Time Spanner II – The new Hitchhiker’s Guide?

After a couple of years away, Time Spanner returns. Written by Simon Kane and produced by Gareth Edwards (two legends of the Mitchell and Webb gang ). For those that missed the first episode, Martin Gaye (Simon Kane), a slightly neurotic forty-year-old, fell in love with Gabby Hayes (London Hughes) a bubbly twenty-year-old charity worker who he’d just met that morning.

Unfortunately, Martin’s attempts to woo her were interrupted when his boss, the titan of self storage: Daniel Kracken (David Mitchell) sends him through a scrying glass (a mirror to communicate with angels) in order to ask a question about bringing back the dead.

On the other side, Martin meets an angel who invites him on a quest to steal a magical object known as the Time Spanner, in order to save the universe!

Meanwhile, all this action is narrated by the dead space dog Liaka (John Finnemore).

And now as we return, Martin Gaye travels with Gabby in tow to the weird world of Vauxhall in 2018, where Daniel Cracken has taken over the world-or so it seems…

It’s been a while since the first episode, however, it doesn’t feel like it, (although there is a casting change as Sally Phillips now plays the angel ). It is an episode that’s just as good as the first…if not better! Without spoiling it, my absolute favourite part was when Martin and Gabby travel to the ‘dystopian’ 2018 run by Daniel Cracken (now with a cape).

Of course it’s always great to see/hear David Mitchell. I think you can probably guess that I would feel like that, judging by where you are on the internet right now!But it’s interesting to see him play a villain, which we never normally see/hear…and a very funny one he makes too.

John Finnemore also plays an excellent enthusiastic dead space dog, and I really like Gabby and Martin’s very cute chemistry. London is brilliant as the overzealous Gabby and Simon great as the likeable but easily lead Martin.

Time Spanner’s mix of comedic talent, with the peppering of daft and poignant plot points leads to a very obvious comparison to The Hitchhikers Guide to the galaxy! Although a lot of people remember it as a TV series, or a film, or a book, or a radio series, and get seriously muddled about which came first… it was at its core a radio series, and I really think that if Time Spanner had a full series it would fill the Hitchhiker’s void.

The Sifi comedy sitcom is in such short supply, but when the BBC gets it right we end up with some classics. I believe this will be the case with Time Spanner, and I really hope we hear more in the future. I’ll have to dig the Time Spanner out of my nose to see if I’m right!

All the places to catch David Mitchell this Christmas

Forget the Christmas Radio Times this is the only Guide you need!

Time Spanner: The Dan in the high castle

21st December 11:30pm BBC Radio 4

Time Spanner makes a welcome return to radio 4, written by and starring Simon Kane! When we last left Martin Gay (definitely not Marvin) he had taken the Time Spanner, and asked the woman who he’d met that morning (London Hughes) to be his partner in a quest to save the universe!

Hot in his pursuit is his boss Daniel Kraken (David Mitchell), the mysterious angel (Sally Phillips) and her robot slave, Mr Mergatroid (Jeremy Limb). The action is narrated by the dead space dog, Laika (John Finnemore).

8 Out of 10 Cats Does Countdown Christmas Special

23rd December 9:00pm C4

David Mitchell features in this year’s special, alongside Jon Richardson, Sean Lock, Kathy Burke, James Acaster and Joe Wilkinson.

The Unbelievable Truth

Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve 6:30pm BBC Radio 4

David’s panel game all about spotting Unbelievable truths concealed within a myriad of lies returns for a new series! Featuring in these episodes are: Sandi Toksvig, Jon Richardson, Lucy Porter, Graeme Garden, Richard Osman, Holly Walsh, Susan Calman and David O’Doherty

Would I Lie To You? At Christmas

Christmas Eve 10:00pm BBC1

David, Rob and Lee return for a festive edition of WILTY? Featuring Noddy Holder, Lilly Allen, James Acaster and Sian Gibson.

Upstart Crow: A Crow Christmas Carol

Christmas Day 8:35pm BBC2

It’s the big one! When we last left Will he was in the depths of despair, but can a mysterious stranger (Kenneth Branagh) save both Will, and at the same time the miserly Robert Greene in this very Dickensian special?

