The Black Adder
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5 - The Specials

various special episodes of Blackadder...

"Blackadder: The Cavalier Years"

This takes place at the time of the English Civil War. It is a short episode, shown as part of Comic Relief's Red Nose Day in 1988.

The Episode begins in November 1648. King Charles I of England, Scotland and Ireland has already lost the Civil War. Only two men remain loyal to him. Sir Edmund Blackadder, the sole descendant of the Blackadder dynasty at the time and his servant Baldrick, the only son of a pig farmer and a bearded lady (both according to the introduction). They have given refuge to the King in Blackadder Hall. Edmund remains loyal because as a known royalist he sees the King as his only hope of survival and also because of his fear of a hideous age of Puritanism, full of moral prohibitions (as he describes it). During a short absence of Edmund, Oliver Cromwell himself arrives at Blackadder Hall, accompanied by a number of his Roundheads. He is personally investigating the King's whereabouts. Baldrick fails to convince him that he has no idea (by claiming he did not know and asking Cromwell later to put down a cup, "because it's the king's"). Between this and the following scene Cromwell discovers and arrests the King.

The second scene takes place in the Tower of London, two weeks later. King Charles' praying is interrupted by two subsequent visits. The first by Cromwell who warns him of his doom and the second by Edmund, disguised as a priest. He informs the King that he is planning his escape. While Edmund is still there the King receives a notice that he has been sentenced to death. (Despite its placement in late November or early December 1648 within the context of this episode, historically King Charles' sentence to death came on January 27, 1649).

As January 29, 1649 arrives and his execution approaches, King Charles is again visited by Edmund. Though his plans for an escape haven't materialised he informs the King that there is still some hope. The Parliament has yet to find a man willing to be the King's executioner. Charles, rather philosophically, proclaims that he isn't looking forward to his execution but "It's a question of balance, isn't it? Like so many other things" (Charles, played by Stephen Fry is very much a pastiche of his modern day namesake the Prince of Wales). Edmund proceeds in assuring Charles that no one would dare to become the King's executioner. Just as he says that, the King receives a notice that they found his executioner.

Back at Blackadder Hall, Baldrick is singing as Edmund proclaims his life to be in ruins. While Baldrick informs him that he has accepted a job, Edmund wonders who could be so utterly without heart and soul, so low and degraded as to behead the King of England. As his own words sink in, he proceeds in interrogating Baldrick who admits that it was he who accepted the position. Baldrick explains to the reasonably enraged Edmund that he has a plan to save the King. He presents Edmund with a huge pumpkin, painted to represent a human face. He plans to place it on the King's head and chop it instead. Edmund dismisses the plan as unconvincing as Baldrick will have to hold it in front of the crowd, which is sure to notice. Baldrick, though saddened, says that at least the money, 1000, is good. Edmund's greed awakes at this and he proceeds in taking the money from Baldrick and announcing that he would replace him as the executioner. (Historically King Charles' executioner was Richard Brandon.)

January 30, 1649, King Charles' day of execution. King Charles is left alone for a few minutes with his executioner, Edmund in a hood and with a false voice. Edmund takes advantage of these minutes to relieve the King of his money bag. But the King finally recognizes him. He congratulates him for trying to save him even in the last minute and gives him custody of his infant son, the later King Charles II of England, Scotland and Ireland. (Historically he was 19 years old at the time of his father's death). For lack of a better plan Edmund uses the one Baldrick had suggested. The camera then focuses to Baldrick who is listening at the sounds of the execution. Edmund chops the pumpkin and proclaims that "This is the head of a traitor". Predictably the crowd answers "No, it's not; it's a huge pumpkin with a pathetic moustache drawn on it". Edmund apologises and says he will try again. Baldrick still listens as Edmund beheads Charles and the crowd cheers.

