BBC Two have commissioned ‘Upstart Crow‘ as part of the BBC Shakespeare Festival 2016, a sitcom about The Bard written by Ben Elton, and starring the genius David Mitchell. I really can’t think of a better bit of casting.
It’s 1592 and Will Shakespeare is just at the beginning of his extraordinary career. The series will focus on both Will’s family and professional life and include the surprising stories of where many of his ideas came from. Also featured are his wife Anne and his extended family, his servant Bottom, his friends Kate and Marlowe, his theatrical troupe, and his rival Robert Greene.
In the series, Will finds inspiration for Romeo from an unlikely source; mislays a nearly treasonous masterpiece; gets tricked into a very embarrassing pair of tights; has a spot of bother with the wife over some sonnets; meets three witches who predict great things for him; and borrows some money on some rather unusual conditions.
Other cast confirmed are Harry Enfield (Harry & Paul) as Will’s dad, John Shakespeare; Paula Wilcox (Emmerdale) as Will’s mum; Liza Tarbuck (Linda Green, Mount Pleasant) as Anne Hathaway; Helen Monks (Raised by Wolves) as Will’s daughter Susannah; Gemma Whelan (Game of Thrones) as Kate; Mark Heap (Spaced, Friday Night Dinner) as Sir Robert Greene, Will’s nemesis; Steve Speirs (Big School) as Burbage; Tim Downie (Paddington, Toast of London) as Marlowe; Dominic Coleman (Peaky Blinders, Trollied) as Kempleton; Spencer Jones (Big Babies) as a member of Burbage’s company; and Rob Rouse (Grownups) as Bottom. Further cast details will be announced at a later date.
David Mitchell says: “I’m delighted to be playing England’s greatest bard at this difficult time for bards everywhere. You just try getting work as a bard these days. It’s virtually impossible.”
The BBC Shakespeare Festival will launch on 23 April – to celebrate Shakespeare’s birthday – and continue for a month across our services.