From Bill to William

“It is 1593, a time of War and plague, but mostly War. Queen Elizabeth I’s Army and the weather have seen off King Philip II of Spain’s Armarda, but mostly it was the weather.”

Bill’s opening credits immediately sets the tone. Meanwhile Queen Elizabeth is arranging to divest King Philip II of his treasures and who better to do this on her behalf than a man who knows how to make an entrance?

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The guard are watchful until they’re not, taken out by a skilful swordsman. He is past them and scampers across the floor like the Pink Panther. He spreads his cloak in the manner of Batman or perhaps Professor Snape and faces another guard who cannot get his weapon out to defend himself in time. The Queen’s most loyal takes pity on the useless guard and head-butts him into unconsciousness. In Horrible Histories fashion, you hear the thud of the heads. Nevertheless the Valiant and Bold and not a little sexy Sir Richard Hawkins leaves the guard prone on the floor and continues on his quest. Through a doorway and now the jewels are in his sight and seconds later in his grasp.

Out of the shadows comes “Phil?” King Philip II is less than impressed at being addressed by his enemy as ‘Phil’. He is even less impressed that his presence does not inspire fear in Sir Richard Hawkins, but pure cheek. They have a chat as heroes and villains are want to do when discussing the villain’s dastardly plans. King Philip calls Sir Richard “a pain in the bum hole”. Sir Richard having had enough of their conversation decides it is time to leave and is about to supplement showing us how to make a good entrance by showing us how to make a good exit. King Philip II asks him “Have you forgotten the first rule of espionage?” Sir Richard replies “No. Always hide in plain sight.” He trails off having just realised. Unfortunately it seems that Sir Richard has on this occasion been too cocky. King Philip II had one of his men hidden in plain sight within the room (disguised as a statue) and as Sir Richard turns around in time to see a weapon about so smash into his forehead all we hear is “bugger”. Sir Richard is now a hostage to be used to force the Queen’s hand and is imprisoned.

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Bill : Comedy for Kings and Kids Alike

Anything that can render history and literature accessible to the masses plus get children excited about learning is a winner in my book. Combine that with cameo appearances by Damian Lewis and Helen McCrory and what you’ve got is a must-see treat.

The comedy, Bill, put together by the folks who do the BBC series Horrible Histories, comes to screens today, September 18, in the UK. The film imagines what may have happened during William Shakespeare’s “Lost Years”, the time during which he transformed from a married father of three in bucolic Stratford to the greatest dramatist of all time in London.

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