Rowan’s blow to Blackadder reunion

CAMERA shy Rowan Atkinson has SNUBBED a Blackadder reunion show, TV Biz can reveal.

TV chiefs had a cunning plan to reunite all the cast members of the legendary comedy for its 25th anniversary.

But super-private Rowan, 53, will NOT appear even though all his co-stars — from writers Richard Curtis and Ben Elton to actors Tony Robinson, Stephen Fry, Hugh Laurie and Miranda Richardson — HAVE agreed to take part.

A show source said: “Rowan is very private, he doesn’t do interviews and he rarely makes public appearances.

“It was a shame that he wouldn’t appear on the reunion shows as all his friends were delighted to join us. But Rowan sent his apologies.”

Cast and creators will meet up on UKTV Gold’s Blackadder Exclusive: The Whole Rotten Saga and Blackadder’s Most Cunning Moments.

Each will feature interviews with the stars as they remember their experiences of working on one of the nation’s best comedies.

All four of the Blackadder series were set in a different period of English history, beginning in 1485 at the end of the Wars of the Roses. The others took place in Elizabethan times, the foppish late 18th century and in the First World War trenches.

In each, Rowan played a different version of scheming, self-serving Edmund Blackadder with Tony Robinson as dimwit servant Baldrick.

Previously unseen footage of the sitcom will reveal the cast in rehearsals, getting into character during make-up sessions and donning their elaborate costumes.

Celeb fans including Jeremy Paxman will also talk about their favourite scenes.

Source: The Sun.co.uk

Blackadder stars attend London Film and Comic Convention

Great news for those wanting to meet two stars from Blackadder; the fabulous Brian Blessed and Holly DeJong (Lady Farrow – Blackadder II episode Head) will both be attending next month’s Film and ComicCon in London.

Not sure what days they are appearing; but the event runs Saturday 19th – Sunday 20th July at London’s Earls Court.

Sci-Fi fans might also recognise Holly as Anne Jordan aka Newt’s mum in the director’s cut of ALIENS. The event will be a bit of a reunion for the Jordon family as Newt, her dad and brother will also be there.

For more info, head on over to http://www.londonfilmandcomiccon.com/

I’ll be there on both days as I’m a huge fan of many of the guests and the shows they’ve starred in.

Tributes paid to Blackadder actor

Willoughby Goddard, known to us Blackadder fans as the Archbishop in The Black Adder episode “The Queen of Spain’s Beard” has died at the age of 81.

Born on July 4, 1926, Willoughby Goddard will be known to many viewers of television programmes from the 1950s to the 1980s.

His on-screen appearances are too numerous to list, but included hit shows such as Blackadder, The Famous Five, The Sweeney, Space: 1999, The Avengers, and The Saint.

Mr Goddard, whose heavy build made him perfect for many character roles, played the Austrian tyrant Gessler in the 1958 Adventures of William Tell.

In some of his final screen performances in the mid-1980s, Mr Goddard was Professor Siblington at a fictional Cambridge college in Tom Sharpe’s hit comedy Porterhouse Blue. He was also Cardinal Wolsey in the 1986 film God’s Outlaw.

Mr Goddard, who as a schoolboy is said to have set a record swimming in the River Isis, made his stage debut at the Oxford Playhouse in 1943.

A favourite with critics on stage, Mr Goddard played Sir Toby Belch in a 1979 Royal Shakespeare Company production of Twelfth Night.

Although his career was reportedly curtailed by arthritis in later years, he remained familiar as the voice of the Fox’s Glacier Mint bear.

BBC scared of Islam jokes, says Elton (Ben Elton not Elton John)

Comedian and writer Ben Elton has accused the BBC of being too “scared” to allow jokes about Islam.

Elton, who co-wrote critically acclaimed sitcoms such as The Young Ones and Blackadder, said the BBC’s reluctance to run material that might offend Muslims was based on fear rather than morality.

Speaking in an interview with Christian magazine Third Way, Elton was asked if too much deference was shown to religious people.

“I think it all starts with people nodding whenever anybody says, ‘As a person of faith …’,” Elton replied.