As the last scene begins Edmund and Baldrick have returned to Blackadder Hall. A disgusted Edmund cradles the infant Charles in his hands. Baldrick tries to console him by saying that at least he tried and that now the future of the British monarchy lies fast asleep in his arms in the person of this infant prince. He suggests to his master that he should be ready to escape to France, because as a known loyalist he is in danger of being arrested by the Roundheads and beheaded. Edmund, who apparently had forgotten that he is in a position of danger, immediately rises from his seat, ready to take action. But before he can do anything. Roundheads are already at the Hall's doors demanding his surrender. Edmund explains to Baldrick that there is no choice for a man of honour but to stand and fight, and die in defence of his future sovereign. Fortunately for him, he was never a man of honour. Passing the prince to Baldrick, Edmund proceeds in removing his long black hair, apparently a wig, his false moustache and beard to reveal a Roundhead appearance - short blond hair and a clean-shaven face. Thus unrecognisable, when a Roundhead enters the room he denounces Baldrick as a "royalist scum". The episode ends with Baldrick, still holding the Prince in his arms, being approached by the Roundhead, sword drawn.

BBC One, Friday February 5, 1988, 9.45–10pm


"Blackadder's Christmas Carol"

Blackadder's Christmas Carol (1988) is a one-off episode of Blackadder, a parody of Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol. It is set between Blackadder the Third (1987) and Blackadder Goes Forth (1989), and narrated by Hugh Laurie. Produced by the BBC, it was first broadcast on BBC One on Friday December 23 1988, and has been repeated several times since then, sometimes on BBC Two.

Victorian moustache shop owner Ebenezer Blackadder is the nicest man in England. He is everything that Ebenezer Scrooge was by the end of the original story. He is generous and kind to everybody, and sensitive to the misery of others. As a result, everybody takes advantage of his kindness, and all but Baldrick view him as a victim. His business turns no profit, all his earnings going to charity, and he lives a lonely, miserable life.

All this changes when the Spirit of Christmas makes the mistake of calling round to congratulate him for his ways. The spirit lets him see shades of the past, the lives of his ancestors Lord Blackadder and Edmund Blackadder, the butler of the Prince Regent. Instead of being convinced that he is better than them, he grows to admire them and their wit. He asks the spirit to show him what could happen if he became like them. He sees a vision of a distant future where his distant descendant Admiral Blackadder is a successful, if ruthless, official of a Universe-spanning Empire about to marry the similarly ruthless and insanely ambitious Queen Asphyxia XIX, both planning to conquer the Universe. Ebenezer asks the Spirit what will happen if he stays kind. As an answer, he sees an alternate vision of the same future era where his descendant is nothing more than a naked slave of the rather incompetent Admiral Baldrick.

Ebenezer makes his decision, proclaiming, "Bad guys have all the fun." He wakes up a different man: bitter, vengeful, greedy for money, and insulting to everyone he meets. Although he is now more in control of his life, he misses a golden opportunity when he insults two strangers who had come to reward him for his reputed generosity. These are Queen Victoria and her Prince Consort, Albert. The episode ends leaving Ebenezer contemplating his life.

BBC One, Friday December 23, 1988, 9.30–10.15pm


"Blackadder and the King's Birthday"

A short sketch with Rowan Atkinson as Lord Blackadder and Stephen Fry as King Charles II was performed at the Prince of Wales' 50th Birthday Gala. It was televised on ITV (in the UK) on 14 November 1998.

There, that should do it. (Stops writing)
(He reads from the parchment and walks away from the lecturn)
To my Lords of the King's own Counsel. I received this morning, your kind invitation to organise a gala performance, to celebrate his gracious majesty, King Charles, surviving another year with head and shoulders still attached.
I am replying by return to thank you. And when I say 'to thank you', I mean of course, to tell you, to 'Sod off'. I would rather go to Cornwall, marry a pig, have 13 children by her and see them all become members of Parliament. I would rather hack off my big toe, slice it, mix it with beetroot and serve it to the poor folk of Clapham as a light summer salad. Ask me if you wish, to bury my face between the buttocks of a flatulent baboon, but never under any circumstances ask me to involve myself in a Royal Gala performance.

