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The Foretelling

Blackadder21st August, 1485. King Richard III’s victory at the Battle of Bosworth Field is ruined only by the unfortunate fact that his head was cut off by Edmund, second son of Prince Richard. Once his father is crowned King Richard IV, the newly ennobled Prince Edmund, Duke of Edinburgh, begins his life as “The Black Adder”. But Edmund is haunted by the ghost of the slain King and finds he’s been unknowingly harboring the King’s enemy, Henry Tudor…

Season 1 Regular Cast: Rowan Atkinson (Edmund, Duke of Edinburgh, The Black Adder), Brian Blessed (King Richard IV), Robert East (Harry, Prince of Wales), Tim McInnerny (Percy, Duke of Northumberland), Elspet Gray (The Queen), Tony Robinson (Baldrick), Patrick Allen (Narrator)

Order the DVDswritten by Richard Curtis and Rowan Atkinson
with additional dialogue by William Shakespeare
directed by Martin Shardlow
music by Howard Goodall

Guest Cast: Peter Cook (Richard III), Peter Benson (Henry VII), Jay Bura (Prince Edward), Tan Bura (Prince Richard), Stephen Tate (Lord Chiswick), Kathleen St. John (Goneril), Barbara Miller (Regan), Gretchen Franklin (Cordelia), Philip Kendall (Painter)

Season 1 Notes: Rowan Atkinson became a household name (especially in England) on the strength of his portrayal of the various Blackadders. He also found success with the title role in the TV series Bean and its spin-offs (a movie and an animated series). Genre work includes the “unofficial” James Bond film Never Say Never Again (1983), Scooby-Doo (2002) and a comedic portrayal of legendary BBC character The Doctor in the 1999 charity special Doctor Who and the Curse of Fatal Death.

Brian Blessed is a veteran of stage and screen, appearing in countless plays, films and television productions. His first standout television appearance was as Emperor Augustus in the BBC series I, Claudius. Genre work includes Space: 1999, Blake’s 7, Doctor Who, Flash Gordon (1980) and Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace (1999).

Robert East has made appearances on several British television shows, including Rumpole of the Bailey, Yes, Prime Minister, ‘Allo ‘Allo! and The Canterbury Tales.

Elspet Gray began her career in the late 1940s and worked regularly for the next 50 years. Key work includes appearances on such shows as Fawlty Towers, Inspector Morse, Poirot and the Richard Curtis-penned film Four Weddings and a Funeral (1994). Genre work has been minimal, but does include the role of Chancellor Thalia in the pivotal Doctor Who story Arc Of Infinity. Gray is one of only three cast members (along with Atkinson and Tim McInnerny) to survive The Black Adder’s transition from pilot to series.

Tim McInnerny was a regular cast member in all Blackadder series except Blackadder The Third (where he made a guest appearance). Other genre appearances include Erik The Viking (1989) and a guest appearance on The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles as Franz Kafka.

Tony Robinson has the distinction of being the only cast member besides Rowan Atkinson to appear in all full Blackadder productions (except the pilot). Other work includes the TV series Maid Marian And Her Merry Men, a comic look at the Robin Hood legend, and Blood and Honey, a narrative retelling of Biblical stories.

Notes: Although this episode clearly establishes the origin of the “Blackadder” name, later sources, notably Blackadder: Back & Forth and the script collection/historical overview “Blackadder: The Whole Damn Dynasty”, indicate the name is much older.

The portrayal here of King Henry VII as a liar who re-wrote history is in line with modern thinking that King Richard III’s reign was unfairly portrayed as a means of justifying the Tudors’ questionable hold on the English throne.

The three old women at the end of The Foretelling are based on the witches from Shakespeare’s “Macbeth”, but are named after the daughters from “King Lear”.

Before his death in 1995, Peter Cook was acknowledged as one of the greats of British comedy, most notably for his longtime collaboration with Dudley Moore on such projects as the 1960s TV series Not Only… But Also… and the 1967 film Bedazzled. His genre work was minimal, but does include the dubious distinction of being a second-string bad guy in Supergirl (1984).

LogBook entry by Philip R. Frey

The Queen Of Spain’s Beard

Blackadder1492. The King, in need of a strategic alliance with Spain, decides to marry Edmund to the Spanish Infanta, since Harry is already engaged to several other young women. Initially excited by the notion, Edmund’s enthusiasm wanes quickly upon actually meeting the Infanta. After failing in his many attempts to evade the altar, it seems Edmund will be married whether he will or no…

Order the DVDswritten by Richard Curtis and Rowan Atkinson
with additional dialogue by William Shakespeare
directed by Martin Shardlow
music by Howard Goodall

Guest Cast: Jim Broadbent (Don Speekingleesh), Miriam Margolyes (Infanta Maria Escolosa), Jane Freeman (Mrs. Applebottom), Howard Lew Lewis (Mr. Applebottom), John Rapley (Rev. Lloyd), David Nunn (Messenger), Stephen Tate (Lord Chiswick), Kenn Wells (Messenger), Richard Mitchley (Messenger), Willoughby Goddard (Archbishop), Natasha King (Princess Leia of Hungary), Harriet Keevil (Lady on Ramparts)

Notes: The Queen Of Spain’s Beard was originally transmitted out of order, switching places with Born To Be King.

Miriam Margolyes’ comic skill has been used in many diverse films, from wacky comedies such as Morons From Outer Space (1985) to full dramas like Romeo + Juliet (1996) to popcorn fare like Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (2002). Margolyes also appears in Blackadder II (Beer) and in Blackadder’s Christmas Carol.

