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Will Shakespeare: Dead Shepherd (ITV 13 June 1978 with Ian McShane)

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UK / ITV – ATV / 1×60 minute episode / Broadcast 13 June 1978

Writer: John Mortimer / Director: Peter Wood

Series: Will Shakespeare / Episode 1 of 6

London 1590: Will Shakespeare has been in London for awhile trying to make a go of it as an actor with little success, his fortune changes when he meets the renowned Christopher Marlowe and gets a small role (as the sound of a cock crowing) in his play about Dr Faustus. It isn’t long though before he helping Marlowe finish his play and writing one of his own. It looks like a strong friendship bound by rivalry is forming with Marlowe but then Marlowe is killed in a fight…

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A very busy opening that settles down well, some main characters are introduced and Will is quite naive here though he is not averse to pulling a few tricks to get what he wants. Apparently in real life Marlowe and Shakespeare were involved with completely different theatrical companies although Marlowe was killed in suspicious circumstances.

guest cast
IAN McSHANE as Christopher Marlowe
ANDRE MORELL as Edward Alleyn
JOHN McENERY as Hamnet Sadler
SIMON ROUSE as Ingram Frizer
JOHN BAILEY as Sir Francis Walsingham
SIMON MacCORKINDALE as Sir Thomas Walsingham
ROBERT O’MAHONEY as Robert Poley
PAUL FREEMAN as Dick Burbage
JOHN NORMINGTON as Alex Cooke
RONALD HERDMAN as Sam Crosse
DEREK ROYLE as William Kempe
MICHAEL HADLEY as Augustine Phillips
RON COOK as Jack Rice
ROGER LLOYD PACK as Jack Heminge
RICHARD CORDERY as Henry Condell
IRENE SUNTERS as Mistress Rice
SHIRLEY CHERITON as Kate
DAVID FOXXE as Tom
GERALDINE MOFFATT as Eleanor Bull
VERA JAKOB as Widow Braxton
ELLIS DALE as Puritan
JOHN LABANOWSKI as Nicholas Skeres
BILLY COLVILLE as The Tailor
IAN GRAY as Constable
ROB INGLIS as Driver of Wool Cart
WILL KNIGHTLEY as Soldier
BRIAN ANDRO as Wire Walker
STROMBOLI as Fire Eater
JOE LONG as Stilt Walker
MICHAEL STANDING as Man in Street
Musicians played by CITY WAITES


Alastair James is the editor in chief for Memorable TV. He has been involved in media since his university days. Alastair is passionate about television, and some of his favourite shows include Line of Duty, Luther and Traitors. He is always on the lookout for hot new shows, and is always keen to share his knowledge with others.

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