Upstart Crow (2016–…): Season 3, Episode 7 - Christmas Special - full transcript

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In faith,
I'm going to say something,

I really am going to say something.

SNORTS

There is a tide in the affairs of
men which, taken at the flood,

leads on to fortune, and I am
definitely going to say something.

HACKS

Definitely.
SPITS

Something needs to be said,
and I'm going to say it.

I'm going to take that something
and give it a blooming good say it.

Er, excuse me, I'm... I'm awfully
sorry, but do you mind?

Done it, said it!
Something was said!

The quiet man roars, the sensible
majority found its voice!

I said that something for England!

Of course, you should've said.
Help yourself, my friend.

Er, yes, thank you, very kind.

SNORTS

Colin's my name.

I travel in... in jingly hats.

It's a big time of year for me,
with Christmas coming, you know.

It's very seasonal, my game.

Oh, God, it gets worse -
we've connected.

He thinks
we're having a conversation.

I'm trapped!

The abyss yawns beneath me.

The gates of hell spring open.

My only hope now is if I die of
gastro from the bastable's chop.

What's your game?

I must not tell him
that I'm a playwright,

for then will he regale me
with jingly hat stories,

ever certain that they're hilarious

and I could use them
in one of my plays.

Think, think...

I'm a playwright.

A playwright!

Oh, I could tell you a few stories.

You will never believe
the hilarious things that happen

in the jingly hat game.

So many funny stories!

I remember one year we were ordering
jingly hats for Christmas,

they only had...

SOLEMNLY: You are sad, my friend.

You mourn your son

and curse whatever God or faith
it was that took him.

What? How?

Your pain has turned to anger,

but only love can heal
a broken heart.

If you know me, stranger,

you must know
that my heart will never heal.

I will tell you a story
to pass the journey.

A timeless tale
for now and every Christmas

about a lonely man

who had let his heart grow flinty,

hard and bitter.

The child was thin and starved...

And they rejected him,

for he loved only money.

Grave yawned open...
Ghost came a-knocking...

"What vision is this, Spirit?"

Fat Christmas goose!

All rejoiced and made most merry.

God bless us, everyone.

Goodness, sir,
that is a wonderful story.

Where did you hear it?
When was it written?

I told you, it is timeless.

Maybe yesterday,
perhaps a thousand years ago,

perhaps it is not written
and will not be for centuries.

Now, that is spooky.

What's spooky?

But you were...

Where's the...?

You fell asleep. I often find
my stories have that effect.

I think it's because
they're so hilarious

that people get a bit overloaded
and they just shut down.

Yes, I expect that's probably it.

Father is here
and 'tis almost Advent.

Last trip home before the holiday.

Did you have a good journey, Dad?

Well, astonishingly -

I might almost say spookily - I did.

Goodness, does that mean
that the long-promised improvements

to public transport
have actually occurred -

more frequent and faster services?

Cleaner, less-crowded coaches?

Compensation paid out promptly
for late arrivals and cancellations?

No, family, it does not. Oh.

Because, in fact, those are not
promises at all, but jokes,

told for the amusement
of Her Majesty's ministers,

wearied by luxury and power.

And like all good jokes,
they will bear constant retelling

and will, I imagine, still be being
told even unto the next millennium.

So how come you did have
a good journey, then, son?

Did you catch the eye
of some slapsome doxy

and play flirty wirty footsie
wootsie winky wonky with her

all the way from Slough to Banbury,

and then actually cop a proper feel

behind the pie shop
in Chipping Norton?

Not that that's ever happened to me.

No, Father, I did not,

but I did hear
a most marvellous Christmas story,

a story of a soul redeemed,

and it made me think that perhaps,
in this Christmas of our sadness,

we... we might redeem
our own souls a little

by doing some good in the world.

How do you mean, Dad?

Well, we have suffered a heavy loss,

and I confess that sometimes,
in my grief,

I have succumbed to anger
and bitter rage at cruel fate.

Me too.

How come little Hamnet was taken

while a wicked old goat like me
is allowed to live?

