Jump to content


From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Left to right: Tim McInnerny, Rowan Atkinson, Stephen Fry, Tony Robinson and Hugh Laurie in Blackadder Goes Forth
GenrePeriod sitcom
Created byRichard Curtis
Rowan Atkinson
Written byRichard Curtis
Rowan Atkinson (series 1)
Ben Elton (series 2–4)
Directed byGeoff Posner (pilot)
Martin Shardlow (series 1)
Mandie Fletcher (series 2 and 3)
Richard Boden (series 4)
StarringRowan Atkinson
Tony Robinson
Hugh Laurie
Tim McInnerny
Miranda Richardson
Stephen Fry
Theme music composerHoward Goodall
Country of originUnited Kingdom
Original languageEnglish
No. of series4
No. of episodes24 (plus 4 specials) (list of episodes)
ProducerJohn Lloyd
Camera setupMulti-camera
Running time30 minutes approx
Production companyBBC
Original release
Release15 June 1983 (1983-06-15) –
2 November 1989 (1989-11-02)

Blackadder is a series of four period British sitcoms, plus several one-off instalments, which originally aired on BBC1 from 1983 to 1989. All television episodes starred Rowan Atkinson as the antihero Edmund Blackadder and Tony Robinson as Blackadder's dogsbody, Baldrick. Each series was set in a different historical period, with the two protagonists accompanied by different characters, though several reappear in one series or another, e.g., Melchett (Stephen Fry), Lord Percy Percy / Captain Darling (Tim McInnerny) and George (Hugh Laurie).

The first series, The Black Adder, was written by Richard Curtis and Rowan Atkinson, while subsequent series were written by Curtis and Ben Elton. The shows were produced by John Lloyd. In 2000, the fourth series, Blackadder Goes Forth, ranked at 16 in the 100 Greatest British Television Programmes, a list created by the British Film Institute. In a 2001 poll by Channel 4, Edmund Blackadder was ranked third on their list of the 100 Greatest TV Characters.[1] In the 2004 TV poll to find Britain's Best Sitcom, Blackadder was voted the second-best British sitcom of all time, topped by Only Fools and Horses. It was also ranked as the 9th-best TV show of all time by Empire magazine.[2] Rowan Atkinson said Blackadder is "the thing he found the least stressful" to do.[3]


Each series is set in a different period of British history, beginning in 1485 and ending in 1917, and comprises six half-hour episodes. Blackadder follows the misfortunes of Edmund Blackadder (played by Atkinson). It is implied in each series that the Blackadder character is a descendant of the previous one; the end theme lyrics of series 2 episode "Head" specify that he is the great-grandson of the previous, although it is never specified how or when any of the Blackadders (who are usually bachelors) managed to father children.[4] In series one, Edmund Blackadder is not particularly bright, and is much the intellectual inferior of his servant, Baldrick (played by Tony Robinson). However, in subsequent series, the positions are reversed: Blackadder is clever, shrewd, scheming and manipulative while Baldrick is extremely dim. Each incarnation of Blackadder and Baldrick is also saddled with tolerating the presence of a dimwitted aristocrat. In the first two series, this is Lord Percy Percy, played by Tim McInnerny. Hugh Laurie plays the role in the third and fourth series, as Prince George, Prince Regent, and Lieutenant George respectively, and by Stephen Fry as Lord Melchett.

The first series, made in 1983, was called The Black Adder and was set in the fictional reign of "Richard IV". The second series, Blackadder II (1986), was set during the reign of Elizabeth I. Blackadder the Third (1987) was set during the late 18th and early 19th centuries in the reign of George III, and Blackadder Goes Forth (1989) was set in 1917 in the trenches of the Great War.


SeriesEpisodesOriginally aired
First airedLast aired
1615 June 1983 (1983-06-15)20 July 1983 (1983-07-20)
269 January 1986 (1986-01-09)20 February 1986 (1986-02-20)
3617 September 1987 (1987-09-17)22 October 1987 (1987-10-22)
4628 September 1989 (1989-09-28)2 November 1989 (1989-11-02)
Specials35 February 1988 (1988-02-05)31 December 1999 (1999-12-31)

Series 1: The Black Adder[edit]

The Black Adder, the first series of Blackadder, was written by Richard Curtis and Rowan Atkinson and produced by John Lloyd. It originally aired on BBC1 from 15 June 1983 to 20 July 1983, and was a joint production with the Australian Seven Network.

Set in 1485 at the end of the British Middle Ages, the series is written as an alternative history in which Richard III won the Battle of Bosworth Field only to be mistaken for someone else and murdered, and is succeeded by Richard IV (Brian Blessed), one of the Princes in the Tower. The series follows the exploits of Richard IV's unfavoured second son Edmund, the Duke of Edinburgh (who calls himself "The Black Adder") in his various attempts to increase his standing with his father and his eventual quest to overthrow him. Guest appearances in this series include Peter Cook as King Richard III, Russell Enoch as the Duke of Winchester, Miriam Margolyes as the Infanta Maria Escalosa of Spain (with Jim Broadbent as her interpreter), Frank Finlay as the Witchsmeller Pursuivant, Valentine Dyall as Lord Angus, Stephen Frost and Mark Arden as guards, and Rik Mayall as Mad Gerald.

