'Lost' Blackadder script revealed in new book

ROWAN ATKINSON as Blackaddercus and TONY ROBINSON as Baldrickus in Blackadder: Back and Forth The last special edition was 1999's Blackadder: Back and Forth

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A draft script for a Christmas episode of Blackadder has come to light during research for a new book about the BBC's classic comedy series.

Blackadder in Bethlehem sees Rowan Atkinson's character as the owner of the inn where Joseph and Mary seek a bed for the night.

The story also features Baldrick, the Three Kings - and a talking turkey.

Written in 1988, the script was given to comedy historian Jem Roberts by writer Richard Curtis.

Roberts describes it as "completely unofficial Blackadder".

Fragments of the unfinished script appear in his book, The History of the Black Adder, which is published later this week.

In the book, Curtis says that he abandoned the idea "for fear it would cause too much offence".

Instead, it was the Dickensian-themed Blackadder's Christmas Carol that went into production, and was broadcast on 23 December 1988.

Blackadder ran for four series between 1983 and 1989, starring Atkinson as Blackadder and Tony Robinson as his dogsbody Baldrick.

There were also some stand-alone stories, the last of which was Blackadder: Back and Forth in 1999.

"When you write a book about a comedy world, there is a dream that you'll be invited into this Ali Baba's cave of unbelievable archive material," Roberts told the BBC. "I always presumed that would never be the case with Blackadder."

But Roberts was amazed when he was handed the previously unseen script while interviewing Curtis at his offices in Notting Hill.

"He printed out a document from his computer and said, 'see what you want to do with this'.

"My jaw dropped when I saw I was holding a lost Blackadder script.

Roberts added: "He wrote on the script that one of the reasons it didn't get used was because it was a strange cross between Fawlty Towers and Life of Brian.

"He didn't think he was going to make it compare to either of them. That's his reason for it never getting any further than it did."

Book jacket for The True History of Blackadder and author Jem Roberts Author Jem Roberts said the book was intended as the work of a "devoted fan"

Set on 24 December at the Blackadder Inn in Bethlehem, the opening scene features an exchange in the foyer between Blackadder and Baldrick about getting a turkey for the "most important night in the history of this hotel".

In the next scene, Baldrick is in the kitchen with a turkey which starts to remonstrate with him about being plucked and eaten.

Later, Joseph arrives looking for a room. Blackadder offers him Baldrick's lodgings.

BLACKADDER: How about I offer you this young man's room?

JOSEPH: That sounds excellent.

BLACKADDER: Yes. It's not that excellent - less of a room, more of a manger.

"It wasn't a huge script, there were massive amounts missing," explains Roberts. "It's the rough workings of a comic genius."

The author said he wanted to write the history of Blackadder from the point of view of a "devoted fan", to mark the 30th anniversary of the first pilot episode of The Black Adder.

The book was written with the co-operation of writers Richard Curtis and Ben Elton, producer John Lloyd and the cast and crew.

Roberts's previous book was The Fully Authorised History of 'I'm Sorry I Haven't a Clue'.

But what did Roberts think of the talking turkey scene in Curtis's re-discovered script?

"In the Blackadder universe there are ghosts and witches, so there could have been talking turkeys - why not?"

"If they had made Blackadder in Bethlehem, it would have been very off-the-wall."


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  • rate this

    Comment number 31.

    Blackadder is one of the classic BBC comedies. Unfortunately, I don't think it would work today. We're far too afraid of offending anyone. On top of that, people tend to go for more surrealist comedy. I'm 24 and I loved Dave's new Red Dwarf X: it went back to the golden age of RD, more like the middle series. It's a shame that most viewers seem to want reality TV than anything else.

  • rate this

    Comment number 30.

    I completely disagree with everyone that says that Blackadder has dated. The whole point of setting it in history is that it DIDN'T age. The jokes are still hilariously funny, and you need no reliance on knowledge of contemporary 80s popular culture, unlike other sitcoms of that era.
    Come on, make it! One last hurrah for one of the funniest comedies ever to grace our screens...

  • rate this

    Comment number 29.

    @Knut Largerson , 28

    I disagree - my 12 & 16 year old sons find it hilarious.

    As for offence, good comedy is offensive - come on BBC, get the gang together for an anniversary special!

  • rate this

    Comment number 28.

    Some stuff is of it's time.

    Blackadder was very 1980s, still funny to watch if you've seen it before but two generations will just yawn watching it, plus halfs it original audience is dead.

  • rate this

    Comment number 27.

    Given the rubbish constantly broadcast by the BBC,4hrs per day of antiques,house auction and DIY,for the rich,would this be any worse?

  • rate this

    Comment number 26.

    Oh go on, please!

    Richard and Ben, finish it off, and let's have one last BA hoorah!

    You know you'll be loved by every fan even more for doing it, we need you to do this for us.

  • rate this

    Comment number 25.

    It is a pity they did not make it, it would have been good. If you cannot laugh at yourself you have no right to laugh at anyone. I think team should have got it right and no offended to many people. There will we someone on matter what you do they are offended.

  • rate this

    Comment number 24.

    Too many people these days feel they have to pussyfoot around a vocal minority in case they get offended. So what if they do? They can turn off the telly instead of setting fire to buildings and acting like a horde of uncivilised barbarians. There should be no concern about offending anyone with this script and make it...

  • rate this

    Comment number 23.

    Do you have a new story idea for your favourite TV show? Or is there a classic TV series you would like to see back on our screens?

  • rate this

    Comment number 22.

    Given the utter rubbish that the BBC is putting on at the moment (strictly, total wipe out, the national lottery, coverage of the american elections (???) ) why on earth dont they make this???

  • rate this

    Comment number 21.

    So would love to watch this :) we need more witty and edgy comedy !

  • Comment number 20.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this

    Comment number 19.

    Richard Curtis also made the vomit inducing Love Actually, thank the lord this never came to fruition.

  • rate this

    Comment number 18.

    If I promise to be more offended that it wasn't made than those who would have been offended that it was, can it be produced now? Offence is now like a democratic measure rather than a personal view.

  • rate this

    Comment number 17.

    "He wrote on the script that one of the reasons it didn't get used was because it was a strange cross between Fawlty Towers and Life of Brian.

    Imgaine what would have happen today if Monty Python decided to film "Life of Mehmet".

    I don't think andy movie theater let alone a network would dare to show it.

  • rate this

    Comment number 16.

    I am up for watching it.
    It won't offend me or most of England after all its not Islam it's taking the mickey out of.
    It would be worth having the TV on at Xmas just to watch that

  • rate this

    Comment number 15.

    Red Dwarf X is just a middled aged man, middle aged cat, middle aged Hologram, middle aged computer and middle aged robot.

    Another Blackadder would appeal to the same Audience.

    Middle aged viewers.

    Would rather see repeats of the series on Dave.

    Blackadder goes forth was timeless, incisive wit.

  • rate this

    Comment number 14.

    Come on BBC, get the script finished and lets have a really great british comedy return. It was this type of comedy that made the BBC the best in the world. No one else dare use this irrevernt type of material. I see too amny here want to stop free speech, the one thing that makes the UK unique.

  • rate this

    Comment number 13.

    The funniest, most intelligent and irreverent comedy ever. It simply doesn't get better than Blackadder.

  • rate this

    Comment number 12.

    I see the British need to inflate everything to the dramatic is still alive and well. Hardly "lost" was it? More like "unprinted"...


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