A Conversation for 'Blackadder' - the TV Series

"Real" Historical Figures in Blackadder

Post 1


Here's a more or less comprehensive guide to which real life famous historical figures appeared in the various series, and in some cases who played them -

Series One : The Black Adder
Actually this series was fairly short on 'real' guests, but there were:-

King Richard III - brilliantly played by Peter Cook - and it was a great shame that they did not retain the king's ghost for the whole series

Richard Duke of York - played by Brian Blessed - ok , so the real Richard of York never became king, and was murdered in the Tower of London POSSIBLY on the orders of his uncle, Richard III.He still existed, and its at least given me a chance to mention one of Britain's finest ever shouting actors.

Henry Tudor - later Henry VII - sorry - don't have the actor's name to hand - watch this space

Oh - and William Shakespeare is credited with additional dialogue, but I don't suppose that really counts.
That's about it for series one - which leads us to

Blackadder II
Surprisingly, even fewer 'real' guests

Queen Elizabeth I - Miranda Richardson was already a highly respected actress before her role as Queenie, but this is probably the role which she will be associated with in the public memory.When Cate Blanchett received her Oscar nomination for playing Eliabeth in the imaginatively titled "Elizabeth " - more than one review actually drew contrasts between her portrayal, and Miranda Richardson's in this series.

Sir Walter ( rather a wally ) Raleigh - played by Simon Jones. Simon Jones is probably best remembered for playing Arthur Dent in the BBC Radio and TV series "The Hitchiker's Guide to the Galaxy " . In a nice irony, in the same episode the big guest star is the greatest Dr. Who of them all - Tom Baker, playing Captain Redbeard Rum - long on beard and short on legs.

Blackadder the Third
In terms of 'real' historical figures, this is where the saga really hits its stride.

King George III - played by Gerd Klaeber - a cameo appearence, in which the king proves his madness by saying penguin at the end of each sentence.

The Prince Regent - Beautifully played by Hugh Laurie. I've always wondered - was he the first choice for the role ? If so, then why are there so many jokes in the series about the prince being so fat - which Hugh Laurie clearly isn't ? Irony ? Doesn't work IMHO.

Pitt the Younger - watch this space for the actor's name - ( his brother, Pitt the Even Younger also appeared, while Pitt the Toddler, Pitt the Embryo and Pitt the Gleam in the Milkman's Eye were all mentioned ! )

Samuel Johnson - played by Robbie Coltrane. Robbie Coltrane clearly seemed to have a thing about Dr. Johnson, and had played him alongside John Sessions' Boswell on stage and screen before this episode was made.
Lord Byron - Steve Steen
Percy Shelley - Jim Sweeney
Samuel Coleridge - Lee Cornes. - Jim Sweeney and Steve Steen had presented the cult children's show CBTV on ITV for a couple of years in the early 80s. Jim Sweeney went on to make semi regular appearences on Whose Line is It Anyway- Lee Cornes appears as Paranoia in Red Dwarf, series 1 - Confidence and Paranoia. All three are/were regulars at the famous Comedy Store in London. The episode where all four of these appear is what's called a temporal anomaly. Or put it another way, Johnson had been pushing up the daisies for years before any of the poets even learned to write !

The Scarlet Pimpernel - alright - alright - not a real character I know, but one who had existence outside the whole Blackadder mythos. No less than 2 Scarlet Pimpernels here - Tim Mcinnery ( better known as Percy/Darling ) making his only series 3 appearence, and Nigel Planer - whose TV comedy and acting credits are far too numerous to mention.

The Duke of Wellington - played by Stephen Fry, in a portrayal that is something of a foretaste of his General Melchett ( Baahhh!!!)

Series Four - Blackadder Goes Forth

This final series has the fewest 'real' guests of all - probably due to its relative closeness to the present day , libel laws being what they are.

Baron von Richthofen - played by Adrian Edmondson. For a few brief minutes, the ever popular Rik Mayall/Adrian Edmondson double act ( Bottom - The Young Ones ) comes to Black Adder. Edmondson's Red Baron is a rather camp devotee of English toilet humour.

Field Marshal Sir Douglas Haig - played by British sitcom stalwart Geoffrey Palmer. Brilliantly written and brilliantly underplayed by Palmer. Your lasting memory of Haig's appearence in "Goodbyee" is of him sweeping the model soldiers off his campaign table into the dustpan - a gesture which said it all.

In "Corporal Punishment " Oscar Wilde does get a mention - big butch bonking Oscar, best selling author of the pamphlet Why I like to do it with girls. But he doesn't appear on screen, and I only mentioned it because of the irony that Stephen Fry, General Melchett in this series, actually played Oscar Wilde on the big screen, for which he received an Oscar nomination.

The 'specials'

The first 'special' is actually the shortest ever episode of Blacadder, and actually one of the very best."The Cavalier Years " was made for transmission as part of the Comic Relief appeal, and so it has received nothing like the amount of airplay as the rest of the canon. This is a great pity, as it is excellent.It has its own 'real ' figures

King Charles I - played by Stephen Fry - more than a touch of our own Prince Charles, I seem to detect in this portrayal, particularly where he deplores the fact that no one can be found to take the job of cutting his head off when there are so many young people out of work.

Oliver Cromwell- played by Warren Clarke - who had also played Mr. Hardwood in Amy and Amiability , series 3 ( have a care sir, or I shall take off my belt, and by thunder, me trousers'll fall down !)Clarke's Cromwell seems to have poor eyesight and no sense of smell, when he describes Baldrick as 'my proud beauty'.

Also receiving honorable mentions, although not actually appearing are Sir Thomas More, and the Earl of Essex ( The Earl he had a thousand sovereigns, hey nonny no. He gave them all away to the man with the axe - o. )

Blackadder's Christmas Carol

This was an enjoyable enough special, with more than its fair share of classic one liners.

Queen Victoria - played by cameo specialist Miriam Margolyes ( the Infanta, series one, Lady Whiteadder, series 2 )
Prince Albert - Jim Broadbent - who has since gone on to achieve international acclaim, and Oscar nominations, for a string of excellent film performances.

Lord Nelson - who is a Christmas guest of the Prince Regent, memorable only for the fact that he wakes up thinking that he is blind , because the patch is over the wrong eye. Actor - watch this space.

Blackadder Back and Forth

Ah - yes - well actually I need to go back and forth myself about this , IMHO rather inferior incarnation.This one deserves a posting all to itself. As the saying goes - watch this space.

Apologies to any real historical figures, whose appearence I have failed to mention.

"Real" Historical Figures in Blackadder

Post 2

The Dali Llama

Speaking of Blackadder the Cavalier, any idea where I can find a copy, as I'd rather like to watch it.

"Real" Historical Figures in Blackadder

Post 3

The Dali Llama

Never mind, I found it on one of the other threads.

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