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BLACKADDER FAQ

Version 10.0

This FAQ is written to answer the questions that seem to be asked the most often in the alt.comedy.blackadder newsgroup. I make no pretenses of being any sort of expert on this subject, so, the participation of all of the Blackadder fans and readership is important in keeping this FAQ valid and interesting. Any errors or additions should be called to my attention at [email protected]

Thanks,

Gwen Brophy


Contents


1. What is the Blackadder?

The Blackadder is a British Comedy Series starring Rowan Atkinson as the title role. The series spans from the 15th century all the way up to World War I, with some stops in between, and one stop in the future.

One of the most notable things about the series is the acidic tongue, and quick wit, of Edmund Blackadder, and the uncanny way in which he seems to have a hand in important situations of Europe's history--and in the slick way he gets himself into and out of trouble.

He is accompanied through the series by one faithful bondsman, Baldrick, whose intelligence is comparable to that of a cabbage. Their families are interwined in a centuries old relationship of servant and master. You can't help but wonder how the two families managed to reproduce.

Other familiar faces continually pop up over the centuries--such as Lord Flasheart, and Lord Percy Percy. One viewer noted that BlackAdder is to ordinary TV what being a millionaire aristocrat with the sexual capacity of a rutting rhino is to standing in the middle of a pond with a small painted wooden duck on your head.

I think that sums it up beautifully.


2. How many series are there?

There are four series of six episodes each. There is a Christmas Special and a fifteen minute sketch done for charity. According to someone who works at the BBC, there is also a pilot which is similar in plot to 'Born to Be King', further information is available via email.

The series and their episodes, along with episode summaries:

PILOT

It is Europe, 400 years ago. In Spain, war rages, as Christians from every land fight off the threatening terror of Turkish invasion. The French are in uneasy peace. But in England, under the tutelage of a powerful king, the ship of state ploughs a steady course as the court awaits the Queen's birthday and the return of a Scottish hero from the war.

What follows is a similar plot to the second episode 'Born to be King'. The major differences are that the king is present all the time, the play 'The Death of the Scotsman' involves hanging him from a gibbet rather than stabbing him to death.

The difference in cast is only noticeable in two roles, the King and Bladric. A more detailed synopsis is available via email request. A review of the pilot is also available, via email request, from myself or Steve Phillips

The King - John Savident
Baldrick - Philip Fox
Duration: 32' 01"
Recorded at BBC Television Centre Studios, London. Date unknown.
Edited master logged into library on 27 June 1982
Format: 2" PAL Quad videotape.

BLACKADDER I--SET IN 15TH CENTURY (START: 1485)

1-The Foretelling

From out of the swirling mists of the Dark Ages comes a lone horseman with a most ridiculous haircut. It's the ghost of Richard III, back to haunt the hapless prince Black Adder! Co-stars Peter Cook.

2-Born to be King

An orange-faced, kilt-clad Scotsman sends waves of shock through the court of England with his treachery, murder and Scottish dancing.

3-The Archbishop

The landscape is littered with dead Archbishops of Canterbury...and Edmund the Reluctant is next in line for this rather precarious position!

4-The Queen of Spain's Beard

When one of Europe's most eligible princesses is up for grabs, the scheming Edmund tries to lure her into his lascivious clutches.

5-The Witchsmeller Pursuivant

The King contracts a nasty case of the Black Death and blames it on witchcraft. Only one man can sniff out the hocus-pocus--he's the cruel, corrupt and thoroughly incorrigible Witchsmeller!

6-The Black Seal

Forever devious, Edmund hatches a hapless, hilarious plot to dethrone the king...with the help of the Seven Most Evil Men in the Land. Stars Rik Mayall.

BLACKADDER II-SET IN QUEEN ELIZABETH I'S COURT

1-Bells

Served by a dungball in a dress, and accompanied by a bird brained dimwit, Edmund, the great, great grandson of the repulsive original is reasonably normal--until he meets Bob.

