‘Never till tonight, never till now’

24th June 2012

06:20 (Monday morning): In fact, I didn’t add to the blog (see 22:23 below) after the end of the broadcast. In part this was because my two sons came back from the pub disappointed and dejected (no, they hadn’t been watching Julius Caesar) and in part because some very nice people rang and texted and mailed (with congrats). So I’ve had a night’s sleep to reflect – and I am still totally thrilled with the way the film looked and sounded and leapt off the screen. Greg and the whole cast and the art department under Michael Vale and DOP Steve Lawes and editor Trevor Waite and the sound team and everyone else who contributed have made something really pretty wonderful. A thousand thanks to one and all.

22:23 The conclusion – I think this staircase scene is wonderfully done, so I’m going to watch it and not blog further until after the end.

22:16: Now we’re in what we called the ‘grungy kitchen’ – and it was this location that convinced Greg that we should shoot the whole film here. We needed to put some large lamps on a scaff tower outside the window, which wasn’t easy (or cheap), but the visuals are worth every penny.

22:13: The parlay scene we shot in the  main atrium of Oriental City, and we were plagued by rogue pigeons in the space above us.

22:05: This is one of most radical differences from the stage production – the way we’ve done Caesra’s ghost.

2154: I’m thinking I’m perhaps the only person in the land who doesn’t know the Italy result.

21:48: the ‘tent’ scene – I wonder if you’ll ever see it better acted – both Paterson and Cyril are brilliant here.

21:41 The iPhone scene – we wanted to reference the sense of contemporary depictions of the Arab Spring. This after all is how images of brutality are circulated around the world now.

21:40 @TheDailyEmmaRay Fearon is awesome as Mark Antony. #JuliusCaesar #BBCFour. Yup!

21:34 @DaiGochWatching Shakespeare’s #JuliusCaesar on #BBC4 is sort of England vs Italy Btw absolutely brilliant

21:25 Back to the theatre – the other”public” scene of the play. Our idea is to place this within the a crowd on stage and audience in the auditorium – Shakespeare plays with the slippage between the two, and that’s what we want do here.

21:22 “Oh pardon me…”. all done in a single shot, and for me electrifying, even if I have seen it dozens of times.

21:19 Ray Fearon as Mark Antony begins to be the dominant figure of the drama – and he’s compelling here, even if the best is yet to come.

21:12 “Stoop, Romans, stoop, and let us bathe our arms in Caesar’s blood up to the elbow.” Pretty chilling, if you ask me.

21:11:  We didn’t want a Tarantino-style killing, with explicit stabbings and wounds, but I think that blood from Caesar’s mouth is pretty effective.

21:08 It was *so* cold when we shot these scenes on the escalator – and you can see that sometimes in the frozen breath of the actors. Jeffery Kissoon is wonderful here, I think.

21:04 Oh, the escalator! The first time we saw this it was covered in birdshit, but we knew it was the place where Caesar would die.

21:02 You begin to see here in this short scene with Portia how central Lucius (Simon Manyonda) is to the production.

20:54 So often I can’t bear to watch my productions on transmission, but I have to say that this one is thrilling me. This scene between Caesar and Calpurnia was shot on a staircase that we found in Oriental City. Just out of shot are some really big lamps to give this sense of an early morning African light.

20:51 In many ways Julius Caesar is an extraordinarily *male* play, and a macho one, but this wonderful scene with Portia works against this – as does the imminent scene between Caesar and Calpurnia.

20:45 We shot almost everything on the Alexa digital camera, which is sensational at low light. Oh, and now this is Portia’s wonderful scene. It is such a tender, passionate scene, and Adjoa Andoh carries it gloriously.

20:42: Big mistake, Brutus – and one of many mis-judgements that you make through the play. You really do need to take out Mark Antony.

20:38 Music cue for the arrival of the conspirators. There’s very little non-diegetic music, and we’ve agonised about each cue.

20:33 The lighting of this scene with Brutus in his ‘orchard’, and the next two, is a combination of what’s coming from the braziers and ‘moonlight’ from the top. I  was worried that it might be too dark, but it looks glorious on my domestic scene.

20:25 We shot this scene between Cicero and Casca in the food court at Oriental City just off the Edgware Road – the location for all our non-theatre scenes. It was tricky getting the rain to work, but the lightning is pretty good I think. I have to say that the images on my screen look *gorgeous* – our DOP Steve Lawes and colourist Paul Ensby have done a great job.

20:19 We shot this “toilet” scene on the first day, in only about 90 minutes. Not that you would know, I hope. Joseph Mydell is *so* good here. Also, he brings out the humour of the play – and there are a lot of laughs here.

20:18 @MrShaneMorgan 15mins into #JuliusCaesar on BBC4 and it is devastatingly beautiful. Concept. Design. Performances. All captivating.

20:010@amanda_wrigley@TheRSC #JuliusCaesar Had a little sofadance. Now in the film bit & it’s *beautifully* shot! Can hardly take eyes off television to type…

20:07  That’s our first transition from the theatre to location shooting. Does it work? For me, yes.

20:04 These first scenes we shot in the theatre at Stratford – we move to location-shot footage after about 8 minutes.

20:01 I *love* this opening.

19:58 Pres announcement over the end credits of Treasures of the Anglo-Saxons – that’s nice.

19:55 Looks like an open, fluid game so far, so it’s tough to change channel, but that’s what I’m doing.

19:54:  @shaksperMade a thermos of tea so that I don’t have to miss a second of@TheRSC #JuliusCaesar

19:48 Well, um, that’s not a great start. Julius Caesar will be a relief.

19:45 C’mon England.

19:31 Blimey, there’s Gary Lineker on BBC One quoting the Bard – bits of Henry V and Richard II.

19:23 I can watch the build-up, though, can’t I?

18:55 So how tempted was I to watch the football tonight? Umm… maybe I thought about it for five minutes, but you can’t miss transmission of a programme like this. Especially as the post-production has been so close to the wire.

18.24: Rather wonderfully, if you put “bbc blog john wyver” into Google to find the post that I wrote about Julius Caesar, Google returns the right entry but believes that the post was written by Julia Bradbury (there’s even a nice pic of her). Should you be curious about the post, it’s here.

18.19: Above you can see what the broadcast master of two and a half hours of Shakespeare performance looks like – or at least the boxes that contain such. There is something reassuringly physical about a television programme in this form.

18.14: Here’s how the last 36 hours or so have played out. Yesterday morning, we sat down to watch the sound mix of Julius Caesar. Some 45 minutes in, there was a significant technical problem, which I then spent the rest of the day working to resolve. With it still not entirely resolved, the mix continued until around 4am this morning (I had gone to bed) at which point the master was walked across to another Soho technical facility to be cloned. I went in at just after 7am to check the problem had been fixed, after which I drove the master to BBC Television Centre. A nice man called David from “Current Ops” took the tape from me, and it went into a somewhat mysterious process called “Tech Review”. From which it emerged with two thumbs up at 14.40 this afternoon. So we’re all ready to go.

18.12 This is nice, as RT’d by the RSC Press Office:

@SusanElkinJourn: Waiting for Julius Caesar to start and the sun is shining at the moment.

18.00 I wasn’t sure about this but I’ve decided to live blog transmission of Julius Caesar this evening (8pm, BBC Four in case you’re uncertain). Do please join in on the conversation and/or tweet using #JuliusCaesar.


  1. Chuck Scott says:

    John does this have a planned North American transmission?

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