'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 91.

    My favourite Blackadder was the second series, in Elizabethan England. Miranda Richardson as 'Queenie'. Someone at the BBC really does need to persuade Rowan Atkinson, Tony Robinson, Tim McInnerny, Hugh Laurie and Stephen Fry to reprise Blackadder. Come on, how about "Blackadder - The Movie"?

  • rate this

    Comment number 90.

    Probably not quite such a good idea to make a programme along those lines any more (which is a shame but times have changed) - HOWEVER, surely the BBC must know that BA was one of the funniest (and at times thought provoking) comedy series ever. The very last programme brought tears of laughter and tears of sadness within minutes of each other.

    Come on BBC, someone must have "a cunning plan...."

  • rate this

    Comment number 89.

    For what it's worth, I'm 25 and I've been a fan of Blackadder since I was a teen - I'm not bothered about when the show was made, or the age of the people involved, or the age of the target audience... it's the quality that counts! I have absolutely no interest in TOWIE type shows, the fact they are aimed at my age group or the people in them are my age won't make me automatically like them.

  • rate this

    Comment number 88.

    @85 Surely not
    Haven't we got that already? Is it not called "The Thick of It"?

    If Blackadder were to return, I think the Industrial Revolution would be a good time to set it. Blackadder as a frustrated middle-manager of a factory, Baldrick as his assistant, Melchett as the insane boss, George as the equally gormless boss' son due to inherit the factory. It writes itself!

  • rate this

    Comment number 87.

    Knut 28 - my grand children, aged 13, 12, and 10 love Blackadder. They are far from dead. Maybe you have had a sense of humour bypass

  • rate this

    Comment number 86.

    I think Auntie Beeb should make the show, and I also think Richard Curtis should get the old gay back together and there should be another Blackadder series set in a far more modern time period as already suggested. The Beeb does lack a fair amount of good quality comedy shows, the refreshing Mrs Browns Boys & Miranda accepted.

  • rate this

    Comment number 85.

    Yes to more Blackadderr.

    Percy as a chinless wonder tory PM.

    Blackadder as his PR man.

    Baldrick as chancellor with cunning plans.

    They really couldn't do any worse than what we tolerate in reality.

  • rate this

    Comment number 84.

    Two things you should know about the Three Wise Men.

    First they are men. And second, they ... are ...

    Wise ?

  • rate this

    Comment number 83.

    Please make it!

  • rate this

    Comment number 82.

    Oh to have this made in time for Christmas 2012. Sit down after lunch, watch The Queen's Speech and have this on and have a really good "belly laugh". That is a rare occurence these days. I doubt that the Christians would be setting fire the the churches around the globe because of so called "blasphemy". What a change it would be from the usual repeats. Spend some BBC please!

  • rate this

    Comment number 81.

    I love Blackadder and the last episode of BGF was TV history. I don't think I would watch this episode though as it trivialises one of the pivotal events of history that relates to my faith (the birth of Christ) but that's my choice. I wouldn't have a problem if they made it though as we live in a allegedly free country and there are far more concerning things than an irreverent comedy show!

  • rate this

    Comment number 80.

    I disagree with No.15.
    My 13 year old son thinks it's hilarious. And we're Americans.

  • rate this

    Comment number 79.

    Tony Robinson is still Baldrick on Time Team.

  • rate this

    Comment number 78.

    Ziggyboy, if you think BA is rubbish why bother reading an article about it & then making a comment - ? Dopy

  • rate this

    Comment number 77.

    Can't comment on this.
    I spend my life focussing on the acquisition of turnips!

  • rate this

    Comment number 76.

    Sounded like it would've been a good episode!

    Not sure why it's referred to as a 'lost' script though, seeing as it never was actually lost or missing.

  • rate this

    Comment number 75.

    Please I will do anything - even pay my licence fee - if you stop Tony Robinson ever appearing on television again.

  • rate this

    Comment number 74.

    IF the draft is worth editing and producing it might be worth seeing. It was obviously not used for a reason.

    ~Cult status corrupts the best of something by giving as much reverence to the tat that has been discarded. Preserve the best to maintain the quality please!

  • rate this

    Comment number 73.

    Dear BBC News #23. We're very tired of paying licence fees only to find unending repeats of ancient *joys* like Dad's Army. (WW2 is over, BTW). Any amusing new comedies that do make it through seem to be cancelled for no good reason, whilst 40 year old TV shows are deemed to give viewers value for money. You've cut most good sport & any funds Auntie gets goes into the back pockets of *celebrities*

  • rate this

    Comment number 72.

    Edmund, Baldrick & Co should have been given a final series as Space Explorers, or Space Cadets perhaps in the case of the lovely Mr Baldrick


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