List of Blackadder characters

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This article lists the characters in the four series and three special episodes of the British sitcom Blackadder. Blackadder was notable for featuring many repeating characters and actors, with Rowan Atkinson as the eponymous protagonist, Edmund Blackadder, and Tony Robinson as his sidekick Baldrick, together with numerous other actors in one-off parts.

Main characters[edit]

Edmund Blackadder[edit]

Baldrick[edit]

Baldrick is the name of several characters throughout the series. Each one serves as Blackadder's servant, sidekick and acts as a foil to the lead character. Baldrick is the only character besides Blackadder himself to appear in all instalments of the series, and can arguably be seen as Blackadder's best friend despite Blackadder's apparent contempt for him.

Melchett[edit]

Melchett (Stephen Fry) is a family line. There were two main Melchetts: Lord Melchett and General Melchett.

Melchett shared the trademark bellow "Baaah!" with Fry's earlier portrayal of Wellington, which would be delivered at random intervals for no apparent reason. In a BBC Four interview broadcast on 17 August 2007 and uploaded by the BBC to YouTube, Fry goes into some depth on the "odd history" of Melchett's "Baaah!", explaining that it began as early as his work in student productions of Shakespeare at Queens' College, Cambridge, where he would produce strange noises in order to amuse the audience. He also notes that Melchett's "Baaah!" can be found in his other acting work (although in a more subtle form), such as Peter's Friends.[1]

Lord Percy Percy[edit]

Lord Percy Percy (Tim McInnerny) is the name given to a pair of related characters. The Lord Percy of Blackadder II is the descendant of that seen in The Black Adder. The character derives his name from the factual Percy family. Unlike the first two Blackadders and Baldricks, the two Lord Percys are almost identical; both are portrayed as dim-witted, gullible and foppish. In the first series, Percy is Duke of Northumberland, while in the second he is heir to the title. The title of Duke of Northumberland was not in fact held by a real person surnamed Percy until 1766 when Hugh Percy, born Hugh Smithson, was awarded the title, although the title of the Earl of Northumberland was granted to a Percy in 1377.

Darling[edit]

Darling (Tim McInnerny) is the name of several characters. Introduced in its fourth iteration, Blackadder Goes Forth, Captain Kevin Darling is main character Captain Edmund Blackadder (Rowan Atkinson)'s intellectual peer and bitter rival; while Blackadder reluctantly serves in World War I trenches, Darling is safely stationed some distance from the front line. Darling is the sycophantic adjutant to Stephen Fry's General Melchett. The character was originally conceived as "Captain Cartwright"; writers Ben Elton and Richard Curtis were simply unable to think of a more amusing name for him. Eventually however, Stephen Fry suggested "Darling" would be a more comedic alternative; the series makes use of a recurring joke where his name is used or referred to for comedic effect.[2]

Although Darling only features as a main character for one series of the original Blackadder run, several of his ancestors and descendants are also portrayed by McInnerny, in keeping with the series' ongoing motif of identical descendants. The Blackadder feature-length special Blackadder: Back & Forth (1999) introduced descendent character Archdeacon Darling, on better terms with the contemporary Blackadder. The time travel narrative of the special also allowed writers to introduce more historical Darlings to the series' chronology: the Duke of Darling, aide to the Duke of Wellington (Fry), and the Duc de Darling, assistant to Napoleon I (Simon Russell Beale). The final Darling, however, is also a Blackadder and was portrayed by Atkinson in BBC promotional materials in 2002; the name Sir Osmond Darling-Blackadder suggests an unknown familial union between Blackadders and Darlings at some point in their histories.

George[edit]

George (Hugh Laurie) appears as "Prince George", Prince Regent of England and a bit of a loud mouthed idiot, "Lt. The Hon. George Colthurst St Barleigh", an overexcited and keen young lieutenant that is a bit too jolly and has never felt the full blow of the war, and "Lt. The Hon. George Bufton-Tufton."

Bob[edit]

Bob is a pseudonym used by two characters, both female, both pretending to be male and both played by Gabrielle Glaister.

Lord Flashheart[edit]

Lord Flashheart (Rik Mayall) is the name of two characters. The first Lord Flashheart appeared in a single scene of the first episode of the second series of Blackadder. His descendant, Squadron Commander the Lord Flashheart, appeared as a major character in the fourth series in an episode called "Private Plane". In the credits of this episode the name Flashheart is written Flasheart.

