Emma Thompson joins the cast of Upstart Crow as Queen Elizabeth I
Ben Elton’s brilliant Upstart Crow has added some British ‘acting royalty’ to portray historical actual British royalty in the new series, as Emma Thompson takes on the role of Queen Elizabeth I when the show returns later this year.
Thompson will make first appearance during the 2017 Christmas Special, which according to the press release, is due ‘later this year’… I don’t think we’re sticking our neck out too much to presume it’ll be at Christmas… They have also announced Noel Fielding will guest in one of the season 2 episodes as Thomas Morley.
The comedy, which began filming this week, started as a highlight of the BBC’s Shakespeare festival last year. The programme follows the quest of William Shakespeare to make it as a playwright in London, whilst juggling family life with his loved ones in Stratford-upon-Avon. David Mitchell (Peep Show) will return as William Shakespeare for series 2, which will include references to Shakespeare masterpieces such as Othello, Romeo and Juliet, Twelfth Night and many more.
“Perhaps the hardest part of being in a new series of Upstart Crow is the challenge of improving on the quote I gave for the press announcement of the first series” commented David Mitchell. “A challenge which I have come to the conclusion I am unequal to.”
In the new series Will is still striving to make his mark in the theatre whilst battling the commute from London to Stratford-Upon-Avon to see his family, a journey made all the harder by typical Tudor problems like a strike by the coaching staff, coach cancellations and unusually wet leaves. But while the London elite sneer at country-boy Will at least he has the help of his servant Bottom (Rob Rouse), trusty friend Kate (Gemma Whelan) and not-so-trusty friend Marlowe (Tim Downie).
This series reveals some of the surprising stories behind Will’s plays, including a brush with an African general (Steve Toussaint) who takes a shine to Kate; a cut-price trip to Verona to look for inspiration; a collaboration on a new comedy with madrigal maestro Thomas Morley (Noel Fielding); a shrewish teenage daughter who may or may not need some ‘taming’; and a very frantic visit to Stratford that reveals the original inspiration for Falstaff. We also meet Simon Hunt (Geoffrey Whitehead), the schoolmaster who made Will’s life a misery in his boyhood and looks likely to do the same again; and at Christmas Will finds himself summoned before the Queen to present a special performance of the early draft of Twelfth Night, working title Eighth Night; and of course along the way there’s a great deal of wit, ale, pies and women dressing as men…
“It’s great to welcome back our merry band of players – and if David Mitchell manages to learn all the soliloquies Ben’s written for him then he should be instantly knighted,” added Chris Sussman, Head of Comedy, BBC Studios.
It’s not entirely clear if the Christmas Special will be part of the Series 2 run, or if we’ll get the new series first, and then the Christmas Special on it’s own. Keep an eye on the Upstart Crow air date page for the latest info.