It ain't fair, makes no sense.

I'd have gone in his place
100 times.

We all would.

But we can't.

Instead, we must try and heal,

perchance through love,
through charity.

You and Mum give quite a bit
to the poor already, Dad.

Yes, daughter, 'tis true.

We... we always take our turnip heads
to the village foodbank

and... and we have our
sponsored leper.

Also, as you know, I have funded
a Cambridge research fellowship

into male pattern baldness.

Although, for the avoidance of
doubt,

I personally am not going bald -

I have shy hair.

DOOR CLOSES

Is that you, husband?

I didn't hear the door.

My mind was wandering.

Yes, my sweet, 'tis I.

Last trip home
before the Christmas hols.

We shan't do a lot this year.
Just church, I think.

I really couldn't do a big feast.

She's not getting any better, Dad.

I mean, we're all grieving,
but Mum is just in bits.

It's like you said, love,

grief fills the room up
of my absent child.

And thus am I resolved.

Family, this Yuletide,

we... we will not focus on the love
that we have lost

but the love that we can make.

This house is filled with sadness,

and so we will spend the season
in London,

where I intend to make of myself

that which begins with what
a good dinner will do for a man,

is followed by the fourth of six,

then that verb that will move
a javelin,

and finally Grandad after about
four o'clock in the afternoon.

Er, what?

Come now, daughter,
a good dinner may fill a man.

The fourth of six is Anne of Cleves.

We throw a javelin...

Fill, Anne, throw...

And Grandad after four each day is?

Pissed!

Exactly, I intend to make of myself
a true philanthropist.

Do you think, son,
as a favour to us all,

you might give up
your linguistical poncing toggling

for Christmas?

Never, Father, for,
as I think you know,

linguistical poncing toggling
is what I do.

The Christmas story has inspired me.

We have only now to find
a soul in need of redemption.

Make haste with those ledgers,
Scratchit.

I am owed many debts
and would collect my monies

or seize the goods and properties
of any who default.

But 'tis Advent already, Mr Greene.

Do you mean to bankrupt family men
at Christmas?

Christmas? Christmas?!

Shame on you, Job Scratchit.

Any man who would hide behind
our Saviour's birth

to renege on his debts
deserves to starve.

God...

God did not send his only son

that oafs and slatterns might gorge
and quaff and rob honest men,

just as no doubt
you'll seek to rob me

of a half day's work
for the same reason.

Well, sir, begging your pardon, sir,

but I was hoping to have
Christmas afternoon off,

so as to make the season full
merrily with my family, sir.

Full merrily, on what I pay you?

And you, with a wife
and six children in the house.

If you are stupid enough to make
merry under those circumstances,

then you deserve your poverty, sir.

We have love, Mr Greene,
that makes us merry.

BELL RINGS
I'll get the door, sir.

Love...

Love!

Can a man eat love?

Will it clothe him
in princely silk and velvet?

Will love buy medicine
for his sick children?

Of course not.

Love is worth nothing.

I will have none of it.

Good day to you, Mr Greene.

Miss Kate,
what business brings you here?

I am come collecting monies

to bring comfort to the needy
this Christmas.

Ha! Ha!

Bah!

Are there no prisons? No poorhouses?
Let the poor go to them.

And if they cannot find a place,
let them die and be quick about it,

and so relieve the surplus
population.

How can you be so mean and nasty?

It's a gift.

Good day.

Can't say I'm looking forward
to Crimble much this year, Botski.

I'm going to skulk about
disguised and cloaked,

because "you're supposed to be dead"

can really constrain
a fella's roistering.

I thought you were pretending
to be your own brother?

Turns out, being a celebrity
relative is a pretty tough gig.

At least it is if you want to party.

Everyone thinks I'm trying to cash
in on my bro's fame.

I mean, how craplington is that?

I suppose Will will be off to
Stratford.

I suppose so. I reckon you're well
out of it - Stratford's so dull.

Yes, remember last year -
it was all a bit quiet. Oh!