Conceived while Atkinson and Curtis were working on Not the Nine O'Clock News, the series dealt comically with a number of aspects of medieval life in Britain: witchcraft, royal succession, European relations, the Crusades, and the conflict between the Church and the Crown. Along with the secret history, many historical events portrayed in the series were anachronistic (for example, Constantinople had already fallen to the Ottoman Empire in 1453, predating the events in the episode by 32 years); this dramatic license would continue in the subsequent Blackadders. The filming of the series was highly ambitious, with a large cast and much location shooting. The series also featured Shakespearean dialogue, often adapted for comic effect; the end credits featured the words "Additional Dialogue by William Shakespeare".

Series 2: Blackadder II[edit]

Blackadder II is set in England during the reign of Queen Elizabeth I (1558–1603), who is portrayed by Miranda Richardson. The principal character is Edmund, Lord Blackadder, the great-grandson of the original Black Adder. During the series, he regularly deals with the Queen, her obsequious Lord Chamberlain Lord Melchett (Stephen Fry; his rival for the Queen's affections), his friend Lord Percy Percy (played by Tim McInnerny) and the Queen's demented former nanny Nursie (Patsy Byrne). Guest appearances in the series include Tom Baker as Captain Redbeard Rum, Simon Jones as Sir Walter Raleigh, Ronald Lacey as the Bishop of Bath and Wells, and Miriam Margoyles as Blackadder's aunt, Lady Whiteadder. The series also features two appearances by Hugh Laurie (as Simon Partridge, a friend of Blackadder's, in the episode "Beer"; and as Prince Ludwig the Indestructible in the series' finale "Chains"), as well as the first appearance of Gabrielle Glaister as "Bob", and of Rik Mayall as Lord Flashheart.

Following the BBC's request for improvements (and a severe budget reduction), several changes were made. The second series was the first to establish the familiar Blackadder character: cunning, shrewd and witty, in sharp contrast to the first series' bumbling Prince Edmund. To reduce the cost of production, it was shot with virtually no outdoor scenes (the first series was shot largely on location) and several frequently used indoor sets, such as the Queen's throne room and Blackadder's front room.

A quote from this series ranked number three in a list of the top 25 television "putdowns" of the last 40 years by the Radio Times magazine: "The eyes are open, the mouth moves, but Mr. Brain has long since departed, hasn't he, Percy?"[5]

Series 3: Blackadder the Third[edit]

Blackadder the Third is set in the late 18th and early 19th centuries, a period known as the Regency. In the series, Edmund Blackadder Esquire is the butler to the Prince Regent, the Prince of Wales. (The prince is played by Hugh Laurie as a complete fop and idiot.) Despite Edmund's respected intelligence and abilities, he has no personal fortune to speak of, apart from his frequently fluctuating wage packet (as well, it seems, from stealing and selling off the Prince's socks) from the Prince: "If I'm running short of cash, all I have to do is go upstairs and ask Prince Fathead for a rise." The episode titles were puns on Jane Austen novels.

As well as Rowan Atkinson and Tony Robinson in their usual roles, this series starred Hugh Laurie as the Prince Regent and Helen Atkinson-Wood as Mrs. Miggins. The series features Dr. Samuel Johnson (Robbie Coltrane); William Pitt the Younger (Simon Osborne); the French Revolution (with Chris Barrie, Tim McInnerny as the Scarlet Pimpernel, and Nigel Planer); hammy theatrical actors (Kenneth Connor and Hugh Paddick); a squirrel-hating cross-dressing highwayman (Miranda Richardson); and a duel with the Duke of Wellington (Stephen Fry).

Series 4: Blackadder Goes Forth[edit]

This series is set in 1917, on the Western Front in the trenches of the First World War. Another "big push" is planned, and Captain Blackadder's one goal is to avoid being killed, but his schemes always land him back in the trenches. Blackadder is joined by his batman Private S. Baldrick (Tony Robinson) and idealistic Edwardian twit Lieutenant George (Hugh Laurie). General Melchett (Stephen Fry) rallies his troops from a French château 35 miles (56 km) from the front, where he is aided and abetted by his assistant, Captain Kevin Darling (Tim McInnerny), pencil-pusher supreme and Blackadder's nemesis, whose name is played on for maximum comedic value. Guest appearances in this series include Stephen Frost as the leader of a firing squad detail, Miranda Richardson as Nurse Mary Fletcher-Brown, two further appearances of Gabrielle Glaister as "Bob" (in this series, a young woman who pretended to be a boy in order to join the army), Rik Mayall appearing as Royal Flying Corps Squadron Commander The Lord Flasheart, Adrian Edmondson as Baron Manfred von Richthofen (aka "The Red Baron"), and Geoffrey Palmer as Field Marshal Douglas Haig.

The series' tone is somewhat darker than the other Blackadders; it details the privations of trench warfare as well as the incompetence and life-wasting strategies of the top brass. For example, Baldrick is reduced to cooking rats and making coffee from mud, while General Melchett hatches a plan for the troops to walk very slowly toward the German lines, because "it'll be the last thing Fritz will expect."