Lord Flashheart is boisterous, arrogant and appears very attractive to all the women he comes in contact with. He is extremely popular among his peers, and immediately becomes the centre of attention whenever he enters a room, usually by bursting through a wall in a spectacular fashion. The two Flashhearts are stereotypes of a certain kind of hero (the Elizabethan swashbuckler and the World War I RFC flying ace, respectively), slanted to emphasise the negative qualities associated with such characters such as narcissism, sexism, homophobia, and promiscuity.[citation needed] His catchphrase is to shout "Woof!" or "Let's do-oo-ooooo it!" very loudly, while thrusting his pelvis suggestively. He commonly uses sexual innuendoes in ordinary conversation, for example, "Am I pleased to see you, or did I just put a canoe in my pocket?" Rik Mayall later recalled, "I was surprised when they asked me. Very honouring that they asked me. 'Alright,' I said, 'I'll do it as long as I get more laughs than Rowan.'"[3]

Non-recurring major characters[edit]

Prince Ludwig the Indestructible[edit]

Prince Ludwig the Indestructible (Hugh Laurie) appears in "Chains", the final episode of Blackadder II, as a German master of disguise who kidnaps Lord Blackadder and Lord Melchett, in 1566 and imprisons them in his dungeon under the watch of German guards and a Spanish inquisitorial co-conspirator. From a real-world point of view, this is part of Hugh Laurie's continuous set of appearances in Blackadder, but the last of those in which he is only credited as a guest actor.

King Richard IV of England[edit]

King Richard IV of England, Scotland and Ireland (Brian Blessed) is the father of Prince Edmund Plantagenet and serves as the main antagonist in the first series. The character is very loosely based on the historical figure Richard of Shrewsbury, 1st Duke of York, one of the Princes in the Tower who disappeared in 1483. In the alternate chronology of The Black Adder, King Richard III of England (played by Peter Cook) is introduced as being a "kind and thoughtful man" who cherishes his nephews (the two princes) placed into his care, in contrast to the common historical portrait of Richard III as a usurper who murdered the princes. Richard, Duke of York grew into "a big strong boy" and becomes his uncle's favourite, reflected by his being seated at the side of the king at the banquet on the eve of the Battle of Bosworth Field, which Richard wins. As such, Richard supports the House of York during the Wars of the Roses.[4]

Gertrude of Flanders[edit]

Gertrude of Flanders (Elspet Gray) is the wife of King Richard of England and Scotland and mother of Princes Harry and Edmund. In attitude, Gertrude mainly seems to be rather distant and absent-minded. She once had an affair with a Scottish laird, which may have resulted in Edmund's birth. Even Gertrude doesn't seem entirely sure who his father was. She appears mainly to give Edmund unwanted advice and embarrass him. The character's name is never given in dialogue in The Black Adder, her name only appearing in the credits.

Nursie[edit]

Nursie (Patsy Byrne), real name "Bernard", appears in all six episodes of Blackadder II and two of the Blackadder specials; Blackadder's Christmas Carol and Blackadder: Back & Forth. As she is now so well known (after a 50-year career) Byrne is sometimes asked if she keeps the cow costume in her wardrobe.[5] Once Queenie's childhood nurse, by the time of her appearances in Blackadder II, Nursie is either senile or otherwise irreversibly stupid, but remains at court at the side of the Queen for unknown reasons, as the Queen repeatedly treats Nursie with contempt. Nursie frequently embarrasses herself by openly recounting tales of the Queen's childhood, prompting Queenie's standard reply of "Shut up, Nursie." She is also known for her complete non sequiturs in conversation. Lord Blackadder describes her as "a sad, insane old woman with an udder fixation."[6]

Harry, Prince of Wales[edit]

Prince Henry "Harry" Plantagenet, Earl of March (1460-1498) (Robert East) was in Blackadder (series 1). His Royal titles were the Prince of Wales, Earl of March, Captain of the Guard, Grand Warden of the Northern and Eastern Marches, Chief Lunatic of the Duchy of Gloucester, Viceroy of Wales, Sheriff of Nottingham, Marquess of the Midlands, Lord Po-Maker-In-Ordinary, and Harbinger of the Doomed Rat. A member of the House of York, Harry is the first son of King Richard IV of England (Brian Blessed) and Queen consort Gertrude of Flanders (Elspet Gray) and great-nephew of Richard III (Peter Cook). He has a younger brother (possibly his half-brother), Prince Edmund, Duke of Edinburgh (Rowan Atkinson).