Jim Broadbent is a highly regarded actor, known for his work in such films as Richard III (1995) and Iris (2001), for which he won an Academy Award. His only other Blackadder appearance is in Blackadder’s Christmas Carol. He also appeared with Rowan Atkinson in the Doctor Who charity special The Curse Of Fatal Death, portraying the 11th Doctor to Atkinson’s 9th Doctor.

Natasha King’s portrayal of Princess Leia would be seen only one more time, in the following episode, Witchsmeller Pursuivant.

LogBook entry by Philip R. Frey

The Archbishop

BlackadderNovember, 1487. The death of the Duke of Winchester heightens the rivalry between the Church and the Crown. After disposing of the current Archbishop of Canterbury, the King decides to name Edmund to the post in hopes of a more pliable Church leader. While Edmund proves at last to be of use to his father, forces are conspiring against his staying long in the job…

Order the DVDswritten by Richard Curtis and Rowan Atkinson
with additional dialogue by William Shakespeare
directed by Martin Shardlow
music by Howard Goodall

Guest Cast: William Russell (Duke of Winchester), Arthur Hewlett (Godfrey, Archbishop of Canterbury / William, Bishop of London), David Nunn (Messenger), Leslie Sands (Lord Graveney), Joyce Grant (Mother Superior), Carolyn Colquhoun (Sister Sara), David Delve (Sir George de Boef), Bill Wallis (Sir Justin de Boinod), Bert Parnaby (Cain), Roy Evans (Abel)

Notes: William Russell is best known for his portrayal of Ian Chesterton, one of the original cast members of the long running BBC science fiction show Doctor Who. He was credited on this episode under his real name, “Russell Enoch.”

Bill Wallis’ long career includes genre appearances in The Avengers, Robin of Sherwood, and The Canterville Ghost (1986). He also appears in Blackadder II (Head) and Blackadder Goes Forth (General Hospital).

Bert Parnaby and Roy Evans (Cain & Abel) re-appear in Witchsmeller Pursuivant and The Black Seal.

LogBook entry by Philip R. Frey

Born To Be King

Blackadder1486. The King is away on a Crusade, but will be home by St. Leonard’s Day, a time of great feasting. While Prince Harry is running the country in his father’s stead, Edmund is in charge of the sheep and getting the frolics together for the feast. When a visiting Scottish Lord calls Prince Harry’s parentage into question, a plan is hatched to remove Harry from the right of succession…

Order the DVDswritten by Richard Curtis and Rowan Atkinson
with additional dialogue by William Shakespeare
directed by Martin Shardlow
music by Howard Goodall

Guest Cast: Alex Norton (McAngus, Duke of Argyll), David Nunn (Messenger), Angus Deayton (Jumping Jew)

Notes: This episode is a re-writing of the original Black Adder pilot, which took place about a hundred years later in history. Born To Be King was originally transmitted out of order, switching places with The Queen Of Spain’s Beard; it was intended to be the second episode.

Alex Norton re-creates his portrayal of McAngus from the original Black Adder pilot. He is considerably more savage (and filthy) here.

David Nunn appeared in several episodes of The Black Adder as the somewhat dim messenger seen in this episode. He returned to Blackadder for a small appearance in Blackadder’s Christmas Carol.

LogBook entry by Philip R. Frey

Witchsmeller Pursuivant

BlackadderAutumn, 1495. The Black Plague is ravaging the land. The King himself is ill, leaving Harry and Edmund to deal with the crisis. It is decided to call on the Witchsmeller Pursuivant to root out the evil. Edmund’s vocal opposition is rewarded by being pegged as a witch, himself. Prince Harry agrees to put Edmund on trial, but with the Witchsmeller out to get him, Edmund’s survival is anything but certain…

Order the DVDswritten by Richard Curtis and Rowan Atkinson
with additional dialogue by William Shakespeare
directed by Martin Shardlow
music by Howard Goodall

Guest Cast: Frank Finlay (The Witchsmeller Pursuivant), Richard Murdoch (Ross), Valentine Dyall (Angus), Peter Schofield (Fife), Stephen Frost (Soft), Mark Arden (Anon), Perry Benson (Daft Ned), Bert Parnaby (Dim Cain), Roy Evans (Dumb Abel), Forbes Collins (Dopey Jack), Patrick Duncan (Officer), Barbara Miller (Jane Kirkettle), Natasha King (Princess Leia), Howard Lew Lewis (Piers), Sarah Thomas (Mrs. Field), Louise Gold (Mrs. Tyler), Gareth Milne (Stuntman)

Notes: Frank Finlay is best known for his extensive theatrical career. He early work included multiple Shakespearean productions, including Othello (1965), Much Ado About Nothing (1967), Julius Caesar (1969) and The Merchant of Venice (1972). Genre work includes The Deadly Bees (1966), the role of van Helsing in Count Dracula (1977), The Magical Legend of the Leprechauns (1999) and Ghosthunter (2000).

Cain and Abel (Bert Parnaby and Roy Evans) are back (following their appearance in The Archbishop) and re-appear in the final episode, The Black Seal.

Following her appearance in The Queen Of Spain’s Beard, Natasha King makes another brief appearance as Edmund’s wife, Princess Leia.

Stephen Frost makes a return appearance in the Blackadder Goes Forth episode Corporal Punishment. He is probably best known to American audiences for his many appearances on the British improv show Whose Line Is It, Anyway?