The final episode, "Goodbyeee", is known for being extraordinarily poignant for a comedy – especially the final scene, which sees the main characters (Blackadder, Baldrick, George, and Darling) finally going "over the top" and charging off into the fog and smoke of no man's land, presumably to die. In a list of the 100 Greatest British Television Programmes, drawn up by the British Film Institute in 2000 and voted for by industry professionals, Blackadder Goes Forth was placed 16th.


Pilot episode[edit]

The Blackadder pilot was shot but never broadcast on TV in the UK (although some scenes were shown in the 25th anniversary special Blackadder Rides Again). One notable difference in the pilot, as in many pilots, is the casting. Baldrick is played not by Tony Robinson, but by Philip Fox. Another significant difference is that the character of Prince Edmund presented in the pilot is much closer to the intelligent, conniving Blackadder of the later series than the snivelling, weak buffoon of the original. Set in the year 1582, the script of the pilot is roughly the same as the episode "Born to Be King", albeit with some different jokes, with some lines appearing in other episodes of the series.[6]

UKTV Gold broadcast the pilot on 15 June 2023, as part of an 80-minute special hosted by Sir Tony Robinson and featuring interviews with Ben Elton and Richard Curtis.[7]

Blackadder: The Cavalier Years[edit]

This special, set in the English Civil War, was shown as part of Comic Relief's Red Nose Day on Friday 5 February 1988.[citation needed] The 15-minute episode is set in November 1648, during the last days of the Civil War. Sir Edmund Blackadder and his servant, Baldrick, are the last two men loyal to the defeated King Charles I of England (played by Stephen Fry), portrayed as a soft-spoken, ineffective, naive character, with the voice and mannerisms of Charles I's namesake, the then Prince of Wales (now Charles III). However, due to a misunderstanding between Oliver Cromwell (guest-star Warren Clarke) and Baldrick, the King is arrested and sent to the Tower of London. The rest of the episode revolves around Blackadder's attempts to save the King as well as improve his own standing.

Blackadder's Christmas Carol[edit]

The second special was broadcast on Friday 23 December 1988. In a twist on Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol, Ebenezer Blackadder is the "kindest and loveliest" man in England. The Spirit of Christmas shows Blackadder the contrary antics of his ancestors and descendants, and reluctantly informs him that if he turns evil his descendants will enjoy power and fortune, while if he remains the same a future Blackadder will live shamefully subjugated to a future incompetent Baldrick. This remarkable encounter causes him to proclaim, "Bad guys have all the fun", and adopt the personality with which viewers are more familiar.

Blackadder: Back & Forth[edit]

Blackadder: Back & Forth was originally shown in the Millennium Dome in 2000, followed by a screening on Sky One in the same year (and later on BBC1). It is set on the turn of the millennium, and features Lord Blackadder placing a bet with his friends – modern versions of Queenie (Miranda Richardson), Melchett (Stephen Fry), George (Hugh Laurie) and Darling (Tim McInnerny) – that he has built a working time machine. While this is intended as a clever con trick, the machine surprisingly works, sending Blackadder and Baldrick back to the Cretaceous period, where they manage to cause the extinction of the dinosaurs through the use of Baldrick's best-worst-and-only pair of underpants as a weapon against a hungry T. Rex. Finding that Baldrick has forgotten to write dates on the machine's dials, the rest of the film follows their attempts to find their way back to 1999, often creating huge historical anomalies in the process that must be corrected before the end. The film includes cameo appearances from Kate Moss and Colin Firth.

The Big Night In[edit]

Broadcast in 2020 as part of Children in Need and Comic Relief's joint special The Big Night In during the COVID-19 pandemic, Fry resumed the role of Lord Melchett (an intellectually-brilliant version), Head of the Royal Household, under lockdown at Melchett Manor, to help Prince William deal with educating his children via Zoom and discussing Tiger King, before they both step outside to clap for the National Health Service. Melchett is said to be isolating with Lord Blackadder, both grandsons to their First World War counterparts.[8]

Live stage performances[edit]

In 1998, as part of Prince Charles' 50th Birthday Gala televised on ITV, Atkinson returned to the Cavalier incarnation of Blackadder reading aloud a letter to the Privy Council of King Charles I. He colourfully refuses their invitation to stage a royal gala, calling such occasions "very, very, very dull" and asserting that there was "more musical talent on display when my servant Baldrick breaks wind."[9]

In 2000, on the BBC's annual Royal Variety Performance, Atkinson portrayed Blackadder as a present-day officer in "Her Majesty's Royal Regiment of Shirkers" and delivered a monologue titled "Blackadder: The Army Years", proposing that Britain regain her former greatness by invading (or at least buying) France.[10]

In 2012, as part of the Prince's Trust charity show We Are Most Amused, Atkinson and Robinson reprised their roles as Blackadder and Baldrick in a comedy sketch featuring Miranda Hart as leader of a government inquiry into the recent banking crisis. Blackadder, chief executive of a fictional British bank, appearing with Baldrick as his gardener, convinces the panel to publicly blame the entire crisis on Baldrick, to the latter's consternation.[11]

Red Nose Day 2023[edit]

Baldrick (Tony Robinson) returned in 2023 for a Red Nose Day sketch for the BBC. There was no involvement of Rowan Atkinson or a subsequent reboot, amid speculation.[12]

Chronological order[edit]

