BBC Play of the Month (1965–1983)
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The great actor Edmund Kean is involved in a variety of romantic and other entanglements and wonders where acting ends and real life begins.


James Cellan Jones


Alexandre Dumas (original play) (as Alexandre Dumas père), Frank Hauser (translation) | 1 more credit »


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Episode cast overview, first billed only:
Anthony Hopkins ... Edmund Kean
Neville Phillips ... Major Domo
Sara Kestelman Sara Kestelman ... Elena, Countess de Koefeld
Adrienne Corri ... Amy, Countess of Gosswill
Barrie Ingham ... Count de Koefeld
Robert Stephens ... Prince of Wales
Frank Middlemass ... Solomon
Cherie Lunghi ... Anna Danby
George Tovey George Tovey ... Peter Potts
Jennifer Granville Jennifer Granville ... Sadie
Roger Elliott Roger Elliott ... Constable
Julian Fellowes ... Lord Neville
Helena Breck Helena Breck ... Gidsa
Hugh Walters Hugh Walters ... Darius
Mike Savage Mike Savage ... Stage manager


The great actor Edmund Kean is involved in a variety of romantic and other entanglements and wonders where acting ends and real life begins.

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Did You Know?


This is a play about a real person, the legendary actor Edmund Kean. That it is, however, completely a work of fiction is signaled by the fact that, at one point, Kean describes himself as being 48 years old. The real Edmund Kean died at the age of 46. See more »


Version of Die Königsloge (1929) See more »

User Reviews

One of my favorites at the time
7 February 2011 | by johnjohnson68510See all my reviews

I saw this over 30 years ago, and only once, but it has stayed with me all these years. I was in college, and I ranked this Anthony Hopkins portrayal of the actor Edmund Kean up there among my favorite performances at the time, with Derek Jacobi's I, Claudius, Richard Chamberlain's The Lady's Not for Burning, and Jeremy Irons in Love for Lydia.

I think IMDb has the poster wrong, I don't think Chekhov had anything to do with this. As I recall, it was based on a play by Jean Paul Sartre. I remember Alistair Cooke introducing it, asking why Sartre would write a play about an Elizabethan actor, and then answering that Sartre believed one's identity was formed as one chose one's actions, and so in a sense we are all actors, creating our characters as we go along.

This was also the first performance I noticed Anthony Hopkins. He was wonderful. I remember one scene where he crawled under a table, kicking in frustration at the people around him not getting it, the 'it' being his struggle to find authenticity. My favorite bit was when he was on a stage, breaking from script and extemporizing — actor as man as actor, without essence. He said, "I don't exist. I'm not real." and drew out the word 'real' while pinching his thumb and fingers in front of his face, bringing them past his eyes like, oh, say, he was pulling ribbon. I believe his audience was scandalized by the deviation from script, except for one of the nobility, who applauded with enthusiasm. And we at home cheered, especially since at that age we were struggling to come up with our own actions and identities, struggling with the same arbitrariness and lack of foundation.

Well, no telling how memory has changed things. But I think that's basically right, and I apologize for any errors. At the time I write this IMDb has no reviews of it, so I'm trying to help promote this great performance. I can tell you this, with assurance, that Hopkins was full of flair, beautifully dynamic, and complex in ways I found intriguing. I really loved this show at the time and expect I would if I saw it again. Surely somebody has a copy somewhere.

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Release Date:

9 September 1979 (USA) See more »

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Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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