Dame Judi Dench and Benedict Cumberbatchhave joined the cast of the BBC's adaptation of a trilogy of classic Shakespeare plays. Cumberbatch will play Richard III in the third part of the Wars of the Roses Hollow Crown series.

Judi DenchJudi Dench in 'The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel 2'

Dench will play the role of Cecily, Duchess of York after Cumberbatch asked her to appear alongside him when she appeared at the Hay Festival earlier this year. Elsewhere, the Downton Abbey Hugh Bonneville will play the Duke of Gloucester in the first of two Henry VI instalments. Sally Hawkins, who most recently starred opposite Cate Blanchett in Woody Allen's excellent Blue Jasmine, will play Bonneville's wife.

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The BBC Two dramatisations will begin filming later this year, though a transmission date is yet to be announced. 

Ben Stephenson, controller of BBC Drama, said: "This extraordinary cast and production team will raise the bar of British drama once more."

Benedict CumberbatchBenedict Cumberbatch will play Richard III

"To have the chance to work with some of Britain's most talented actors is a dream come true. We couldn't be more delighted to have them on board," added the executive producer Pippa Harris.

The Wars of the Roses trilogy - for which Ben Whishaw and Simon Russell Beale won BAFTAs - follows on from the Hollow Crown series broadcast in 2012. It adapted Shakespeare's Richard II, Henry IV and Henry V for TV.

We recently saw Judi Dench starring in the trailer for The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel 2, which dropped earlier this month. The sequel to the surprise comedy hit features a similar cast to the original, with added Richard Gere. Watch the trailer here.

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