Title Type Production / air date Set in century
The Black Adder (pilot) Pilot 1982 (unaired) 16th
The Black Adder Series 1983 15th
Blackadder II Series 1986 16th
Blackadder the Third Series 1987 18th–19th
Blackadder: The Cavalier Years Comic Relief Special 1988 17th
Children in Need[13] Special 1988 Unclear (anachronistic)
Clown Court[14] Special 1988 Unclear (anachronistic)
Blackadder's Christmas Carol Christmas Special 1988 19th
Woman's Hour Invasion[15] Radio 1988 20th, Various
Blackadder Goes Forth Series 1989 20th
Blackadder and the King's Birthday[16] Sketch 1998 17th
Blackadder: Back & Forth Millennium Special 1999 20th, Various
Blackadder: The Army Years[17] Theatre 2000 21st
The Royal Gardener/The Jubilee Girl (for the Party at the Palace) Sketch 2002 21st
Blackadder Exclusive: The Whole Rotten Saga Documentary 2008 n/a
Blackadder Rides Again Documentary 2008 n/a
CEO of Melchett, Melchett and Darling Inquiry[18] Theatre 2012 21st
The Big Night In Sketch 2020 21st


Series development[edit]

Rowan Atkinson and Richard Curtis developed the idea for the sitcom while working on Not the Nine O'Clock News. Eager to avoid comparisons to the critically acclaimed Fawlty Towers, they proposed the idea of a historical sitcom.[19][20] An unaired pilot episode was made in 1982, and a six-episode series was commissioned. The budget for the series was considerable, with much location shooting particularly at Alnwick Castle in Northumberland and the surrounding countryside in February 1983.[21][22] The series also used large casts of extras, horses and expensive medieval-style costumes. Atkinson has said about the making of the first series:

The first series was odd, it was very extravagant. It cost a million pounds for the six programmes ... [which] was a lot of money to spend ... It looked great, but it wasn't as consistently funny as we would have liked.[19]

Due to the high cost of the first series, the then-controller of programming of BBC1, Michael Grade, was reluctant to sign off a second series without major improvements to the show and drastic cost-cutting, leaving a gap of three years between the two series.[23] Atkinson did not wish to continue writing for the second series.[citation needed]

A chance meeting between Richard Curtis and comedian Ben Elton led to the decision to collaborate on a new series of Blackadder. Recognising the main faults of the first series, Curtis and Elton agreed that Blackadder II would be a studio-only production (along with the inclusion of a live audience during recording, instead of showing the episodes to an audience after taping). Besides adding a greater comedy focus, Elton suggested a major change in character emphasis: Baldrick would become the stupid sidekick, while Edmund Blackadder evolved into a cunning sycophant. This led to the familiar set-up that was maintained in the following series.[24]

Only in the Back & Forth millennium special was the shooting once again on location, because this was a production with a budget estimated at £3 million, and was a joint venture between Tiger Aspect, Sky Television, the New Millennium Experience Company and the BBC, rather than the BBC alone.[25][26][27]


Each series tended to feature the same set of regular actors in different period settings, although throughout the four series and specials, only Blackadder and Baldrick were constant characters. Several regular cast members recurred as characters with similar names, implying, like Blackadder, that they were descendants.

Recurring cast[edit]

Various actors have appeared in more than one of the Blackadder series and/or specials. These are:

The Black Adder Blackadder II Blackadder the Third Blackadder Goes Forth Blackadder: The Cavalier Years Blackadder's Christmas Carol Blackadder: Back & Forth
Rowan Atkinson Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Tony Robinson Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Tim McInnerny Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Hugh Laurie Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Stephen Fry Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Miranda Richardson Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Rik Mayall Yes Yes Yes Yes
Miriam Margolyes Yes Yes Yes
Gabrielle Glaister Yes Yes
Bill Wallis Yes Yes Yes
Robbie Coltrane Yes Yes
Jim Broadbent Yes Yes
Stephen Frost Yes Yes
Mark Arden Yes Yes
Lee Cornes Yes Yes Yes
Patsy Byrne Yes Yes Yes
Warren Clarke Yes Yes
Philip Pope Yes Yes
Barbara Miller Yes Yes
David Nunn Yes Yes
Denis Lill Yes Yes

Main cast[edit]

  • Rowan Atkinson as Edmund Blackadder, the series' protagonist.
  • Tony Robinson as S. Baldrick, his servant.
  • Stephen Fry as Melchett in two series, first as Lord Melchett, the sycophantic adviser to Queen Elizabeth I in series two and secondly as General Melchett, a blustering buffoon and presumed descendant in series four. Fry also appeared as Arthur Wellesley, The Duke of Wellington in series three and as various characters in Blackadder Back & Forth.
  • Tim McInnerny as Lord Percy Percy, Blackadder's dimwitted sidekick in series one and two before a change of character to antagonistic rival Captain Kevin Darling in series four. He also appeared as The Scarlet Pimpernel (alias Lord Topper and Le Comte de Frou Frou) for one episode in the third series, and reprised his role as Darling in Blackadder: Back & Forth.
  • Hugh Laurie played George in series three and four, first as The Prince Regent, and later Lieutenant George in series four. Laurie also appeared twice in series two; firstly as Simon "Farters Parters" Partridge or "Mr. Ostrich" in the episode, "Beer", and then as Prince Ludwig the Indestructible in "Chains", the final instalment episode of Blackadder II. He reprised his role as George in Blackadder: Back & Forth.
  • Miranda Richardson was only a regular cast member for series two, in which she played Queen Elizabeth I, reprising the role in Blackadder's Christmas Carol and Back & Forth. However, she also played significant one-off roles as Amy Hardwood (a.k.a. The Shadow) in "Amy and Amiability" in the third series and Mary Fletcher-Brown, a dutiful nurse in "General Hospital" from the fourth. She reappeared as Queenie and additional characters in Christmas Carol and Back and Forth.

