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