2-Head

Edmund, newly-appointed Minister in charge of Religious Genocide and Lord High Executioner finds himself in a wee bit of trouble when he completely ruins Lord Farrow's weekend by cutting off his head.

3-Potato

Blackadder sets out on a quest for new potatoes and to boldly go where Sir Walter "Rather-a-wimp" Raleigh has already gone before.

4-Money

Edmund gets a bit hot and bothered when a baby-eating Bishop drops by unexpectedly and tried to place a red hot poker in places where a cotton swab would be kinder.

5-Beer

An embarrassing incident with a turnip, an ostrich feather and a fanatically puritan aunt lead to a right royal to-do in the Blackadder household.

6-Chains

When Blackadder finds himself up to his chest in iron spikes, he has but one course of action--to play charades with a crazed Spanish interrogator.

BLACKADDER III-SET IN KING GEORGE III'S PALACE

1-Dish and Dishonesty

Blackadder takes on the task of saving his royal master from bankruptcy at the hand of the new Prime Minister. Unfortunately, his attempts to interfere with the democratic process don't quite go according to plan as Baldrick is accidentally elevated to the House of Lords.

2-Ink and Incapability

Dr. Johnson approaches Prince "Thick-As-A-Whale-Omlette" George in an attempt to gain patronage for his new dictionary. Blackadder is at first unimpressed, but when he learns of Johnson's enthusiasm for a novel by a certain "Gertrude Perkins," the royal butler's attitude changes.

3-Nob and Nobility

After the French Revolution, Francophilia and "Scarlet Pimpernalia" are all the rage in England, so Blackadder's intense dislike for anything French seems somewhat out of date. But the lure of money can do strange things to a man's principles, even if it means being thrown into jail to face terrible torture and death.

4-Sense and Senility

The Prince of Wales hires two fopish actors to help him rehearse a speech, but Blackadder has other plans in store for the two impertinent prissys.

5-Amy and Amiability

The Prince is dead broke and no self-respecting princess will marry the randy royal...until Blackadder comes up with a deliciously devious plan.

6-Duel and Duality

Blackadder finds himself in the middle of a raucous duel between the lascivious Prince of Wales and the head-splitting, throat-slitting Duke of Wellington.

BLACKADDER IV-SET IN WWI TRENCHES (FRANCE)

1-Captain Cook

When General Haig unveils a new strategy to move his liquor cabinet six inches closer to Berlin, Blackadder volunteers to be official War Artist.

2-Corporal Punishment

Orders for Operation Insanity arrive and Blackadder breaches regulations by eating the messager--who just happens to be General Melchett's closest boyhood friend.

3-Major Star

The Russian Revolution produces two appalling results--an offensive by Germany and a really offensive Charlie Chaplin impression by Baldrick.

4-Private Plane

German machine guns in front, British firing squads behind and guess who's in the middle? It'll take a better man that Blackadder to escape this prickly predicament. Co-starring Rik Mayall as Lord Flasheart.

5-General Hospital

Ordered to find a spy in the hospital, Blackadder discovers a man with a strong German accent, a beautiful nurse and a chance for three weeks in bed. Co-starring Miranda Richardson as Nurse Mary.

6-Goodbyeee

Millions have died, but the troops have advanced no further than an asthmatic ant with some heavy shopping. Now at last the final big push looms...so, with the help of two pencils and a pair of underpants, Blackadder gets a bit crazy.

BLACKADDER CHRISTMAS CAROL-SET IN VICTORIAN LONDON

Dickens' classic tale of kindness, truth and virtue completely mucked up and ruined by having a member of the Blackadder family involved. Also Baldrick, of course, the man you can rely on to turn Christmas dinner into a dog's dinner, as long as the dog isn't particularly fussy. Stuffed with deeply horrid people (many of whom are gigantically fat) and groaning with cartloads of seasonal bottom jokes, it manages to squeeze in not only a Victorian Blackadder but also his famous Elizabethan, Regency, and Space Age relatives into a huge pie of entertainment that will satisfy all but the most discriminating viewers.