My reasons, my Lords, are two-fold. In the first part, it is a well, and long-established fact, that Royal Galas are very, very, very dull. So dull, that strong men have been known to stab their own testicles in an effort to stay awake through the all-singing, all-dancing, no-talent tedium that represents British variety at its best. There are more genuine laughs to be had conducting an autopsy. There is more musical talent on display every time my servant Baldrick breaks wind. If the King has even half a brain, which I believe is exactly what he does have, he will spend his birthday in pious prayer, naked, in a bramble patch, with mousetraps attached to his orbs and sceptre.

I hope I make myself clear. I am yours, as ever, Lord Blackadder, Privy Cousellor, shortly to be Privy Attendant, if Cromwell has his way with the aristocracy.

(short fanfare plays and King Charles walks on stage)

Your majesty!

King Charles:

mmmaaahhh Slackbladder! ahhh! Boll-de-roll and hi-de-hi. Baaa! It's my birthday and I'll baaa if I want to! I just popped in to see if you were going to organise my Royal Gala.

Well your majesty, it's interesting that you should mention it...

King Charles:
I was talking about it the other day to Lord Rumsey, and the cringing Kurd dared to suggest that we tone things down a bit to pander to the popular mood. I want you to kick his arse and give him a good clout about the head.

Well, certainly sir, but...

King Charles:
You'll find his arse in a ditch in Tyburn and his head on a spike at Traitors Gate. I take it, incidentally Blackadder, that you think a birthday gala is a good idea?


Sire, I think it will be the most exciting creation since God said to himself 'god, it's a bit dark around here, how about I brighten things up a bit?'.

King Charles:
Splendid! I shall want you to open the whole thing... some sort of speech telling everybody how wonderful it's all gonna be, you know the sort of thing.

But of course, sire, it would be my honour.

King Charles:
Excellent, excellent, well done! Let's have a preview then now. Show me what you can do. Improvise, let's have a look.

(looking worried) Umm... well... umm...

King Charles:
Come on, come on, let's hear something.

Umm... well... umm... your majesty, your royal highnesses, my lords, ladies and gentlemen. I stand here tonight as excited as a masochist who has just been arrested by the Spanish Inquisition. What you are about to witness will be the most exciting piece of entertainment since Bernard the Bear Baiter stopped using a big brown cushion and actually got himself a bear. I ask you to put your hands together as I joyfully introuduce this 50th birthday celebration. Let the revelries begin!

(They both walk off the stage. King Charles has his arm round Blackadder)

King Charles:
Hmm! Very good, very good. Needs a few jokes of course...


"Blackadder: The Army Years"

The Royal Variety Performance 2000 A short sketch with Rowan Atkinson as the modern-day Lord Edmund Blackadder of Her Royal Highness's regiment of shirkers. The sketch was written and introduced by Ben Elton.


All right, settle down, settle down. Your Royal Highness, ladies and gentleman. The world is changing and Her Majesties Armed forces must change with it. Consider Britain and it's position in the world today.

At the beginning of the last century just 200 years ago, Britain kept the peace in a quarter of the entire globe. The sun they say never set on the British Empire. Now what have we got? The Channel Islands... The Germans have bought Rolls Royce... All the newsreaders are Welsh, although that may not be relevant. And most foreigners think that the Union Jack is based on an old dress design for one of the Spice Girls.

So what is to be done? Well the answer to my mind is very simple. If we are to re-establish our position in the world, the army must return to its traditional role, the very reason for which it exited in the first place. We must invade France.

No No, No No I'm serious. Our advanced guard of Mad Cows has already done a superb job. And the French are in disarray. Now is the time for actual occupation. Now you may say why France? Well that's a very good question. But I can think of three reasons.

Firstly whenever we try to speak their language the sneer at us and talk back to us in English. God they are so irritating. Secondly they deliberately won the world cup by maliciously playing better football than us. And thirdly, simple political strategy, look at the history books whenever Britain fought the French we were top dog.

For 500 years from Agincourt to the Battle of Waterloo, Britain went from strength to strength and gained the greatest empire the world has ever known. The minute we start getting chummy with the garlic chewers, within three short decades we're buggered.

Hello obvious connection alert!

So that's the secret, if Mr Blair wants us to be at the heart of Europe, let us simply go to the heart of Europe. Gather together those submarines, which don't leak; prime those rifles, which do not jam. Get the army to Waterloo Station buy 15 thousand tickets on the Eurostar and invade France...