Apart, of course,
from Greene turning up with soldiers

and carting me off to the Tower!

What Stratford-on-Avon needs
is some sort of notoriety

or thing of interest
to give it a reason to exist.

Like that's ever going to happen.
Yeah.

Bottom, prepare spare beds
and order extra pie.

I've decided that the whole family

will spend the season in London
this year.

Oh, good thought, that man!
Brilliant!

Yea, let's try and have
a proper party.

I don't know if we could quite
handle a party this year, Kit,

but I have another plan,
if you be willing.

Anything you like, mate,
you know I'm here for you.

And me, I'm here for you, too.

Well, obviously - you're hiding out
in my house rent free, Kit,

and I pay you to be here, Bottom.

Anyway, I was thinking
that what we need this year

is a sense of purpose,

a noble project to help us
rise above our own sorrows

and honour the memory of our son.

I recently heard a lovely story
of Christmas redemption,

and thus do I seek a soul to save.

The only question is, whose soul?

I can't believe it,
I simply cannot believe it,

the man literally has no soul.

He's a monster!

What up, lady? Who's a monster?
Mr Greene.

Greene, Kate? What about him?

What about him?

He is a heartless swine
and a sanctimonious hypocrite,

that's what.

Many a time and oft have we heard

his claims to piety
and a Christian conscience,

and I am here to tell you
that it's all utter...

..utter...

Well, if I am to say
what his claims to piety are,

then, in order to spare my
maidenly blushes,

I must needs do as you do,
Mr Shakespeare,

and resort
to linguistical poncing toggling.

Oh...

God, really, must you?

Yeah, this could take a while,
I'll get more ale.

CLEARS THROAT
Intrigued am I, Kate.

If what you wish to say
of Greene's claims to piety

be indeed too coarse a thought

for a delicate maid to utter,

then by all means must you resort
to linguistical poncing toggling.

Right, in that case,

his claims to piety are

what a bull leaves behind him,
hot and steaming in a field,

but which be not
a deeply satisfied cow.

Ki... kind of feel in this case that
the linguistical poncing toggling

might actually feel a bit ruder

than the phrase you're trying to
toggle your way out of.

You mean he's talking bullshit.

Yes!

He claims the moral high ground,
and yet,

when I asked him for monies for the
poor at Christmas, he said

they'd be better to die
and decrease the surplus population.

Oh, that is grim.

I even heard him muttering
that love was worthless.

What?! That's just potty!

Love is the very reason to be alive,
particularly at Christmas.

Exactly!

And for all I despise Mr Greene
for being a heartless brute

and for talking a lot of
hypocritical, sanctimonious

what a bull leaves behind him,
hot and steaming in a field,

but which be not a deeply satisfied
cow...

..I actually feel sorry for him.

Me too. Sort of.

I mean, it's terrible to be
without love at Christmas.

He is rich and powerful,
and yet his bitter heart

and dead, empty soul make him
poor indeed.

You're right, it is sad,
but I can't worry about him now,

I'm trying to find
a dead, empty soul to save

so that, through such a redemption,

I may make some peace
with my own sad loss.

Hang on. Hang the futtock on!

Christmas in London, such a treat!

We must do our best to enjoy
ourselves. For Hamnet.

I shall perambulate the Dilly

like the gentleman what I am. Oh!

And I shall go into every
single shop on the Strand.

Both of them!

Never forgetting, of course, that
we have in mind a noble purpose.

Er, shopping is a noble purpose,
Dad.

A nobler purpose.

I think he's talking about this soul

he's been banging on about saving,
Mary.

But how are we to do it, love?

Well, we certainly can't do it
alone.

We need a larger cast of characters
than our small family can allow.

Kate will help, she's on her own
again anyway because...

My mother is on yet another
slap-and-ticklish winter break

with her latest bit of saucy
ruffington.

And Kit's up for it,
being at a loose end, having...

Faked my own death
for reasons too dark and disgraceful

to discuss in delicate company.

Bottom...

Does what he's told.