LogBook entry by Philip R. Frey

The Black Seal

Blackadder1498. Humiliations at court finally lead Edmund to attempt to overthrow the King. He dismisses Baldrick and Percy and sets out to form The Black Seal, a band consisting of the six most evil men in the land. With their help he hopes to gain the Crown. But Edmund’s new friends are not really the type you can trust in a pinch…

Order the DVDswritten by Richard Curtis and Rowan Atkinson
with additional dialogue by William Shakespeare
directed by Martin Shardlow
music by Howard Goodall

Guest Cast: John Carlisle (Murdered Lord), Bert Parnaby (Cain), Roy Evans (Abel), Forbes Collins (Trusting Father), Des Webb (Person of unrestricted growth), John Barrard (Retired Morris Dancer), Perry Bevon (Pigeon Vendor), John Hallam (Sir Wilfred Death), Roger Sloman (Three-Fingered Pete), Patrick Malahide (Guy de Glastonbury), Ron Cook (Sean, the Irish Bastard), Paul Brooke (Friar Bellows), Big Mick (Jack Large), Rik Mayall (Mad Gerald), Patrick Allen (Philip of Burgandy, The Hawk)

Notes: Edmund’s wife, Princess Leia, is notably not among those killed at the end of this episode. While Leia was likely around ten at the time of her marriage (1492), she would be about sixteen by the time of this episode, a more than reasonable child-bearing age for the day, thus assuring the Blackadder line to follow.

Cain and Abel (portrayed by Bert Parnaby and Roy Evans) have had a hard time. Three years earlier (in Witchsmeller Pursuivant) they were still healthy, if stupid. By 1498, they’re both blind.

Rik Mayall returned for appearances in Blackadder II (Bells), Blackadder Goes Forth (Private Plane), and Blackadder: Back & Forth. The role of Mad Gerald was credited in this episode to “himself.” Mayall is best known for his alternative comedy work in such TV series as The Young Ones, Bottom and The New Statesmen. (He also starred in Drop Dead Fred (1991), but let’s not hold that against him.)

LogBook entry by Philip R. Frey

Bells

BlackadderKate, a young woman in financial straits, disguises herself as a boy, assumes the name “Bob” and goes to London to find work. Lord Blackadder takes on “Bob” as his manservant and finds him to be excellent company. But soon things get out of hand, as Blackadder begins to find himself falling in love with “Bob”…

Season 2 Regular Cast: Rowan Atkinson (Lord Edmund Blackadder), Tim McInnerny (Lord Percy Percy), Tony Robinson (Baldrick), Miranda Richardson (Queen Elizabeth I), Stephen Fry (Lord Melchett), Patsy Byrne (Nursie)

Order the DVDswritten by Richard Curtis and Ben Elton
directed by Mandie Fletcher
music by Howard Goodall

Guest Cast: Gabrielle Glaister (Kate/Bob), Rik Mayall (Lord Flashheart), John Grillo (Dr. Leech), Edward Jewesbury (Kate’s Father), Barbara Miller (Wise Woman), Sadie Shimmin (Young Crone)

Season 2 Notes: Miranda Richardson’s portrayal of Queen Elizabeth brought her into the Blackadder family, leading to appearances in all later series. Best known for her dramatic work in films like The Crying Game (1992) and Tom & Viv (1994), she has also embraced fantasy roles in productions like the miniseries Merlin (1998), Alice In Wonderland (1999) and Snow White: The Fairest Of Them All (2002).

Stephen Fry was again a regular cast member for Blackadder Goes Forth and made a guest appearance in Blackadder The Third. He is perhaps best known for his work as Jeeves in the TV series Jeeves and Wooster.

Notes: Patsy Byrne’s extensive career includes appearances in such series as I, Claudius, All Creatures Great and Small, Inspector Morse and Tony Robinson’s Maid Marian and Her Merry Men.

Gabrielle Glaister would return as a “Bob” of a different sort in Blackadder Goes Forth (Major Star, Private Plane).

Rik Mayall portrays a later generation Lord Flashheart in Blackadder Goes Forth (Private Plane) and also appears in The Black Adder (The Black Seal) and Blackadder: Back & Forth.

LogBook entry by Philip R. Frey

Head

BlackadderLord Blackadder is named as the new Lord High Executioner. He decides to execute Lord Farrow two days early in order to free up his Wednesday. But Lady Farrow pleads to the Queen for a chance to see her husband before he dies. With an order from the Queen allowing her access to her husband, Lady Farrow (and the Queen) will not be happy to find his head has been cut off…

Order the DVDswritten by Richard Curtis and Ben Elton
directed by Mandie Fletcher
music by Howard Goodall

Guest Cast: Holly de Jong (Lady Farrow), Bill Wallis (Gaoler Ploppy), Linda Polan (Mrs. Ploppy), Patrick Duncan (Earl Farrow)

Notes: Despite being clearly designated the second episode of Blackadder II, Head seems to fill the role of the series opener much better than the actual first episode, Bells. This notion is supported first by continuity issues (Percy has a beard throughout Head despite having cut it off in Bells). Next, Head spends a notable amount of time introducing the characters, while Bells seems to take them for granted. Finally, the closing song for Head mentions Blackadder’s grandfather (as portrayed in The Black Adder), again reinforcing the idea that Head was meant to be the segue into the Elizabethan era.

Bill Wallis previously appeared in The Black Adder (The Archbishop). He returns in Black Adder Goes Forth (General Hospital).

Linda Polan’s generally sparse career includes genre appearances in Gulliver In Lilliput (1982), the 1983 Patsy Kensit TV series Luna and the Doctor Who spin-off special K-9 and Company (1981).

