Shakespeare and Olympics share billing in 2012 London

In 2012, England will celebrate hosting the Olympic Games, but the year will also include a huge celebration of the works of William Shakespeare. Vanessa Thorpe of the Guardian offers a rundown of cultural events involving Shakespeare.

Luminaries such as Patrick Stewart, David Morrissey, Rory Kinnear, Lindsay Duncan, David Suchet and James Purefoy will appear in four big-budget Shakespeare plays to be made for television, and the British Museum will host a major exhibition on the Bard.

"Shakespeare is in the unique position of speaking universally while not losing any of the intensity of the language of where he comes from," said British historian Simon Schama about the move to adopt Shakespeare as Britain's cultural figurehead for the Games. "I have watched his plays in German and in French and the effect is the same. If you want something to celebrate in the year of 2012 that is not just the Queen and the Olympic Games, then Shakespeare is there for you. He is inexhaustible."