ExxonMobil Masterpiece Theatre: Othello (PBS via ExxonMobil Masterpiece Theatre)
2002 | A London Weekend Television Production for WGBH/Boston, in association with the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation
In Othello, screenwriter Andrew Davies (Middlemarch, House of Cards) updates one of the greatest Shakespearean tragedies, presenting it in contemporary form as the story of the first black Commissioner of the London Metropolitan Police Force. This London Weekend Television/WGBH coproduction, in association with the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, affords Davies one of his favorite topics: “I always do like to write love stories,” he says, “even if they end tragically.” In this instance he proves that envy, lust, pride, jealousy, and revenge are as powerful and prevalent now as in the 16th century. Wonderfully played by Eamonn Walker, Davies’ John Othello is an up-and-coming police commander until he is promoted by the Prime Minister (John Harding) in what is clearly a political move to calm racial tension and clean up a police scandal. At the core of an increasingly twisted world is Ben Jago, played with deliciously evil intensity by Christopher Eccleston. Othello’s “sponsor” to this point, Jago now becomes the enemy relentlessly focused on destroying the man promoted over him. Dessie Brabant (Keeley Hawes), Othello’s beautiful young wife, is the pawn in Jago’s scheme. When he convinces the new Commissioner that she has been unfaithful, Shakespeare’s tragic conclusion plays out. Supporting the central characters are Richard Coyle as Michael Cass, the would-be lover suspected by Othello as Dessie’s seducer, Tim Faraday as the Chief Superintendent, Rachael Stirling as Dessie’s confidant, Lulu, and Joss Ackland as Dessie’s father, James Brabant. Othello was directed by Geoffrey Saxe for Producers Anne Pivcevic and Julie Gardner. Jo Wright and Michele Buck are Executive Producers for LWT (London Weekend Television). Rebecca Eaton is Series Executive Producer for ExxonMobil Masterpiece Theatre. For a brilliant and compassionate exploration of love and all its entanglements, a Peabody Award goes to Othello.