Picture of Bill Shakespeare wo died in 2021 with an image of his namesake William Shakespeare who died in 1616.
Bill Shakespeare pictured with his namesake. Photograph by Garry Corbett.

When a world famous dramatist dies, the news goes round the world. And when the first man to get a Covid jab dies, that also goes round the world. When they have the same name, it’s asking for trouble – which happened when William ‘Bill’ Shakespeare died in a Coventry hospital at the end of May.

Bill Shakespeare was the second person (and first man) to get the anti Covid jab last December. He was in hospital as the mild stroke he had suffered earlier in 2020 went un-diagnosed until much later. He died from the developing symptoms of the stroke not Covid.

When the story reached Argentina a newsreader on the Channel Canal 26 named Noella Novillo announced:

 “We’ve got news that has stunned us all given the greatness of this man. We’re talking about William Shakespeare and his death. As we all know, he’s one of the most important writers in the English language – for me, the Master. Here he is (footage of Bill Shakespeare getting the Pfizer jab) He was the first man to get the coronovirus vaccine. He’s died in England at the age of 81.”

Alas this Shakespeare was a parish councillor for Allesley in Coventry, the dramatist from Stratford died in 1616. As the news department fell about laughing, Miss Novillo realised her mistake and wrote on her social media feed:

I had a few seconds on the station yesterday but I’m taking this moment to do so on my social media. I simply want to say sorry and ask you to forgive me. Anyone can make a mistake and here I am to own up to my fall.”

Forgiven Ms Novillo, and thanks for giving us something to laugh about from the coronovirus disaster (although of course as Brian Homer notes below it was no laughing matter for Bill’s family and friends). And a chance for headline writers to make jokes about a Comedy of Errors, which the London Times promptly did.

Trevor Fisher

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Another View: No Laughing Matter

I knew Bill from the jazz scene where he was a prolific attender and photographer of gigs mainly in the Midlands but also at events like the Scarborough Jazz Festival. His death was very sad for his family and friends including those in the jazz scene including the people he used to drink with at the Wellington pub in Birmingham before gigs and at other times. The “Wellingtonians” who include fellow photographer Garry Corbett, who took the picture of Bill, will miss him dearly. Brian Homer