Exactly.

And I think it's fair to say that we
do it because we are your friends,

Mr Shakespeare, and we love you all.

Which is very heart-warming, Kate,

but even we happy band of
brothers and sisters

are not sufficient for the plan
I have in mind,

and thus do I intend
to enlist the services

of Burbage and the acting company.

Oh, ouch! That's going to cost you,
Will.

Christmas rates for luvvie kisses
are arse-watering!

You'll be paying top groat.

I don't intend to pay them at all.

I'm offering an incentive
that no actor can resist.

He wants us to work for nothing?
At Christmas? Outrageous!

Mad outrageous, I ain't doing it.

But, my dear fellows,
you didn't let me finish.

Mr Shakespeare writes
that this is for charity.

Oh! Oh, well, of course that changes
things entirely.

I mean, being an actor,
I do an enormous amount for charity.

Me too. Like, loads.

But ironically, obviously,
keeping my edge.

For instance,
if I was raising money for lepers,

I'd do gags about losing limbs.

So, "Oh, come on,
let's give 'em a hand. Ah!"

"Only a bit of armless fun.
Crr! Ah!"

Which would be deeply offensive.

Possibly, from a lesser comic,

but from a genius like me -

brave, confronting,
taboo shattering!

So...

Shut up, Kempe!

As actors, we all have our causes
about which we feel passionately.

As actors, our charity work
is very important to us.

But we don't like to talk about it.
Oh, absolutely not, heaven forfend.

I hate talking about the enormous
amount I do for charity.

Oh, likewise. Same.

The simple fact is,

I'm too busy doing an enormous
amount for charity

to have time to talk about the
enormous amount I do for charity,

and I make that very clear
to people.

So we are agreed.

We will lend our sublime talents

and the vast wells
of public affection we enjoy

to Will and his charitable
endeavour.

But we won't talk about it.

Definitely not. I intend to make
that very, very clear.

What's the plan, Will?

How are we to redeem this soul,
and whose soul is it anyway?

That of mine own worst enemy, Anne,
a man with the moral compass

of Henry VIII's
marriage guidance counsellor.

Robert Greene.

Dad, he hates your gutlings,
why would you want to help him?

Because, daughter, it is Christmas.

And what is more,

this isn't just about healing
his soul but healing ours.

To give to others
is also to heal oneself.

That, I believe, is the message
of the story the stranger told me.

But what is the story?
What are we to do?

How are we to save this wicked soul?

Well, to begin with, Mr Greene
is shortly to encounter a ghost,

a ghost who will point him
towards the error of his ways.

And how's that going to work?
Do you know any ghosts?

Oh, most definitely.

I... I live with one. Don't I, Kit?

Woo!
OTHERS GASP

And so the story begins.

Right, Susanna, Judith,
you know what to do.

KEYS JINGLE

Oh, sir, will you spare a coin
for a hungry child at Christmas?

Please, sir, it's so cold,
and I have no shoes to wear.

Be off with you before I call the
night's watch. It'll mean we starve.

Well, if you must, you must, child,

and I will do you the service
of not prolonging your suffering

with my hard-earned coppers.

Stingy, grotsome old arse-mongle!

Bah!

Sue, that last line was not
in the script!

I was improvising.

I thought it was brilliant,
aren't you pleased?

Judith, you're the daughter
of a writer.

You of all people should understand

that the last thing a writer ever
wants from an actor, ever,

is improvisation.

Next thing, Sue'll be claiming
she basically wrote the scene.

Well, I sort of did.

My line was definitely the best bit.

How sharper than a serpent's tooth
it is to have a thankless actor.

Don't be a bitter writer, Dad,
it's not a good look.

All writers are bitter, Judy.

We do 90% of the work,

and then the actors get given
the best tables in restaurants.

It's just not blooming fair!

KIT: Will!

Shall we get back to the plan
before Greene lets himself in?

Yes, absolutely, Kit, you're on.

Starve!

What care I if two children starve?

KIT: Greene!

