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‘Cunning plan’ to reunite Blackadder and Baldrick

Would Rowan Atkinson be up for a fifth series? A stage adaptation in the West End?

Would Rowan Atkinson be up for a fifth series? A stage adaptation in the West End? Photo: Twitter

More than 40 years after the BBC gave the green light to a bunch of British comedians to write and star in an off-beat medieval comedy, Blackadder, one of the original team has come up with a cunning plan.

A reunion, of sorts, but not on our television sets.

The Blackadder series, written by Ben Elton and Richard Curtis, starred a who’s who of 1980s British entertainment including Rowan Atkinson (who co-wrote the first series), Tony Robinson, Miranda Richardson, Stephen Fry and Hugh Laurie.

It ran for four seasons from 1983 to 1989 – plus several one-off instalments –  and each was set in a different historical period, from the 1400s to the trenches of World War I.

Elton, 64, author of 16 novels and producer of numerous documentaries, live gigs and sitcoms (Upstart Crow, The Young Ones) since those heady days, has now hinted Blackadder might return.

“A Blackadder play, if Richard was keen on it, I’d be interested. Not an adaptation of episodes, it would be an original play,” he told UK tabloid, The Sun, on April 29.

The storylines revolved around the unattractive, cunning, cowardly and much unloved son of Richard IV, Prince Edmund (played by Atkinson), who was aided in weekly exploits by his clever-not-so-clever sidekick Baldrick (Robinson).

Asked if he could lure Atkinson, Fry, Laurie and Robinson back to the reading room, he left the door wide open.

“If they want to be in it, that’s up to them,” adding that any decision to bring back Blackadder would rest on himself, Curtis, Atkinson and John Lloyd, who was the producer.

In much the same way John Cleese turned Fawlty Towers into a stage production, as well as a musical version of 1980s UK sitcom, Only Fools and Horses staged in the West End, Blackadder could take to the stage.

Like the old days, in front of a live audience.

Where are they now?

There’s been hints of a fifth Blackadder over the years, most recently in 2019, when The Sun reported the core group had met in London.

By the sounds of it, that meeting was about another series not a stage adaptation.

There have been four series: The Black Adder (set in 1485), Blackadder 11 (set during the reign of Queen Elizabeth I in the 1550s), Blackadder the Third (1800s) and Blackadder Goes Forth (set in 1917 on the Western Front).

“They were all having a great laugh and they are all old friends. So they just said, ‘Yes, let’s do it’. It is being written now. Rowan has been saying he is extremely excited,” a source told the paper.

“Curtis and Atkinson have discussed guest appearances from stars such as Tom Hardy [Mad Max: Fury Road] and Russell Brand [embattled UK comedian],” the source said.

“The thing about Blackadder was, it was a young man’s show criticising older people, saying how stupid those in authority were,” said Curtis, who went on to write Hollywood romcoms, Love Actually and Four Weddings and a Funeral.

“So I did once think, ‘If we ever did anything again, it should be Blackadder as a teacher in a university, about how much we hate young people’.

“It will be in the modern day. Blackadder will be a lot older, of course, so they’ve come up with the ageing university lecturer idea.”

Rowan Atkinson starred most recently in Wonka with Timothée Chalamet. Photo: Getty

Rowan Atkinson, 69

Atkinson has never been far from a television or film set during the past five decades, living long in our collective hearts after he co-wrote and starred in Not the Nine O’Clock News, Mr Bean, and as Johnny English in the James Bond parody film franchise.

He recently starred in documentary, Blackadder: A Cunning Story, which looked at the making of the entire Blackadder series to commemorate its 40th anniversary.

Sir Tony Robinson, 77

A long-time political activist and lover of archaeology and history, Robinson has presented 270 episodes of TV series Time Team, where a group archaeologists spend three days digging up historical artefacts on different historical sites around Britain.

He was knighted by the Queen in 2013 for public and political service, and is a member of Oxfam and Comic Relief (founded by Curtis and Lenny Henry).

Actor Hugh Laurie is also known for his musical talents. Photo: Getty

Hugh Lawrie, 64

Best known for playing the quirky doctor who uses a walking stick, in House, from 2004 to 2012, Lawrie is also a singer and author, penning best-selling thriller, The Gun Seller.

He’s voiced animations, most recently for The Canterville Ghost (2023).

Stephen Fry at the International Festival of Independent Cinema in Krakow, Poland, on April 26. Photo: Getty

Stephen Fry, 66

Host of QI, and most recently host of the Australian version of TV game show, Jeopardy, the actor, writer and producer has seven projects in development, five films in post-production and is currently filming the TV series Too Much.

Miranda Richardson, 66

Richardson, who starred in three of the four Blackadder series, had a steady career in TV and in film, including roles in The Hours, Sleepy Hollow, The Crying Game, Harry Potter, Churchill and Good Omens.

Her most recent gig was voicing Mrs Tweedy on Chicken Run: Dawn of the Nuggets.

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