“And I believe that part of it is due to the genuine fear that the authorities and the community have about provoking the radical elements of Islam,” he said.

“There’s no doubt about it, the BBC will let vicar gags pass but they would not let imam gags pass.

“They might pretend that it’s, you know, something to do with their moral sensibilities, but it isn’t. It’s because they’re scared. I know these people.”

Elton said it was difficult to use even common sayings: “I wanted to use the phrase ‘Muhammad came to the mountain’ and everybody said, ‘Oh, don’t! Just don’t! Don’t go there!’.

“It was nothing to do with Islam, I was merely referring to the old proverb, ‘If the mountain won’t come to Muhammad, Muhammad must go to the mountain.’ And people said, ‘Let’s just not!’ It’s incredible.”

Elton described himself as an atheist but said he was in favour of God defined as “the mystery of the universe”. His children attend a Church of England school and he said he attended church occasionally.

Elton’s comments were refuted by the BBC. “No subject is off limits for BBC comedy,” a BBC spokesman said.

“The treatment should not cause harm or offence as defined by the BBC’s editorial guidelines or breach other BBC guidelines. There’s no evidence that the BBC is afraid to tackle difficult subjects.”

In the interview, Elton also talked about the decline of traditional sitcoms that could be enjoyed by mass audiences.

“I don’t think it’s the fault of artists, or even commissioners; I think it’s the fault of technology … You can’t smash the Spinning Jenny, but we need to at least recognise its consequences,” he said.

“When I say that the chances of another Dad’s Army developing are diminishing, it’s because even if there is one happening at the moment, not enough people are going to notice for it to enter our consciousness and for us all to come to love it.”

Elton’s most recent sitcom was the 2005 BBC1 series Blessed, which starred Ardal O’Hanlon and Mel Giedroyc as a young couple bringing up children.

He said his 1990s sitcom The Thin Blue Line, which starred Rowan Atkinson as a policeman, had been “castigated – I mean, brutal, absolutely unbelievable. It was accused of being almost wicked in its awfulness”.

Elton added that Blackadder was now seen as “something of value, although not at the time”.

“I’ve recently watched some Blackadders again for the first time in nearly 20 years and I’ve taken enormous joy in the fact that my kids love ‘em,” he said.

“That’s something I never thought about when it was happening – that 20 years later I’d be sitting and watching it with my children.”

Source: Guardian.co.uk

Elton and Webber team up for Phantom Sequel

Ben Elton is going to be a busy man this year, not only is he penning the sequel to We Will Rock You, but he has also signed up to help Andrew Lloyd Webber with the sequel to Phantom of the Opera. Best known for his Blackadder work, Ben Elton has also had a hand in a few successful musicals. The Little Mermaid lyricist Glen Slater has also signed up for the sequel and will be putting his lyrics to Webber’s music.

Atkinson signs Up For Blackadder Set in Future

Another series of BBC comedy ‘Blackadder’ is set to begin filming in June and it will be set in a future London of 2145. The BBC say it is ‘excited’ about the project.

“We are happy to announce that a 5th series of the show will air on BBC 1 in November” said BBC spokesman Eddie Yates. “So far Tony Robinson, Tim McInnerny, Stephen Fry and Hugh Lauire have all signed up to the cast.”

However Blackadder himself will be played by former Manchester United, Aston Villa and West Brom manager, Ron Atkinson.

“We got an intern at the BBC to mail out the contracts,” explained Yates. “He sent Rowan’s to Ron. Ron signed it so we are obligated to have Ron as the main lead. Sorry about that.”

Atkinson (Ron) is delighted. “I love Blackadder, and I reckon I’m as funny as Atkinson (Rowan). I can’t wait to drive that green mini.”

“Sorry about that” said Yates, again.

Blackadder star Rowan Atkinson to star as Fagin in the West End

Rowan Atkinson is to star as Fagin in the forthcoming West End stage production of Oliver!

The cast will also include the winners of the BBC show I’d Do Anything – one actress will play Nancy and three boys will take turns to play the lead role.

