Newton's laws of television


An episode guide by Matthew Newton
Pilot episode
Written by: Richard Curtis and Rowan Atkinson
Produced by: Geoff Posner

The Black Adder Untransmitted

Cast: Rowan Atkinson (Prince Edmund), John Savident (The King), Elspet Gray (The Queen), Robert Bathurst (Prince Henry), Tim McInnerny (Percy), Philip Fox (Baldrick), Alex Norton (McAngus), Simon Gipps-Kent (Rudkin), Oengus Macnamara (Jesuit).

Prince Edmund is organising a show in honour of the birthday of his mother, the Queen. When the King gives Edmund's Scottish lands away to the warrior Dougal McAngus, the young prince plots to add a specially written play to the proceedings. It is called "Death of a Scotsman" and Edmund plans that it will be very realistic...

Notes: The very first episode of Blackadder has never been transmitted or released on video. It tells a story that is very similar to "Born To Be King", although without the explicit format of telling the story of a forgotten king of England. The cast wasn't completely retained for the series; whilst Tim McInnerny and Elspret Gray are already in place to support Rowan Atkinson, there is a very different portrayal of the King from John Savident (now better known as comical butcher Fred Elliot from Coronation Street), and Edmund's brother is played by Robert Bathurst, later one of the stars of Cold Feet.

The Black Adder
Written by: Richard Curtis and Rowan Atkinson [1-5]
With additional dialogue by: William Shakespeare
Director: Martin Shardlow
Producer: John Lloyd
Music Composed by: Howard Goodall

A BBC TV Production in association with The Seven Network, Australia.
6 x 35 minute episodes.

Regular Cast

Prince Edmund, Duke of Edinburgh: Rowan Atkinson
King Richard IV: Brian Blessed
Prince Harry, Prince of Wales: Robert Cast
Lord Percy Percy, Duke of Northumberland: Tim McInnerny
The Queen: Elspet Gray
Baldrick: Tony Robinson
Narrator: Patrick Allen (uncredited)
Messenger: David Runn [2-4]
Cain, a Peasant: Bert Parnaby [3,5]
Abel, a Peasant: Roy Evans [3,5]

1:   The Foretelling 15 June 1983

Guest Cast: Peter Cook (Richard III), Peter Benson (Henry Tudor), Philip Kendall (Painter), Kathleen St John (Goneril), Barbara Miller (Regan), Gretchen Franklin (Cordelia).

Throughout history there have been many great liars, one of whom was Henry VII. Although Henry claimed to have killed Richard III at the Battle of Bosworth Field true events were very different - Henry was defeated and Richard was accidentally killed by Edmund, son of the King's nephew, making way for the forgotten King - Richard IV.

Notes: Although the concept of the three witches is obviously taken from "Macbeth", their names come from a different Shakespeare play - Goneril, Regan and Cordelia being the names of the daughters of the eponymous "King Lear".

2:   Born To Be King 22 June 1983

Guest Cast: Alex Norton (McAngus, Duke of Argyll), Angus Deayton (Jumping Jew of Jerusalem),Joolia Cappleman (Celia, Countess of Cheltenham), Martin Clarke (Sir Dominick Prique of Stafford), Martin Soan (Second Wooferoonie), Malcolm Hardee (Third Wooferoonie).

The King is returning from fighting in the Crusades on St Leonard's day so Harry and Edmund are arranging a festival for the day. One of the King's warriors, the Scottish Duke McAngus, arrives at the castle ahead of the King and is given some of Edmund's land as a reward. This annoys Edmund somewhat and he starts plotting to kill McAngus using the forthcoming festivities...

Notes: Although transmitted second, this episode is actually numbered as being episode four (with "The Queen Of Spain's Beard" labelled as episode two).

3:   The Archbishop 29 June 1983

Guest Cast: Paul McDowell (Herbert, Archbishop of Canterbury), Arthur Hewlett (Godfrey, Archbishop of Canterbury), Arthur Hewlett (William, Bishop of London), Joyce Grant (Mother Superior), Carolyn Colquohoun (Sister Sara), Russell Enoch (Duke of Winchester), Bill Wallis (Sir Justin de Boinod), David Delve (Sir George de Boeuf), Leslie Sands (Lord Graveney).

Against a background of fierce competition between the Crown and the Church for the land of dying Lords, there becomes a vacancy for Archbishop of Canterbury. In attempt to win his father's favour Edmund takes up the job, but careless talk from the King makes life very dangerous for him...