LogBook entry by Philip R. Frey

Potato

BlackadderSir Walter Raleigh has returned from his adventures and all of London is abuzz with excitement (except Edmund). When it becomes clear that Raleigh’s exploits have allowed him to supplant Edmund in the Queen’s favor, Edmund boasts of his plans to sail around the Cape of Good Hope, which no sailor has ever done. Edmund finds the only ship’s captain willing to go in the form of the drunken, legless Captain Redbeard Rum. Edmund’s scheme begins to turn sour when he realizes that Rum has no idea how to get where they’re going…

Order the DVDswritten by Richard Curtis and Ben Elton
directed by Mandie Fletcher
music by Howard Goodall

Guest Cast: Tom Baker (Captain Rum), Simon Jones (Sir Walter Raleigh)

Notes: Simon Jones is best known for his portrayal of Arthur Dent in the radio, LP and television versions of The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy. Other genre work includes Brazil (1985), Twelve Monkeys (1995), the TV series Tarzan: The Epic Adventures, and the Star Trek audio adventure Cacophony.

Tom Baker’s seven year turn in the title role of the BBC’s Doctor Who forever cemented his place in pop culture history. His other genre work includes Frankenstein: The True Story (1973), The Golden Voyage of Sinbad (1974), The Silver Chair (1990), Dungeons & Dragons (2000) and the 2000 TV series Randall & Hopkirk (Deceased).

LogBook entry by Philip R. Frey

Money

BlackadderWhile entertaining a professional “lady friend,” Edmund is visited by the Bishop of Bath & Wells, who has come to collect a thousand pounds that Edmund owes the Bank of the Black Monks of St. Herod. Edmund, naturally, does not have the money. The Queen, meanwhile, plays one practical joke after another on Edmund, which in succession see him deprived of what little money he does have. All this leads Edmund inevitably towards his dreadful appointment with the Monks and a hot poker…

Order the DVDswritten by Richard Curtis and Ben Elton
directed by Mandie Fletcher
music by Howard Goodall

Guest Cast: Ronald Lacy (Bishop of Bath & Wells), Cassie Stuart (Mollie the inexpensive prostitute), Lesley Nicol (Mrs. Pants), John Pierce Jones (Arthur the Sailor), Tony Aitken (Mad Beggar), Philip Pope (Leonardo Acropolis), Piers Ibbotson (Messenger), Barry Craine (Mr. Pants)

Notes: In this episode we learn that although there may be Blackadders throughout history, not all Blackadders are made of the same stuff. Edmund’s father has squandered the family fortune on “wine, women and amateur dramatics,” something a true Blackadder would never do (if for no other reason than their long-held hatred of theater). It is one of the few mentions of any of the various Blackadders’ extended families.

Ronald Lacey’s career dates back to the early 1960s. It includes extensive television and film work. Genre appearances include The Avengers, Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased), The Fearless Vampire Killers (1967), Toht in Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981) and The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension (1984).

LogBook entry by Philip R. Frey

Beer

BlackadderEdmund challenges Lord Melchett to a drinking contest despite the fact that one drink causes Edmund to start singing “that song about the goblin.” Complicating matters is the fact that Edmund’s aunt and uncle, the puritanical Lord and Lady Whiteadder, are coming over for dinner to discuss his inheritance on the very same night…

Order the DVDswritten by Richard Curtis and Ben Elton
directed by Mandie Fletcher
music by Howard Goodall

Guest Cast: Miriam Margolyes (Lady Whiteadder), Hugh Laurie (Simon Partridge), Roger Blake (Geoffrey Piddle), William Hootkins (Monk), Daniel Thorndike (Lord Whiteadder)

Notes: Miriam Margolyes makes her second appearance here, following her work in The Black Adder (The Queen Of Spain’s Beard). She returns again in Blackadder’s Christmas Carol.

Hugh Laurie returns in the final episode of Blackadder II (Chains). He was a regular cast member of the remaining series. Laurie is perhaps best known for his portrayal of Bertie Wooster opposite Stephen Fry’s Jeeves in the TV series Jeeves and Wooster. He is also known for his appearances in the Stuart Little films as the human father of the little mouse, Stuart.

LogBook entry by Philip R. Frey

Chains

BlackadderIn the middle of a rash of kidnappings, Edmund and Lord Melchett are, themselves, kidnapped and held hostage by the evil Prince Ludwig. The Queen, tired of paying ransoms, decides to throw a party instead of helping free her two courtiers. It’s up to Edmund to devise a way to not only free himself and Lord Melchett, but also prevent Ludwig from executing his plans to assassinate the Queen…

Order the DVDswritten by Richard Curtis and Ben Elton
directed by Mandie Fletcher
music by Howard Goodall

Guest Cast: Hugh Laurie (Prince Ludwig), Max Harvey (Torturer), Mark Arden (1st Guard), Lee Cornes (2nd Guard)

Notes: This episode’s conclusion sheds light on a very interesting theory as to why Elizabeth I was the “virgin queen.” This means that despite being fantastic in its characterizations, Blackadder II can still fit neatly into proper history, unlike the alternate timeline shown in The Black Adder. This is an aspect that continues throughout the following series.

Hugh Laurie’s portrayal of Prince Ludwig marks one of only two times an actor portrayed two major characters in the same Blackadder series, the other being Rowan Atkinson in the Blackadder the Third episode Nob and Nobility.

Lee Cornes pops up again in Blackadder The Third (Ink and Incapability) and Blackadder Goes Forth (Corporal Punishment). His other genre work includes appearances on Doctor Who and Red Dwarf.