Non-recurring cast[edit]

Guest cast[edit]

Ben Elton's arrival after the first series heralded the more frequent recruitment of comic actors from the alternative comedy era for guest appearances, including Robbie Coltrane, Rik Mayall (who had appeared in the final episode of the first series as "Mad Gerald"), Adrian Edmondson, Nigel Planer, Mark Arden, Stephen Frost, Chris Barrie and Jeremy Hardy. Elton himself played an anarchist in Blackadder the Third.

Gabrielle Glaister played Bob, an attractive girl who poses as a man, in both series 2 and 4. Rik Mayall plays Lord Flashheart, a vulgar friend in his first appearance and then a successful rival of Blackadder in later episodes of series 2 and 4. He also played a decidedly Flashheart-like Robin Hood in Back & Forth. Lee Cornes also appeared in an episode of all three Curtis-Elton series. He appeared as a guard in the episode "Chains" of Blackadder II; as the poet Shelley in the episode "Ink and Incapability' of Blackadder the Third; and as firing squad soldier Private Fraser in the episode "Corporal Punishment" of Blackadder Goes Forth.

More established actors, some at the veteran stage of their careers, were also recruited for roles. These included Peter Cook, John Grillo, Simon Jones, Tom Baker, Jim Broadbent, Hugh Paddick, Frank Finlay, Kenneth Connor, Bill Wallis, Ronald Lacey, Roger Blake, Denis Lill, Warren Clarke and Geoffrey Palmer, who played Field Marshal Sir Douglas Haig in "Goodbyeee", the final episode of Blackadder Goes Forth. Miriam Margolyes played three different guest roles: The Spanish Infanta in The Queen of Spain's Beard, Lady Whiteadder in Beer, and Queen Victoria in Blackadder's Christmas Carol.

Unusually for a sitcom based loosely on factual events and in the historical past, a man was recruited for one episode essentially to play himself. Political commentator Vincent Hanna played a character billed as "his own great-great-great grandfather" in the episode "Dish and Dishonesty" of Blackadder the Third. Hanna was asked to take part because the scene was of a by-election in which Baldrick was a candidate and, in the style of modern television, Hanna gave a long-running "live" commentary of events at the count (and interviewed candidates and election agents) to a crowd through the town hall window.

Theme tune[edit]

Howard Goodall's theme tune has the same melody throughout all the series, but is played in roughly the style of the period in which it is set. It is performed mostly with trumpets and timpani in The Black Adder, the fanfares used suggesting typical medieval court fanfares; with a combination of recorder, string quartet and electric guitar in Blackadder II (the end theme, with different lyrics each time reflecting on the episode's events, was sung by a countertenor); on oboe, cello and harpsichord (in the style of a minuet) for Blackadder the Third; by The Band of the 3rd Battalion, Royal Anglian Regiment in Blackadder Goes Forth; sung by carol singers in Blackadder's Christmas Carol; and by an orchestra in Blackadder: The Cavalier Years and Blackadder: Back & Forth.[28]


In 2000, the fourth series, Blackadder Goes Forth, ranked at 16 in the "100 Greatest British Television Programmes", a list created by the British Film Institute. In 2004, a BBC TV poll for "Britain's Best Sitcom", Blackadder was voted the second best British sitcom of all time, topped by Only Fools and Horses.[29] It was also ranked as the 20th Best TV Show of All Time by Empire magazine.[2]


Despite regular statements denying any plans for a fifth series, cast members are regularly asked about the possibility of a new series.

In January 2005, Tony Robinson told ITV's This Morning that Rowan Atkinson was more keen than he has been in the past to do a fifth series, set in the 1960s (centred on a rock band called the "Black Adder Five", with Baldrick – a.k.a. 'Bald Rick' – as the drummer). In the documentary Blackadder Rides Again, Robinson stated that the series would present Blackadder as the bastard son of Queen Elizabeth II and running a Beatles-like rock band. Rowan Atkinson, Tony Robinson, Hugh Laurie, Stephen Fry, Tim McInnerny and Miranda Richardson would have reprised their roles, and reportedly, Brian Blessed, Elspet Gray and Robert East would have returned from the first series to play Blackadder's biological family. Robinson in a stage performance 1 June 2007, again mentioned this idea, but in the context of a movie.[30]

One idea mentioned by Curtis was that it was Baldrick who had accidentally assassinated John F. Kennedy.[31] However, aside from a brief mention in June 2005,[32] there have been no further announcements from the BBC that a new series is being planned. Furthermore, in November 2005, Rowan Atkinson told BBC Breakfast that, although he would very much like to do a new series set in Colditz or another prisoner-of-war camp during World War II, something which both he and Stephen Fry reiterated at the end of Blackadder Rides Again, the chances of it happening are extremely slim.[33]

