'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

Related Stories

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."


More on This Story

Related Stories

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites


This entry is now closed for comments

Jump to comments pagination
  • rate this

    Comment number 71.

    I love Blackadder but this sounds like a right turkey.

  • Comment number 70.

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

  • rate this

    Comment number 69.

    53.Jester Minute

    I completely agree with you. I would love to see more not-quite-so-PC comedies about. Look at Citizen Khan. It wasn't my cup of tea, I found it rather bland, but the amount of compliants makes anything as cutting as a Blackadder-esque modern comedy almost impossible. Everything seems to be getting more bland. The new Doctor Who turned me off a series I loved for years.

  • rate this

    Comment number 68.

    Black Adder in Bethlehem,WoW.Just think how many people you could upset and make laugh at the same time.

  • rate this

    Comment number 67.

    15 Knut Largerson
    Are you suggesting middle aged people shouldn’t be allowed to enjoy comedy? There is already plenty of bland stuff aimed at young people. BBC 3 is full of it.
    Yes, I’m middle aged and loving life and having a good laugh. Incidentally, my sons are both in their 20’s and love Blackadder far more than most of the stuff aimed at their generation.

  • rate this

    Comment number 66.

    I'm not sure I want this to be made in case I suffer crushing disappointment the quality isn't up to scratch. By series 4 - I suspect I'm in a minority - the cliched bits were getting overused, e.g. Baldrick's cunning plans. Don't need more of that.

    OTOH, if it *does* get made, can the BBC persuade the cast to take their 1980s fees? They probably couldn't afford them at their current rates!

  • rate this

    Comment number 65.

    the last Blackadder that ended at the Somme was a fitting end to that section of the families history...now one hundred years later the family story needs continuing....i wonder what edmond, percy, balders etc are doing now...I see Edmond as a council official struggling to make it work with baldrick as a bus driver..percy as mayor etc ...just a thought BA21 needs telling

  • rate this

    Comment number 64.

    It is the insidious side of censorship, when artists and writers self-censor to avoid some imagined future offence which may be caused by their work. Its really doing the work of the book-burners and fanatics, and normalising their bigotry.

  • rate this

    Comment number 63.

    Sensible decision. In these times of unrest, taking the choice not to upset people unnecessarily particularly on a religous holiday was a classy act. Loved Christmas Carol anyway. I would love to see a Blackadder Movie as there would be lots of extra scope but the key is the good writing. I feel Blackadder was the zenith of Atkinson's work to date as Mr Bean and Johnny English are not as pointed.

  • rate this

    Comment number 62.

    As a Christian, may I say... I would love love love to see this episode!!! Please Please please, come on BBC, bring the nation out of the doldrums with another rousing episode of Blackadder! (who knows, maybe it will up the ratings so much, you'll be encouraged to repeat the whole series for us)

  • rate this

    Comment number 61.

    It's hardly a "lost Blackaddet script" if it was on Curtis's computer. Personally I'm glad they went with Blackadder's Christmas Carol as I thought it was hilarious. Much better than the other one-offs which didn't quite work, especially Back and Forth.

  • rate this

    Comment number 60.

    33 - well you remember it - not brilliant but it had its good bits. Monty Python and Blackadder are ageless diamonds, Bottom, Men behaving badly, all good. Mrs Browns Boys is the only good comedy on the go at the moment. The fear of twitterati offence means writers and producers are wary, and comedy of that calibre wont get made anymore, Glad Citizen Khan has a touch of the it, but we need more!

  • rate this

    Comment number 59.

    I always thought the last script could have been "Black to the Future" A nice follow on from the series that went through the ages.Would have been a good idea.... maybe?

  • rate this

    Comment number 58.

    Ah yes back in the day when the nation had a sense of humour or should i say was allowed one. Now the tv is as dull as ditch water, Blackadder was genius and i confess i was addicted to it, everything from sailing round the Isle of Wight for 6 months drinking your own wee to jumping 200ft in the air and spreading yourself over a wide area, Comic genius. More please!!!

  • rate this

    Comment number 57.


    Until it was shown in America, where they start burning copies and accusing Brits of anti Americanism.

    Anyone who'd dared laugh would be extradited!

    But still think it should be made / shown.

  • rate this

    Comment number 56.

    I wonder how the Christian faith would react. Threats, violence, rioting, murder?

    More like St Peter's church in Shrewsbury would postpone their tea and cake morning until the following Wednesday, and Dorothy Green writes into points of view.

  • rate this

    Comment number 55.

    It's a pity. Black adder in Bethlehem episode would have been so cool but it seems anything regarding religion is still a touchy subject? Take Life of Brian for example and the outrage over nothing but unfortunately today we would have a cod piece in hell's chance of remaking this lost gem unless Black Adder returned Bin Laden and Baldrick as G W Bush.

  • rate this

    Comment number 54.

    I don't understand comments about it not being worthy of HYS.
    Why ? Is there some kind of sliding scale of worthiness ? Would you be the arbiters ? If you don't consider it worth discussing why are you on here making a comment ? Why did you read the article ? What is the point of it all ? What have I done with my life ?
    Now look what you've done. I'll be depressed for the rest of the day now.

  • rate this

    Comment number 53.

    31 Helen said: "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."

    Best reason yet for showing it. Comedy is brilliant way of to demonstrate the absurdity of taking offence at anything and everything. No-one has any intrinsic "human right" not to be offended by the views (or humour) of others.

  • rate this

    Comment number 52.

    Oh for some droll humour to lighten up the tedious drivel that is the usual tv offerings - why not show it?


Page 3 of 6


More Entertainment & Arts stories



Try our new site and tell us what you think. Learn more
Take me there

Copyright © 2015 BBC. The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.