Film, Family and kids
4 out of 5 stars

Time Out says

4 out of 5 stars

The 'Horrible Histories' gang are on top form with their kid-friendly William Shakespeare comedy

This intelligent family-friendly comedy imagines Shakespeare, The Early Years. Sacked from a failing lute band, Bill chooses a more ‘reliable’ career: the theatre. Leaving behind an exasperated Anne Hathaway, he heads for London. After befriending budding playwright Chris Marlowe, he becomes accidentally embroiled in a plot to assassinate Elizabeth I (played with comic relish by Helen McCrory). Damien Lewis (McCrory’s real-life husband) appears briefly, as noted seaman Sir Richard Hawkins, but ‘Bill’ revolves predominantly around a small ensemble playing multiple roles. All of them alumni of the BBC’s ‘Horrible Histories’ series, they deftly cruise through a script that revels in the mucky reality of Tudor London and fills any factual gaps with contemporary sketch-show humour. Mathew Baynton’s plucky Bill, Jim Howick’s grumpy Marlowe and Ben Willbond’s testosterone-fuelled Philip II of Spain are all up there with vintage ‘Blackadder’. Best of all, a seven-plus audience won’t need to know their David Starkey to relish Laurence Rickard’s ‘spymaster’ Walsingham disguised as a pie, or the ‘your mum…’ banter between Shakespeare and Marlowe. (Neither will you.) Laura Lee Davies



Release details

Release date:
Friday September 18 2015
94 mins

Cast and crew

Richard Bracewell
Laurence Rickard, Ben Willbond
Mathew Baynton
Simon Farnaby
Martha Howe-Douglas
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