There were a couple of ideas that had previously floated for the fifth series. Batadder was intended to be a parody of Batman with Baldrick as the counterpart of Robin (suggested by John Lloyd). This idea eventually came to surface as part of the Comic Relief sketch "Spider-Plant Man" in 2005, with Atkinson as the title hero, Robinson as Robin, Jim Broadbent as Batman and Rachel Stevens as Mary Jane. Star Adder was to be set in space in the future (suggested by Atkinson),[34] though this too was touched upon in Blackadder's Christmas Carol.[citation needed]

On 10 April 2007, Hello! reported that Atkinson was moving forward with his ideas for a fifth series. He said, "I like the idea of him being a prisoner of war in Colditz. That would have the right level of authority and hierarchy which is apparent in all the Blackadders."[35]

A post on BlackAdderHall.com by Ben Elton in early 2007 said that Blackadder would return in some form, whether it be a TV series or film. Elton has since not given any more information on the putative Blackadder 5.[citation needed]

During an interview in August 2007 about his film Mr. Bean's Holiday, Atkinson was asked about the possibility of a further Blackadder series, to which the simple reply "No, no chance" was given:

There was a plan for a film set in the Russian revolution, a very interesting one called The Red Adder. He would have been a lieutenant in the Secret Police. Then the revolution happened and at the end he is in the same office doing the same job but just the colours on his uniform have changed. It was quite a sweet idea and we got quite a long way with it but in the end it died a death.[citation needed]

Stephen Fry has expressed the view that, since the series went out on such a good "high", a film might not be a good idea.[36]

During his June 2007 stage performance, chronicled on the Tony Robinson's Cunning Night Out DVD, Robinson states that, after filming the Back & Forth special, the general idea was to reunite for another special in 2010. Robinson jokingly remarked that Hugh Laurie's success on House may make that difficult.[citation needed]

On 28 November 2012, Rowan Atkinson reprised the role at the "We are most amused" comedy gala for the Prince's Trust at the Royal Albert Hall. He was joined by Tony Robinson as Baldrick. The sketch involved Blackadder as CEO of Melchett, Melchett and Darling bank facing an enquiry over the banking crisis.[37]

In August 2015, Tony Robinson said in an interview "I do think a new series of Blackadder is on the cards. I have spoken to virtually all the cast about this now. The only problem is Hugh [Laurie]'s fee. He's a huge star now."[38] However, in October 2018, Richard Curtis "dashed hopes" that the show would return for a fifth series.[39]

In December 2020, Rowan Atkinson told the Radio Times:

I don't actually like the process of making anything – with the possible exception of Blackadder. Because the responsibility for making that series funny was on many shoulders, not just mine. Blackadder represented the creative energy we all had in the '80s. To try to replicate that 30 years on wouldn't be easy.[40]

Home media[edit]

All series and many of the specials are available on VHS tapes, DVD & BluRay. Many are also available on BBC audio cassette. As of 2008, a "Best of BBC" edition box set is available containing all four major series together with Blackadder's Christmas Carol and Back & Forth. All four series and the Christmas special are also available for download on iTunes.

VHS releases[edit]

On 5 February 1990, BBC Enterprises Ltd released the first series on two single VHS tapes.

VHS video title Year of release Episodes BBFC rating
The Blackadder: The Foretelling (BBCV 4293) 5 February 1990 The Foretelling, Born to Be King, the Archbishop PG
The Blackadder: The Queen of Spain's Beard (BBCV 4296) 5 February 1990 The Queen of Spain's Beard, Witchsmeller Pursuivant, The Black Seal 15

On 2 October 1989, BBC Enterprises Ltd released the second series on two single VHS tapes.

VHS video title Year of release Episodes BBFC rating
Blackadder II: Parte the Firste (BBCV 4298) 2 October 1989 Bells, Head, Potato PG
Blackadder II: Parte the Seconde (BBCV 4299) 2 October 1989 Money, Beer, Chains 15

On 6 February 1989, BBC Enterprises Ltd released the third series on two single VHS tapes.

VHS video title Year of release Episodes BBFC rating
Blackadder The Third: Dish and Dishonesty (BBCV 4142) 6 February 1989 Dish and Dishonesty, Ink and Incapability, Nob and Nobility PG
Blackadder The Third: Sense and Senility (BBCV 4143) 6 February 1989 Sense and Senility, Amy and Amibility, Duel and Duality 15

On 10 September 1990, BBC Enterprises Ltd released the fourth and final series on two single VHS tapes.

VHS video title Year of release Episodes BBFC rating
Blackadder Goes Forth: Captain Cook (BBCV 4349) 10 September 1990 Captain Cook, Corporal Punishment, Major Star PG
Blackadder Goes Forth: Private Plane (BBCV 4350) 10 September 1990 Private Plane, General Hospital, Goodbyeee 15

On 7 September 1992, all eight single Blackadder video releases were re-released as four "complete" double VHS releases. The four entire series videos were re-released as single VHS tape releases on 2 October 1995.