Robert Greene! Do you know me?

Marlowe, can it be you,
with hair as white as snow?

Absolutely, it's me, all right.

Although it's not white,
more a platinum blond.

Be you not dead?

Dead, but not at peace.

I am Marlowe's ghost, condemned to
walk the night in chains

as punishment for being such
a legend of a bad boy while I lived.

I quaffed and gorged
whilst the poor starved,

which was definitely not cool.

Do not make the same mistake,
Greene.

Remember me.

Remember me...

A dream, surely?

Marlowe was dead to begin with,
and yet...

..and yet it was... Marlowe.

A toast, to the successful first act
in the battle to save Greene's soul.

Oh! Uh-uh.

Eh-eh, trying to save Mr Greene's
soul is a fool's errand.

It is like the assegai spear

which breaks in the thick hide
of a raging bull elephant.

Whatever do you mean, girl?

Pointless.

I applaud the vigour of your
imagery, Miss Lucy,
but I cannot agree.

The story the stranger told
showed me that we're all redeemable,

even Robert Greene.

Hm, if you believe that,

then you are like the hunter who
attempts to retrieve

the broken spear from the thick hide
of a raging bull elephant.

Slaughtered? Maimed?

Stupid.

Miss Lucy's probably right, love.

Greene may be even too wicked
to be redeemed.

Well, not by Marlowe pretending
to be a ghost anyway.

Greene'll just think
he ate some bad cheese.

Ah, but there's a lot more to this
idea than Marlowe's ghost.

We've scarcely even started yet.

Now, Kit, you say that when you knew
Greene at university he did love?

Oh, yes, absolutely.

Little Bessie Watkins,
the dean's daughter.

Pretty as a picture.

Then tomorrow night,
Mr Greene will see his Bessie again.

Does she still live?

Afraid she died, mate,

but I've heard she had a daughter.

That'll do.

I'm Ephie Watkins, Mr Shakespeare,

but 'tis said that so alike am I
to my dear mother,

it's almost as if she still lives.

But this is brilliant! Perfect!

And did your mother ever speak
of Robert Greene, Miss Ephie?

He broke her heart.

She loved him and he loved her,
but he loved power and money more.

Well, now you can help us show him
what he lost.

We will conjure up a vision
of a Cambridge Christmas

from long ago,
when Greene was merry and did love.

We will show him his Bessie
in the full bloom of her youth,

thus will he know what he has
sacrificed for greed.

What a wonderful plan!

And the fact that I am absolutely
identical to my mother

in every way makes it perfect.

Exactly, you can really show
Mr Condell how to play her.

He's waiting in the antechamber.

Oh, Mr Condell?

Miss Ephie, it will be an honour
to play your mother.

Now, I take my character research
very seriously

and shall study your every glance
and gesture.

See, I have your smile already.

I will also commission
a new set of coconuts,

the better to match your own.

Um, Mr Shakespeare,

can't help feeling like
we're missing a trick here.

As I mentioned, I am actually
identical to my mother.

Such delicate beauty.
Isn't she exquisite?

So maybe kind of...
I should play her.

Bitch!

Money...

Fame...

Power!

Lucky you can pick a lock, Botski.

Ah, I've got a lot of skills
I've not shown you, master.

Yes, not least cooking a decent pie
and sweeping the floor efficiently.

You can't be nice even at Christmas,
can you?

I am being nice, just not to you.
I'm saving a soul.

Ah, Miss Ephie, you look marvellous.

Mr Kempe,
ready to give us your young Greene?

Neh, zneh, bah, Bacon And Bungay.

Just keep your back to him
and say nothing.

This is all about Miss Ephie.

Do you think I should kiss her?
I reckon I should kiss her.

Since we're sweethearts,

I should definitely kiss her.

May I remind you, Kempe, that this
is a safe-space work environment

with a rigid code of practice
on harassment?

Even if I claim later
it was done ironically

and in a spirit of banter?

Touch me once and you'll be wearing
your scroting sac as a cravat.

So no kiss, then?