4:   The Queen Of Spain's Beard 6 July 1983

Guest Cast: Miriam Margolyes (Infanta Maria Escalosa of Spain), Jim Broadbent (Don Speekingleesh), Jane Freeman (Tilly Applebottom), John Rapley (Rev Lloyd), Howard Lew Lewis (Mr Applebottom), Stephen Tate (Lord Chiswick), Ken Wells (1st Messenger), Richard Mitchley (2nd Messenger), Willoughby Goddard (Archbishop), Natasha King (Princess Leia of Hungary), Harriet Keevil (Lady on Ramparts).

In order to create an alliance with Spain, the King plans to marry Edmund to Maria, the Spanish Infanta. Edmund is initially delighted, but when he finally meets her he discovers that stories of Maria's beauty have been greatly exaggerated so he desperately tries to find a way to get out of the marriage.

5:   Witchsmeller Pursuivant 13 July 1983

Guest Cast: Frank Finlay (The Witchsmeller Pursuivant), Richard Murdoch (Lord Ross), Valentine Dyall (Lord Angus), Stephen Frost (Soft), Mark Arden (Anon), Perry Benson (Daft Red), Forbes Collins (Dopey Jack), Patrick Duncan (Officer), Barbara Miller (Jane Firkettle), Natasha King (Princess Leia), Howard Lew Lewis (Piers), Sarah Thomas (Mrs Field), Louise Gold (Mrs Tyler).

Plague is rife and the noblemen of the Court fear that the Kingdom is bewitched so they call in the fearsome Witchsmeller Pursuivant. There's trouble for Edmund, Percy and Baldrick when the Witchsmeller declares that they are witches - the penalty for which is death...

6:   The Black Seal 20 July 1983

Guest Cast: Patrick Allen (Phillip of Burgundy/The Hawk), Paul Brooke (Father Bellows), Big Mick (Jack Large), Roger Sloman (Three Fingered Peter), Patrick Malahide (Guy of Glastonbury), John Hallam (Sir Wilfred Death), Ron Cook (Sean the Irish Bastard), Rik Mayall (Mad Gerald), John Carlisle (Murdered Lord), Forbes Collins (Trusting Father), Des Webb (Person of Unrestricted Growth), John Barrard (Retired Morris Dancer), Perry Benson (Pigeon Vendor).

It's the last straw for Edmund when his father takes the title of Duke of Edinburgh away from him, so he sets forth to find the six most evil men in England to help him take the Kingdom by force. But Edmund reckons without the re-emergence of an old childhood rival who has his own plan for taking over the Kingdom...

Blackadder II
Written by: Richard Curtis and Ben Elton
Director: Mandie Fletcher
Producer: John Lloyd
Music by: Howard Goodall

A BBC Production. 6 x 30 minute episodes.

Regular Cast

Lord Edmund Blackadder: Rowan Atkinson
Lord Percy Percy: Tim McInnerny
Baldrick: Tony Robinson
Queen Elizabeth: Miranda Richardson
Lord Melchett: Stephen Fry
Nursie: Patsy Byrne

1:   Bells 9 January 1986

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

Lord Blackadder, nobleman to the court of Queen Elizabeth, is falling in love. But disturbingly, it is with his new servant, a young boy called "Bob"...

2:   Head 16 January 1986

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

Blackadder is chosen by the Queen to be the new Lord High Executioner after the current incumbent carelessly signed his name on the wrong dotted line. When Edmund starts cutting corners and executes Lord Farrow two days early it could result in Blackadder getting the chop unless he can make it appear that Farrow is still alive...

Notes: Percy sports a beard during this episode, despite having shaved it off during "Bells", suggesting that this was perhaps originally intended to be the first episode of the new series.

3:   Potato 23 January 1986

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

Sir Walter Raleigh returns from one of his great voyages and Blackadder is not sharing the great joy and enthusiasm of everyone else, believing exploring to be very boring and very very stupid. However, the Queen thinks differently, so in order to win back her favour Blackadder tells her that he is about to embark on a dangerous sea voyage.

4:   Money 6 February 1986

Guest Cast: Ronald Lacey (Bishop of Bath and Wells), Cassie Stuart (Mollie), 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).

There's trouble for Blackadder. As well as having to cope with the Queen's feeble practical jokes, the baby eating Bishop of Bath and Wells has called in a loan for 1000 that Edmund made a year ago. But Blackadder has something of a cash flow crisis and faces certain death if he cannot pay.

5:   Beer 13 February 1986

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

Although Blackadder is renowned for not being able to hold his ale he foolishly challenges Melchett to a drinking competition. But the evening set aside for this time of drink and debauchery just happens to be the same as when Edmund is to be visited by Lord and Lady Whiteadder, his incredibly moral - and wealthy - uncle and aunt, to discuss his inheritance.

