Will Shakespeare is desperate to make a good impression with the College of Heralds so he can get his family a coat of arms and finally make the Shakespeares posh. The only problem is that his deadly rival Robert Greene is the Master of Heralds. But when a dashing African Prince comes to town by the name of Otello, Will suddenly sees a way to make a favourable impression amongst the gentry.
Meanwhile, Otello has made a very favourable impression on the heart of Will's friend Kate and the stage seems to be set for Robert Greene to stir up a little jealousy.
Will is off to Stratford to get some serious writing done, but when Simon Hunt, his terrifying old school teacher, invites himself to stay, Will is unable to say no even though his presence stirs up some pretty awful memories of the classroom. Meanwhile, Marlowe and Greene are also up in Warwickshire hunting for a Roman Catholic spy. Could there be any connection with Hunt? Will's mum Mary certainly hopes so - she has never quite stopped believing in the church of Rome - but his dad certainly doesn't. Will finds himself having to juggle the presence of Catholic-hunters and a possible Catholic spy and keep himself and his own family safe from being burned at the stake for heresy, while simultaneously coming up with a play about any king called Henry. All in all, it turns out to be quite a challenge...
Will Shakespeare finds himself tricked by his evil nemesis Robert Greene into writing a blood-soaked tragedy for a nobleman who only really likes romances set in exotic foreign locations. Suddenly Will needs to write a whole new play and he's all out of ideasandhellip;
Meanwhile, Marlowe is taking Italian lessons from Kate, and they seem to have developed something of a soft spot for each other. Back in Stratford, is Will's suggestion of dressing up as a boy really the best way for his daughter Susannah to get close to the boy she fancies?
Will Shakespeare takes it badly when everybody tells him his new play about two sets of identical twins separated at birth and given the same names is rather far-fetched, until he hits on a sure fire way to stop any audience minding when the plot gets really ridiculous - make it a musical.
In fact, he's going to make it the first ever musical. And to really guarantee a hit he wants to use the songs of Thomas Morley, a rocking, rolling, madrigal-composing, tax-avoiding Tudor music legend.
Back in Stratford, Will's dad John is determined to get Will to use his new-found writing fame to make the Shakespeare family properly posh, which turns out to be rather a big ask.
In Ben Elton's Shakespearean sitcom, Will is thrilled with his new play The Taming of the Shrew in which a bright and strong-minded young woman is crushed and humiliated into submission by the man in her life.
For some reason Kate is less than impressed, and back in Stratford his wife Anne isn't convinced either. Will thinks the solution is to try out a bit of 'taming' on his very stroppy teenage daughter Susannah. But it turns out what works in a play doesn't always work out quite so well when it comes to real life.
Romeo and Juliet is finally finished, and the only problem is now who will play the young lovers. Burbage and Condell see themselves in the title roles of course, but is there a polite way for Will to tell them they may no longer look like young teenage lovers?
Kate would give anything to take to the stage, but she can't possibly be Juliet as she's a girl, and lady-acting is illegal in Tudor England.