VHS video title Year of release/Cat No. (Double Video) Year of release/Cat No. (Single Video) Episodes BBFC rating
The Blackadder- The Complete Entire Historic First Series 7 September 1992 (BBCV 4782) 2 October 1995 (BBCV 5711) The Foretelling, Born to Be King, the Archbishop, The Queen of Spain's Beard, Witchsmeller Pursuivant, The Black Seal 15
Blackadder II- The Complete Entire Historic Second Series 7 September 1992 (BBCV 4785) 2 October 1995 (BBCV 5712) Bells, Head, Potato, Money, Beer, Chains 15
Blackadder the Third- The Complete Entire Historic Third Series 7 September 1992 (BBCV 4786) 2 October 1995 (BBCV 5713) Dish and Dishonesty, Ink and Incapability, Nob and Nobility, Sense and Senility, Amy and Amibility, Duel and Duality 15
Blackadder Goes Forth- The Complete Entire Historic Fourth Series 7 September 1992 (BBCV 4787) 2 October 1995 (BBCV 5714) Captain Cook, Corporal Punishment, Major Star, Private Plane, General Hospital, Goodbyeee 15

On 5 January 1998, five episodes of the first two series were released on a 15-rated VHS tape compilation by BBC Worldwide Ltd.

VHS video title Year of release Episodes
The Very Best of Blackadder (BBCV 6360) 5 January 1998 Series 1, Episode 3: "The Archbishop"
Series 1, Episode 4: "The Queen of Spain's Beard"
Series 2, Episode 1: "Bells"
Series 2, Episode 2: "Head"
Series 2, Episode 6: "Chains"

On 4 November 1991, Blackadder's Christmas Carol was released on a single VHS tape release rated PG (Cat. No. BBCV 4646).

Single DVD releases[edit]

DVD title Region 1 Region 2 Region 4
Series 1
The Black Adder
26 June 2001 1 November 1999 29 November 1999
Series 2
Blackadder II
26 June 2001 6 November 2000 11 July 2001
Series 3
Blackadder the Third
26 June 2001 5 February 2001 3 October 2001
Series 4
Blackadder Goes Forth
26 June 2001 22 October 2001 28 February 2002
Special 1
"Blackadder's Christmas Carol"
26 June 2001 18 November 2002 4 November 2002
Special 2
"Blackadder: Back & Forth"
26 June 2001 15 September 2003 11 November 2004

Box set DVD releases[edit]

DVD title DVD content Region 1 Region 2 Region 4
The Complete Blackadder – All Four Series The Black Adder
Blackadder II
Blackadder The Third
Blackadder Goes Forth
12 November 2001 3 October 2002
Blackadder – The Complete Series The Black Adder
Blackadder II
Blackadder The Third
Blackadder Goes Forth
Blackadder's Christmas Carol
Blackadder: Back & Forth
Blackadder: The Cavalier Years
26 June 2001 3 October 2005
Blackadder Remastered – The Ultimate Edition The Black Adder (Remastered)
Blackadder II (Remastered)
Blackadder the Third (Remastered)
Blackadder Goes Forth (Remastered)
Blackadder's Christmas Carol (Remastered)
Blackadder: Back & Forth (Remastered)
Blackadder: The Cavalier Years (Remastered)
Blackadder Rides Again
+Audio Commentary
20 October 2009 15 June 2009 1 October 2009

LP box set[edit]

On 19 October 2022 there was an announcement that there will be a LP box set release and collects the Blackadder soundtracks on vinyl for the first time. The deluxe 12-disc LP collection with the title Blackadder's Historical Record was pressed on gold-couloured 140g vinyl, and released on 10 February 2023 by Demon Records. It also includes a frameable print of Baldrick, each hand signed by Sir Tony Robinson himself and a comprehensive full-colour booklet detailing the comedy series, the "leather-look rigid box"


Royal Mail issued a set of special stamps celebrating Blackadder on 17 May 2023.[41][42]


