TV Shakes: “Upstart Crow” satire a hit

TV Shakespeare: “Upstart Crow” satire a hit

The BBC2 in England produced three seasons (20 episodes) of “Upstart Crow,” a sitcom to help celebrate the  400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s birth. It aired 2016, 2017 and 2018.

The title comes from a critique of the Bard by rival Robert Greene — “an upstart Crow, beautified with our feathers” — written in his book “Groats-Worth of Wit.”

Apparently Greene believed Shakespeare was an actor who thought he could write as well as university-educated playwrights, and alludes to Shakespeare’s grammar school-only formal education.

The series is written by Ben Elton, a stand-up comedian on stage and television, also wrote for the hilarious “Blackadder” series. He has published 15 novels and written the musicals “We Will Rock You”  (2002) and “Love Never Dies” (2010, the sequel to “The Phantom of the Opera.”

The Guardian newspapers: “Upstart Crow” (BBC2) is a knockabout, well-researched take on the working and domestic life of Shakespeare, which fudges his timeline to allow scenes in both Stratford-upon-Avon with his family, and with his theatrical muckers in London. Read the complete review here.

Wikipedia notes: The first series follows the writing and preparation to stage Romeo and Juliet after William has gained some early career notoriety for his poetry, Henry VI  and  Richard III. Events in each episode allude to one or more Shakespeare plays and usually end with Will discussing the events with Anne and either being inspired or dissuaded from using them in a future work. Along with the many Shakespearean references (including the use of asides and soliloquies) there are also several references to the television shows Blackadder and The Office. There are running gags in many episodes. Read more here

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