The possibility of a Blackadder revival has been on the table for a while, but this week Richard Curtis has revived speculation by mentioning a ‘gorgeous’ reunion between frontmen Rowan Atkinson and Tony Robinson.
We should all make one thing clear: Blackadder is one of, if not the best British sitcom of all time. Some might say that title belongs to Only Fools and Horses, but I beg to differ. Running between 1983-1989, Blackadder had a lineup of serious talent and over the course of its four series and multiple specials the best of British comedy found its playground. Blackadder was unique in that it took place across different timelines in history, from the Middle Ages to the First World War, always focusing on the eloquent antihero Blackadder (Atkinson) and his dim-witted servant Baldrick (Robinson).
Writer Richard Curtis was also a huge driving force in the comedy, so I’m really pleased to hear that he may be reviving the series for a one-off special. Hot off the heels of his substantive work on Yesterday, a Blackadder sequel would allow him to return to more nostalgic material. He’s helmed one-off TV shorts like Love, Actually and Four Weddings for TV in recent years, so he’s well-versed in re-runs by now. While Curtis hasn’t committed to starting work on anything specific at the moment, he’s full of ideas. In interviews, he has described the potential project:
“The thing about Blackadder was, it was a young man’s show criticising older people, saying how stupid those in authority were. 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 would definitely be a change to see Blackadder in a university, where his intellect and deprecating wit could meet in the middle, and there’d be plenty about university life to skewer. What’s also in the pipeline is a live show, which would be a welcome addition and would allow Atkinson and Robinson to showcase their full comedic flair in person — the last time they appeared together was in 2012. Curtis continued: “I’m always hoping Rowan and I will do one last live show and bring on Blackadder for a 10-minute bit. Getting Rowan and Tony Robinson on stage together again would be gorgeous.”
There’s no doubt that the series was a pinnacle of British comedy. The leads made an excellent duo, and where else could you find talent like Stephen Fry, Hugh Laurie and Brian Blessed under one roof? The setting, costumes and dialogue always felt self-consciously theatrical and for that reason a live show would work just as well as a TV-slot special. The biggest appeal is, of course, the perfect one-liners and intelligent wordplay, used to make a farce of any series historical event in British history that otherwise was treated with decorum. The British humour may take a bit of getting used to if you’re not accustomed to it, but lines like “We’re in the stickiest situation since Sticky the Stick Insect got stuck on a sticky bun” or “The girl is wetter than a haddock’s bathing costume” are so daft that they’re just the kind of laughs that the series is built on.