The first portrayal of Prince Harry in the Blackadder story world was in the pilot episode which was shot in 1983 but never broadcast. In this episode, which is set sometime during the Elizabethan Era, Harry's character is one of two sons of the King and Queen of England. Although monarchs are not explicitly named, Harry may be intended as a fictional offspring of Queen Elizabeth I. This version of the character was played by the actor Robert Bathurst.[7] Prince Harry made his first televised appearance (played by Robert East) in episode 1 of The Black Adder, entitled "The Foretelling", in which the events of the first series are set up by rewriting a period of English history and telling the story of a fictional ruling monarch who succeeds Richard III after the Battle of Bosworth Field.

Mrs Miggins[edit]

Mrs Miggins (Helen Atkinson-Wood) plays a supporting role in Blackadder the Third.[8][9] In Blackadder II, Mrs Miggins is referred to as pie shop owner but never appears. In the third series, Mrs Miggins plays a major role and appears in all episodes. She now owns a coffee shop that Blackadder visits regularly.[10]

Queenie[edit]

"Queenie" (Miranda Richardson) is a caricature of the historical figure Queen Elizabeth I of England, as the main antagonist in Blackadder II. Though only twice referred to as "Queenie" in the series, this name is commonly used by the general public.[citation needed] In contrast to the usual regal and austere depiction of Elizabeth I, Miranda Richardson's portrayal is childish, spoiled and silly, possessing a fiery temper.[11] Amanda Barrie's portrayal of Cleopatra in the 1964 film Carry on Cleo as a childish seductress has been suggested as an inspiration for Richardson's interpretation of Elizabeth I.[12] It has been remarked that Queenie closely resembles the character Violet Elizabeth Bott featured in the Just William books of Richmal Crompton.

Queenie's immature behaviour is expressed in her desire to "get squiffy and seduce nobles" (and force presents off them on pain of death). A naughty schoolgirl at heart, Queenie loves to party, play games and get drunk. If anyone fails to laugh at her jokes, they risk execution, but, to her followers' bemusement and frustration, she sometimes tires of their toadying and welcomes a more cynical approach.

Minor characters[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Interview with Stephen Fry, broadcast 17/08/07". YouTube. Retrieved 21 July 2007. 
  2. ^ "The Insider". 
  3. ^ Rik Mayall Blackadder Interview - YouTube
  4. ^ Curtis et al. 1999: 1
  5. ^ "Blackadder interviews". BBC. Retrieved 2009-07-19. 
  6. ^ "Blackadder, Chains". BBC. Retrieved 2009-07-19. 
  7. ^ "The Pilot Episode". Blackadder Hall. Retrieved 26 December 2010. 
  8. ^ Paul Evans (freelance writer) (28 March 2008). "Enamoured of Carla Bruni?". New Statesman. Retrieved 11 April 2011. "As Mrs Miggins said of the fleeing French aristos in Blackadder the Third: “ooh la la and an éclair for both of us!”" 
  9. ^ Michael Klossner (2002), The Europe of 1500-1815 on film and television, p. 44 
  10. ^ David Brandon (2008), Life in a Seventeenth-Century Coffee Shop, "Most of us would have seen the hilarious depiction of Mrs Miggins' coffee shop in "Blackadder," but what was it really like in the first cafes, as coffee drinking became more popular?" 
  11. ^ Grabes, Herbert (2005). Literature, literary history and cultural memory. Gunter Narr Verlag. p. 206. ISBN 978-3-8233-4175-8. 
  12. ^ Ross, Robert; Collins, Phil (2002). The Carry on companion. Batsford. p. 46. ISBN 978-0-7134-8771-8. 
  13. ^ a b Roberts, J.F. The True History of the Black Adder : The complete and unadulterated history of the creation of a comedy legend. London: Preface. p. 121. ISBN 9781848093461. Retrieved 1 January 2013. 
  14. ^ "The Queen of Spain's Beard". BBC Comedy. May 2003. Retrieved 1 January 2013.