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Why BBC's New Shakespeare Adaptation Won't Feature Girls Talking About Killing Themselves

The BBC's new version of A Midsummer Night's Dream will feature no female characters threatening to kill themselves because its writer says these lines are now "untransmittable".

Russell T. Davies, creator of Channel 4's landmark series Queer As Folk and former showrunner of Doctor Who, has adapted Shakespeare's classic play from the 1590s for BBC One. Maxine Peake, Matt Lucas, Elaine Paige, John Hannah and Richard Wilson lead an impressive ensemble cast.

Explaining why he decided to omit any references to suicide, Davies told The Guardian: "In 2016 I'm not having lovelorn women say they'll kill themselves. I'm not putting that on BBC One; I absolutely refuse. Because I hope young girls will be watching this, and I don't think it’s an appropriate thing to say – 'I love you so much, if you don't love me I'll kill myself.' I think that's untransmittable, I'm not having it."

Davies also spoke about the media's reaction to the way he has revised the play's ending. Instead of marrying the Duke, Hippolyta (played by Eleanor Matsuura) will be seen kissing another female character, Maxine Peake's Titania.

"I would think, reading some of this publicity, it sounds like a sex version of Midsummer Night’s Dream. And it’s not," Davies also told The Guardian, before adding: "It’s lovely. And romantic. This is a very traditional version. So I’m very, very worried that actually this is bad publicity, and it could push people away, and make them think, 'Oh he's sexed it up, he's queered it up. He's inverted it just for the sake of controversy.' And I haven't."

Davies continued: "Intellectually, I've got absolutely powerful reasons for doing all those things. You don't have to agree with them, but they are there."

A Midsummer Night's Dream
will air this Monday, the 30th of May, at 8.30pm on BBC One.