  1. ^ "100 Greatest TV Characters". Channel 4. Archived from the original on 31 May 2009. Retrieved 26 May 2019.
  2. ^ a b "The 50 Greatest TV Shows of All Time – Number 20: Blackadder". Empire. Archived from the original on 19 March 2017. Retrieved 5 April 2009.
  3. ^ Pingitore, Silvia (5 July 2022). "The shortest interview ever with Mr Bean star Rowan Atkinson". Retrieved 3 July 2023.
  4. ^ Blackadder at British Comedy Guide. Retrieved 25 July 2010
  5. ^ "TV's top 25 put-downs published". 26 February 2008. Retrieved 9 April 2023.
  6. ^ "The Pilot Episode". Blackadderhall.com. 20 June 1982. Retrieved 8 June 2014.
  7. ^ "Blackadder pilot to be broadcast for the first time". British Comedy Guide. 21 April 2023.
  8. ^ "BBC Big Night In: All the talking points, from Little Britain's controversial comeback to Prince William's comedy sketch". The Independent. 24 April 2020. Retrieved 24 April 2020.
  9. ^ "The King's Birthday". Archived from the original on 23 November 2021. Retrieved 18 February 2020 – via YouTube.
  10. ^ "BIackadder, The Army Years. Royal Variety Performance 2000". Archived from the original on 23 November 2021. Retrieved 18 February 2020 – via YouTube.
  11. ^ "Blackadder 2012 (subs)". Archived from the original on 23 November 2021. Retrieved 18 February 2020 – via YouTube.
  12. ^ Guide, British Comedy (14 February 2023). "Blackadder revival for Comic Relief". British Comedy Guide. Retrieved 24 March 2023.
  13. ^ J.F. Roberts, The True History of the Black Adder: The Unadulterated Tale of the Creation of a Comedy Legend (Preface publishing, 2000) 253–254.
  14. ^ "Clown Court on Blackadder Hall". 13 October 2011.
  15. ^ "The Woman's Hour invasion on Blackadder Hall". 12 October 2011.
  16. ^ "The King's Birthday on Blackadder Hall". 12 October 2011.
  17. ^ "The Army Years on Blackadder Hall". 12 October 2011.
  18. ^ "The 2012 sketch on Blackadder Hall". 29 November 2012.
  19. ^ a b I Have a Cunning Plan – 20th Anniversary of Blackadder, BBC Radio 4 documentary broadcast 23 August 2003. Excerpts available at bbc.co.uk. Retrieved 17 April 2008
  20. ^ Interview at Blackadder Hall. Retrieved 17 April 2008 Archived 27 September 2011 at the Wayback Machine
  21. ^ Alnwick Castle official website. Retrieved 2 June 2008 Archived 28 December 2008 at the Wayback Machine
  22. ^ Locations at the Internet Movie Database. Retrieved 17 April 2008
  23. ^ Lewisohn, Mark, The Black Adder at the former BBC Guide to Comedy. Retrieved 17 April 2008
  24. ^ Britain's Best Sitcom – Blackadder, 2004 BBC Television documentary, presented by John Sergeant
  25. ^ Blackadder's millennium duel, BBC News, Friday, 13 August 1999
  26. ^ 'Black to the Future – Interview with Tony Robinson' in Skyview, January 2000 Archived 27 September 2011 at the Wayback Machine
  27. ^ Trivia at the Internet Movie Database. Retrieved 20 April 2008
  28. ^ "List of Musicians and Singers who Played or Sang on Blackadder and Red Dwarf Themes". Howardgoodall.co.uk. Retrieved 8 June 2014.
  29. ^ "The Final Top 10 Sitcoms". BBC. March 2004.
  30. ^ "Rowan Atkinson reveals details of "Redadder" - the Russian Revolution-themed Blackadder that never was". Radio Times. Retrieved 29 June 2022.
  31. ^ "Richard Curtis: Blackadder was lined up to be Sixties entrepreneur". The Sunday Telegraph. 12 October 2008. Archived from the original on 15 October 2008. Retrieved 12 October 2008.
  32. ^ "Faces of the week: Richard Curtis". BBC News. 3 June 2005. Retrieved 6 February 2008. ... Rowan Atkinson, whose collaborations with Curtis include television and cinema's Mr Bean and TV's Blackadder, which is to enjoy a fifth series next year.
  33. ^ theoldonearethebest (5 September 2011), Blackadder Rides Again Documentary pt 6 6, archived from the original on 17 January 2018, retrieved 18 January 2017
  34. ^ "Black Adder Program Guide". Archived from the original on 20 November 2012. Retrieved 29 October 2012.
  35. ^ "Rowan toys with idea of 'Blackadder' return". HelloMagazine.co.uk. 10 April 2007. Retrieved 6 February 2008.
  36. ^ "Atkinson Developing "Black Adder" Film", Darkhorizons.com
  37. ^ Logan, Brian (29 November 2012). "We Are Most Amused – review". The Guardian. Retrieved 29 September 2018.
  38. ^ "Blackadder new series on the cards, says Tony Robinson". The Guardian. 24 August 2015.
  39. ^ "Curtis reveals why Blackadder will not return". 16 October 2018.
  40. ^ McGeorge, Alistair (5 January 2021). "Rowan Atkinson doesn't enjoy playing Mr Bean but he's still returning for film". Metro. Retrieved 5 January 2021.
  41. ^ "Blackadder's 40th anniversary celebrated with new stamps". BBC News. 12 May 2023. Retrieved 3 February 2024.
  42. ^ "Blackadder". CollectGBStamps. Retrieved 3 February 2024.


  • Richard Curtis, Ben Elton, and Rowan Atkinson, Blackadder: The Whole Damn Dynasty 1485–1917 (Michael Joseph, 1998). ISBN 0-7181-4372-8. Being the – almost – complete scripts of the four regular series.
  • Chris Howarth, and Steve Lyons, Cunning: The Blackadder Programme Guide (Virgin Publishing, 2002). ISBN 0-7535-0447-2. A cheap unofficial episode guide.
  • Richard Curtis and Ben Elton, Blackadder: Back & Forth (Penguin Books, 2000). ISBN 0-14-029135-0. A script book with copious photographs from the most recent outing, and additional material from Kevin Cecil & Andy Riley.
  • J.F. Roberts, The True History of the Black Adder: The Unadulterated Tale of the Creation of a Comedy Legend (Preface publishing, 2012). ISBN 978-1-84809-346-1. A 420-page officially endorsed full history of the Blackadder episodes and characters, as well as its birth, its writers and actors, and all the specials – plus Curtis' script for unproduced Christmas special 'Blackadder In Bethlehem'.

External links[edit]