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TV: B is for...


SIMILING SITCOM beloved of Radio Times, and Only Good Thing in the career of Richard Curtis. For four series Blackadder (ROWAN ATKINSON) plus enduring cohorts Baldrick (TONY ROBINSON) and the other ones (usually played by a combination of TIM MCINNERY, STEPHEN FRY and HUGH LAURIE) brought “alternative” comedy to the mainstream. Words such as “wibble” and “Bob” were designated as funny and viewers were introduced to a legion of unseen but appositely named characters who happened to live in pertinently monikered houses, situated in relevantly titled streets based in aptly appelated towns (i.e. Thicky McThick of Thicky Manor Thickstreet, Thickton). The programme was just good enough to transcend the annoying fact that people who shouldn’t like it, did; but by its fourth series, BLACKADDER was looking a little tired with a recycling of plotlines and characters that made yet another sodding Dwayne Dibbly cameo in an episode of RED DWARF seem like a breath of fresh air by comparison. Famously the final episode concluded with everyone bar Stephen Fry getting blasted to smithereens while running across a BBC studio, but running very slowly to ensure they didn’t trip over a trailing camera cable.



  1. johnnyboy

    May 23, 2010 at 12:04 am

    Surely one of the most quotable sitcoms ever. The list is endless but my favourites (and used as-and-when required in real life) are:

    “Make a sentence out of the following words: face..sodding..your..shut”
    “Excuse me meister?”
    “Thank God I wore my corset, because I think my sides have split”
    “Rat O Van?” > “it’s a rat that’s been ran over by a van”
    “Big blue wobbly thing, that mermaids live in” > “Which is?” > “C”
    “And D?” > “I’m quite pleased with ‘dog’.” > “Go on then” > “Not a cat”

    Perhaps the best (and apologies if it’s not word perfect, as this is from memory):
    “Baldrick, where’s the manuscript?”
    “You mean the big, papery thing tied up with string?”
    “Yes Baldrick, the manuscript belonging to Dr Johnson”
    “You mean the batey fellow in the black coat who just left?”
    “Yes Baldrick, Dr Johnson”
    “So, your asking me where the big, papery thing tied up with string, belonging to the batey fellow in the black coat who just left, is”
    “Yes Baldrick, I am. And if you do not answer quickly, then the booted bony thing with 5 toes will soon connect sharply with the soft dangly collection of objects in your trousers. So for the last time, where’s the manuscript?”
    “On the fire”
    “On the what??”
    “On the hot orangey thing under the stoney mantlepiece”

  2. Applemask

    May 23, 2010 at 8:52 pm

    The specifics of the situation and the extra dimension of jet-black satire made up for the material getting a bit thin by Goes Forth. Besides, if anyone deserved a return it was Flashheart.

  3. Matty

    May 29, 2010 at 1:21 pm

    “…Goes Forth” is underrated. It’s true that there was a lot of repetition of ideas and characters and that the script drifted into self-parody at times (especially the preponderence of Blackadder’s tortuous similes) but there were a few cracking episodes – “General Hospital” in particular. The line “Captain Darling will pump you thoroughly in the debriefing room!”, superbly delivered by Stephen Fry, remains one of the funniest bits of smut in the show’s history.

  4. johnnyboy

    May 29, 2010 at 1:41 pm

    “General Hospital” is indeed a stand-out episode, perhaps the best through all 4 series. And if it’s smut you want then the repartee between Blackadder and Lieutenant George was just the best:

    “Ah, Capt; I here that you’ve been seeing a lot of nurse Mary?”

    “Yes, almost all of her in-fact”


  5. Lee James Turnock

    June 11, 2014 at 7:54 pm

    The final episode of the first series remains a half-hour slab of pure comic gold, the highlight being the late Rik Mayall as Mad Gerald.
    “Close the bloody door!”

  6. Joanne Gray

    February 6, 2017 at 9:03 pm

    See the little goblin, see his little feet.
    And his little nosey-wose.
    Isn’t the goblin sweet?

  7. Richardpd

    November 30, 2022 at 3:41 pm

    A bit of a mixed bag, especially the first series which tried almost too hard to spoof the BBC historical dramas of the time.

    From the second series it really found a winning formula by sticking to a few studio sets, but the amount of comedy made up for it.

    In each series Blackadder seemed to get smarter, & Baldrick dafter & more naive.

    Some fans aren’t keen on the 3rd but I liked it even without the playbill end credits & incongruous Mark King style bass in the theme.

    Blackadder Goes Forth really pulled out all the stops & the last episode got just the right amount of comedy & pathos to be comedy gold.

  8. Glenn Aylett

    November 30, 2022 at 8:35 pm

    The second series has Tom Baker as a sailor with no legs that Nursey develops a liking to and is one of the funniest episodes, along with the one with the perverted Bishop of Bath and Wells. Otherwise the second, like the first, could be a mixed bag and immature in places and not as funny as when I first watched as a teen in the eighties.
    The third one always has the classic line when Baldrick stands as an MP in a rotten borough( another of Blackadder’s wild schemes to make money) and when he is asked what the S stands for in his first name, declares sod off, which is his actual first name.

  9. Richardpd

    November 30, 2022 at 10:36 pm

    Beer is another good Blackadder 2 episode, with Miriam Margolyes as one of the puritanical Whiteadders, who turned up in the middle of a wild party.

    The election episode was when William Pitt The Younger wanted to curb the Prince Regent’s wild spending & Blackadder needed to find a way to stop this. In Blackadder Goes Fourth Baldrick’s initial is given as S in the end credits.

  10. Sidney Balmoral James

    December 1, 2022 at 7:47 am

    Quite how Ben Elton could go from writing the abysmal Filthy Rich and Catflap to the sublime Blackadder the Third in the space of a year is one of the mysteries of this world.

    • Richardpd

      December 1, 2022 at 10:05 pm

      Supposedly Elton was bedridden while he was writing Filthy Rich and Catflap & reckoned he had given the scripts enough drafts not to need any import from Rik Mayall.

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