Historical ‘situation tragedy’ Blackadder is the brainchild of Rowan Atkinson (Mr. Bean) and Richard Curtis (Notting Hill, Four Weddings and a Funeral). The pair first met and became friends at Oxford University, where they wrote reviews together and performed at the Oxford Playhouse and the Edinburgh Fringe. Ben Elton joined the pair to co-write the scripts.
Atkinson explains their inspiration for Blackadder: “We found that if you set jokes in a very hard and nasty background, the jokes actually become funnier. I love characters that are extreme and larger than life and very peculiar.”
The four series of the Blackadder legacy are each set in a different century…
The Black Adder (series 1)
England 1485. Set during the really dark part of the Dark Ages, the first season chronicles the wickedly funny misadventures of the terminally treacherous Edmund, Duke of Edinburgh (alias The Black Adder). At his side is the never faithful scalawag Baldrick, played by Tony Robinson. The Black Adder’s slimy reign of terror is about to begin in the most gripping sitcom since 1380.
Starring Rowan Atkinson as The Black Adder, with Tony Robinson as Baldrick, Brian Blessed as Richard IV, Tim McInnerny as Percy, Elspet Gray as Queen and Robert East as Prince Harry.
Black Adder II (series 2)
England 1558-1603. The nasty genes of the Blackadder dynasty bubble back to the surface of history as Lord Edmund swaggers around town with a big head and a small beard in search of grace and favor from the stark, raving mad Queen Bess. Accompanied by a small rabble of riff-raff, the black-hearted Baldrick and the pea-brained Percy, the dastardly Lord Blackadder tarnishes the reputation of England’s Golden Age.
Starring Rowan Atkinson as Lord Blackadder, with Tony Robinson as Baldrick, Tim McInnerny as Percy, Miranda Richardson as Queenie, Stephen Fry as Lord Melchett and Patsy Byrne as Nursie.
Blackadder the Third (series 3)
England 1768-1815. A time of great wealth, power and discovery – though not for Edmund Blackadder Esq. The fortunes of the previously aristocratic Blackadder family have slumped and Edmund is now butler and gentlemen’s gentlemen to the mini-brained Prince Regent.
Starring Rowan Atkinson as Blackadder, with Tony Robinson as Baldrick and Hugh Laurie as the Prince Regent.
WORLD WAR 1
Blackadder Goes Forth (series 4)
The Western Front 1917. There’s disorder in the ranks when that numb-headed ninny Captain Blackadder stumbles onto the battlefields of World War One and discovers that people are trying to kill him. When he’s not dodging bullets – not to mention idiots – Blackadder makes a general nuisance of himself. The British may be able to defeat the Germans, but it’s unlikely they’ll ever survive a comic assault by Blackadder.
Starring Rowan Atkinson as Captain Edmund Blackadder, with Tony Robinson as Private Baldrick, Stephen Fry as General Sir Anthony Hogmanay Melchett, Hugh Laurie as Lieutenant The Honorable George Colthurst Saint Barleigh and Tim McInnerny as Captain Kevin Darling.
Classic Blackadder Quotes
Melchett: Blackadder – started talking to yourself, I see.
Blackadder: Yes, it’s the only way I can be sure of intelligent conversation
Blackadder: Baldrick, a chat with you and somehow death loses its sting.
Percy: I’m sorry I’m late.
Blackadder: No, don’t bother apologizing. I’m sorry you’re alive.
Baldrick: Lord Melchett is very sick. He’s at death’s door.
Blackadder: Well, let’s go and open it for him.
Nursie: If you weren’t quite so big, it’d be time for Mr. and Mrs. Spank to pay a short, sharp trip to Bottyland.
Baldrick: Don’t worry, mister B. I have a cunning plan to solve the problem.
Blackadder: Yes, Baldrick, let us not forget that you tried to solve the problem of your mother’s low ceiling by cutting off her head.
Blackadder: Have you ever been to Wales, Baldrick?
Baldrick: No, but I’ve often thought I’d like to.
Blackadder: Well, don’t. It’s a ghastly place. Huge gangs of sinewy men roam the valleys terrorizing people with their close-harmony singing. You need half a pint of phlegm in your throat just to pronounce the place names. Never ask for directions in Wales, Baldrick. You’ll be washing spit out of your hair for a fortnight.
Blackadder: Crisis, Baldrick, crisis! No marriage, no money, more bills! For the first time in my life I’ve decided to follow a suggestion of yours. Saddle Prince George’s horse.
Baldrick: Oh sir, you’re not going to become a highway man, are you?
Blackadder: No, I’m auditioning for the part of Arnold the bat in Sheridon’s new comedy.
Baldrick: Oh, that’s all right then.
Blackadder: Baldrick, have you no idea what irony is?
Baldrick: Yeah! It’s like goldy and bronzy, only it’s made of iron.