Or, we could just wait for the Euro to drop a bit more and then simply buy the place. It?s just a thought sir, just a thought.


"Blackadder: Back & Forth"

Blackadder is entertaining guests on New Year's Eve, 1999. As a practical joke, he plans to convince them he has a working time machine (and win 10,000 into the bargain). Having been charged by his guests, Bishop Flavius Melchett, Archdeacon Kevin Darling, Admiral George Bufton-Tufton and Lady Elizabeth, all presumably illegitimate descendants of previous Blackadder characters (played by Stephen Fry, Tim McInnerny, Hugh Laurie and Miranda Richardson) to travel back through time to bring back: a Roman centurion's helmet, the Duke of Wellington's boots and a really smelly pair of 200 year old underpants, Blackadder intends to scam his guests by dredging the items from his personal store. However, in pulling a lever, he discovers the time machine, built by Baldrick to plans by Leonardo da Vinci, actually works.

Blackadder and Baldrick travel back into the far distant past and put Shakespeare off writing plays, kill the dinosaurs, Robin Hood and Wellington, and give Elizabeth I some Polo mints, before returning to the present day. Having irreversibly changed history, he finds a Britain under the rule of the French, who won at Waterloo, among other irregularities. He immediately travels back to rectify these discrepancies.

In the closing scenes, Blackadder is reminded how problematic it must have been, and that an unscrupulous person could have gained great power and wealth with such a machine, which gives him a cunning plan. As they go for one last trip through time, we see the final scene showing the four friends sitting down to watch live coverage of the Royal Family and the Prime Minister arriving at the Millennium Dome. It turns out that Blackadder is now King Edmund III, alongside Queen Marian of Sherwood (Kate Moss, earlier seen in the episode as Maid Marian), while Baldrick is now (inexplicably) the Prime Minister. Thus, Blackadder is seen to have finally achieved his lifelong dream of wealth and happiness as King of England.

This was a short film commissioned especially for showing in a cinema erected just south east of the Millennium Dome on the Greenwich peninsula in east London throughout the celebratory year 2000. Note: this is the only Blackadder story to be shot entirely on film and with no laugh track, although one was added for a later BBC screening on Easter Sunday in 2002.

The film closes with the promise that 'Blackadder will return in the year 3000 in Blackadder" Back and Forth 2.

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, does work, sending Blackadder and Baldrick back to the time of the dinosaurs.


"The Jubilee Girl"

The Jubilee Girl was a 29 December 2002 BBC special about Queen Elizabeth II's Golden Jubilee. It featured Sir Osmond-Darling Blackadder (Keeper of Her Majesty's Lawn Sprinklers) and Dame Edna Everage. Earlier, a BBC "advertisment" for the celebrations also featured this incarnation of Blackadder.


[music - royal type of fanfare]

Camera pans down to see Rowan Atkinson sitting behind a desk in the state room of Buckingham Palace.

[captions - Sir Osmond Darling-Blackadder - Keeper of the Queen's lawn sprinklers]

Scene 1 - sitting down in the palace:

Her Majesty the Queen requests and commands to celebrate her Golden Jubilee. She will be hosting a classical music concert and rock concert here at Buckingham Palace; entry will be open to everyone and will be entirely free.

[standing up]

Now absolutely not!

We don't want thousands of people wandering around here willy-nilly, leaving orange peel on the petunias and frightening the corgies.

Scene 2 - outside in shrubbery area:

I said to her, I said you're the Queen not Fatboy Slim.

Scene 3 - outside on the lawn:

I mean, it will be just an absolute scrum, you wont be able to move there will be people here and here and here.

[montage of footage with voice over about the concerts]

Scene 4 - close up back in area of scene 2:

Oh yes, if I had my way it won't be happening.

[montage of footage with voice over about the concerts]

Closing scene - i.e. a shot of Buckingham Palace:

And here.


He spells my doom?  Wonderful!  Well, that's particularly exciting, because so many people these days can't spell at all! er, particularly, as you know, in the inner cities, which is my area of interest.

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