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Did you spot the Love Actually reference in the Upstart Crow Christmas special?

With Emma Thompson in the cast of A Christmas Crow as Elizabeth I, writer Ben Elton couldn’t resist referencing her Love Actually character Karen

Published: Monday, 25th December 2017 at 9:00 pm

Upstart Crow, Ben Elton’s rollicking comedy centred on David Mitchell’s William Shakespeare, couldn't resist a little in joke in the seasonal special A Christmas Crow.


Emma Thompson guest stars in the BBC Christmas special. The double Oscar winning writer and actress also happens to be famous for appearing in another Yuletide favourite Love Actually as betrayed wife Karen.

Love Actually of course was written by Richard Curtis, Elton’s writing partner on Blackadder, which has drawn comparisons with Upstart Crow.

Anyway, in Upstart Crow Will’s wife Anne (Liza Tarbuck) was put in the same predicament as Karen in Love Actually: secretly discovering a necklace bought by her husband for Christmas wasn’t actually intended for her.

In a rather inspired touch, Anne responded to the news with a quiet moment of sad reflection in her bedroom, mirroring the Love Actually scene.

Here is Anne...

Upstart Crow screen grab, BD

And here's the moment moment in Love Actually…

Just as Karen listened to a slow rendition of Joni Mitchell’s Both Sides Now to help cope with the pain of betrayal, so did Anne – with the music being sung by a Tudor minstrel in Upstart Crow.

She even delivers the same speech as Karen when confronting her husband: "Would you wait around to find out if it's just a necklace, or if it's sex and a necklace, or if worst of all it's a necklace and love? Would you stay, knowing life would always be a little bit worse? Or would you cut and run?"


Though of course, there is one big difference: Mitchell's Will Shakespeare doesn't actually have designs on Elizabeth I: he knows that he needs to get her a gift to stop her chopping his head off.


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