Tweet along with us on the Big night! Use the hashtag: #upstartcrow

The Big Fat Quiz of The Year 2018

Boxing Day 9:00pm C4

David teams up with Michelle Wolf for this year’s Big Fat Quiz! Opposing them, are Mo Gillian and Claudia Winkleman, and Richard Ayoade and Noel Fielding.

20 True and Likely Facts About Richard Burbage


20 True and Likely Facts on this Leading Shakespearean Actor from the Late 16th & Early 17th Centuries



  1. Richard Burbage is thought to have been born in London in late 1567 or early 1568.


  1. He was the second son of James Burbage and his wife Ellen (née Brayne).


  1. Richard would have grown up with a good insight into Elizabethan theatre as his father co-owned one of London’s leading playhouses, The Theatre, with his uncle John Brayne.


  1. Richard had one brother, Cuthbert, who became a theatre manager, as well as three sisters, Ellen, Joane and Alice.


  1. Little is known of Richard’s early years, though he would have grown up in London and is said to have worked in the theatre with his father, learning colours and techniques which would have enhanced his artistic skills.


  1. Although no dates are known, he married Winifred Turner and they are believed to have had eight children.


  1. Richard had many talents but is best known as one of the most famous actors of his day, playing lead roles in Shakespeare’s plays – among them: Romeo, Hamlet, King Lear & Macbeth, as well as Edward II in the debut of this Marlowe play.


  1. While Richard concentrated on appearing on the stage, his brother Cuthbert poured his energies into theatre management and the brothers worked together throughout their professional lives.


  1. Following James Burbage’s death in 1597, the lease of The Theatre was not renewed by the owner. However, Richard, Cuthbert and friends, including William Shakespeare, took advantage of a loophole and dismantled the timbers of The Theatre and on 28th December 1598 began the task of transporting them over to the south side of the Thames where they were used to build the Globe Theatre.


  1. Richard and Cuthbert retained a 50% share in the Globe, with William Shakespeare, Henry Condell, John Heminges and other members of the acting troupe holding the remaining 50%.


  1. The Globe burned down in 1613 but was rebuilt, with the new version opening the following year, no doubt with the Burbage brothers foremost in organising this.


  1. Richard and Cuthbert were also close friends and neighbours, both living in Hellewell Street, Shoreditch.


  1. In his will, Shakespeare bequeathed a sum of money to Richard, as well as to Henry Condell and John Heminges, for the purpose of buying mourning rings by which he could be remembered.


  1. Richard never retired from the stage, unlike that other great actor of the era, Edward Alleyn, who was famous for his lead roles in many of Marlowe’s plays, most of which were performed at The Rose Theatre.


  1. Richard was also an artist and the painting below is believed to be a self-portrait, though there is no definite confirmation of this.


  1. Richard died on 13th March 1619 and the public grief was enormous for this very popular actor.


  1. He was buried at St Leonard’s, a Shoreditch church, near the site of The Theatre. His gravestone is lost but is said to have read “Exit Burbage”.


  1. In a later century a memorial to him and Cuthbert was erected proving that they were not forgotten.


  1. An anonymous poem was also written in commemoration of him. It is entitled A Funerall Elegye on the Death of the famous Actor Richard Burbage who died on Saturday in Lent the 13 of March 1619 and this excerpt gives an insight into his popularity:


He’s gone and with him what a world are dead.
Which he review’d, to be revived so,

No more young Hamlet, old Hieronimo
Kind Lear, the Grieved Moor, and more beside,
That lived in him have now for ever died.


  1. Although fairly wealthy, Richard was less astute financially than some of his contemporaries but still left his widow a substantial amount – more than £300 in land.


This painting is believed to be Richard Burbage’s self-portrait.


The above details are correct to the best of my ability but please let me know if you notice any inaccuracies. I am indebted to a variety of online resources for my research into Richard Burbage.

Twitter: @ChasquiPenguin