Blackadder the Third
Blackadder the Third is the third series of the BBC sitcom Blackadder, written by Richard Curtis and Ben Elton, which aired from 17 September to 22 October 1987. The series was set during the Georgian Era, and saw the principal character, Mr. E. Blackadder, serve as butler to the Prince Regent and have to contend with, or cash in on, the fads of the age embraced by his master.
|Blackadder the Third|
Title screen of Blackadder the Third
|Created by||Richard Curtis & Ben Elton|
|Theme music composer||Howard Goodall|
|Country of origin||United Kingdom|
|No. of episodes||6 (list of episodes)|
|Running time||30 minutes|
|Original network||BBC One|
|Audio format||Monaural sound|
|Original release||17 September –|
22 October 1987
|Preceded by||Blackadder II|
|Followed by||Blackadder: The Cavalier Years|
The third series reduced the number of principal characters again compared with the previous series, but instead included a number of significant cameo roles by well-known comic actors. The programme won a BAFTA award for Best Comedy Series in 1988 and received three further nominations.
Blackadder the Third is set in the late 18th and early 19th centuries, a period known as the Regency. For much of this time, King George III was incapacitated due to poor mental health, and his son George, the Prince of Wales, acted as regent. During this period, he was known as "the Prince Regent". Although the Regency was in place between 1811 and 1820, the historical events and persons depicted and referenced appear to date the series before this time; anywhere in the period of the Age of Enlightenment between 1755 (the publication of Samuel Johnson's Dictionary) and 1805 (just before the Battle of Trafalgar).
In the series, E. Blackadder Esquire (Rowan Atkinson) is the head butler to the Prince of Wales (Hugh Laurie), a spoiled, foppish idiot. Despite Edmund's respected intelligence and abilities, he has no personal fortune to speak of. On the other hand, given the ease with which he is able to manipulate the Prince, he is generally financially comfortable. According to Edmund he has been serving the Prince Regent all of his life, ever since the Prince was breastfed (when he had to show the Prince which part of his mother was "serving the drinks").
Baldrick (Tony Robinson) remains similar to his Blackadder II predecessor, and although his "cunning plans" cease to be even remotely intelligent (except in the last episode), he is the most aware of political, religious and social events. As Blackadder himself is now a servant, Baldrick is labelled as Blackadder's "dogsbody". In this series, Baldrick often displays a more belligerent attitude towards his master, even referring to him once as a "lazy, big-nosed, rubber-faced bastard". Blackadder often affectionately calls him "Balders" (and Baldrick sometimes calls Blackadder "Mr. B.").
There are three main sets: the Prince's quarters, which are opulently decorated, the below-stairs kitchen hangout of Blackadder and Baldrick, which is dark and squalid (though, in fairness, very large and with a very high ceiling), and finally Mrs. Miggins' coffeehouse. Mrs. Miggins' pie shop was a never-seen running gag in Blackadder II; a descendant of hers is now finally shown, played by Helen Atkinson-Wood.
The plots featured rotten boroughs, Dr. Samuel Johnson (played by Robbie Coltrane), the French Revolution (featuring Chris Barrie) and the Scarlet Pimpernel, over-the-top theatrical actors, squirrel-hating female highwaymen, the practice of settling quarrels with a duel and the discussion of tactics with Duke of Wellington (played by Stephen Fry).
The last episode features Rowan Atkinson as Blackadder's Scottish cousin MacAdder, supposedly a fierce swordsman. This leads to a dialogue in which Atkinson is acting both parts. After this episode, Blackadder finds fortune and ends up (permanently) posing as the Prince Regent after the real prince, disguised as Blackadder, is shot by the Duke of Wellington.
The series aired for six episodes broadcast on Thursdays at 9:30pm on BBC One. The titles of the episodes are always a noun paired with another, derived from an adjective beginning with the same letters, based on the Jane Austen novel Sense and Sensibility. On the first broadcast, fifth episode Amy and Amiability was billed in the Radio Times under its working title of Cape and Capability.
|Title||Directed by||Written by||Original air date|
|13||1||"Dish and Dishonesty"||Mandie Fletcher||Richard Curtis & Ben Elton||17 September 1987|
Edmund attempts to win an election against the evil William Pitt the Younger (who plans to bankrupt Blackadder's master, the Prince Regent), using Baldrick (later known as Mr. S Baldrick, the initial letter standing for "Sodoff") as the MP. Unfortunately, after Baldrick wins, he votes for Pitt, pushing Blackadder to meddle with politics even further.Featuring Vincent Hanna as "his own great-great-grandfather."
|14||2||"Ink and Incapability"||Mandie Fletcher||Richard Curtis & Ben Elton||24 September 1987|
The Prince decides to become patron of Dr. Samuel Johnson and his new dictionary, until they become enemies. When Blackadder discovers that Baldrick has burnt Dr. Johnson's dictionary and Johnson has no copy, Blackadder must rewrite the dictionary.Guest starring Robbie Coltrane as Dr. Johnson.
|15||3||"Nob and Nobility"||Mandie Fletcher||Richard Curtis & Ben Elton||1 October 1987|
Irritated by the new obsession with all things French, Blackadder makes a bet with Topper and Smedley and goes out to rescue an aristocrat and claim his 1,000 guineas.Guest starred Tim McInnerny, Nigel Planer and Chris Barrie.
|16||4||"Sense and Senility"||Mandie Fletcher||Richard Curtis & Ben Elton||8 October 1987|
When an assassination attempt is made on the Prince, Blackadder decides to help him with his image by writing a public speech. Against Blackadder's advice, the Prince employs two actors, Mossop and Keanrick, to coach him on how to give the speech.Guest starring Hugh Paddick, Kenneth Connor and Ben Elton.