LogBook entry by Philip R. Frey

Dish and Dishonesty

BlackadderIn the aftermath of a General Election, the Prince Regent is in danger of being struck from the Civil List, bankrupting him. Edmund Blackadder, the Prince’s butler, attempts to guarantee the bill’s failure, but the MP with the swing vote dies unexpectedly. Edmund’s dogsbody, Baldrick, wins the resulting election (thanks to some “interference”) but the vote is lost anyway. This pushes the bill to the House of Lords, where Edmund hopes to not only save the Prince’s finances, but also elevate his own status as well…

Season 3 Regular Cast: Rowan Atkinson (Mr. Edmund Blackadder), Tony Robinson (Baldrick), Hugh Laurie (Prince George, The Prince Regent), Helen Atkinson-Wood (Mrs. Miggins)

Order the DVDswritten by Richard Curtis and Ben Elton
directed by Mandie Fletcher
music by Howard Goodall

Guest Cast: Vincent Hanna (Mr. Vincent Hanna, his own great great great grandfather), Denis Lill (Sir Talbot Buxomly), Simon Osborne (Pitt the Younger), Geoffrey McGivern (Ivor “Jest Ye Not Madam” Biggun), Dominic Martelli (Pitt the even Younger)

Notes: Helen Atkinson-Wood (no relation to Rowan) has made many appearances in British comedies such as The Young Ones and The Lenny Henry Show. She also starred in her own 1992 comedy series, Tales from the Poop Deck, as pirate Connie Blackheart.

Geoffrey McGivern is perhaps best known for his audio work in The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy, where he portrayed Ford Prefect on radio and on vinyl.

Vincent Hanna, a real-life news commentator, spoofs his own Election Day coverage in this episode.

Pitt the Younger was actually 24 when he became Prime Minister in 1783, the youngest to ever hold the post. In contrast to the portrayal here, Pitt was quite close to the Prince Regent, since they both had dealt with the mental deterioration of a father.

LogBook entry by Philip R. Frey

Ink and Incapability

BlackadderThe Prince Regent decides to increase his intellectual profile by befriending Dr. Samuel Johnson, the author of a new book, “The Dictionary”. Edmund, whose book, “Edmund: A Butler’s Tale”, was shunned by Dr. Johnson, schemes to prevent the Prince from patronizing him. But when Dr. Johnson lets out the fact that he had, in fact, intended to sponsor Edmund’s book, Edmund must repair the damage he’s done. Dr. Johnson, however, is notoriously hard headed and Baldrick, unfortunately, appears to have burned “The Dictionary”…

Order the DVDswritten by Richard Curtis and Ben Elton
directed by Mandie Fletcher
music by Howard Goodall

Guest Cast: Robbie Coltrane (Dr. Samuel Johnson), Lee Cornes (Shelley), Steve Steen (Byron), Jim Sweeney (Coleridge)

Notes: Robbie Coltrane is best known from his dramatic crime show, Cracker. He has also made appearances in the James Bond and Harry Potter series of films. His other Blackadder appearance is in Blackadder’s Christmas Carol.

Lee Cornes appeared previously in Blackadder II (Chains) and appears once more in Blackadder Goes Forth (Corporal Punishment).

LogBook entry by Philip R. Frey

Nob and Nobility

BlackadderIt’s the time of the French Revolution and all of London is being overrun with French aristocrats, much to the annoyance of Edmund. After he disparages The Scarlet Pimpernel in front of two noblemen, Edmund claims that he will go to France and rescue a nobleman. But when the revolution extends to the French Embassy while Edmund is visiting, he may need rescuing himself…

Order the DVDswritten by Richard Curtis and Ben Elton
directed by Mandie Fletcher
music by Howard Goodall

Guest Cast: Chris Barrie (Revolutionary Ambassador), Tim McInnerny (Lord Topper / The Comte d’Frufru / The Scarlet Pimpernel), Nigel Planer (Lord Smedley / Mme La Guillotine / The Scarlet Pimpernel)

Notes: Chris Barrie is best known from his UK sitcom roles: Arnold J. Rimmer in the sci-fi comedy Red Dwarf and Gordon Brittas in The Brittas Empire. He also portrays Lara Croft’s butler Hilary in the Tomb Raider series of films.

Tim McInnerny here makes his only appearance in Blackadder The Third. He chose not to portray a new version of Percy (for fear of being typecast), making this the only Blackadder series in which he was not a regular.

Nigel Planer is best known from his portrayal of hippie Neal on groundbreaking UK sitcom The Young Ones.

Nob and Nobility did not originally air in the United States, due to copyright issues concerning the character of The Scarlet Pimpernel.

LogBook entry by Philip R. Frey

Sense and Senility

BlackadderThe Prince is suffering from poor public relations, which coincides with an outbreak of anarchistic attacks. He decides to have two actors, Mossop & Keanrick, teach him how to effectively deliver a speech that Edmund has written. The palpable disdain that Edmund shows the actors drives a wedge between him and the Prince. Pushed too far, Edmund decides to leave for Sardinia, but the actors have plans that may change things…

Order the DVDswritten by Richard Curtis and Ben Elton
directed by Mandie Fletcher
music by Howard Goodall

Notes: Mossop and Keanrick’s anti-Macbeth “hex” chant goes: “Hot Potato / Orchestra Stalls / Puck Will Make Amends,” followed by the squeezing of the other’s nose. (“Ahhh!”)

Kenneth Connor is best known for his many appearances in the Carry On series of films and the France-set sitcom ‘Allo ‘Allo.