6:   Chains 20 February 1986

Guest Cast: Hugh Laurie (Prince Ludwig), Max Harvey (Torturer), Mark Arden (First Guard), Lee Cornes (Second Guard).

Blackadder and Melchett are kidnapped by Prince Ludwig the Indestructible, a mad German master of disguise, who intends to ransom them to the Queen. However, there have been many kidnappings recently and the Queen has sworn only to pay the ransom for one more person - so she must choose who to save...

Blackadder The Third
Written by: Richard Curtis and Ben Elton
Director: Mandie Fletcher
Producer: John Lloyd
Music by: Howard Goodall

A BBC Production. 6 x 30 minute episodes.

Regular Cast

Mr Edmund Blackadder: Rowan Atkinson
Baldrick: Tony Robinson
George, the Prince Regent: Hugh Laurie
Mrs Miggins: Helen Atkinson-Wood

1:   Dish And Dishonesty 17 September 1987

Guest Cast: Vincent Hanna (Himself), Denis Lill (Sir Talbot Buxomly), Simon Osborne (Pitt the Younger), Geoff McGivern (Ivor Biggun), Dominic Martelli (Pitt the Even Younger).

When the new Prime Minister declares that he intends to curb the spending on the Prince Regent, it looks like the end of the good life for his butler, Mr Blackadder. However, Blackadder comes up with a cunning plan to stop this, which unfortunately relies upon Baldrick becoming an MP...

2:   Ink And Incapability 24 September 1987

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

The Prince Regent has been asked to be patron of Dr Samuel Johnson's new book - the dictionary - which has taken him ten years to compile. When Baldrick apparently burns the only manuscript Blackadder has a few problems, mainly because Dr Johnson and his friends have sworn to disembowel anyone who should lose it.

3:   Nob And Nobility 1 October 1987

Guest Cast: Tim McInnerny (Lord Topper), Nigel Planer (Lord Smedley), Chris Barrie (Ambassador).

The French Revolution is taking place over the channel and the exploits of the Scarlett Pimpernel are causing great excitement. There's danger for Edmund and the Prince when revolutionists in England decide to try and emulate their Gaelic friends.

4:   Sense And Senility 8 October 1987

Guest Cast: Hugh Paddick (Keanrick), Kenneth Connor (Mossop), Ben Elton (Anarchist).

In order to help quash a rising feeling of anarchy amongst the oppressed masses, Blackadder writes a speech for the Prince to deliver. In order to help him deliver it properly, the Prince insists that two actors be employed, but things get confused when Baldrick overhears the actors rehearsing their new play in the palace.

5:   Amy And Amiability 15 October 1987

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

The Prince has finally run out of money, so Blackadder suggests that he find a wealthy woman to marry and ends up having to find someone suitable. Blackadder selects Amy Hardwood, daughter of a northern industrialist. When he actually meets her he finds her wet and pathetic, although he doesn't yet know her secret connection with the elusive highwayman, the Shadow...

Notes: This episode had the working title "Cape And Capability".

6:   Duel And Duality 22 October 1987

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

The Prince has spent a night of ecstasy with the nieces of the Duke of Wellington, who has sworn to kill anyone who takes sexual advantage of any of his relatives. When the Iron Duke challenges the Prince to a duel, Baldrick suggests that Blackadder pretend to be the Prince and fight it on his behalf. At first Edmund is reluctant, but when the Prince offers to give him everything then he can hardly refuse...

Comic Relief Special
Written by: Richard Curtis and Ben Elton
Producer: John Lloyd

A BBC Production. 15 minutes duration.

Blackadder - The Cavalier Years 5 February 1988

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

It is 1648 and Cromwell has won the Civil War and the former King Charles I is now imprisoned in the Tower of London awaiting his execution. However, the last two men loyal to him, Sir Edmund Blackadder and Baldrick, are attempting come up with a cunning plan to try and save him.

Notes: This was a special episode that was shown as part of the first Comic Relief telethon.

Christmas Special
Written by: Richard Curtis and Ben Elton
Directed by: Richard Boden
Producer: John Lloyd
Music by: Howard Goodall

A BBC Production. 45 minutes duration.

