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.
GenreSitcom
Period piece
Written byBen Elton
Directed byMatt Lipsey
Richard Boden
StarringDavid Mitchell
Liza Tarbuck
Rob Rouse
Gemma Whelan
Mark Heap
Composer(s)Grant Olding
Country of originUnited Kingdom
Original language(s)English
No. of series3
No. of episodes20 (list of episodes)
Production
Executive producer(s)Myfanwy Moore
Producer(s)Gareth Edwards
Running time30 minutes (series), 40 minutes (Christmas specials)
Release
Original networkBBC Two
Picture format16:9 1080i
Audio formatStereo
Original release9 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] The first series was directed by Matt Lipsey, with subsequent series being directed by Richard Boden.

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, and are delivered in a style that references the 70s sitcom The Fall and Rise of Reginald Perrin, 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.[4][5]

In October 2017, after the second series had finished, the BBC commissioned a third series and a second Christmas special that aired in 2018.[6][7]

Series overview[edit]

SeriesEpisodesOriginally aired
First airedLast aired
169 May 2016 (2016-05-09)13 June 2016 (2016-06-13)
26 (+1)11 September 2017 (2017-09-11)16 October 2017 (2017-10-16)
25 December 2017 (special)
36 (+1)29 August 2018 (2018-08-29)3 October 2018 (2018-10-03)
25 December 2018 (special)

Cast[edit]

Guest stars[edit]

Music[edit]

The theme music is a 17th-century English country dance tune called "Jamaica".[19] This was first published in the 1670 4th Edition of John Playford's The Dancing Master, after Shakespeare's death.

Reception[edit]

Upstart Crow was positively received by critics.[20][21] The acting by David Mitchell and supporting cast including Harry Enfield, Liza Tarbuck and Mark Heap has also received praise.

See also[edit]

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. ^ Guide, British Comedy. "Upstart Crow Series 2, Episode 1 - The Green-Eyed Monster - British Comedy Guide". British Comedy Guide. Retrieved 26 September 2017.
  5. ^ "Upstart Crow will return for a second series plus a Christmas special in May 2017". Radio Times. 13 June 2016. Retrieved 31 August 2016.
  6. ^ Guide, British Comedy (16 October 2017). "Upstart Crow gets Series 3".
  7. ^ "BBC - Upstart Crow is set to return for a third series - Media Centre". www.bbc.co.uk.
  8. ^ Dustagheer, Sarah. "Upstart Crow: Shakespeare sitcom is really quite educational". Retrieved 31 August 2018.
  9. ^ Dugdale, John (28 October 2016). "How close were Marlowe and Shakespeare?". Retrieved 26 September 2017 – via www.theguardian.com.
  10. ^ Dessau, Bruce (26 May 2016). "TV Review: Upstart Crow, BBC2, Episode 3 – The Apparel Proclaims The Man". Beyond The Joke. Retrieved 3 February 2019.
  11. ^ Dugdale, John (28 October 2016). "How close were Marlowe and Shakespeare?". The Guardian. Retrieved 21 February 2018.
  12. ^ Elton, Ben (18 October 2018). "Upstart Crow". Random House – via Google Books.
  13. ^ Raeside, Julia (10 May 2016). "Upstart Crow review: Ben Elton finds the comedy in Shakespeare's history". The Guardian. Retrieved 3 February 2019.
  14. ^ Cowell, Rob (2 May 2018). "New Ben Elton comedy about Shakespeare takes a pop at… Ricky Gervais". Radio Times.
  15. ^ Alberge, Dalya (27 August 2012). "New evidence supports claim that William Shakespeare's 'Dark Lady' may have been a Clerkenwell prostitute". The Independent. Retrieved 3 February 2019.
  16. ^ "BBC - Emma Thompson to join the cast of Upstart Crow - Media Centre". www.bbc.co.uk. Retrieved 26 September 2017.
  17. ^ Low, Valentine (11 September 2018). "Mark Rylance ridiculed by upstarts over comedy of errors" – via www.thetimes.co.uk.
  18. ^ Moore, William (12 September 2018). "Much ado about Shakespeare's plays, but Ben Elton has the last laugh". Evening Standard. Retrieved 3 February 2019.
  19. ^ "Upstart Crow (TV Series 2016– )" – via www.imdb.com.
  20. ^ Raeside, Julia (10 May 2016). "Upstart Crow review: Ben Elton finds the comedy in Shakespeare's history". the Guardian. Retrieved 21 February 2018.
  21. ^ "Upstart Crow's David Mitchell on Shakespeare, Peep Show and jokes". 6 September 2017. Retrieved 21 February 2018.

External links[edit]