BLACKADDER THE CAVALIER YEARS--SET DURING CROMWELL'S CIVIL WAR (1648)

As a Loyalist during the Civil War, Blackadder must use a cleverly disguised pumpkin to escape the block.


3. Where can I buy them in the US?

CBS/Fox sells them at $19.95, but they are in Suncoast Video for $14.95, and in some Sam Goodys for the same price. They are also available in Virgin Megastores. The first series has been released on videodisk.

You can also write:

Signals
PO Box 64428
St. Paul, MN 55164-0428
for a catalogue, or call 1 (800) 669-9696.

Also, try your local PBS station, which may sell them.

On the WWW, CDNow sells them. The tapes arrive quickly, as I've been told, and all are available. The URL is https://www.cdnow.com.

A&E (and sometimes Comedy Central, I believe) shows the episodes occasionally; however, cuts are made, which, in my opinion, severely hurt the humor of the show. (How can anyone even consider cutting out the Flossie the Sheep joke in the last episode of the second series? Tragic.)

The series is available on audio cassette from Bookpages.

Rowan once did an HBO Comedy Special as well. A copy of this performance is available, through catalogue, from Laughinghouse by calling 1-800-807-9032. The on-line catalogue is now located in the cathouse.org archives. Mr. Bean is also available.


4. What is the chant that the actors say when they hear "MacBeth"?

Personally, I hear "Hot potato, orchestra scores, Puck will make amends." However, in the ftp script, it reads "Hot potato, off his drawers, Puck will make amends."

This is still the subject of debate.


5. Where can I get the transcripts?

The scripts can be found at https://www.people.memphis.edu/~jgwright/bladder.htm


6. What is the name of the Baby Eating Bishop in BA II?

He is the Bishop of Bath and Wells, a bishop of a diocese in England which contains Wells, a city with a huge remarkable cathedral, and Bath, which has an equally impressive Abbey.


7. Is Helen Atkinson-Wood related to Rowan? Is Rowan married?

Helen Atkinson-Wood plays Mrs. Miggins in BA III. There is no proof so far which says she is any relation to Rowan, nor is she his wife.

Rowan Atkinson is married to a woman named Sunetra, and they have had two children.


8. What are the multiple characters played by the actors?

(Note: only those who appeared more than once.)

Rowan Atkinson

Patsy Byrne

Robbie Coltrane

Stephen Fry

Gabrielle Glaister

Hugh Laurie

Miriam Margolyes

Rik Mayall

Tim McInnerny

David Nunn

Miranda Richardson

Tony Robinson

Bill Wallis


9. Where else have some of the actors appeared?

(Rowan Atkinson's list of appearances is available; see #12)

Tom Baker

Chris Barrie

Brian Blessed

Jim Broadbent

Robbie Coltrane

Peter Cook

Adrian Edmundson

Stephen Fry

Simon Jones

Hugh Laurie

Miriam Margolyes

Tim McInnerny

Rick Mayall

Miranda Richardson

Tony Robinson


10. Why isn't Nob and Nobility shown in the US?

There are legal complications due to a trademark law involving the Scarlet Pimpernel.


11. Why can't I buy The Cavalier Years?

The fifteen minute sketch, done orginally for the UK Comic Relief, for Third World aid. It was released on a Comic Relief video; however, it is very difficult to find this tape.

On boxed sets now being sold, the Cavalier Years are included on the end of BAII. There is a stick which announces its inclusion.

The transcript for it is available in the ftp archive listed above. Or, you can contact Melinda Casino, [email protected], for her version, which is slightly different than the one in the archive.


12. Is that Rowan in The Lion King?

Yes, Rowan was the voice of Zazu, the King's Major Domo. Rowan also made an appearance in Four Weddings and a Funeral and Hot Shots: Part Deux. He has made many more appearances, in films, comedy specials and commercials. A complete listing of Atkinson appearances is posted regularly in the alt.comedy.british.blackadder newsgroup. Contact Jeff Mason , [email protected], for details. Or, through the WWW: https://grove.ufl.edu/~jrm/atkinson .


