Upstart Crow began filming this week for its third season, and verily, the BBC sitcom has an impressive array of guest stars lined up.
Written by Ben Elton, the show is based on the life and times of the Bard (David Mitchell), as he tries to make his name as a playwright in Tudor London, while at the same time facing one hell of a commute to see the family in Stratford-upon-Avon. Originally commissioned as part of the BBC’s Shakespeare Festival 2016 to mark the 400th anniversary of the writer’s death, the sitcom has gone on to enjoy two seconds and a Christmas special, starring Emma Thompson as Queen Elizabeth.
If that guest star wasn’t impressive enough, though, Season 3 is working hard to top it, with a whole host of big names on way. Kenneth Branagh will lead the pack as a “mysterious stranger”, along with Lily Cole (St. Trinian’s) as Ephie in the next Christmas special. Other guest stars include Adrian Edmondson (Bottom), Montserat Lombard (Inside No. 9), Nigel Planer (The Young Ones), Beattie Edmondson (Josh), and Ben Miller (Armstrong and Miller).
Season 3 contains “turbulent workplace politicks behind the scenes at the first ever performance of Julius Cæſar; a mischievous puckish sprite with a magic love potion who lurketh in the woods around Stratford; prejudice that forestalls Will’s writing of The Merchant of Venice; the world’s first charity fund raising benefit (Inflated Pig’s Bladder Day); a problem with a masked ball and a fake profile; and a Christmas haunting that cometh a little ahead of its time”.
They join returning players Harry Enfield (Harry & Paul) as Will’s father, John Shakespeare, Paula Wilcox (Mount Pleasant) as Will’s mother, Mary, Liza Tarbuck (Linda Green) as Will’s wife, Anne, Helen Monks (Raised By Wolves) as their daughter, Susanna, Gemma Whelan (Game Of Thrones) as Kate, Rob Rouse (Grownups) as Bottomm and Mark Heap (Friday Night Dinner) as Will’s nemesis, Robert Greene.
Elton says: “With incredible names like Ben Miller, Lily Cole and Kenneth Branagh all making guest appearances, the third series of Upstart Crow really is going to be a truly star-crossed show.”
Chris Sussman, Head of Comedy, BBC Studios, adds: “It’s a great testament to Ben’s writing that we’ve managed to get such a talented bunch joining the cast for our third series.”
The show will return to BBC Two later this year.
First look: Emma Thompson as Queen Elizabeth I in Upstart Crow Christmas special
18th October 2017
Upstart Crow will return this December for a Christmas special – and it’s bringing with a guest star verily most royal. None other than Emma Thompson will be playing Queen Elizbaeth I in the sitcom, penned by Ben Elton.
In the special titled A Christmas Crow, the Shakespeares are planning a lovely cosy Christmas with just the family up in Stratford. Until Kit (Tim Downie) manages to wangle himself an invitation to join them. And then so does Kate (Gemma Whelan). And then so does Robert Green (Mark Heap), who claims he has given up evil scheming and is ready to spread peace and goodwill to all mankind. But has he really suddenly gone all nice?
Meanwhile, Will (David Mitchell) has been rehearsing his latest play ready for it to be performed before Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth (Emma Thompson) as part of her Christmas festivities. But will he make the right impression on the Queen? And does his play Eighth Night actually need a bit more work?
Upstart Crow will premiere this Christmas on BBC Two. Here are the images:
Photo: BBC / Colin Hutton
Upstart Crow renewed for Season 3
18th October 2017
BBC Two has renewed Upstart Crow for a third season.
The Shakespeare sitcom, written by Ben Elton, is based on the life and times of the Bard (David Mitchell), as he tries to make his name as a playwright in Tudor London, while at the same time facing one hell of a commute to see the family in Stratford-upon-Avon.
The comedy, from BBC Studios, was originally commissioned as part of the BBC’s Shakespeare Festival 2016 to mark the 400th anniversary of the writer’s death. The series explores Shakespeare’s world and uncovers the surprising stories behind Will’s plays.
Ben Elton says: “I am so pleased that the BBC have decided to commission Upstart Crow part three. As Shakespeare himself proved with Henry IV, his very long play cycle about a not very interesting Henry, if a thing’s worth doing, it’s worth doing thrice.”
Mitchell adds: “I think I’m even pleaseder to be doing a third series of Upstart Crow than I was to be doing the second. In fact, given the choice, I would have done the third one second and saved the second till third. That would have made me pleasedest, but still, this is tremendous news.”
Chris Sussman, Head of Comedy at BBC Studios, comments: “I’m absolutely thrilled that we’re getting to do a third series, as we haven’t yet had a chance to explore some of Shakespeare’s major works, such as Pericles and The Two Noble Kinsmen.”
“It’s easy to dismiss Upstart Crow, the writer’s new comedy about Shakespeare, as a budget Blackadder – or spend the whole time comparing it to that legendary comedy,” we wrote in our review. “Doing so, though, would miss out on what makes the show really quite good… It’s far from Blackadder and hardly Tom Stoppard, but there’s enough to Shakespeare in Like here.”
Season 2 of Upstart Crow is available to view on BBC iPlayer, with the Bard also returning this December for A Christmassy Crow, featuring special guest star Emma Thompson as Queen Elizabeth I.