Rowan Atkinson as Lord Edmund Plantagenet, the Black Adder (Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons)

scene from the Blackadder

The Black Adder is set in medieval England circa the 15th century at the conclusion of the War of the Roses - but in a different reality. Here, King Henry VII was not victorious at the Battle of Bosworth Field. He was defeated, as did Richard III. And interestingly, his nephew, King Richard IV, is still alive (instead of being smothered to death as a boy) and was crowned king. The tale is focused on the son of King Richard IV, Prince Edmund, a not-very-bright coward who christened himself as The Black Adder.

The Black Adder wants the crown for himself, either by planned ascension or violent revolt, and the surest way to achieve this is by making himself the favoured prince of the King. His first order of business was to claim the kills of others as his own during the Battle of Bosworth, which he arrived late. For good measure, he also claimed to have killed an additional 450 peasants.

Aided by his two sidekicks, the equally dim-witted Lord Percy Percy and the slightly smarter manservant Baldrick, The Black Adder concocted numerous plans to get himself closer to the king and gain his favour.

By the third episode, the King appointed The Black Adder as the Archbishop of Canterbury. However, his good fortune didn't last for long, and through some unfortunate luck, he was branded a witch by episode six and sentenced to death. He managed to escape the death sentence, but he was stripped of all titles except as the Warden of the Royal Privies. The series finale saw him hiring six of the most evil men in the land to seize the throne.

The series proved to be a smash hit, and established Rowan Atkinson and Richard Curtis' credentials as a comedic actor and writer respectively. The success of The Black Adder subsequently led to three sequels (Blackadder II, Blackadder the Third and Blackadder Goes Forth) set at different timelines.


To get special offers and VIP treatment:

Throughout history, England has been blighted by members of the Blackadder dynasty.

In The Black Adder, we meet Edmund (Rowan Atkinson), the slimy younger son of King Richard IV (Brian Blessed). He's accompanied by his friend Percy (Tim McInnerny) and his servant Baldrick (Tony Robinson).

In Blackadder II, we encounter Lord Edmund Blackadder (Rowan Atkinson), direct descendant of the odious Prince Edmund. He plots and schemes in the court of Queen Elizabeth I (Miranda Richardson), aided by his friend Lord Percy (Tim McInnerny) and his servant Baldrick (Tony Robinson).

In Blackadder The Third, Edmund Blackadder (Rowan Atkison) is butler to George, the Prince Regent (Hugh Laurie).

In Blackadder Goes Forth, Captain Edmund Blackadder (Rowan Atkinson) shares a World War I dugout with Lieutenant George Barleigh (Hugh Laurie) and Private Baldrick (Tony Robinson).

Ten years after the final series, a special episode called Blackadder Back And Forth was made to celebrate the new millennium.

Series: 4
Episodes: 25
Transmitted: 1983-2000
Channel: BBC1

BBC Television

Copyright 2017