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28 October 2014

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Blackadder Goes Forth

St. Barleigh, Blackadder and Baldrick

With its fourth and final chapter the chronicles of the Blackadder dynasty brought us into the twentieth century and into a much darker period of history.

It's 1917 and Blackadder is now a captain in the British Army at the Front, commanding gallant-but-dumb Lieutenant George St. Barleigh and the even dumber Private Baldrick.

Tony Robinson as Baldrick

Waiting in fear of the dreaded order to go 'over the top' from the patently insane General Melchett, Blackadder devises serial attempts to escape the trenches such as joining the Royal Flying Corps or becoming army entertainers, always with the offer of one of Baldrick's cunning plans.

There can barely have been a less likely setting for comedy than the trenches of the First World War.

Writers Richard Curtis and Ben Elton deserve special plaudits, then, for maintaining their hilarious standards and making this series more pointed than its predecessors; mixing the lighter jokes with a gallows humour in the face of a tragic and harrowing story.

Edmund Blackadder was now a more noble and sympathetic character than his ancestors, and his efforts to evade his inevitable fate provided not only countless laughs but also a real sense of the futility of war.   

Stephen Fry and Rowan Atkinson

For this final series all the key cast of previous series returned; with Stephen Fry (Melchitt) and Hugh Laurie (George) now both appearing weekly, alongside Tim McInnerny as the officious Captain Darling.

Guest roles also saw the return of Miranda Richardson as a Field Nurse and Rik Mayall back as the scene-stealing Commander Flashheart.

Blackadder Goes Forth cemented the series’ status as an all-time great, not least by the bold and highly poignant final scene when Blackadder and his men finally do charge into No-Man's-Land.

The famous dissolve into an image of the same field filled with poppies was extremely powerful, offering a pointed comment on one of the darkest episodes in modern history.

Often voted one of television's greatest moments, it again showed Blackadder to be one of the most intelligent as well as among the funniest of British sitcoms.

Cast

Tony Robinson
Private Baldrick
Hugh Laurie
Lieutenant George St Barleigh
Rowan Atkinson
Captain Blackadder
Stephen Fry
General Melchett
Tim McInnerny
Captain Darling

Crew

Ben Elton
writer
Richard Curtis
writer
Richard Boden
director
John Lloyd
producer

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