Ben Elton, co-writer of all Blackadder except the first series, makes his only acting appearance in Blackadder here, despite being an experienced performer in his own right.

LogBook entry by Philip R. Frey

Amy and Amiability

BlackadderWhen both Edmund and the Prince find themselves in financial difficulties, the only solution is for the Prince to marry into some money. With no viable prospects amongst the aristocracy, Edmund chooses the beautiful daughter of an industrialist. But Amy Hardwood seems to be even thicker than George and also seems to be hiding something…

Order the DVDswritten by Richard Curtis and Ben Elton
directed by Mandie Fletcher
music by Howard Goodall

Guest Cast: Roger Avon (The Duke of Cheapside), Warren Clarke (Josiah Hardwood), Barbara Horne (Sally Cheapside), Miranda Richardson (Amy Hardwood)

Notes: Miranda Richardson makes her first guest appearance here. The part of Amy Hardwood provided Richardson with the opportunity to both hearken back to her portrayal of Queen Elizabeth in Blackadder II and also show off her comic range. She would return again for Blackadder’s Christmas Carol, Blackadder Goes Forth (General Hospital) and Blackadder: Back & Forth.

Roger Avon has had a long career in television including appearances on Benny Hill, Doctor Who, and Upstairs, Downstairs. His films include A Hard Day’s Night (1964), Daleks: Invasion Earth 2150 A.D. (1966) and Quartermass and the Pit (1967).

Warren Clarke is best known as Detective Superintendent Andrew Dalziel in the long running Dalziel And Pascoe series of TV movies. He also appears in the Blackadder mini-episode The Cavalier Years as Oliver Cromwell.

LogBook entry by Philip R. Frey

Duel and Duality

BlackadderThe Prince Regent is in trouble for having had a sexual dalliance with the nieces of the Duke of Wellington. When the Duke challenges the Prince to a duel, Edmund agrees to take his place. As the time of the duel approaches, each of Edmund’s plans for survival fall short…

Order the DVDswritten by Richard Curtis and Ben Elton
directed by Mandie Fletcher
music by Howard Goodall

Guest Cast: Stephen Fry (Duke of Wellington), Rowan Atkinson (McAdder), Gertan Klauber (King George III)

Notes: Fry returns to Blackadder after having been a regular in Blackadder II. He would return as a regular in Blackadder Goes Forth and for the specials. He again portrays the Duke of Wellington (among others) in Blackadder: Back & Forth.

Rowan Atkinson get a chance here to play opposite himself, in the dual roles of Edmund and his Scottish cousin, McAdder.

LogBook entry by Philip R. Frey

Blackadder: The Cavalier Years

BlackadderNovember 1648. King Charles I is on the run from Oliver Cromwell and the Roundheads. He seeks shelter with his last supporter, Sir Edmund Blackadder and Edmund’s servant, Baldrick. When Baldrick reveals the King’s whereabouts to Cromwell himself, Edmund must find a way to save his Sovereign from the chopping block…

Order the DVDswritten by Richard Curtis and Ben Elton
director not credited
music by Howard Goodall

Cast: Rowan Atkinson (Sir Edmund Blackadder), Tony Robinson (Baldrick), Warren Clarke (Oliver Cromwell), Stephen Fry (King Charles I)

Notes: This approximately fifteen-minute mini-episode was created for the BBC’s Comic Relief telethon and was unavailable commercially until the release of the US Blackadder VHS box set. It is now available as bonus material on the US Blackadder the Third DVD and the UK Blackadder: Back & Forth DVD.

The young Prince Charles (portrayed here as a baby) was, in fact, 19 years old at the time his father was executed (and already safely in exile).

Stephen Fry is clearly impersonating Prince Charles (Windsor) in his portrayal of King Charles I.

Warren Clarke previously appeared in the Blackadder the Third episode Amy and Amiability.

LogBook entry by Philip R. Frey

Blackadder’s Christmas Carol

BlackadderOn Christmas Eve, Ebenezer Blackadder is visited by the Spirit of Christmas. Seeing that Ebenezer is such a good person (no, really!), the Spirit decides to show him scenes of his ancestors’ shameful behavior. A view of how horrid his predecessors were leads Ebenezer to wonder what the future holds for him…

Order the DVDswritten by Richard Curtis and Ben Elton
based on “A Christmas Carol” by Charles Dickens
directed by Richard Boden
music by Howard Goodall

Cast: Rowan Atkinson (Ebenezer Blackadder / Lord Edmund Blackadder / Mr. Edmund Blackadder / Grand Admiral Blackadder), Tony Robinson (Mr. Baldrick / Baldrick / S. Baldrick / Commander Baldrick), Stephen Fry (Lord Melchett / Lord Frondo), Hugh Laurie (The Prince Regent / Prince Pigmont), Miranda Richardson (Queen Elizabeth I / Queen Asphyxia XIX), Robbie Coltrane (The Spirit of Christmas), Jim Broadbent (Prince Albert), Miriam Margolyes (Queen Victoria), Patsy Byrne (Nursie / Bernard), Denis Lill (Beadle), Pauline Melville (Mrs. Scratchit), Philip Pope (Lord Horatio Nelson), Nicola Bryant (Millicent), Ramsay Gilderdale (Ralph), David Barber (Orphan), Erkan Mustafa (Orphan), David Nunn (Orphan), Martino Lazzeri (Boy)

Notes: The principals from the casts of Blackadder II (minus Tim McInnerny) and Blackadder the Third (minus Helen Atkinson-Wood) reprise their roles for the flashback sequences.

