Benedict Cumberbatch will be playing Richard III in one of three films being made by Neal Street Productions for BBC Two.

The second series of Shakespeare’s History plays (Henry VI in 2 parts and Richard III) from the BAFTA award-winning creative team behind The Hollow Crown, will be directed by the Royal Court Theatre’s former artistic director, Dominic Cook‎e and will mark the director’s screen debut. Ben Power has adapted the plays and Rupert Ryle-Hodges will produce again.

The films are co-produced by Neal Street Productions with Carnival Films/NBCU. Executive producers are Sam Mendes, Pippa Harris and Nicolas Brown for Neal Street productions and Gareth Neame for Carnival/NBCU.

Benedict Cumberbatch says: “I can’t wait to work with Dominic Cooke again to bring this complex, funny and dangerous character to life for the BBC and Neal Street Production’s peerless series of Shakespeare’s History plays.”

Pippa Harris, Executive Producer for Neal Street Productions says: “Neal Street Productions worked with Benedict on both Stuart A Life Backwards for the BBC and the film Starter For Ten.  His range and dexterity as an actor make him the perfect choice to bring one of Shakespeare’s towering characters to television.

The critical and audience reaction to The Hollow Crown series set the bar high for Shakespeare on screen, and Neal Street is delighted to be making the concluding part of this great History cycle.

By filming the Henry VI plays as well as Richard III, we will allow viewers to fully appreciate how such a monstrous tyrant could find his way to power, bringing even more weight and depth to this iconic character.”

Ben Stephenson, Controller BBC Drama says : “Only BBC Drama can provide talent with such a diverse range of quality roles to showcase their work and  I’m thrilled to welcome back Benedict Cumberbatch who is one of the world’s most brilliant and in demand actors.”