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Several episodes are now held in high esteem, particularly some of the traditionally lesser known and less frequently staged plays.The complete set is a popular collection, and several episodes represent the only non-theatrical production of the particular play currently available on DVD.

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He had anticipated that everyone in the BBC would be excited about the concept, but this did not prove so.

In particular, the Drama/Plays division felt the series could not possibly be a financial success without international sales, which they did not see as likely.

Exclusively made-for-television Shakespearean productions had commenced on 5 February 1937 with the live broadcast of Act 3, Scene 2 from As You Like It, directed by Robert Atkins, and starring Margaretta Scott as Rosalind and Ion Swinley as Orlando.

Other 1937 productions included two different screenings of scenes from A Midsummer Night's Dream; one directed by Dallas Bower, starring Patricia Hilliard as Titania and Hay Petrie as Nick Bottom (18 February), the other an extract from Stephen Thomas' Regent's Park production, starring Alexander Knox as Oberon and Thea Holme as Titania, aired as part of the celebrations for Shakespeare's birthday (23 April).

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Furthermore, they argued that Shakespeare on television rarely worked, and they were of the opinion that there was simply no need to do all thirty-seven plays, as many were obscure and would not find an audience amongst the general public, even in England.

Disappointed with their lack of enthusiasm, Messina went over the departmental heads, forwarding his proposal directly to Director of Programmes, Alasdair Milne and Director-General, Ian Trethowan, both of whom liked the idea.

By the time he had returned to London, however, his idea had grown considerably, and he now envisioned an entire series devoted exclusively to the dramatic work of Shakespeare; a series which would adapt all thirty-seven Shakespearean plays.

Almost immediately upon pitching the idea to his colleagues, however, Messina began to encounter problems.

In 1938, the first full-length broadcast of a Shakespearean play took place; Dallas Bower's modern dress production of Julius Caesar at the Shakespeare Memorial Theatre, starring D. Clark-Smith as Mark Antony and Ernest Milton as Caesar (24 July).