Queen Elizabeth and Queen Margaret respectively.

Tom Sturridge will take on an as yet unknown role, while Bond director Sam Mendes is one of the executive producers. 

“To have the chance to work with some of Britain’s most talented actors is a dream come true,” said executive producer Pippa Harris. “We couldn’t be more delighted to have them on board.”

Ben Whishaw, Tom Hiddleston and Jeremy Irons starred in the first Bafta-winning series of The Hollow Crown, which focused on Richard II, Henry IV and Henry V.