'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 111.

    I always believed - as an Englishman AND a Christian - that we have an unrivalled ability to parody what we will, without fear of small-minded political correctness interferring. It should be screened, if only to show the radicals how to laugh.

  • rate this

    Comment number 110.

    How wonderful Darling . . .

  • rate this

    Comment number 109.

    I'm afraid I find almost all of Blackadder completely unfunny. The only exception is small doses of the one about WW I, but even there the endless repetition of jokes like "Darling" verges on the moronic. Humour must have wit to really work for me, be so close to reality that it almost hurts to watch it. Dads Army, Fawlty Towers, Porridge, Jeeves & Wooster - these are seriously funny!

  • rate this

    Comment number 108.

    Unfortunately I think Baldricks cunning plans are more likely to come together than getting all of the original actors making it into a christmas special.

    I hope it does happen though, the BBC haven't produced a decent comedy since Blackadder (apart form The Office).

  • rate this

    Comment number 107.

    Give it to Dave. They've worked wonders with Red Dwarf X.

    Not really. The filming looks like a continuation of the tech used in season 8/9. And it's been done on the cheap, cheaper than previous series, example - I could identify the left hand flight stick stuck on the captains chair of the derelict ship - it's a Thrustmaster flight stick for use on a PS3/PC, I have one myself.

  • rate this

    Comment number 106.

    So what are you waiting for BBC?

    Brilliant comedy which is one of the things you do best (along with wildlife and documentaries).

    Bring it on - only 2+ months until Xmas

  • rate this

    Comment number 105.

    @93 Agree to a point but there is a middle ground between being offended and embracing something, that's where I stand. I wouldn't be offended or oppose the BBC making this episode but I wouldn't watch it as it is irreverent to something I choose to treat with reverence. I feel the same way about the Life of Brian - saw it before my conversion, have nothing against it but wouldn't watch it again.

  • rate this

    Comment number 104.

    Blackadder wipes the floor with just about any comedy made in the past ten - fifteen years. Another episode however could tarnish a superb legacy. I'm not so sure it's a good idea...temptig though it is.

    My fave series is the litle repeated series one. Great haircuts...

  • rate this

    Comment number 103.

    Give it to Dave. They've worked wonders with Red Dwarf X. They can work more wonders with an extra series of Blackadder..

  • rate this

    Comment number 102.

    The birth of Christ Lol
    It happens every year check this out and have a lie in on a Sunday.

  • rate this

    Comment number 101.

    100. So_long_and_thanks_for_all_the_fish

    First episode was Broadcast in June 1983, ending with the Fourth (Forth) series, November 1989.

    Yes that's more than twenty years, it's nearly thirty years.

    World average life expectancy is 67.2 Years, hence the assertion.

    What don't you understand?

  • rate this

    Comment number 100.

    Knut Largerson - "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."

    You got evidence that compares the viewing figures of the time & the death rates over the last 20+ years that supports that claim?


  • rate this

    Comment number 99.

    All I can say is, it would be a sin NOT to do this. It sounds like an absolute classic and would really bring it up to date. I don't think we're so hung up on christianity that we don't know how to have a laugh at it, those that do need to chillax about it.

  • rate this

    Comment number 98.

    It’s funny how a topic like this seems to make everyone feel they are expert in defining what does, and doesn’t constitute what the views of all people calling themselves Christian!

    The most likely reason the program wasn’t commissioned was that it wasn’t as funny as the one they eventually made, I’m happy to believe that.

  • rate this

    Comment number 97.

    Do you think it was dropped because baldrick was dressed as a female turkey when he was groped by a festive DJ ?

  • rate this

    Comment number 96.

    Folks, buy the boxed set.

    24 Episodes and three specials.

    What would one more special without the original cast add to that superb Legacy?

  • rate this

    Comment number 95.

    It's no surprise that the BBC's best-selling DVD's are classics like Fawlty Towers and Blackadder. They used to develop raw talent from the fringes of comedy.

    But it's hard to blame them for the current dearth of quality, considering that 'the dream' these days is to star in a "reality" show. The talent pool has dried up.

    I blame the audience who tune into this bunk. You get what you deserve.

  • rate this

    Comment number 94.

    BlackAdder was Atkinson's finest piece. Possibly true for the entire cast bar Laurie (House). Atkinson certainly went downhill afterwards - Bean, Barclay Card, Johnny English.

    Would love to see a new series - Edmund, the hard done by tax evader, Baldrick the serf aka accountant, Hugh Laurie possibly as a judge etc.

    There's so much material they could use.

  • rate this

    Comment number 93.

    As a Christian, I would not in any way be offended. If this sort of thing offends your faith, then your faith is not very strong. Christ was offensive, and questioned the established ideas - maybe he was not the messiah, just a very naughty boy.

  • rate this

    Comment number 92.

    I hope this programme is made. A cross between Life of Brian and Fawlty Towers sounds good to me.


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