Probably better, leave it in the
subtext.

Mr Condell, you ready?

I suppose so, although I'm still not
happy

about having to play
the Ghost of Christmas Past

while you give the leading female
role to an amateur,

and worse - a real girl!

I've told you, Mr Condell,
Bessie is just a support part.

The ghost is the lead female role.

But why must I wear this childish
wig and silly dress?

It's most unflattering!

It's not a silly dress,
it's a 14th-century nightgown.

You wear it and the childish wig
because you're a ghost,

and it is an absolute rule of every
age that, unless otherwise stated,

all ghosts are represented

by spooky little girls
dressed in antique night attire.

Don't know why, just is.

Now get out there and get haunting.

HIGH-PITCHED:
Mark me, Mr Greene, mark me.

What? Who are you, child?

What want you with me?

I am the Ghost of Christmas Past,

come to show you the shadows
of what has been.

WHISPERS: And action.

Another Cambridge Christmas, ha-ha!

Let all be merry, for I am master
here,

and I demand good ale,
good vittles and good cheer for all.

Do you recognise this place?

'Tis mine old college.

And is that fezzie bezzie
tezzie wezzie wig my old master?

The light is dim,
it's hard to see it,

but, oh, how I wish 'twere true,
such fun I had.

And what do you see now, Mr Greene?

Why...

Is it?

Can it be my Bessie?

How beautiful, how exquisite!

Personally, I'm disappointed.

No character, no depth.

WHISPERS: Stick to the script,
Condell.

But it's such a shame,
and I'd so wanted her to be good.

See now,
who is it sweet Bessie spurns?

Be gone, you miserable miser.

Good day.

Why, 'tis mine own younger self.

She weeps.

My Bessie weeps.

Bessie has rejected you
because you were cruel.

You lost her through your greed.

Well, actually,
little bit more to it than that,

very much faults on both sides.

I mean, I'll admit she did complain
about me being ambitious,

but I honestly think
it was all about her

wanting me to focus on her.

She was quite clingy like that,
little bit needy,

which at first I found endearing,

but eventually became really
suffocating.

Yeah, I mean, she'd be jealous
if I went out with my mates,

and she was always asking me

what I was thinking,
which... which I hated.

I mean, if she was angry about
something,

instead of just having it out,

she'd go into these long sulks,
which was really draining.

Better wind it up, Mr Condell.

Yes, he is rather hogging
the action.

The night grows dark,
the vision fades,

look you last upon
your beloved Bessie

and consider what you have lost.

Mm, no, I honestly think
splitting up was the right thing.

We could've gone on torturing
each other for a year or two,

but it was never going to work
long term.

Hm!

Anyway, a great gig, I think.
We've definitely given him a scare.

And the Ghost of Christmas Present
should really shake him up.

Yes, er, what's the plan for that,
Will?

Creating some half-glimpsed dreams
of the past

was possible with smoke and mirrors,

but I can't see us pulling that off
for Christmas Present.

W-We won't need to create anything
this time -

the present is all too real.

Greene will witness the poverty
of his own employee,

his scrivener, Job Scratchit.

Mr Shakespeare, I really must
protest against

this appalling business of using
real people instead of actors.

Yes, it's very worrisome, Will.
Where will it end?

Will there be a day when actors
are surplus to requirement

to the entertainment industry?

I've gone all cold.

A day when lush and expensive
dramatic productions are forsaken

in favour of some form
of reality entertainment?!

I admit, Burbage, that, as a writer,
I-I do see the danger,

but what if one day people gave up
on tragedies and comedies

in favour of simply watching groups
of real people interacting

in various locations?

Ah, that's never going to happen,
Mr Shakespeare.

I hope you're right, Miss Lucy.

There'd have to be at least the
semblance of some extra idea

to justify the exercise.

Oh-ho, pretending they all have
to survive in a jungle together,

for instance,

or six pouting tarting slaps
and six strutsome humping knaves

roistering together
on a sun-kissed island.

Actually, you know,
I think that could work.

