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The Black Adder: The Queen of Spain’s Beard (BBC-1 7 Jul 1983, with Miriam Margolyes)



The Black Adder The Queen of Spain's Beard Miriam Margolyes

It is 1492 and Europe is in disarry. But a hooded Edmund thinks his luck is in when a beautiful lady tells him: ‘The castle of my body is yours by right of conquest. Come, let your tongue dive into the moat of my mouth and let your hands take possession of the ramparts of my plumpies.’ When he finally reveals his true identity, she says she thought it was his brother.

Harry gets all the women — he is currently engaged to eight. But the King also needs Edmund to marry in order to secure an alliance with Spain. His bride will be the Infanta Maria. Edmund tries to prove himself a man of the world by passing off dog bites as love bites but one glimpse of the Infanta is enough to send him running back to the kennels. For whereas most Spanish ships are named after women, the Infanta’s looks suggest that she was named after a ship.

Baldrick has a plan. If Edmund passes himself off as a gay young blade, the engagement will surely be off. But when she sees Edmund posing as an effeminate dandy, Maria merely thinks he’s dressed as a Spaniard to impress her. She is truly smitten. Baldrick points out there is one consolation – at least Edmund can be sure that his future wife will be a virgin. In a desperate attempt to wreck the forthcoming nuptials, Edmund forces Baldrick to sleep with her, but the King says it doesn’t matter — only one of the happy couple has to be a virgin, and Edmund fits the bill nicely. Besides, the King knew the Infanta wasn’t a virgin and had ensured that the dowry had been reduced accordingly. Luckily for Edmund, with the awful moment of having to kiss the bride fast approaching, history dicates an alliance with Hungary instead.

The Baldrick of this original Black Adder series is nowhere near as disgusting or stupid as his descendants. Played, as in the later series, by Tony Robinson, he exudes a certain charm and his cunning plans are actually quite cunning…and effective. You might not want to win him on Blind Date, but he is considerably more intelligent than Percy (as indeed are most of the human population). Nor is Baldrick yet the home for every unsociable habit known to mankind (plus quite a few from the animal kingdom). In fact, one suspects that there is more going around in his head than lice. He knows his place in the great scheme of things and that is to come up with ideas which Edmund will then claim as his own. It is very much a master/dog relationship except that in this series Baldrick is more well-groomed labrador than scurvy-ridden mongrel.

Guest Star Miriam Margolyes
By 1983, Miriam Margolyes (who plays the Infanta Maria) was already a well-established character actress, specialising in playing decidedly offbeat women. She went on to become a Blackadder regular, playing Lady Whiteadder in Blackadder II and Queen Victoria in Blackadder’s Christmas Carol.

production details
UK / BBC One / 1×30 minute episode / Broadcast 6 July 1983

Series: The Black Adder Episode 4 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
Natasha King (Leia),
Howard Lew Lewis
Jane Freeman
David Nunn
Miriam Margolyes as Infanta Maria
Jim Broadbent as Don Speekinglish
John Rapley
Willoughby Goddard
Bert Parnaby
Roy Evans
Stephen Tate
Kenny Wells
Richard Mitchley
Harriet Keevil