42 user 7 critic

Upstart Crow 

Satirical Blackadderesque sitcom about how friends, family, historical circumstances, and his arch-rival Robert Greene, who first coined the derogatory term "upstart crow", influenced William Shakespeare to write his famous plays.


Ben Elton
1,976 ( 18)

Watch Now

on Prime Video




3   2   1  
2018   2017   2016  
2 wins & 3 nominations. See more awards »


Learn more

More Like This 

    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8/10 X  

A comedy sketch show featuring David Mitchell and Robert Webb.

Stars: David Mitchell, Robert Webb, James Bachman
Back (TV Series 2017)
Comedy | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  

Sitcom following estranged foster-brothers Stephen (David Mitchell) and Andrew (Robert Webb) as they vow to take over the family business following the death of their father.

Stars: David Mitchell, Robert Webb, Louise Brealey
Ambassadors (2013)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 X  

The adventures and politics of a British ambassador to a fictitious Asian country called Tajbekistan.

Stars: David Mitchell, Robert Webb, Susan Lynch
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  

The comedy duo's first sketch show, which launched both of their careers.

Stars: David Mitchell, Robert Webb, Olivia Colman
Quacks (2017–2018)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  

In Victorian London four pioneers, friends, and rivals fighting to make a mark on the world and save lives.

Stars: Rory Kinnear, Tom Basden, Mathew Baynton
Short | Comedy
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  

David Mitchell presents a series of short comedy rants.

Stars: David Mitchell, Robert Webb
Peep Show (2003–2015)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.6/10 X  

Mark and Jez are a couple of twenty-something roommates who have nothing in common - except for the fact that their lives are anything but normal. Mayhem ensues as the pair strive to cope with day-to-day life.

Stars: David Mitchell, Robert Webb, Matt King
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.8/10 X  

BBC comedy series parodying the works of Charles Dickens and heavily influenced by a similar, long-running radio series. A respectable shopkeeper, Jedrington Secret-Past, (unsurprisingly) discovers that he has a secret past.

Stars: Robert Webb, Katherine Parkinson, Finlay Christie
Ghosts (TV Series 2019)
Comedy | Fantasy
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  

A group of spirits restlessly squabble in an abandoned country home.

Stars: Laurence Rickard, Lolly Adefope, Mathew Baynton
Blackadder (1982–1983)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.1/10 X  

In the Middle Ages, Prince Edmund the Black Adder constantly schemes and endeavors to seize the crown from his father and brother.

Stars: Rowan Atkinson, Brian Blessed, Elspet Gray
10 O'Clock Live (2011–2013)
Comedy | News
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  

An informative and humourous take on the world of current affairs.

Stars: Charlie Brooker, Jimmy Carr, Lauren Laverne
Would I Lie to You? (TV Series 2007)
Comedy | Game-Show
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8/10 X  

Two teams, lead by their team leader (either Lee Mack or David Mitchell), have to try and make the other team believe their crazy stories.

Stars: David Mitchell, Lee Mack, Rob Brydon


Series cast summary:
David Mitchell ...  Will Shakespeare / ... 20 episodes, 2016-2018
Gemma Whelan ...  Kate 20 episodes, 2016-2018
Rob Rouse Rob Rouse ...  Bottom 20 episodes, 2016-2018
Liza Tarbuck ...  Anne Shakespeare / ... 20 episodes, 2016-2018
Mark Heap ...  Robert Greene / ... 20 episodes, 2016-2018
Helen Monks ...  Susanna Shakespeare / ... 19 episodes, 2016-2018
Paula Wilcox ...  Mary Shakespeare / ... 19 episodes, 2016-2018
Harry Enfield ...  John Shakespeare / ... 19 episodes, 2016-2018
Tim Downie ...  Kit Marlowe / ... 19 episodes, 2016-2018
Steve Speirs ...  Burbage 19 episodes, 2016-2018
Dominic Coleman ...  Condell 19 episodes, 2016-2018
Spencer Jones ...  Kempe 19 episodes, 2016-2018
Rosanna Beacock Rosanna Beacock ...  Judith Shakespeare / ... 12 episodes, 2017-2018
Jocelyn Jee Esien Jocelyn Jee Esien ...  Lucy 11 episodes, 2016-2018
Joe Willis Joe Willis ...  Hamnet Shakespeare 11 episodes, 2017-2018


Satirical Blackadderesque sitcom about how friends, family, historical circumstances, and his arch-rival Robert Greene, who first coined the derogatory term "upstart crow", influenced William Shakespeare to write his famous plays.

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Comedy | History


TV-PG | See all certifications »


Official Sites:

Official Site





Release Date:

2016 (UK) See more »

Also Known As:

Upstart Crow See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

BBC Comedy See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:



See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


The title of the series refers to a pamphlet published in 1592 in which playwright and poet Robert Green refers to William Shakespeare as an "upstart crow." See more »


In the first episode, Will's daughter, Susanna, is said to be 13. Susanna was baptized May 26, 1583, placing the episode (and the series) around 1596. Yet, Christopher Marlowe (who was killed in 1593) is portrayed as still being alive. See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.

User Reviews

A good solid start
10 November 2016 | by tlloydesqSee all my reviews

Upstart Crow marks a bit of a revival for Ben Elton. Without actually restoring him to the top of the comic writers league it has to be said. If you can see Ben's career faltering after Blackadder, next was "The Thin Blue Line" where the standard dropped quite a bit. After that things became unwatchable. Let's say "Upstart Crow" gets Ben back up to "The Thin Blue Line".

To achieve this Ben has pretty much returned to Blackadder territory, this time he is investigating Shakespeare with a few nods to the modern age. Each show is split into 3 parts – the real story is book ended by scenes set in Will's home and are pretty bland. A few star names (Harry Enfield, Liza Tarbuck and Paula Wilcox) to stick on the advertising hoardings but precious little to amuse. The major activity is either in Will's London residence or the pub down the road.

You just can't escape the Balckadder comparisons though and. let's be fair though, we are comparing this programme with one of the classic comedies of the 1980s. Not many since have equalled that show. Ben Elton writes his parts in particular styles and the Shakespeare role is Rowan Atkinson. David Mitchell may be a fine actor but he cannot channel Atkinson. I can see Atkinson extracting every ounce of humour out of some of the diatribes which sounds ordinary from a mere mortal. Other characters evoke those from Blackadder 2 and are quite pedestrian but develop over the course of the series. I do though like the Ricky Gervais mimic. A bit of vitriol from Ben? If so...more please!

These are the obvious observations but how is the show as a whole? A knowledge of Shakespeare would help but I don't know much about the bard and I found the show pretty good. In spite of the criticisms the cast carry off decent, but not great, roles. Each show contains a gentle dig at luvvie actors and there is a lot of genuine humour on board. The stories are simply mechanisms to wrap around a number of sketches. A mechanism which works.

Very few comedies hit the bullseye in the first series and I think there is plenty to work with here. I hope that there is a second series and Ben can gear the dialogue to the actors at his disposal. Let's remember "The Blackadder" didn't exactly predict the glories to come. That was before they took on board an upcoming new writer...oh yeah. Ben Elton.

9 of 13 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you? | Report this
Review this title | See all 42 user reviews »

Contribute to This Page

Free Movies and TV Shows to Watch Now

On IMDb TV, you can catch Hollywood hits and popular TV series at no cost. Select any poster below to play the movie, totally free!

Browse all our free movies and TV series

Stream Trending Movies With Prime Video

Enjoy a night in with these popular movies available to stream now with Prime Video.

Start your free trial

Recently Viewed