Upstart Crow

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Upstart Crow
Upstart Crow.png
Title screen of Upstart Crow, based on contemporary map art such as the Visscher panorama and John Norden's map of London.
Genre Comedy
Written by Ben Elton
Directed by Matt Lipsey
Richard Boden
Starring David Mitchell
Liza Tarbuck
Rob Rouse
Gemma Whelan
Mark Heap
Composer(s) Grant Olding
Country of origin United Kingdom
Original language(s) English
No. of series 3
No. of episodes 17 (list of episodes)
Production
Executive producer(s) Myfanwy Moore
Producer(s) Gareth Edwards
Running time 30 minutes (series), 40 minutes (Christmas 2017)
Release
Original network BBC Two
Picture format 16:9 1080i
Audio format Stereo
Original release 9 May 2016 (2016-05-09) – present
External links
Upstart Crow

Upstart Crow is a British sitcom which premiered on 9 May 2016 at 10pm on BBC Two[1] as part of the commemorations of the 400th anniversary of the death of William Shakespeare. Its title quotes "an upstart Crow, beautified with our feathers", a critique of Shakespeare by his rival Robert Greene in the latter's Groats-Worth of Wit.[2]

It is scripted by Ben Elton and is set from 1592 (the year of Greene's quotation) onwards. Shakespeare is played by David Mitchell; his wife, Anne Hathaway, is played by Liza Tarbuck; and Greene himself by Mark Heap.[3] All episodes are directed by Matt Lipsey.[4]

The first series follows the writing and preparation to stage Romeo and Juliet after William has gained some early career notoriety for his poetry, Henry VI and Richard III. Events in each episode allude to one or more Shakespeare plays and usually end with Will discussing the events with Anne and either being inspired or dissuaded from using them in a future work. Along with the many Shakespearean references (including the use of asides and soliloquies) there are also several references to the television shows Blackadder and The Office. There are running gags in many episodes: the casual sexism towards Kate's attempts to become an actress, Shakespeare's coach journeys between London and Stratford which refer to modern motorway and railway journey frustrations, Shakespeare (and in one episode Marlowe) demanding ale and pie from his servants or family, and Shakespeare frequently claiming credit for quotes that predate Elizabethan times (many of them now commonly misattributed to Shakespeare).

In June 2016 the BBC announced that a Christmas Special would be produced, and that a second series had been commissioned: this began broadcasting on 11 September 2017, followed by the Christmas special, on Christmas Day 2017.[5][6]

In October 2017, after the second series had finished, the BBC commissioned a third series and a second Christmas special to air in 2018.[7][8]

Cast[edit]

Guest stars[edit]

Music[edit]

The theme music is a 17th-century English country dance tune called "Jamaica"[16]. This was first published in the 1670 4th Edition of John Playford's The Dancing Master, after Shakespeare's death.

Ratings[edit]

Ratings sourced from BARB.[17]

Series 1 (2016)[edit]

Episode
no.
Airdate 7 day viewers
(millions)
28 day viewers
(millions)
1 9 May 2016 1.95 2.19
2 16 May 2016 1.35 1.58
3 23 May 2016 1.20 1.37
4 30 May 2016 1.30 1.46
5 6 June 2016 1.14 1.26
6 13 June 2016 1.18 1.31

Series 2 (2017)[edit]

Episode
no.
Airdate 7 day viewers
(millions)
28 day viewers
(millions)
1 11 September 2017 1.74 1.92
2 18 September 2017 1.22 1.45
3 25 September 2017 1.29 1.42
4 2 October 2017 1.24 1.38
5 9 October 2017 1.41 1.51
6 16 October 2017 1.39 1.48
7 25 December 2017 1.65 1.76

Series 3 (2018)[edit]

Episode
no.
Airdate 7 day viewers
(millions)
28 day viewers
(millions)
1 29 August 2018 1.62
2 5 September 2018 1.22
3 12 September 2018
4 19 September 2018
5 26 September 2018

Reception[edit]

Upstart Crow was positively received by critics. It was described as a return to form for the writer, besides being a return to the historical sitcom genre that made Elton's name when he worked on Blackadder.[18][19] The acting by David Mitchell and supporting cast including Harry Enfield, Liza Tarbuck and Mark Heap has also received praise.

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Upstart Crow". Retrieved 28 April 2016. 
  2. ^ "David Mitchell to play Shakespeare in new BBC sitcom". RadioTimes. Retrieved 8 May 2016. 
  3. ^ "BBC - David Mitchell to star as Shakespeare in new BBC Two sitcom by Ben Elton - Media Centre". 
  4. ^ "David Mitchell interview: Peep Show star talks giving William Shakespeare the sitcom treatment in Upstart Crow". The Independent. 4 May 2016. 
  5. ^ Guide, British Comedy. "Upstart Crow Series 2, Episode 1 - The Green-Eyed Monster - British Comedy Guide". British Comedy Guide. Retrieved 26 September 2017. 
  6. ^ "Upstart Crow will return for a second series plus a Christmas special in May 2017". Radio Times. 13 June 2016. Retrieved 31 August 2016. 
  7. ^ Guide, British Comedy (16 October 2017). "Upstart Crow gets Series 3". 
  8. ^ "BBC - Upstart Crow is set to return for a third series - Media Centre". www.bbc.co.uk. 
  9. ^ Dustagheer, Sarah. "Upstart Crow: Shakespeare sitcom is really quite educational". Retrieved 31 August 2018. 
  10. ^ Dugdale, John (28 October 2016). "How close were Marlowe and Shakespeare?". Retrieved 26 September 2017 – via www.theguardian.com. 
  11. ^ "TV Review: Upstart Crow, BBC2, Episode 3 – The Apparel Proclaims The Man". Beyond The Joke. 26 May 2016. Retrieved 21 February 2018. 
  12. ^ Dugdale, John (28 October 2016). "How close were Marlowe and Shakespeare?". the Guardian. Retrieved 21 February 2018. 
  13. ^ "Upstart Crow review: Ben Elton finds the comedy in Shakespeare's history". The Guardian. 10 May 2016. 
  14. ^ Cowell, Rob (2 May 2018). "New Ben Elton comedy about Shakespeare takes a pop at… Ricky Gervais". Radio Times. 
  15. ^ "BBC - Emma Thompson to join the cast of Upstart Crow - Media Centre". www.bbc.co.uk. Retrieved 26 September 2017. 
  16. ^ "Upstart Crow (TV Series 2016– )" – via www.imdb.com. 
  17. ^ "Weekly top 30 programmes - BARB". www.barb.co.uk. Retrieved 26 September 2017. 
  18. ^ Raeside, Julia (10 May 2016). "Upstart Crow review: Ben Elton finds the comedy in Shakespeare's history". the Guardian. Retrieved 21 February 2018. 
  19. ^ "Upstart Crow's David Mitchell on Shakespeare, Peep Show and jokes". 6 September 2017. Retrieved 21 February 2018. 

External links[edit]