Forty years on, the historical comedy remains timeless
In the early 90s the only video my friend had in his house was the entire Prince George series, as a result we watched it endlessly and it’s burned into my mind
I was born in 1980. I remember watching Blackadder Goes Forth when it was first aired (1989.) It was one of the few shows that we all watched as a family together. Which is suggestive of the broadness of its appeal. Male & female, young & old, liking it equally.
When you knew it wouldn't end well - "Thank God! We lived through it! The Great War, 1914 to 1917!"
Another excellent post Ed
One point you touch on was that black adders success came down to the fact the country had a popular consensus on its history. We knew who the Tudor’s were and what happened in the trenches and why they mattered. The current breakdown of that consensus and it’s meaning is one of the big contributes to the coming apart of Britain.
As a millennial I was too young to watch blackadder, I was extremely fortune to learn about British history via books, video games and documentaries (Tony Robinson’s time team and histories worst jobs were favourites of mine). So when I watched blackadder for the first time it immediately resonated. Had I been 10 years younger, I probably would never gotten the same education, and like many today I probably wouldn’t have understood blackadders meaning
Man, that WW1 finale bring tears to my eyes *every single time*. As you point out, Ed, the seriousness after all the silliness is extra poingnent.
Lord Flashheart : All right men, let's do-oo-oo it! The first thing to remember is: always treat your kite *whack* like you treat your woman! *whack*
Lieutenant George : How, how do you mean, Sir? Do you mean, do you mean take her home at weekends to meet your mother?
Lord Flashheart : No, I mean get inside her five times a day and take her to heaven and back!
Watched the last episode at Halls of Residence at college in 1989. Everyone was speechless. Amazing television, of the likes I doubt we'll ever see again.
This is lovely, it reminded me of the below interview with David Mitchell the latter part of which features him talking about being a teenager uninterested in music but obsessed with comedy and history and how perfectly Blackadder appealed to that sort of young man, he sweetly notes that he got to do the closest thing to being in Blackadder by starring in Ben Elton's Upstart Crow
I have a fond memory of watching the Captain Rum episode with the family: my mum complained that "he sounds like Tom Baker overacting" and I had to point out that it WAS Tom Baker overacting.
A wonderful tribute to a great series, Ed.
What a treat! Thoroughly enjoyable piece. Thanks, Ed.
'shows set in heaven and hell'
The Good Place proved this part wrong as well.
Other than in the words of our poets, I think we have still not got to the essence of what WW1 was. Lions led by Donkeys captures something though it misrepresents e.g. the sacrifice of the posh Officer class. But anyway, so what? What if we had Lions led by Lions, how would that have been better?? Or Donkeys led by Donkeys? Or, ok, Donkeys led by Lions?
For what it's worth, I always respected this show (Blackadder and Baldrick are both wonderful caricatures). But the Hugh Laurie character(s) are lazy and boringly predictable, and I think have dated poorly. I'm normally an unwavering fan of the 1980s, but I think both Fawlty Towers and The Office are in the league above Blackadder.