Money, power...

Being chased...

I'm falling!

Taking an exam naked...

BOOMING: Wake up, Greene.

And the compliments of the season!

LAUGHS
Another spirit come to haunt me?

'Tis I, the Ghost of Christmas
Present,

destined to live but one day,

but such a day!

Come, Greene, we're off to a party!

CHUCKLES

Why, this is the home of
my scrivener, Job Scratchit.

They seem so happy. Such peace and
contentment on their faces,

and yet their fire is meagre
and their shelves so bare.

How can they be happy
when they are so poor?

It defies logic.

Surely only money can bring
happiness.

Look.

Such joy, husband, such happiness.

It is Christmas time
and we're all together.

Aye, wife, we are poor,
but we have love.

And tomorrow I shall order a fat
sparrow for our Christmas feast.

A sparrow! A whole one?

Yes!

I've been saving up all year,

and seasoned with the love that
we shall each bring to the table,

it will taste like
the finest goose. Oh!

Mother, Father,
it all looks so beautiful.

Tiny Todge, you should be in bed.

I'm too excited thinking about
Christmas.

Are we really to have
a whole sparrow?!

Yes, Tiny Todge,

with half a potato
and eight peas each, too.

Then God bless Mr Greene,

for without the coppers
he pays Father,

we could not afford such a feast.

Yes, God bless Mr Greene,

for he has no love in his heart,

so we must wish him
a little of ours.

I'm finding these Scratchits
a bit pukesome.

Yes, I will admit,
I did find the similar family

in the stranger's story
to be a tad on the gooey side.

I think if I ever write this up,
I'll tone them down a bit.

No, let the Scratchit family
stand forever as a symbol

of simple faith and kindness.

You don't think maybe just an edge
of social realism?

Make the mum a depressive,
the dad an alcoholic,

the whole family locked in
a cycle of poverty and dysfunction.

It's Christmas, Mr Shakespeare,
keep it sugary.

Tell me, Spirit,
will Tiny Todge live?

I see an empty chair

and an unused crutch
leaning in the corner.

Can no-one help him?

Are there no prisons?

Are there no poorhouses?

If Tiny Todge is like to die,

then better surely he does it now

and decreases the surplus
population.

You turn my words against me,

the very words I used...

God's bodykins, I smell a trick!

Those words are exactly the ones
I spoke to the girl Kate,

Shakespeare's friend,

when she came collecting alms.

And yet, this spirit claims
to have been born but this morning.

And what is more,
this spirit seems familiar.

The voice, the girth...

Can it be?

I will test him.

Spirit, 'tis a goodly thing you do,
walking the night a-saving souls.

A goodly charitable thing.

Perchance you do an awful lot
for charity?

Well, yes, I do, actually,
but I don't like to talk about it.

Ha, discovered! He is an actor.

This spirit is none but Burbage,

who, like the girl Kate,
is also Shakespeare's friend.

I smell a trick,
a trick that began with

yet another
of Shakespeare's friends,

Marlowe, who rumour has long had it
still lives.

Ah, the Crow seeks to gull me
with tricks.

Well, the gull shall gull
the guller.

Spirit, can I expect another ghost
to visit tomorrow night,

on Christmas Eve?

You will, Greene, and mark him well,

for 'twill be the most terrifying of
all.

Remember me.

Remember me...

I will remember you, Mr Burbage,

when I expose this trickery.

I will remember you all!

Right, this is the big one,
the final ghost.

In the story the stranger told me,

the antihero is shown a vision
of the future. Oh!

An old man has died but none mourn
him, all despise his memory.

Dad, you will play
the nasty old undertaker.

And, Mum,

his wicked, avaricious wife.

Woo!

Anne, you are the landlady,

stealing the pennies
from the corpse's eyes.

Mr Condell and Burbage, you are
sneering neighbours come to gloat.

Gloat! Sue and Judy,
children come to laugh.

And, Mr Kempe, you will play
the final spirit of all,

the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come.

Top-billed ghost, obviously, so...