Nicola Bryant is best known to sci-fi fans (especially guys who hit puberty around 1985) for her portrayal of Perpugilliam “Peri” Brown on Doctor Who.

Robbie Coltrane returns in a kindly role, following his menacing portrayal of Dr. Samuel Johnson in the Blackadder The Third episode Ink and Incapability.

Jim Broadbent and Miriam Margolyes appear together, re-uniting the duo from The Queen of Spain’s Beard episode of The Black Adder. Margolyes also appeared in Blackadder II (Beer).

This is the only full Blackadder series or special not to feature Tim McInnerny.

LogBook entry by Philip R. Frey

Captain Cook

BlackadderCaptain Edmund Blackadder, serving on the front lines of World War I, suspects that he and his men, Lieutenant George and Private Baldrick, are about to be sent on a suicide mission. When a call comes from General Melchett looking for an artist to inspire the troops for the big push, Edmund sees it as an opportunity to get out of the trenches. But once he gets the assignment, Edmund realizes there’s more to it than he was led to believe…

Season 4 Regular Cast: Rowan Atkinson (Captain Edmund Blackadder), Tony Robinson (Private S Baldrick), Stephen Fry (General Sir Anthony Cecil Hogmanay Melchett), Hugh Laurie (Lieutenant The Honourable George Colthurst St. Barleigh), Tim McInnerny (Captain Kevin Darling)

Order the DVDswritten by Richard Curtis and Ben Elton
directed by Richard Boden
music by Howard Goodall

Guest Cast: none

Notes: No explanation is given as to how the Blackadder line has fallen again despite the previous series ending with Edmund assuming the identity of the Prince Regent, and so presumably ruling England as King George IV. This Edmund may simply be descended from a different line than the lead character of Blackadder the Third.

This is the first series to feature absolutely no new additions to the cast. The entire regular cast had appeared as regulars in one or more previous series.

In keeping with the claustrophobic nature of life in the trenches, Blackadder Goes Forth features fewer guest appearances than any other Blackadder series.

LogBook entry by Philip R. Frey

Corporal Punishment

BlackadderEdmund’s various schemes to avoid actually fighting finally come to a head when he kills a pigeon that turns out to be a pet of General Melchett’s. Arrested for defying orders (and the murder of a pigeon), Edmund’s fortunes look grim once George takes on his defense…

Order the DVDswritten by Richard Curtis and Ben Elton
directed by Richard Boden
music by Howard Goodall

Guest Cast: Jeremy Hardy (Corporal Perkins), Stephen Frost (Corporal Jones), Lee Cornes (Private Fraser), Paul Mark Elliot (Private Robinson), Jeremy Gittins (Private Tipplewick)

Notes: Stephen Frost returns to the series, having previously appeared in The Black Adder (Witchsmeller Pursuivant).

Lee Cornes was seen in both Blackadder II (Chains) and Blackadder the Third (Ink and Incapability).

LogBook entry by Philip R. Frey

Major Star

BlackadderWith the overthrow of the Czar, Russia has pulled out of the war. In an effort to boost morale, General Melchett decides to put on a show for the troops and Edmund takes the assignment when he learns it could lead to a return to London. George is a fantastic success in drag as “Georgina”. So successful, in fact, that the General falls in love with “her” and his thoughts turn to marriage…

Order the DVDswritten by Richard Curtis and Ben Elton
directed by Richard Boden
music by Howard Goodall

Guest Cast: Gabrielle Glaister (Driver “Bob” Parkhurst)

Notes: Gabrielle Glaister portrayed another cross-dressing “Bob” in the Blackadder II episode Bells and returns as Parkhurst in the next episode, Private Plane.

LogBook entry by Philip R. Frey

Private Plane

BlackadderIn yet another attempt to get out of the trenches, Edmund, George and Baldrick join the Air Force, thinking it a safer alternative to the trenches. Once Edmund realizes the true level of danger, he attempts to get out of it, but is shot down while on his first mission and captured. Any number of tortures are possible, for Edmund finds he is in the clutches of the Red Baron, himself: Baron von Richthoven…

Order the DVDswritten by Richard Curtis and Ben Elton
directed by Richard Boden
music by Howard Goodall

Guest Cast: Rik Mayall (Lord Flashheart), Adrian Edmondson (Baron von Richthoven), Hugo E. Blick (Lieutenant von Gerhardt), Gabrielle Glaister (Driver Parkhurst)

Notes: Rik Mayall returns with a new incarnation of Lord Flashheart, first seen in Blackadder II (Bells). He also appears in The Black Adder (The Black Seal) and in Blackadder: Back & Forth.

Gabrielle Glaister plays a much more feminine “Bob” than in her previous appearance (Major Star). “Bob” seems to have given up the pretense of being a man.

LogBook entry by Philip R. Frey

General Hospital

BlackadderThere is a spy at the Army field hospital sending information to the Germans. Captain Blackadder is sent in to investigate and finds himself romantically involved with a beautiful nurse. True, there is a patient named “Smith” with a German accent, but the evidence points towards someone quite close to Edmund…

Order the DVDswritten by Richard Curtis and Ben Elton
directed by Richard Boden
music by Howard Goodall

Guest Cast: Miranda Richardson (Nurse Mary), Bill Wallis (Brigadier Smith)

Notes: Miranda Richardson swings full circle, giving a mostly dramatic reading as Nurse Mary, in stark contrast to her Queen Elizabeth from Blackadder II and following her schizoid performance in Blackadder the Third (Amy and Amiability). She also appears in Blackadder’s Christmas Carol and Blackadder: Back & Forth.