13. What are some of the great quotes from the series?

If this section were a complete list of all of the great quotes, it would be many Ks long. So, in an effort to not waste bandwidth, I will direct you to the quotes page that I found at https://www.cs.princeton.edu/~min/black/quotes.html


14. Will there be a Blackadder the Fifth Series?

No. Read on:

Blackadder Goes Forth Article (posted by Lee Whiteside) [From the Times (London) October 22, 1989]

'...When the fourth series comes to what its co-writer, Richard Curtis, darkly describes as its "very definitive last episode" on BBC1 in two weeks, it is almost certainly the last we will see of the most slippery dynasty since - as Captain Blackadder might have said to Private Baldrick - the incredibly mean Emperor Ting covered his grandchildren in yak grease, pushed them down the Great Wall of China and said he'd bought them a roller coaster for Christmas...

'...Curtis says: "It's possible that we'll all work together again, but we're not likely to meet up two years from now and decide to do something we've already done four times. There were only four gospels, for God's sake."'....


15. What are some of the anachronisms in the series?

Blackadder I

"Archbishop of Canterbury" The series takes place in the 15th century, and chocolate is mentioned, which isn't introduced to Europe until the 1500's.

Blackadder II

"Chains" The last quote of that episode concerns pencils, which are a relatively recent invention.

"Head" Nursie says "Ointment...that's what I gave your sister Mary when they done her" (saying that Mary's head had been cut off.) That Mary was not beheaded.

"Beer" Blackadder mentions sending for the police when Percy says 'hey nonny nonny'. The police weren't around until several centuries later.

Blackadder III

"Ink and Incapability" Samuel Johnson could not have asked George IV for patronage for his dictionary as George didn't become regent until 1811, and Samuel Johnson died in 1784. His dictionary was published in 1755.

Byron, Shelley and Johnson gathering together is also impossible. The men lived and died in different times.


16. Where can I write Rowan Atkinson?

From "Who's Who"
c/o PBJ Management Ltd.
5 Soho Square
London WIV 5DE
England
Tel: 0171-287-1112


17. Where can I find Stephen Fry's homepage?

At https://www.phanton.com/~stephenf


18. Where can I write Hugh Laurie?

You can contact Hugh through his agent: Hugh Laurie
c/o Lorraine Hamilton
19 Denmark St.
London WC2H 8NA
England

19. How can I subscribe to the Blackadder mailing list?

Send mail to [email protected] with one line in the body of your message, reading: SUBSCRIBE BLKADR-L


20. Where can I get the FAQ?

I will send it, by request, via email . It is posted during the first week of every month on the Blackadder newsgroup.

On the WWW:

https://www.pitt.edu/~gmbst15/faq.ba


My thanks to:

  • Jeff Allen
  • Keith Antul
  • Janet Caires-Lesgold
  • Melinda Casino
  • Richard Curnow
  • Chris Divine
  • Polly Esther Fabrique (I did ask.)
  • Leslita Godfrey
  • Graeme Griffiths
  • Peg Haley
  • Robin Halligan
  • Ian John Hense
  • Eugenia Horne
  • Derek Jensen
  • James Kew
  • Ken Kirksey
  • Mathew Lodge
  • Isabelle M.
  • Peter Manning
  • David Mather
  • Kim Meijs
  • Sally Merlin
  • David Morris
  • Chris Noton
  • Mial Pagan
  • Steve Pagano
  • Lindsay Parker
  • Steve Phillips
  • Ramaswamy
  • Steve Roberts
  • Janice Saari
  • Susan Schauppner
  • Suzanne Shacklock
  • William Sommerwerck
  • Ron Speir, Jr
  • Quentin Stafford-Fraser
  • Chris Stockdale
  • Stephen Thomas
  • James Wakefield
  • Ben Wilhite
And all the others, whom I have forgotten unintentionally, or left out, due to my mistakes.

For correcting my errors, making suggestions and commenting on the format of this FAQ. You are appreciated.