All The Places to catch David this Christmas + 20 more Upstart Crow facts!


2017’s David Mitchell Christmas bonanza starts this Monday with a Christmas Would I Lie To You? on BBC1 at the later time of 9.30pm. The show will then reappear in the schedules on December 29th on BBC1 this time back at 8.30pm.


Then on Christmas day we are treated to the most fantastic Upstart Crow Christmas special. I was lucky enough to be in the audience and it really was something amazingly special, something truly deserving to take pride of place in BBC 2’s Christmas schedule (which it does). A Christmassy Crow is on at 8.25pm on Christmas day on BBC2. It’s got a special 5 minute extra running time and as you’re no doubt aware it guest stars Emma Thompson.


Then on Boxing Day David is on The Big Fat Quiz of the Year 2017 with Jimmy Carr, Richard Ayoade, Roisin Conaty, Noel Fielding, Big Narstie and Katherine Ryan. That’s at 9.00pm on C4.

Now I hand you over to my good friend @ChasquiPenguin for 20 Upstart Crow facts about the real life Burbage:


James Burbage

20 Facts on his Personal Life and Theatre Life

Personal Life

  1. James Burbage was born around 1531 – probably in Bromley, Kent, though there is a theory that he was born in Stratford-upon-Avon.
  2. He was primarily a joiner but also a builder, actor, impresario and theatre owner.
  3. James Burbage married Ellen Brayne on 23rd April 1559 and they had 4 children: Cuthbert, Richard, Ellen and Alice.
  4. Cuthbert became a theatre manager while his younger brother, Richard, became one of the most famous actors of the day, playing a number of lead roles in Shakespeare’s plays, including Romeo, Richard III and Hamlet.
  5. James Burbage died in 1597 and on 2nd February that year was laid to rest in St Leonard’s Church in Shoreditch, where other actors of the Tudor era were buried.

 Theatre Life

  1. James Burbage was a member of and leading actor in Leicester’s Men, whose patron was Robert Dudley, 1st Earl of Leicester, the troupe having been established in 1572, though Burbage later gave up acting to concentrate on theatre management.
  2. James Burbage, with his partner and brother-in-law, John Brayne (c1541–1586), built one of London’s first permanent playhouses: The Theatre, in Curtain Road, Shoreditch. This is said to have cost £700 to construct – a large sum of money for Tudor times.
  3. In Elizabethan times actors were considered with suspicion, often as layabouts or vagabonds, and in 1574 James Burbage was the first Englishman to be granted a theatrical licence.
  4. The Theatre opened in 1576 and was dedicated solely to plays and long-running productions.
  5. Prior to this The Red Lion had been built by John Brayne in Whitechapel. Whether James Burbage had any dealings with this is unclear, but this theatre was for travelling companies only, opening in 1567 and closing in 1568.
  6. The Theatre was host to a number of theatrical companies, including The Lord Chamberlain’s Men, who employed Shakespeare as an actor and playwright.
  7. Because of the huge expense of building The Theatre, plays were staged during its construction to help pay the costs.
  8. It is understood that Burbage consulted Dr John Dee, considered to be a magician and alchemist, on the design of The Theatre for his knowledge of architecture.
  9. Little is known about the appearance of The Theatre but it had a cobbled yard and was described as an amphitheatre with a large stage and numerous props. Cannon could be fired and often had to remain on stage throughout the performance. There was also facility for smoke, fireworks and flying entrances.
  10. After a dispute with the landlord, The Theatre was dismantled, its timbers being used to build The Globe Theatre in Southwark. Under the lease, dismantling was permitted though the Burbage brothers, with William Shakespeare and others, are said to have carried this out in darkness on 28th December 1598.
  11. Although The Globe Theatre had been the vision of James Burbage, he did not live to see its opening in 1599 nor its construction, but his sons, as well as Shakespeare, were among the shareholders. It is not definitely known which play was the first to be performed there; Shakespeare’s “Henry V” (in the spring) and “Julius Caesar” (on 21st September) are both listed as likely, along with Jonson’s “Every Man out of His Humour” (at the end of the year).
  12. The first Globe theatre burned down in 1613, following a cannon misfiring and setting light to the timbers and thatching. There was just one casualty – a man whose breeches caught fire, being extinguished by a bottle of ale. The theatre was rebuilt and opened the following year.
  13. The Blackfriars Theatre was a short-lived, failed venture by James Burbage. In 1596 he purchased the property, a former Dominican priory, for £600, intending to open it to stage plays during the winter. However, there was much local opposition to this plan and instead it was leased to a troupe of boy players who disbanded in 1608.
  14. During the Elizabethan era plays were usually performed in the daytime due to lack of light into the evening.
  15. In 2008 archaeologists from the Museum of London unearthed the foundations of a polygonal structure which is believed to be the NE corner of The Theatre. A new theatre has been planned for the site, with a small part of the original wall being retained for the new playhouse.


The above details are correct to the best of my ability but please let me know if you notice any inaccuracies.

Twitter: @ChasquiPenguin