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Benedict Cumberbatch to play Richard III on TV (while Sherlock co-star takes same role on stage...)

Benedict Cumberbatch is to play Richard III on television - the same character his Sherlock co-star Martin Freeman will play in the West End.

The star has been cast in the second series of Shakespeare's History plays (Henry VI in 2 parts and Richard III) in the Neal Street Productions film for BBC Two, the broadcaster has announced.

It comes just two days after it emerged that Freeman will play the title role in Richard III at the Trafalgar Studios in London's West End later this year.

The second series of Shakespeare's History plays is from the creative team behind Bafta award-winning The Hollow Crown films and will be directed by Dominic Cooke.

This will be the first time directing for screen for Cooke who is a former artistic director of The Royal Court Theatre.

Cumberbatch said: "I can't wait to work with Dominic Cooke again to bring this complex, funny and dangerous character to life for the BBC and Neal Street Production's peerless series of Shakespeare's History plays."

The creative team at Neal Street Productions includes Sam Mendes who is an executive producer for Shakespeare's History Plays.

Another executive producer, Pippa Harris, said: "Neal Street Productions worked with Benedict on both Stuart: A Life Backwards for the BBC and the film Starter For Ten. His range and dexterity as an actor make him the perfect choice to bring one of Shakespeare's towering characters to television.

Ben Stephenson, Controller BBC Drama, described Cumberbatch as "one of the world's most brilliant and in-demand actors".

Cumberbatch is also set to play Hamlet on stage in the capital next year.

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