Shakespeare gets a sitcom in ‘Upstart Crow’

Upstart Crow

The popular film “Shakespeare in Love” seemed to unleash a wave of fictional imaginings of the English writer: the plays “Equivocation” and “The Beard of Avon,” the films “Anonymous” and “All Is True,” the short-lived TV series “Will.” But 1999’s frothy Best Picture winner was hardly the first rendering of Shakespeare as a fictional character.

The Bard of Avon made periodic appearances in novels throughout the 19th and 20th centuries, from a trilogy by Robert Folkestone Williams in the 1840s to Anthony Burgess’s 1964 book Nothing Like the Sun. And his first recorded stage appearance as a character is from 1679, some 60 years after the playwright’s death, when “the Ghost of Shakespeare” emerged to give a prologue to Thomas Dryden’s version of “Troilus and Cressida.”

There is nothing ghostly about the Shakespeare we meet in “Upstart Crow,” a delightfully cheeky BBC sitcom comprising three short seasons, available in the United States through the on-demand service Britbox as well as via Amazon. As played by the acerbic David Mitchell, one half of the comedy duo Mitchell and Webb, this Will Shakespeare is a mildly schlubby and insecure if well-intentioned striver, dividing his time between a bustling family hearth in Stratford and a rooming house in London from which he is building his playwriting career. The show’s title comes from an epithet hurled at Shakespeare in 1592 by a jealous poet, Robert Greene, in a pamphlet.

A fictional Greene is on hand as the show’s mustache-twirling villain to pound home the familiar theme of Shakespeare’s low birth and insufficiently fancy education. In a typical pithy putdown, he dismisses Shakespeare as “a country bum-snot, an oik of Avon, a town-school spotty-grotty.” The show’s Greene also functions as a literal nemesis, positioned (ahistorically) as the Master of the Revels, the impresario and censor through whom all staged entertainment must pass muster [ . . . ]

Continue at AMERICA: Shakespeare gets a sitcom in ‘Upstart Crow’ | America Magazine

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This Time with Alan Partridge: Steve Coogan comedy on ABC iview

The funniest show on British television came to an end after six glorious episodes this week — and as of today, it’s also available for Australian viewers to watch for free in full.

This Time With Alan Partridge marks the latest outing for the character that comedian Steve Coogan and Veep creator Armando Iannucci first devised way back in 1991.

Partridge is a consistently inept veteran light entertainment personality: ruled by ego, an appalling listener and cack-handed public speaker and yet somehow — perhaps by virtue of being a straight white man — he remains gainfully employed.

Alan’s got a new gig.

Source: This Time with Alan Partridge: Steve Coogan comedy on ABC iview

Alan’s got a new gig.Source:Supplied

In his latest outing, Alan has been handed a career lifeline: He’d been slumming it as a presenter on a North Norfolk digital radio station when he’s whisked back to the hallowed corridors of the BBC in London.

He’s the new stand-in co-host of weekday lifestyle show This Time, the show’s regular host having fallen ill.

Scene one, episode one and he’s already feeling the pressure:

Alan Partridge is back… and it’s about time!#ThisTime. Tonight. 9.30pm. @BBCOnepic.twitter.com/MvF23TYFcF— BBC Comedy (@bbccomedy) February 25, 2019

Partridge and perpetually chipper co-host Jennie Gresham have a total lack of chemistry, Gresham gamely trying to keep her program on the rails while her new co-host demonstrates time and time again he’s really not the man for this job.