Blackadder's Christmas Carol 23 December 1988

Cast: Rowan Atkinson (Blackadders), Tony Robinson (Baldricks), Miranda Richardson (Queen Elizabeth I/Queen Asphyxia XIX), Stephen Fry (Lord Melchett/Lord Frondo), Hugh Laurie (The Prince Regent/Lord Digmot), Robbie Coltrane (The Spirit of Christmas), Miriam Margolyes (Queen Victoria), Jim Broadbent (Prince Albert), Patsy Byrne (Nursie/Bernard), Dennis Lill (Beadle), Pauline Melville (Mrs Scratchitt), Philip Pope (Lord Nelson), Nicola Bryant (Millicent), Ramsay Gilderdale (Ralph), David Barber (1st Enormous Orphan), Erkan Mustafa (2nd Enormous Orphan), David Nunn (3rd Enormous Orphan).

The setting is Victorian London and Ebenezer Blackadder is the kindest and most generous man in all of England, but due to his immense generosity he is also terribly poor and is looking forward to a very simple Christmas. On the night of Christmas Eve, Ebenezer is visited by the Spirit of Christmas to congratulate him on being so very nice, and as an example of the type of visions he can produce the Spirit show's Blackadder how horrible his ancestors were, together with a glimpse of the future.

Blackadder Goes Forth
Written by: Richard Curtis and Ben Elton
Director: Richard Boden
Producer: John Lloyd
Music by: Howard Goodall
Played by: The Band of the 3rd Battalion the Royal Anglian Regiment

A BBC Production. 6 x 30 minute episodes.

Regular Cast

Captain Edmund Blackadder: Rowan Atkinson
Private S Baldrick: Tony Robinson
General Sir Anthony Cecil Hogmany Melchett: Stephen Fry
Lieutenant the Honourable George Colthurst St Barleigh: Hugh Laurie
Captain Kevin Darling: Tim McInnerny

1:   Captain Cook 28 September 1989

Guest Cast: None.

When General Melchett announces a competition to find a regimental artist to produce moral-boosting paintings, Captain Blackadder sees away of getting away from his front line trench. Unfortunately Blackadder cannot paint. But it turns out that George can.

2:   Corporal Punishment 5 October 1989

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

Attempting to avoid an order to go over the top, Blackadder shoots a carrier pigeon - unfortunately this pigeon just happens to be Speckled Jim, a favourite of General Melchett who, when he finds out, is intent on using military justice to get his revenge.

3:   Major Star 12 October 1989

Guest Cast: Gabrielle Glaister (Driver "Bob" Parker).

The Russians are out of the War and Blackadder volunteers to organise a moral-boosting concert party, which if successful would transfer to the West End and transfer Blackadder to safety. Amongst the acts are Baldrick's Chaplin impression and Georgina, George's drag act. However, things get complicated when General Melchett falls in love with Georgina...

4:   Private Plane 19 October 1989

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

Seeing yet another way of escaping the front line, Blackadder joins the RAF under the command of the legendary Lord Flashheart. However things are not as simple and safe as Blackadder imagined, especially when he crashes behind enemy lines.

5:   General Hospital 26 October 1989

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

It has been discovered that there is a spy in the field hospital so Blackadder and Captain Darling are sent undercover to discover who it is. Could it be the man with the German accent calling himself Smith. Or perhaps someone less obvious?

6:   Goodbyeee 26 October 1989

Special Guest Brass Hat: Geoffrey Palmer (Field Marshall Haig).

It really does look like the end for Blackadder's group when the order to go over the top to certain death is imminent. When pretending to be mad fails to get Blackadder away from the front, he sees a glimmer of hope by calling in an old favour...

Notes: This final episode features no end credits, just the series title over a field of poppies. Geoffrey Palmer's credit is in the opening titles.

Millennium Special
Written by: Richard Curtis and Ben Elton
Directed by: Paul Weiland
Producer: Sophie Clarke-Jervoise
Music by: Howard Goodall

Blackadder Back And Forth

Cast: Rowan Atkinson (All Blackadders), Tony Robinson (All Baldricks), Stephen Fry (All Melchetts/Duke of Wellington), Hugh Laurie (All Georges), Tim McInnerny (All Darlings), Miranda Richardson (All Elizabeths), Tyrannosaurus Rex (Dinosaur), Patsy Byrne (Nursie), Colin Firth (William Shakespeare), Rik Mayall (Robin Hood), Kate Moss (Maid Marian), Crispin Harris (Napoleon Bonaparte), Jennie Bond (Newsreader).

It is 31 December 1999 and Lord Edmund Blackadder is hosting a millennium party. However, things are interrupted by Baldrick's time machine, leaving Blackadder and Baldrick lost in time. Can they get home? And can they do it without changing the future?

Notes: This special film was originally made for showing in the cinema at the millennium dome in Greenwich throughout 2000. It has subsequently been shown on Sky television.

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