Saturday 11 June 2016

Shall I compare thee to Blackadder II?

Oh dear, oh dear, oh deary dear...

I've been reading the reviews for Ben Elton's new BBC Two sitcom Upstart Crow and, frankly, many of them have been hardly any kinder to Ben Elton than dying Tudor playwright Robert Greene (as played by Mark Heap) was about William Shakespeare (as played by David Mitchell).

"For there is an upstart Crow, beautified with our feathers," said the Telegraph guy, "that with his Tygers hart wrapt in a former Saturday Live host's hyde, supposes he is as well able to bombast out a BBC comedie as the best of you: and being an absolute Richard Curtis fac totum, is in his owne conceit the onely Ben Eltony-scene in a countrey". 

(Some of these Telegraph writers, even despite the Barclay Bros., are very old-fashioned and obscure in their writing style, aren't they?). 

Am I the only one, besides James Delingpole, who is absolutely loving it? 

It's the best BBC comedy I've seen for years, I'd say (not that there's much heavy competition for that title), and I'm loving it so much that I've already rewatched every episode at least once. (Has even Dellers gone that far?)

Incidentally, while on holiday I took Bill Bryson's Shakespeare to read. My extended family gasped that I was reading anything so light - i.e. a book by Bill Bryson. They usually accuse me of only reading books with titles like The Life-Cycle of a Costa Rican Fruit-Bat or books about Wagner. I said, as sharp as Malvolio, "So, you're OK with me reading a book about Shakespeare if it's by Bill Bryson?" They laughed, and said 'Yes'. 

True story (more or less). 

As Will Kempe (impersonating Ricky Gervais badly but funnily) might say: Thought I'd share, yeah. New style of blogging, yeah. Sorry yeah, but sometimes it's the only way I have of expressing the breadth and depth of my blogging instincts. So live with it, yeah. 


  1. I've enjoyed it as well!

    1. Phew! I'm very glad to hear that. That's three of us so far. When shall we three meet again?

  2. I'm not convinced. I've seen the first two episodes, but none since. I will see at least one more to be sure, but it certainly seemed like something conjured up during a meeting over drinks where somebody thought it would be brilliant to have David Mitchell do his 'angry logic' shtick but as a famous historical character. Let's see...who would be appropriately intellectual but someone everybody's heard of? I know.....etc.

    Many gags seemed shoehorned in rather than a natural part of the dialogue. I can be amused by anachronisms if done properly, but this just wasn't working for me.

    PS: The pipes Will and the Mrs. smoke at the end are historically inaccurate as well. Bowls are too big for the period.


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