Upstart Crow. Will Shakespeare (David Mitchell). Copyright: BBC
Upstart Crow

Upstart Crow

  • TV sitcom
  • BBC Two
  • 2016 - 2020
  • 21 episodes (3 series)

Sitcom about the life of jobbing playwright William Shakespeare, struggling to find inspiration in Tudor London. Also features David Mitchell, Rob Rouse, Gemma Whelan, Liza Tarbuck, Harry Enfield and more.

Episode menu

Series 1, Episode 5 - What Bloody Man Is That?

Upstart Crow. Image shows from L to R: MacBuff (Jonathan Watson), Will Shakespeare (David Mitchell), Bottom (Rob Rouse)
The plague leads Will and his friends to escape to the family home in Stratford. On the way, they meet three witches who have some surprising predictions to make about Will's future, leading to a very serious case of house envy.

Preview clips

Broadcast details

Monday 6th June 2016
30 minutes


Show past repeats

Date Time Channel
Tuesday 20th December 2016 10:45pm BBC2
Tuesday 20th December 2016 11:00pm BBC2 Scot
Sunday 25th February 2018 9:40pm Gold
Tuesday 29th May 2018 10:20pm Gold
Sunday 28th April 2019 10:00pm Gold
Monday 29th April 2019 12:40am Gold
Friday 20th September 2019 1:15am Gold
Sunday 3rd November 2019 1:10am Gold
Monday 4th November 2019 12:00am Gold
Monday 4th November 2019 2:45am Gold
Tuesday 5th November 2019 2:10am Gold

Cast & crew

David Mitchell Will Shakespeare
Rob Rouse Bottom
Gemma Whelan Kate
Liza Tarbuck Anne Hathaway
Harry Enfield John Shakespeare
Paula Wilcox Mary Arden
Helen Monks Susanna
Steve Speirs Burbage
Tim Downie Marlowe
Dominic Coleman Condell
Mark Heap Sir Robert Greene
Spencer Jones Kempe
Guest cast
Mina Anwar Weird Sister
Sarah Finigan Weird Sister
Christine Ozanne Weird Sister
Jonathan Watson MacBuff
Geoffrey McGivern Sir Thomas
Tom Edden Servant
Writing team
Ben Elton Writer
Production team
Matt Lipsey Director
Gareth Edwards Producer
Myfanwy Moore Executive Producer
Jake Bernard Editor
Julian Fullalove Production Designer
Grant Olding Composer


A deathly plot at bedtime

Anne wonders if Will might be up for a spot of murder.

Featuring: David Mitchell (Will Shakespeare) & Liza Tarbuck (Anne Hathaway).


Review: Upstart Crow, episode 5

I couldn't see a co-writing credit alongside Ben Elton's name for William Shakespeare, but as anyone with a basic grasp of English literature will spot this week's episode is a comical rewrite of Macbeth. And a pretty nifty one, with David Mitchell as the bard convinced that he has committed murder at the behest of his scheming wife so that they can move to the big house in Stratford before prices rise out of reach.

Bruce Dessau, Beyond The Joke, 6th June 2016

Blackadder character to appear in Upstart Crow

We won't ruin the surprise by telling you who it is, but we can say that the person playing the character is the same performer who acted the part way back in early 1986, more than 30 years ago and is something of a fan favourite.

Ben Dowell, Radio Times, 6th June 2016

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