The Life and Death of King Richard II (1960 film)

The Life and Death of King Richard II was a 1960 Australian live TV production of the play by William Shakespeare directed by Raymond Menmuir. It aired on 5 October 1960 and was one of the most elaborate productions made for Australian TV at that time.[2][3] Australian TV drama was relatively rare at the time.[4]

The Life and Death of King Richard II
Richard ii 12 Oct 1960, Page 15 - The Age at Newspapers com.png
Ad in The Age 12 Oct 1960
Based onplay by William Shakespeare
Screenplay byAlan Seymour
Directed byRay Menmuir
Country of originAustralia
Original language(s)English
Producer(s)Ray Menmuir
Storry Walton
Production company(s)ABC
Original networkABC
Original release5 October 1960 (Sydney, live)
12 October 1960 (Melbourne, taped)[1]

The ABC decided to suspend peak-hour programs to transmit the show live using all three of the ABC's Gore Hill TV studios. An obituary of Menmuir called this "a concept of such complexity and audacity that it was never repeated."[5]


Ric Hutton
The Age 6 Oct 1960

The story of King Richard II of England.


  • Ric Hutton as Richard II
  • Richard Parry as John of Gaunt
  • Hugh Stewart as Duke of York
  • James Condon as Bolingbroke
  • George Roubiceck as Aumerie
  • Rosemary Webster as Queen
  • Nancye Stewart as Duchess Of Gloucester
  • John Fassen as Duke of Norfolk
  • Walter Sullivan as Earl of Northumberland
  • Laurier Lange as Sailsbury
  • Max Osbiston as Willoughby
  • Peter Wagner as Bushy
  • Max Meldrum as Green
  • Geoffrey King as Bishop of Carlisle
  • Malcolm Billings as Lord Ross
  • Vaughan Tracy as Lord Marshal
  • Norman Mann
  • Owen Weingott
  • Robin Ramsay
  • Leonard Teale


As in SMH 3 Oct 1960

It was produced in part to help students who were studying the play for their leaving certificate. (The play was often performed at the time, due to the fact it could get a guaranteed audience of students.)[6]

Two studios were used for the telecast.[7] Prue Bavin, the script assistant, later recalled "Both Studio 21 and Studio 22 were used for that production. We used to work in the Woolworths studio for our rehearsals."[8]

Ric Hutton was injured while rehearsing a duel with Owen Weingott. This became infected and Hutton had to go to hospital on September 29. However he recovered to do the show.[1]


The TV critic for the Sydney Morning Herald wrote that the production was "a glittering technical success" which "did not neglect the essential issues and thematic unity of" the play, with Alan Seymour responsible for "skilful" cutting. Ric Hutton's acting was praised, "there was great visual and dramatic distinction in John of Gaunt's death scene" and "Desmonde Downing made a major contribution to the visual competence of the production with the skeletal Gothic arches, wintry trees, and thick-textured draperies of her sets and with costumes of emblazoned richness."[9]


Ric Hutton later appeared before Senator Vincent in Canberra at a Select Committee. Vincent asked Hutton to compare Australian television productions with those from overseas. "Did you see the A.B.C. production Richard II?" he asked. Hutton replied, "I was Richard II." Then he added, "Perhaps he should have waited to hear what you were going to say." Senator Vincent said he personally liked the play "very much", and thought it was one of the best staged by the A.B.C.[10]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b c "Presentaiton of Richard II on TV as Scheduled". The Age. 6 October 1960. p. 13.
  2. ^ "TELEVISION'S RICHARD II". The Australian Women's Weekly. 5 October 1960. p. 81. Retrieved 4 June 2015 – via National Library of Australia.
  3. ^ "The knights jousted as jets roared". The Australian Women's Weekly. 5 October 1960. p. 82. Retrieved 4 June 2015 – via National Library of Australia.
  4. ^ Vagg, Stephen (18 February 2019). "60 Australian TV Plays of the 1950s & '60s". Filmink.
  5. ^ Obituary of Raymond Menmuir at Sydney Morning Herald
  6. ^ "Fanfare for Richard II". The Australian Women's Weekly. 28 (20). 19 October 1960. p. 74. Retrieved 16 February 2017 – via National Library of Australia.
  7. ^ "ABC Makes Richard II". Sydney Morning Herald. 3 October 1960. p. 17.
  8. ^ "Conversation with Prue Bavin". ABC TV Gore Hill. 21 March 2006.
  9. ^ ""Richard II" On Television". Sydney Morning Herald. 6 October 1960. p. 7.
  10. ^ "Column 8". Sydney Morning Herald. 2 April 1963. p. 1.

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