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Upstart Crow BBC2 Mondays 10pm

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David Mitchell is William Shakespeare in Ben Elton's Upstart Crow! It's very much like Blackadder 2 and I had not heard a word about it before I stumbled over it tonight. It's really good, you should watch it. The first episode was about Will trying to finish Romeo & Juliet whilst being tasked to look after a moronic, lovelorn student with hilarious consequences. The last five minutes turns into a pastiche of a rather famous 1980s comedy film, it features one character doing a spot-on Ricky Gervais impersonation for some reason, Mark Heap is in it playing Stephen Fry and it features the following lines performed by David Mitchell only as David Mitchell could:

 

"Goodnight, sweet... idiot. Your heart was big, your brain... tiny."

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This was actually a lot better than I was expecting. It's almost exactly another Blackadder, but that's not a bad thing.

 

The canned laughter can get tae fuck though - so intrusive.

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I thought it was great. Mitchell plays frustrated, middle-aged Shakespeare as only he can. And a very good supporting cast too.

 

I thought the idea of the Ricky Gervais character was he's an actor who's been successful and won awards abroad, and now he's come back he's a completely insufferable arse. No idea why they'd base that on Ricky Gervais though.

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Thought I might include some YT clips, for those forumites elsewhere in the world, unable to fool iPlayer with the IP/DNS hack and or service.

 

 

Also, did people think when this guy - "the posh boy" - first appeared:

 

 

That the BBC had traveled back in time and kidnapped a 25 year old David Tennant?

 

Also, anyone remember the guy who played the frustrated actor, when he was in this advert yonks ago:

 

 

About 13 years ago, a friend of mine wrote a sitcom script about mini-cab drivers. Though it never got made, it did have a provisional cast read through at a theatre. He was a main character and it and it bugged me during the whole read through where I knew him from, and then it clicked.

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18 minutes ago, Jack Walsh's coffee shop said:

 

Also, did people think when this guy - "the posh boy" - first appeared:

 

That the BBC had traveled back in time and kidnapped a 25 year old David Tennant?

 

 

Yes!

 

I also noticed he had a, let's say, rather priapic codpiece which I expected to at least get a passing mention but it never did.

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1 hour ago, Jack Walsh's coffee shop said:

 

Also, anyone remember the guy who played the frustrated actor, when he was in this advert yonks ago:

 

 

 

He's Neville, the best character in Trollied.

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Been catching up with this on iPlayer, and it's great! The "Gervais" character still seems a bit out of place four episodes in, as though Elton's bemused by Gervais's success, and just wanted to take the piss, no matter the setting. Most of it is spot on observation though. Kit Marlowe would've been played by Rik Mayall in another life. :(

 

Is this actually going to get another series? Or is it just a one-off for the whole Shakespeare thing that BBC did a while back?

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2 hours ago, Monkeyboy said:

Been catching up with this on iPlayer, and it's great! The "Gervais" character still seems a bit out of place four episodes in, as though Elton's bemused by Gervais's success, and just wanted to take the piss, no matter the setting. Most of it is spot on observation though. Kit Marlowe would've been played by Rik Mayall in another life. :(

 

Is this actually going to get another series? Or is it just a one-off for the whole Shakespeare thing that BBC did a while back?

Yeah its been confirmed for a second series 

 

Spoiler

there was a def hint of blackadder through out the series..... and then the "bob" cameo happened in the last ep!!   god what i would give to blackadder pop up for a scene in the next series :)

 

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The Ricky Gervais character, Kempe, is based on a real actor of the time who went to Italy and was highly successful.

Burbage and Robert Greene are also real people (Greene wrote the letter that called Shakespeare an upstart crow, giving the series its name.)

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I felt the same about Kempe - though in the last couple of episodes his Garvaisaise (I've made that word up - Shakespeare would be proud) was a bit more on the ball, feeling less like a caricature for the sake of it and more as the setup for a joke or two.

 

Overall, the show's a bit mixed but it's got enough laughs for thirty minutes and Mark Heap is fantastically over the top. It's nowhere near the heights of Blackadder, but not much is I suppose.

 

Completely agree about Kit Marlow being played by Mayall in another time - he'd be a perfect fit. Even full on Flashheart. Woof!

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I thought he Gervias pisstake was great.  The teenaged daughter provoked much hilarity in our house  (we have a 16 year old).

 

Harry Enfield was a bit wasted though. 

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On 18 June 2016 at 5:00 PM, Poochy said:

The character Kempe being in the series isn't the issue, it's the fact that the character has been written/performed as a Gervais piss take that is a bit jarring.

 

Ben Elton's books are full of caricatures of real people - the film director in Popcorn is obviously Tarrantino, for example.

It's a Gervais piss take because of Gervais's own attitude.

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I'm really enjoying this.

 

I especially like the moments where Will claims ownership of a figure of speech and the digs at him not being the author of some of the work.

 

I think the cast are great with the exception of Enfield who grates a little for me

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On 10/09/2017 at 23:16, clippa said:

Didn't much care for this but it was watchable enough.

I stuck with it until the end but a lot of them were a proper struggle to get through. Glad it's got a second series, I'll be happy to give it another go though I reckon Elton is too proud to make any significant changes. There'll be no blackadder 1-2 massive shifts.

 

Gemma whelan as kate was very, very good. I'd recast everyone else. I love Mitchell but he just doesn't seem comfortable here, probably down to the script just not being good enough.

Just to be clear the massive shifts between blackadder 1-2 were mainly because the writing team changed - and it all came down to Elton co-writing 2, nothing to do with Elton himself changing.

 

Series 1 - Curtis and Atkinson wrote it

Series 2-4 - Curtis and Elton wrote it (and the latter had a big impact and changed loads)

 

Elton has always had an individual style and I cannot think of an example where he was the writer and he made massive changes between series. The Thin Blue Line for instance, he didn't change a damned thing when there were obvious flaws in the formula.

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Third series on at the moment, still enjoying it.

 

Latest episode took potshots at charity appeals and the acting of Mark Rylance (with Ben Miller playing the actor Wolf Hall).

 

Mind you, one running gag is wearing thin - that of the real authorship of Shakespeare's works.

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Finished up the series the other night. Bloody hell was the finale a bit of a downer :(

 

Hope there's more though. Not sure how they're going to keep going with Kit though.

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That last episode is a real highlight for me, the theatre awards setup was superb (and really using the Kempe as Ricky Gervais joke to its fullest) and then, gadzooks! Where did that emotional last few minutes spring from? That has to be the best thing Ben Elton has written fir at least a decade.

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