Emma Thompson is one of Britain’s most beloved actresses, appearing in everything from Christmas favourite Love Actually to Shakespeare classic Much Ado About Nothing: and now she is set to play one of our most formidable monarchs, Queen Elizabeth I.
BBC’s Upstart Crow, the Ben Elton comedy following the story of a young William Shakespeare, debuted last year, recently winning Best New TV Sitcom at the Comedy.co.uk Awards 2016.
It was confirmed in summer that it will return in 2017 for a second series and a Christmas special filled with star appearances, including Thompson’s regal turn.
Filming for the programme has already begun, and as well as Thompson, will feature the return of comedians David Mitchell as Shakespeare and Harry Enfield as his father. Noel Fielding is also set to make an appearance as Thomas Morley, as well as a host of other familiar faces.
The show, which sees Shakespeare juggle life between his home in Stratford-upon-Avon and the rather more frantic London stage, has plenty in store for the Bard, including a trip to Verona, problems with coach cancellations and difficult teenage daughters.
There will also be episodes centring around the real stories behind Shakespeare’s famous plays, including Othello and Romeo and Juliet.
Shakespeare’s meeting with the Queen will see him presenting an early draft of Twelfth Night, under the working title Eighth Night.
In a statement, Chris Sussman – head of comedy at BBC Studios – said: "It's great to welcome back our merry band of players – and if David Mitchell manages to learn all the soliloquies Ben's written for him, then he should be instantly knighted."
BBC comedy controller Shane Allen added: "This is the dream combination of masterful comedy penmanship from Ben Elton, a cast littered with well-loved comedy actors both old and new who lampoon the life and work of this cultural giant we were all taught to revere in school. It's British comedy at its finest."
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The date for the second series has not yet been released, but it will return to BBC Two later this year.