Thursday Interview: Richard III

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Photograph: ITV/REX

– Richard, your reputation isn’t good. The man who murdered the Princes in the Tower. Difficult one to live down, that.

– My kingdom was at stake. Weighs rather more than a reputation, I’d say.

– But if you hadn’t been so bloodthirsty –

– You’d have been deprived of someone you love to hate. And Shakespeare wouldn’t have written his ridiculous play. I’d sue him for libel if it didn’t mean he’d have to withdraw it altogether. Bad publicity’s better than none, after all.

– You mean you weren’t like that?

– I was no more bloodthirsty than anyone else. It’s the way we did it back then. And it inspired Game of Thrones, which you love, so I wouldn’t get on your high horse like that. Even if I’d have swapped my kingdom for it, ha, ha!

– Well, I must admit, King Joffrey’s deliciously loathsome. And to be honest, thanks to Mr. Roberts, our English teacher, you were my introduction to Shakespeare. I got hooked. While the other kids were prancing about pretending to be Mick Jagger, there I was doing the whole hunchback and withered arm thing, declaiming, Now is the winter of our discontent made glorious summer by this sun of York, and all the clouds that lour’d upon our house –

– All right, all right. Fancy yourself as Laurence Olivier, I see. A preposterous performance that was! He got me totally wrong. But it goes to show I have an appeal after all.

– Must have, I suppose. Look at poor Lady Anne. You kill her husband and father-in-law, next thing we know, you’re persuading her to marry you.

Was ever woman in this humour woo’d? Was ever woman in this humour won? Brilliant, yes! Well, you’ve either got it or you haven’t, I suppose.

– Not that it helped you much in the end. But to move on, you were rediscovered recently, I mean your skeleton was. How does that feel?

– Wonderful, in a word. They dug me up in a carpark in Leicester. Where I’ve now been given a proper burial at last. Television crews, thousands queuing to pay their respects, the whole caboodle. So you see, there’s justice after all. The Queen didn’t turn up but she sent a message. ‘A King who lived through turbulent times’, she said – bit of an understatement there. And Benedict Cumberbatch read a poem. So there you go. Vilified by Shakespeare, honoured by Sherlock Holmes – what more could I ask for? Except for the throne, of course.

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