Mm, money,

gold, title...

And yet, I only pretend to sleep.

I will make them rue the day

they ever thought to make a fool
of Robert Greene.

DOOR RATTLES
Hark, the fools assemble.

Right, Kempe, do your stuff.

Greene, Robert Greene,

I am the Ghost of Christmas
Yet to Come.

Now will I leap up
and confront them.

Oh, Spirit, let me see thee!

Robert Greene! Mark me!

I am the Spirit of Christmas
Yet to Come,

here to show you shadows

of the future,

shadows of pain and sorrow.

No, be gone, Spirit!

Do not haunt me so. Be gone!

I beg you! Do not torment me!

Spare me these visions of horror.

Blimey, it's going even better
than I thought!

Come, come with me.

I will show you visions
of that which is yet to be.

I think he's fainted.

Job done, I reckon.

Let us hope Greene awakes
a better person.

ALL: Merry Christmas, one and all.

Yes, a quiet one this year, I think,
but merry Christmas just the same.

Aye, wife, and we shall have our
feast just as Hamnet would wish.

DOOR RATTLES
In fact, I hear Bottom now

with our goose,
the biggest in the shop.

Oh! Master!

I couldn't get the biggest goose
in the shop cos - guess what? -

Robert Greene had been earlier
and nabbed it.

And you'll never guess why.

We've gotta get round to the
Scratchits', come on!

'Tis but a sparrow
but cooked with love.

So God bless us, one and all.

Ah, thank goodness I am not
too late!

Too late for what, Mr Greene?

Why, to bring you
a happy Christmas. Oh!

Here be roasted goose,

and monies for your comfort,

and medicine and care
for Tiny Todge.

Goodness, Mr Greene! Are you ill?

No, I am cured,

for I have seen the future,

and I must change it.

What future did you see?

A spirit took me there,

the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come.

He showed me a bare room
with a coffin, but none mourned it.

All who had gathered
did despise the deceased.

They cursed his memory
and called him cruel.

Blimey! Our little tableau
really did work well.

I mean, frankly, I'm gobble smacked.

Such a sad scene, Mr Greene,

but who was this figure
who none did mourn?

I will tell thee,
good Mrs Scratchit.

First, the spirit took my hand
and guided me forward.

With him were two starving children
who had leapt from a yawning grave.

Their names were Hunger and
Ignorance.

We be finer actors than I thought!

Yes, we do seem to have conjured
a rather more complex image

than we actually presented.

Ha, great acting, see?

It's not what you do,
it's what you don't do.

And thus did I know

that I must make amends

and bring you a happy Christmas.

Just this year, obviously,
there's no point going mad.

And so,
God bless you all and Tiny Todge.

Brilliant, what a result.

It actually worked.

We did it, husband.

On this, our saddest of Christmases,

we did a bit of good
in a cruel world.

Yes, I... I think we did.

Come on, dinner won't eat itself.

I'm glad we came back here

for the last ten days of Christmas,
husband.

Life goes on,

and you have a wonderful story
to steal for next Christmas.

Although, frankly,
I think I'd change the kid's name.

I mean, Tiny Todge... Really?

Well, interestingly,

in the stranger's tale,
the boy's name was Tiny Tim.

Oh, that's definitely much better.

Pretty pukesome either way,
if you ask me.

But not my problem because, in fact,

I've decided
that I will not write this story.

Why not, love?
I think it's a cracker.

I have profited from it enough.

We've all healed a little,

which I believe is what the stranger
hoped when he told me it.

Besides, if I'm honest,
it's not really me.

Not enough baffling minor characters

and bewildering subplots
for my taste.

And frankly, I find the complete
absence

of any cross-dressing
very disappointing.

So I... I think I'll leave it.

Perhaps in some other age,

another great English writer,

though not as great as me,
obviously,

will be searching for
a Christmas story,

and the stranger will visit him.

Let that future writer have it
from me, as a Christmas gift.

Well, merry Christmas, husband.

Merry Christmas, wife.

God bless us... every one.