They have a cunning plan…: New Blackadder series on the cards

blackadder, blackadder goes forth, rowan atkinson, stephen fry

It’s been 26 years since it ended, but the BBC classic (pseudo) historical sitcom Blackadder is set to have a revival of sorts, with the show’s creators stating a new series/episode is in the works. The British show, which originally aired from 1983 to 1989, with four different seasons, each dedicated to a particular era in history, remains comedic gold for Rowan Atkinson, who played the titular role of Edmund Blackadder, a cunning, conniving, sardonic, intelligent yet hapless servant throughout the series, from the Prince Regent’s butler to a solider in World War I. With brilliant writing from Richard Curtis and Ben Elton, the sitcom also boasted a fantastic supporting cast, with Tony Robinson as Edmund’s idiotic, filthy dogsbody Baldrick, as well as Stephen Fry, Tim McInnerny, Hugh Laurie as the endearingly stupid George, and the late Rik Mayall in his recurring appearances as Lord Flashheart. The series combined historical factoids and exaggerations with clever witticisms,  operating as a shrewd parody of war and politics, often focusing on the idiocy of authority figures. The series is still considered one of the best (and smartest) British sitcoms of all times. It is also one of the few shows that actually got better as the seasons progressed.

Latest news speculates that the series is to take place during the global financial crisis, an apt setting given Blackadder’s constant struggle to earn/steal/keep money. According to Express, the episode is: ‘Entitled Bank Adder, [and] Blackadder now heads Melchett, Melchett & Darling Merchant Bank and is questioned by MPs over his reckless financial conduct.’ In August this year, Tony Robinson stated that the main obstacle to a reunion is Hugh Laurie’s fee, following on from the actor’s commercial success with the American television series House.

The final season, ‘Blackadder Goes Forth’, ended on a poignant note with the deaths of its main characters on the battlefields of no man’s land, in a rare instance of melancholy quite out of tone with the rest of the series. After going out on such a high note, Robinson admits returning to the series may be tricky. But with news of the series’ return, said to coincide with the show’s 30th anniversary, fans are already offering the creators their most enthusiastic contrafibularities…

Below is a particularly brilliant scene from the third season, set in the British Regency, which sees a young Robbie Coltrane portraying Dr Samuel Johnson, who has just completed his manuscript The Dictionary


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