|17||5||"Amy and Amiability"||Mandie Fletcher||Richard Curtis & Ben Elton||15 October 1987|
When the Prince runs out of money, Edmund attempts to marry him off to the daughter of a rich industrialist, but is thwarted at every turn by the mysterious highwayman "The Shadow".Guest appearances by Miranda Richardson as Amy Hardwood and Warren Clarke as Mr Hardwood.
|18||6||"Duel and Duality"||Mandie Fletcher||Richard Curtis & Ben Elton||22 October 1987|
The Duke of Wellington promises to kill the Prince in a duel after the Prince hangs out with the Duke's nieces. Baldrick comes up with a plan involving Blackadder taking the Prince's place in the duel, and Blackadder intends on using his mad Scottish cousin, MacAdder.Stephen Fry guest stars as the Duke.
- Rowan Atkinson as Edmund Blackadder
- Tony Robinson as Baldrick
- Hugh Laurie as George, Prince Regent
- Helen Atkinson-Wood as Mrs Miggins
Although this series reduced the size of the show's cast, the programme featured guest appearances in each episode. Tim McInnerny decided not to continue playing the character of Lord Percy for fear of being typecast, although he appeared in a guest role in episode three. Stephen Fry and Miranda Richardson, who had played major parts in Blackadder II, also appeared in guest roles. Fry and McInnerny would return as regular performers for the fourth series of Blackadder.
Music and titlesEdit
The opening theme is this time a minuet played on a harpsichord, oboe and cello over close-ups of Blackadder searching a bookcase. The credits and title appear on the books' spines, and each has a condition and script to match each character, for example Baldrick's is plain and in poor condition. Other amusing interspersed titles include From Black Death to Blackadder, The Blackobite Rebellion of 1745, The Encyclopædia Blackaddica and Landscape Gardening by Capability Brownadder. Hidden inside a hollow book, he finds a romance novel (complete with cover art) bearing the title of the particular episode. The closing credits are presented in the style of a theatre programme from a Regency-era play, and with an accordion closing theme that samples the melody of the original theme.
The programme won a BAFTA award for Best Comedy Series in 1988. It was also nominated for three more awards; Rowan Atkinson for "Best Light Entertainment Performance", Antony Thorpe for "Best Design" and Victoria Pocock for "Best Make Up". The four series of Blackadder were voted second in the BBC's Britain's Best Sitcom in 2004.
Blackadder The Third is available on BBC Worldwide-distributed DVD and VHS video as an individual series or as part of a box-set with the other series of Blackadder. A BBC Radio Collection audio version created from the TV soundtrack is available on cassette and CD. All four seasons and the Christmas special are available on iTunes. The complete scripts of the four television series were released in 1998 as Blackadder: The Whole Damn Dynasty 1485–1917, and by Penguin Books in 2009.
- In March 1989, BBC Enterprises Ltd released all six episodes of Blackadder the Third on two videos (the tapes were copyrighted 1988). They were re-released on 7 September 1992 as a double VHS, and on 2 October 1995 as a single video.
|VHS video title||Year of release/BBFC rating||Episodes|
|Blackadder The Third- Dish and Dishonesty (BBCV 4142)||6 March 1989 (PG)||Dish and Dishonesty, Ink and Incapability, Nob and Nobility|
|Blackadder The Third- Sense and Senility (BBCV 4143)||6 March 1989 (15)||Sense and Senility, Amy and Amibility, Duel and Duality|
|The Complete Blackadder the Third (Double Pack) (BBCV 4786)||7 September 1992 (15)||TAPE 1: Dish and Dishonesty, Ink and Incapability, Nob and Nobility,|
TAPE 2: Sense and Senility, Amy and Amibility, Duel and Duality
|Blackadder the Third- The Entire Historic Third Series (BBCV 5713)||2 October 1995 (15)||Same as 'The Complete Blackadder the Third' but with all 6 episodes on a single video: Dish and Dishonesty, Ink and Incapability, Nob and Nobility, Sense and Senility, Amy and Amiability, Duel and Duality|
|DVD Title||DVD Content||Region 1||Region 2||Region 4|
||Complete third series, no extras.|
|The Complete Blackadder||All four series, no extras.
|Blackadder – The Complete Collection||All four series and specials, no extras.
|Blackadder Remastered – The Ultimate Edition||All four series and specials remastered, plus Blackadder Rides Again documentary, audio commentaries on selected episodes and interviews with cast.|
- Presented as "Black Adder The Third" on the title screen, but referred to as one word by the BBC
- Lewisohn, Mark, Blackadder the Third at the former BBC Guide to Comedy, URL accessed 3 June 2007
- Awards at IMDb, URL accessed 4 April 2008
- BBC Genome listing, 15 October 1987
- Trivia at IMDb.com, URL accessed 3 June 2007
- Official Howard Goodall website. Retrieved 17 March 2007
- The final top-ten of Britain’s Best Sitcom, URL accessed 4 April 2008
- BBC Radio Collection (7 July 2003). Blackadder Goes Forth (CD). London: BBC Audiobooks Ltd.
- Apple iTunes Store (2010). Blackadder Goes Forth (aac codec). London: BBC Worldwide.
- Curtis, Richard; Atkinson, Rowan; Elton, Ben (5 November 1998 / 2 July 2009). Blackadder: The Whole Damn Dynasty 1485–1917. London: Michael Joseph Ltd (original) / Penguin (reissue). ISBN 0-7181-4372-8. Check date values in: