Upstart Crowing

I’m making the most of the iplayer before they start charging for it, in which case we may as well a) give up altogether or b) get a TV licence/Freeview box/whatever other packages they’ve come up with in the ten years or so since we last did This Sort of Thing.  Actually I think it might be more like fifteen years than ten.  Anyway… last night was a stonking night’s viewing: beginning with a classic ‘Over-sexed and over here’ Dad’s Army where they meet, greet and punch the visiting GI’s; and continuing with the utterly compelling comedy-drama ‘Love Nina’.  I wasn’t sure about this at first; but it only took a few minutes to hook me in to this series about a nanny from Leicester (yes, Leicester! – which, as it’s set in the eighties, no-one knows anything about) who goes to work as a live-in nanny for two precocious boys and their single Mum Helena Bonham-Carter.  Equally engaging is the latest Jo Brand series.  Knowing that she worked as a nurse, the series ‘Going Forward’ featuring a hard-pressed care-worker and her chauffeur husband is thoroughly authentic and gripping as well as comic.  I can’t wait to see how both of these pan out:

Sitcoms seem to be like buses: and last week we had the first episode of ‘Mum’, a gentle series about a bereaved woman surrounded by well-meaning idiots:

All three of these are different, intriguing and therefore unpredictable.  And what’s even better is that only one of them is on BBC 4.

As if all this weren’t enough, as part of the current Shakespeare-a-thon comes Ben Elton’s sitcom ‘Upstart Crow.’  I dimly recall that ‘upstart crow’ was one of the insults hurled at the bard by a contemporary; such is our reverence for him now that it’s hard to believe he could be so insulted in his own time.  David Mitchell plays a baffled, bewildered, much rivalled and yet supremely confident Will whose closest friend Kit Marlowe is also his nearest rival.  And here’s the rub: for, though David Mitchell is totally right for the part, I can’t help feeling that it’s otherwise a cast of understudies.  It’s as though Elton wanted his dream-team of Blackadder back again, with Rowan Atkinson as Shakespeare, Rik Mayall as Marlowe, Stephen Fry as Robert Green and Tony Robinson as Bottom the manservant, a Baldrick figure if ever I saw one.  So there’s an odd feeling of actors channelling other actors.  See for yourself whether Mark Heap isn’t channelling Stephen Fry here:

Still, the language is nicely parodied and there is a feminist update as Shakespeare’s friend Kate supplies a lot of his best ideas.  So well worth watching.

A good crop!

Kirk out