Bill Wallis returns, having previously appeared in The Black Adder (The Archbishop) and Blackadder II (Head).

LogBook entry by Philip R. Frey

Goodbyeee

BlackadderThe time has come at last for the “Big Push” and Edmund tries every trick in the book to get out of it. But General Melchett is wise to Edmund’s plans and there really doesn’t seem to be any way out this time…

Order the DVDswritten by Richard Curtis and Ben Elton
directed by Richard Boden
music by Howard Goodall

Guest Cast: Geoffrey Palmer (Field Marshal Haig)

Notes: Geoffrey Palmer is a mainstay of British comedies, appearing in diverse projects such as The Fall and Rise of Reginald Perrin, Whoops! Apocalypse, and As Time Goes By. He also appeared in the 1997 James Bond film Tomorrow Never Dies and with Rowan Atkinson in the Full Throttle episode of Heroes and Villains.

Goodbyeee was named the most popular episode of all Blackadder series by the registered members of the BBCi web site. It was also voted the most popular final episode of any TV series by a 2004 BBCi poll.

LogBook entry by Philip R. Frey

1775 (US Series Pilot)

BlackadderIn colonial Philadelphia, innkeeper Jeremy Proctor tries to keep the Cock and Hound Inn afloat with revolution lurking just around the corner.  His middle daughter, Eliza, frets that her hair is becoming “less flaxen” and sees her hopes for a husband fading.  Her bookish older sister, Maude, is more interested in spelling bees than dating and the youngest, Abby, is becoming far too involved with the local revolutionaries (especially the boys).  Jeremy’s wife, Annabelle, decides what they need is to send the girls to the Free Mason’s Ball, but Jeremy lacks the necessary funds.  Jeremy is also under pressure from the Colonial Governor, Massengill, who’s always looking for new things to tax.  Thanks to the new candle tax (suggested by Maude), Jeremy swallows his pride and tries to borrow money from his wife’s brother-in-law, George Washington, but Jeremy refuses to pay George’s exorbitant interest.  The future of the entire Proctor may be at stake…

written by Martin Rips and Joseph Staretski
directed by David Trainer

Cast: Ryan O’Neal (Jeremy Proctor), Lesley-Anne Down (Annabelle Proctor), Sarah Koskoff (Maude), Judith Jones (Eliza), Danielle Harris (Abby), Gregory Sporleder (Bert), Adam West (George Washington), Jeffrey Tambor (Governor Massengill)

Notes: This is the pilot episode for what was intended to be an American version of Blackadder. Produced in 1992 for CBS, the series was not picked up and the pilot remains unreleased commercially, although it did air once and is available for viewing online.

Ryan O’Neal went on from the TV drama Peyton Place to become one of the golden boys of 1970s cinema starring in such films as Paper Moon (1973) and A Bridge too Far (1977).

Lesley-Anne Down’s main forte has been costume dramas, including a stint on classic UK drama Upstairs, Downstairs and the three North & South miniseries. Genre work is minimal, but includes From Beyond the Grave (1973) and Beastmaster III (1996).

Sarah Koskoff appeared as Theresa Nemman in The X-Files (1993), the original pilot for the series. She returned several times in that role. She also made appearances on SeaQuest DSV and Millennium.

Judith Jones has made appearances on the genre series Star Trek: The Next Generation and Sabrina The Teenage Witch. She also portrayed Debbie Reynolds in Liz: The Elizabeth Taylor Story (1995).

Danielle Harris appeared as Jamie Lloyd in both Halloween 4 (1988) and Halloween 5 (1989). She also appeared on genre series Eerie, Indiana and Charmed. Since 1998 she has provided the voice for Debbie Thornberry on the TV series The Wild Thornberrys and in its spin-off movies.

Gregory Sporleder has made guest appearances on shows such as NYPD Blue, The Drew Carey Show and Smallville. His film work includes diverse projects such as A League of Their Own (1992), True Romance (1993) and I Woke Up Early the Day I Died (1998).

Jeffrey Tambor first made an impression with his scene-stealing performance in …And Justice for All (1979). He finally gained national recognition for his work as Hank Kingsley on the HBO sitcom The Larry Sanders Show and later as patriarch of the Bluth family on Arrested Development. He finally won award recognition for his lead role on the Amazon Prime series Transparent. Other successful His genre work includes Muppets from Space (1999), Hellboy (2004) and the forward-thinking sci-fi series Max Headroom.

Adam West is best known for the role of Batman, a part he portrayed (in live action and animation) from the 1966 TV series and movie through the 1985 cartoon show The Super Powers Team: Galactic Guardians. His numerous genre work includes appearances on The Outer Limits and Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman as well as in films such as Zombie Nightmare (1986) and Monster Island (2004).

LogBook entry by Philip R. Frey

HRH Prince Charles’ 50th Birthday Gala

BlackadderMay 1680. Lord Edmund Blackadder, Privy Counselor, has been asked to organize a gala to celebrate the 50th birthday of King Charles I. He is disinclined to accept the offer until the King makes it clear it would be dangerous to choose not to accept…

Order the DVDswritten by Ben Elton
director not credited
music by Howard Goodall

Cast: Rowan Atkinson (Lord Edmund Blackadder), Stephen Fry (King Charles I)

Notes: This is the second documented event in the life of this particular Blackadder.  He was previously see in The Cavalier Years towards the end of Charles’ life.

Stephen Fry returns to play Charles again, this time with a lot more Melchett blood in him.

This marks the first time Tony Robinson was not involved in a Blackadder appearance of any kind since the original pilot.

LogBook entry by Philip R. Frey

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