1. The Odd Couplet
It's 1591 and Kit Marlowe is writing for Henry, Earl of Sussex. Henry is the ideal patron: generous, but too intimidated by Kit's wild ways to make demands. Unfortunately there are distractions. His new roommate Thomas Kyd complains if his papers are disturbed, rebuffs Kit's advances and refuses to laugh at the joke about the one-legged scrivener. Meanwhile, Henry's daughter-in-law Bridget seems to find her fiancé less interesting than the two playwrights. Between attractive young men finding him annoying and annoying young women finding him attractive, Kit barely has time to put quill to paper. Then a letter arrives from Thomas Walsingham indicating greater distractions lie ahead, because Kit Marlowe is a SECRET AGENT!
Guest starring Kate Hudson as Bridget the teenage playwright groupie.
2. The Matter of their Majesties
Kit decides that spying is interfering with his writing, but can he bear to give up the secret agent life altogether? Kit thinks back to a time when he tried to tell Francis Walsingham that he wanted to leave the secret service, only to become involved in the most famous piece of espionage in the sixteenth century: The Babington Plot.
Guest starring Geoffrey Rush as Francis Walsingham.
Kit Marlowe has a brilliant idea for a new play, but the dénouement requires an actor to walk on water. Kit's attempts to fake the famous miracle are seen as an affront to the gospels and land him in a lot of hot water, but a real miracle on its way, when Thomas Kyd begins to return Kit's advances…
Guest starring, Ben Affleck as Richard Baines.
4. The Kid from Stratford
A hot new playwright's hit the London scene! / A moaning Greene proceeds to slag him off. / That's all it takes to get our boys on side. / It's Greene and Nash against Kit, Kyd and Will / defending decasyllabic new verse. / Meanwhile Kit has to foil a papist plot / by visiting a house of ill-repute. / (This episode is written in blank verse.)
Introducing Joseph Fiennes as William Shakespeare.
5. Necessity's Child
John Dee's letter tiles were supposed to be a method of divination, but they've found their way to the Mermaid Tavern and soon London's playwrights have invented an addictive new word game. Wagers are placed and tempers run high. Cheating outrageously, Kit and Will have to invent more and more words so as not to lose the game...
Guest starring, Stephen Fry as John Dee.
6. Tobacco and Boys
"All they that love not tobacco and boys be fools." But can Kit give up tobacco for long enough to win a wager? Fellow spy, Richard Baines begins to suspect Kit's loyalties and the playwrights panic as an outbreak of plague in London threatens to close the theatres.
Guest starring, Ben Affleck as Richard Baines.
7. Touch Not This Cat
London is wracked by plague, but Will Shakespeare has found employment writing poetry for Lord Wriothesley. When Kit receives a letter from a panic stricken Will saying that there is a plot to murder him, Kit hurries to the scene only to be confronted by... Lord Wriothesley 's cat?
Guest starring Hugh Laurie as Lord Wriothesley.
8. Write What You Know
Kit Marlowe – master of disguise becomes the world's first method poet when his attempts at describing a pastoral idyll all lead to writes block. Irritable sheep and bad weather leave Kit thinking the countryside's a waste of time... until he meets an attractive young shepherd with dangerous Catholic sympathies.
Guest starring, Jonathon Rhys Meyers as The Shepherd.
9. Dead Poets Society
Meeting at night by the graves of dead poets to discuss forbidden atheist theory is a dangerous pleasure for Kit Marlowe. Having finally convinced Kyd to join the 'School of Night' are they about to be discovered? Who is spying on the spy? Jealous literary rivals or fellow agent Richard Baines?
Guest starring, Clive Owen as Sir Walter Raleigh.
10. Going Dutch
Kit and Baines are sent to Holland to investigate a plot to kill the Queen and put Lord Strange on the throne. The mission involves a great deal of waiting around, and Kit passes the time by befriending a young soldier with literary aspirations from the nearby garrison. Baines disapproves of the liaison and when Kit gets them involved in a counterfeiting operation, Baines decides to turn Marlowe over to the authorities.
Guest starring, Christopher Eccleston as Ben Jonson.
11. A Canterbury Tale
Kit escapes the counterfeiting charge and travels to Canterbury to visit his father, only to be arrested again, this time for assault. Kit reflects on how his life has changed since leaving Canterbury to go to university. Then word comes that Kyd has been found with some of Marlowe's papers and arrested.
Guest starring, Geoffrey Rush as Francis Walsingham.
Kyd succumbs to torture and names Marlowe as the owner of the papers. As Kit's fate grows ever bleaker, plans are laid to help him flee the country, but a violent argument at the house of the Widow Bull leads to his death before he can make his escape. OR DOES IT?
Guest starring Kate Winslet as Aphra Behn
1. Is the tobacco thing remotely plausible? I realise that tobacco would have been a madly expensive luxury good back then and acquiring a habit in the first place would have been difficult, but on the other hand we have... Well we have the 'tobacco and boys' quote and we have me wanting twitchy!cold-turkey!Marlowe.
2. I know there's a lot of support for the 'Strange as Kyd's patron' theory, but I prefer the Sussex one because it gives us Bridget the playwright groupie. I think something like four or five different authors dedicated stuff to her in the years after Marlowe's death, so she obviously took an interest. And we get Strange in later anyway, through the Dutch episode. Is this okay with everyone? Also any thoughts on the casting? Kate Hudson would be amusing, but there aren't any pics of her in period dress. I'd say Kate Winslet, but I want her for Aphra Behn...
3. The preface to my Collected Poems of Ben Jonson says that he was a soldier in Holland at the same time as Marlowe was there. My Marlowe biography says there was a garrison near where he and Baines were staying. That's good enough for me.
4. I want Deptford to end with a tiny teaser of Aphra Behn meeting with the supposedly-dead Marlowe on the continent. You don't actually see Marlowe, you just see Aphra's eyes widen in shock and then the credits cut in.
5. Can anybody correct my timeline? I think it's mostly right, but (perhaps understandably) none of the biographies I've read contain enough detail to plot a TV show by. If we're going for accuracy there's no way we can have Shakespeare and Francis Walsingham on the show at the same time. Would y'all rather throw accuracy to the winds or are you okay having the secret agent stuff be mostly Marlowe and Baines with Walsingham just showing up in the flashbackpaloozas in eps 2 and 11?
6. I am all about the foreshadowing humour. As well as Jess's idea about Marlowe's papers getting mixed up in Kyd's things I also really want something like the following exchange...
Kyd: Would you like to hear Greene's take on Tamburlaine?
Kit: I'd rather stab myself in the eye.
And after reading the bit in Kyd's confession where he says Marlowe had threatened to move to Scotland, I also really want a Fringe joke.
Kit: If it's that bloody cat again, I'm moving to Scotland.
Will: Not much demand for plays in Edinburgh...
Suggestions? Comments? Volunteers to write the first episode?