15 Jun: Blackadder Begins

Rerun. Rowan Atkinson headed up the cast and writing team, yet the first series of ‘The Black Adder’ drew a decidedly mixed reaction from audiences and critics when it debuted on BBC TV on 15th June, 1983.

Set in 1484, and filmed in castles across England, the series led some wags to quip that it ‘looks a million dollars, but cost a million quid’. It was only later, when Ben Elton joined Richard Curtis to write subsequent series, that its iconic comedy characters truly took shape.

In this episode, Rebecca, Olly and Arion consider the role of Oxbridge privilege in the genesis of the series, ask whether it was ever really an ‘alternative comedy’, and quote some funny lines at each other – because this is a discussion about Blackadder, after all…

Further Reading:

• The show’s profile on the BBC Comedy site (2014): https://www.bbc.co.uk/comedy/theblackadder/

• ‘Blackadder at 35: why the writers completely reinvented him after one series’ (The i, 2018): https://inews.co.uk/culture/television/blackadder-reinvented-after-one-series-164228

• CLIP: ‘The Blackadder is Born’:

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