I've just finished watching a superb documentary: In Search of Shakespeare, presented by Michael Wood. Astounding! I've read most of his works (some multiple times) performed many of his plays, and even studied the Bard himself in school. However, I really had no idea how much I didn't know about him! Fascinating stuff too, not just about the people he knew, what his commissions were etc (the stuff you usually read in history books that I don't much care for) but really interesting tidbits into his life such as landlord records, legal proceedings against him, and the creation of his family crest and shield.
Intertwining a current group of Shakespearian players with the historical record of Elizabethan England makes a sometimes dry subject come entirely to life. This documentary is really about the man: William and not the legend: Shakespeare - a unique viewpoint that gives me a new understanding and perspective on the plays, sonnets and poems I was already familiar with. A well-conceived collaboration between the BBC and PBS, it is also very visually appealing containing beautiful cinematography and long lost illustrations / photographs. I love when presenters/researchers/writers are able to tie together really broad strands to really explain or understand how something came to be - as a whole.
I'd highly recommend watching this documentary, even if you have no background knowledge or interest. Its honestly worth renting or buying, but if not .. here are the links to watch it online: Part 1 || Part 2 || Part 3 || Part 4