The BBC has announced plans to digitise the entire library of Shakespeare content it has in its archives in time for the 400th anniversary of the Bard’s death in 2016. The footage will then be made accessible free to those in education and learning in the UK.

Some of the content might be restricted by rights issues, but the vast majority will be available to schools and the like. It includes television shows, radio plays, scripts, stills and production notes and is believed to be one of the largest collections of materials in the world.

“I want to really celebrate Shakespeare in 2016. We’ll find the gems in our archive: our extensive television and radio collection of Shakespeare’s plays and poems, programmes about Shakespeare, as well as scripts, stills and production notes,” said BBC director-general Tony Hall.

“We will aim to make these available to schools across the country. Where rights allow or through BBC Store, we will make them available more widely still.”

The details on the archive and its rollout will be revealed in due course.