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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.

  • JustWatch Streaming rank this week: 1,348


Episode menu

Series 1, Episode 6 - The Quality Of Mercy

Upstart Crow. Image shows from L to R: Will Shakespeare (David Mitchell), Lucy (Jocelyn Jee Esien), Marlowe (Tim Downie)
There's money to be made investing in cargoes from the New World: but while Marlowe invests in tobacco and potato products, Will would rather invest in building a new theatre. When Will's savings go missing he's forced to make a rather unusual bargain with his rival Robert Greene. Meanwhile Kate's frustration with the lack of roles for women leads her to make a rather dramatic intervention.

Preview clips

Broadcast details

Monday 13th June 2016
30 minutes

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
Jocelyn Jee Esien Lucy
Guest cast
Evan Rees Squeaky Boy
Tom Edden Clerk
Gabrielle Glaister Judge 'Bob' Roberts
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


Decision time

Kate is having trouble choosing what to wear to look like a man.

Featuring: David Mitchell (Will Shakespeare), Rob Rouse (Bottom) & Gemma Whelan (Kate).


Upstart Crow: Bard saved Elton from sitcom oblivion

Alack the day! Upstart Crow (BBC Two) has shuffled off its chortle coil. There was something for everyone in Ben Elton's learned Bardcom.

Jasper Rees, The Telegraph, 14th June 2016

In the last in the series of Ben Elton's bard-based sitcom, the age of exploration promises great riches for London residents brave enough to fling savings at the futures market. Sadly for Shakey, though, family finances are floundering, so if a modest investment of his own is to blossom, the offer of a loan from rival Robert Greene will need to be taken. However, Greene's interest rates turn out to be even more injurious than anything the likes of Wonga could impose.

Mark Gibbings-Jones, The Guardian, 13th June 2016

I returned to Upstart Crow kicking and screaming, forced into watching it by the dearth of good TV this week. Euro 2016 has taken up much of the scheduling space, the games festooned on either side by droning analysis and followed by the news with its camera-phone footage. In this miserable melee, where is the good TV? I couldn't find it, so was compelled to watch the final episode of Upstart Crow, having been left stone-cold and unimpressed by its earlier outings.

Making fun of the money-grabbing investors who put their money into the newly-discovered potatoes, tobacco and "cases of syphilis" from Virginia, Shakespeare (David Mitchell) prefers to put his money into the theatre. Still, high jinks and a court case arise when his cash goes missing. There are some very deliberate reminders of Blackadder II here - but all that does is make you pine for what you're missing.

Julie McDowall, The National (Scotland), 13th June 2016

Review: Upstart Crow, episode 6

I won't go into a lot of detail about tonight's episode except to say that it is one of the best in the series.

Bruce Dessau, Beyond The Joke, 13th June 2016

Bob from Blackadder 2 makes a surprise return

Gabrielle Glaister reprises her role as the cross-dressing Bob in the sixth episode of the Ben Elton-scripted William Shakespeare comedy.

Ben Dowell, Radio Times, 13th June 2016

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