It’s hilarious — and frequently ridiculous. Here’s Alan giving viewers an unsolicited demonstration of how to use a public toilet without ever once using your hands:

Alan Partridge’s Hands-Free Train Toilet Drill will revolutionise your life. #AlanPartridge #ThisTimepic.twitter.com/WVTXYPU4AF— BBC Comedy (@bbccomedy) February 25, 2019

Alan doing his best to build a rapport with a guest who can only be described as Quite Scottish:

Alan has always been a man of the people. #ThisTimepic.twitter.com/Ppb40MrbZG— BBC Comedy (@bbccomedy) March 11, 2019

Alan furiously trying to down an entire sandwich — seeded bread — during a brief commercial break:

“You’ll never break it down”#ThisTime with Alan Partridge, Monday night at 9:30pm on @BB

Fawlty Towers named greatest ever British TV sitcom

John Cleese in Fawlty Towers

Comedy experts position series set in a chaotic hotel above Father Ted and I’m Alan Partridge

Fawlty Towers has been named the greatest ever British TV sitcom once again by a panel of comedy experts compiled by the Radio Times.

The comedy series set in a chaotic Torquay seaside hotel managed by an incompetent and highly strung hotelier played by John Cleese, was ranked above Father Ted, which chronicled the lives of three dysfunctional Irish priests and their housekeeper, and I’m Alan Partridge, in second and third place respectively.

Although Fawlty Towers ran for only two series, the popularity of its 12 episodes has endured and it is often re-broadcast, with the co-writer, Connie Booth, saying the show succeeds because it allows “infantile rage and aggression” to flourish even within “well-mannered English society”.

Basil Fawlty’s one-liners have gone down in comedy folklore. In one episode, a hotel guest complained that he was not satisfied, to which he replied: “Well, people like you never are, are you?”

During another, a guest asked if anywhere serves French food. Fawlty retorted: “Yes, France, I believe. They seem to like it there. And the swim would certainly sharpen your appetite. You’d better hurry, the tide leaves in six minutes.”

In a thinly veiled jibe at the broadcaster’s current management, Cleese said he was lucky to be working at the BBC when decisions were taken by people who had actually made programmes and paid tribute to his co-stars and producer, John Howard Davies, who directed the first six episodes of Monty Python’s Flying Circus.

“I’m proud we are up there with Porridge and Only Fools and Ab Fab and Blackadder and The Office and Reggie Perrin and The Thick of It,” he told the Radio Times.

Fawlty Towers co-writer Connie Booth told the magazine: “It’s unique in being a farce, with all the plot surprises and precision that the style requires. And it doesn’t hurt that the star of the show is a six–foot-five comic genius; if he was shorter I can’t imagine how it would have worked.”

Richard Curtis and Ben Elton’s historical sitcom, Blackadder, starring Rowan Atkinson, was fourth on the list, with Jimmy Perry and David Croft’s 80-episode, half-century-old Dad’s Army in fifth.

Only Fools and Horses, featuring Peckham wheeler-dealers the Trotter family, was named sixth best sitcom of all time, ahead of Dick Clement and Ian La Frenais’s prison-based comedy drama, Porridge, in seventh.

Fawlty Towers was also named the best British sitcom of all time in a survey of comedians, comedy writers and actors in 2017.

Source: Fawlty Towers named greatest ever British TV sitcom

Elsa Lanchester stuff

Elsa with Dick Cavett part 1

elsa-lanchester_young
Young Elsa

Thanks to her bohemian upbringing, Lanchester was always looking for venues to express her creativity. In the mid-1920s she decided to open a nightclub in London called Cave of Harmony. This gave Lanchester an outlet for performance, as well as becoming a popular meeting spot for London artists and intellectuals such as H.G Wells, Aldous Huxley and James Whale.

Cavett Show Part 2
Bride of Frankenstein

Lawton released three LP albums in the 1950s. Two were entitled “Songs for a Shuttered Parlour” and “Songs for a Smoke-Filled Room” and were vaguely lewd and danced around their true purpose, such as the song about her husband’s “clock” not working. Laughton provided the spoken introductions to each number and even joined Lanchester in the singing of “She Was Poor But She Was Honest”. Her third LP was entitled “Cockney London”, a selection of old London songs for which Laughton wrote the sleeve-notes. – Wikipedia