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The Black Adder: The Archbishop (BBC-1 29 Jun 1983, with Leslie Sands)



The Black Adder The Archbishop

The year is 1487 and the land is rife with dead Archbishops of Canterbury. The gullible Harry and the not-at-all-gullible Edmund discuss the tragic demise of Archbishop Bertram — struck by a falling gargoyle while swimming off Beachy Head — and poor old Archbishop Wilfred who slipped and fell backwards on to the spire of Norwich Cathedral.

These, plus the sad accident of the Archbishop killed by a subject who rushed towards him with his head bowed to receive a blessing but completely forgot that he was wearing a spiked helmet, mark the job down as one of limited appeal. Thus Edmund is less than thrilled to learn that he, and not Harry, will be the next Archbishop of Canterbury.

In the meantime, Baldrick outlines the four major profit areas for the Church — curses, pardons, relics and selling the sexual favours of nuns. ‘Who would pay for sex with nuns?’ demands an incredulous Edmund. ‘Foreign businessmen,’ says Baldrick, ‘…other nuns.’ Baldrick has pardons for everything from talking with your mouth full to murder, adultery or dismemberment of a close friend or relative. He also does a nice line in relics, including coffee tables, pipe racks, coat stands and cheese boards — all apparently made by Jesus in his days as a carpenter. Perhaps the job has its good points after all.

Prince Harry
Harry (Robert East) is everything his brother Edmund is not. Where Harry is honourable, Edmund has the morals of a polecat on heat. Where Harry is wise, Edmund is merely devious. Where Harry is kindly, Edmund has more venom than a Miss Rattlesnake pageant. Where Harry is brave, Edmund is yellower than a banana-eating canary in a fluorescent jacket. Where Harry is trusting, Edmund trusts no-one. And where Harry is as straight as a Roman road, Edmund is as crooked as a Roman nose.

production details
UK / BBC One / 1×30 minute episode / Broadcast 29 June 1983

Series: The Black Adder Episode 3 of 6

Rowan Atkinson as Edmund
Tony Robinson as Baldrick
Tim McInnerny as Lord Percy
Elspet Gray as The Queen
Brian Blessed as The King, Richard IV
Robert East as Prince Harry
David Nunn
Arthur Hewlett
Russell Enoch (William Russell)
Leslie Sands
David Delve
Bill Wallis
Joyce Grant
Bert Panaby
Roy Evans
Carolyn Colquhoun