Filming has begun on the second series of BBC Two’s Shakespearean (never let it be said Mr Elton doesn’t have his finger on the nation’s pulse) sitcom Upstart Crow. The award winning show stars David Mitchell as William Shakespeare, alongside Harry Enfield, Paula Wilcox, Liza Tarbuck, Funny Women Variety Award winner Gemma Whelan and 2015 Funny Women Awards runner up Helen Monks. Noel Fielding is also making an appearance as Thomas Morley and Emma Thompson will be starring in the Christmas special as Queen Elizabeth I.
The BBC brings us up to date on the 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, trusty friend Kate and not-so-trusty friend Marlowe.
“This series reveals some of the surprising stories behind Will’s plays, including a brush with an African general (played by 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.”
The show reveals a little about Shakespeare’s boyhood: “We also meet Simon Hunt (Geoffrey Whitehead), the schoolmaster that 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…”
David Mitchell says: “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 – a challenge which I have come to the conclusion I am unequal to.”
Commissioner Shane Allen adds: “This is the dream combination of masterful comedy penmanship from Ben Elton, a cast littered with well-loved comedy actors both old and new who lampoon the life and work of this cultural giant we were all taught to revere in school. It’s British comedy at its finest.”
Head of Comedy at BBC Studios Chris Sussman says: “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.”
We can’t wait for the new series OR David Mitchell’s knighthood – which we’re pretty sure Emma Thompson is allowed to give out.
Series 2 of Upstart Crow be shown on BBC Two in 2017.