Remember this photo from January? The lovely one provided by the Dublin artist Fink? He tweeted that it was “an absolute pleasure to be interviewed by Gabriel Byrne for a documentary to be shown on BBC & RTÉ about George Bernard Shaw.” And now the documentary has a title–My Astonishing Self: Gabriel Byrne on George Bernard Shaw–and a general release date: this Fall! See? All things come to Byrneholics who wait.

Here is a bit about Shaw from Wikipedia:

George Bernard Shaw(26 July 1856 – 2 November 1950), known at his insistence simply as Bernard Shaw, was an Irish playwright, critic and polemicist whose influence on Western theatre, culture and politics extended from the 1880s to his death and beyond. He wrote more than sixty plays, including major works such as Man and Superman (1902), Pygmalion (1912) and Saint Joan (1923). With a range incorporating both contemporary satire and historical allegory, Shaw became the leading dramatist of his generation, and in 1925 was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature.

And many of us will remember him as the man who wrote My Fair Lady and won the Academy Award for it!

GBS on the wall, Gabriel Byrne, and artist Fink

The video above is the official Fall Schedule announcement from RTÉ and includes a snippet of Gabriel speaking about his new documentary at the 3:50 mark. Screencaps from this snippet are included in this posting.

RTÉ : All-star documentaries drive RTÉ new season arts line-up

In My Astonishing Self, Gabriel Byrne explores the life, works and passions of George Bernard Shaw, a giant of world literature, and – like Byrne himself – an emigrant Irishman who had to leave to be heard. This documentary follows the life and influences of George Bernard Shaw, from the bed he was born in to the one he died in; from his English home to his Irish heart; from his handwriting as a nobody to the words that made him. The film features contributions from President Michael D. Higgins, actors Gemma Arterton and Ralph Fiennes, historians Fintan O’Toole, Rachel Holmes and Diarmaid Ferriter and author & comedian Dara O Briain.

Illuminating background information about Shaw is available at the page The Enduring Legacy of George Bernard Shaw, where Nicholas Grene, Professor of English Literature at Trinity College, and author of Shaw: a Critical View, discusses whether he believes the legacy of Shaw is fading.:

There has been a move in recent times to repatriate Shaw as an Irish writer. “Look at any of those old posters they used to have of Irish writers, there he always was with his formidable beard and eyebrows.”

“He doesn’t come to mind in the way that Yeats, Synge, Joyce do…” but “he’s been a presence in Irish theatre right through the modern period. And there have been playwrights who have been unquestionably influenced by him; O’Casey stole the ending of Plough and the Stars from the ending of Heartbreak House.”

Grene ponders the possibility of Shaw’s market “coming up” but is unsure. Where Pygmalion once shocked the world with lines like “Not bloody likely!”, Shaw is now in a comfortable place as “a stable classic playwright. You can always get an audience in to see Pygmalion or You Never Can Tell.”

But Grene also recalls a time in the sixties when American scholars would come to Dublin to research Joyce and find that “no one knew a thing about Joyce in Dublin. So it may change.”

And wouldn’t that be loverly?

Indeed! Stay tuned for more details on this new Gabriel film!


  1. This sounds wonderful. A great artist makes a documentary about another great artis!

  2. One of my favourite professional theatre festivals is the Shaw Festival in Niagara-on-the-Lake, one of the most picturesque villages in Ontario. It is completely devoted to GBS and his contemporaries. His work stands the test of time. I’m so pleased Gabriel Byrne took this on. Should be fascinating to see his take on Shaw.

    Angelle from Canada

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