Blackadder star Atkinson, 53, said the role was a long-held ambition.

“In the 1980s I enjoyed doing a lot of West End theatre and since then have been distracted very much by Mr Bean and film-making,” he said.

“I had been thinking for some time about returning to the stage and the idea of the role of Fagin, which has long intrigued me.

“Some time ago I even played the role in a school production [so it] seemed like too good an opportunity to miss.”

’Perfect marriage’

Sir Cameron Mackintosh’s production of the Lionel Bart musical opens at the Theatre Royal Drury Lane in December. It will feature a cast 100-strong cast.

Sir Cameron said he had been in discussions with Atkinson “on and off for many years”.

“To me this idea has always promised the perfect marriage of a brilliant mercurial role with a brilliant mercurial comic actor,” he added.

The 1994 London Palladium production of Oliver! played 1,366 performances over three years and made more than £40m at the box office.

Atkinson made his big-screen debut in 1983’s unofficial James Bond picture Never Say Never Again.

His other film credits include Johnny English, Four Weddings And A Funeral and Love, Actually.

Leeds plan to reunite Blackadder cast

It has been nearly 20 years since they starred in the classic TV sitcom, but now the cast of Blackadder Goes Forth could soon be reunited; by Leeds City Council.

It is inviting Rowan Atkinson and the rest of the Blackadder gang, including Tony Robinson who played his turnip-loving sidekick – to its garden exhibition at this year’s Chelsea Flower Show.

The garden design was inspired by the grounds of Talbot House, a rest centre for troops near Ypres in Belgium during the First World War.

Staff working on the entry at Shadwell’s Redhall Nursery recently realised that it includes a plant known as a black adder.

That provided the connection to the final series of Blackadder, set in the First World War and ending in tearjerking fashion as its soldier characters went ‘over the top’.

Other Blackadder actors receiving invitations are Hugh Laurie and Stephen Fry, above, as well as writers Ben Elton and Richard Curtis.

Leeds’ 1,800 sq ft garden will be ferried to London by articulated trucks before going on display between May 20 and 24.

A cunning plan is afoot

Source: Gavin Allen, South Wales Echo

FEW celebrities have spent so much time covered in mud and come up smelling of roses as often as Tony Robinson.

Robinson spent 16 years encrusted in dirt as scummy sidekick Baldrick in the classic British sitcom Blackadder.

But having formed cunning plans, beyond that he found a second lease of life when he became the face of archaeology programme Time Team, working for the No Deposit Codec website. When we spoke, Robinson was on location in Lincolnshire “looking for Romans” and still basking in his heroes Bristol City’s promotion to the Football League Championship where they will renew their rivalry with Cardiff City.

“I’ve often enjoyed pleasant hearty greetings from Cardiff fans,” he said, tongue tearing through cheek.

Robinson, 58, comes to Cardiff on Thursday night with his shape-shifting one-man show Cunning Night Out, which he describes as; “a bit of comedy, a bit of biography, a bit of history and some Q&A which will hopefully answer any questions people may have about my career.”

And that career is remarkable.

Born in Leytonstone, London, Robinson’s first taste of acting came at Wanstead High School, aged 12, when he appeared in Oliver!

He left school with four O-levels, abandoning A-levels to study drama and graduating to perform and manage in theatre.

Throughout the 70s he earned his living from stage and TV but it wasn’t until 1983, when he first played Baldrick in Blackadder, that his career really took off.

Over four series, Robinson so endeared himself to the British public, as the pock-faced dogsbody to Rowan Atkinson’s Machiavellian schemer, that he has declined offers to resurrect the character.

“I’ve had many offers to do Baldrick adverts or sub-Baldrick sitcoms but when you’ve enjoyed great success with something the last thing you want is 10 more years of doing it in a lesser form,” he reasoned.

The opportunities his new-found fame offered him led to a series of children’s programmes including Fat Tulip’s Garden and Maid Marian And Her Merry Men throughout the late ’80s and early ’90s.

In 1994 he began presenting Time Team, a dry concept elevated by his wit and enthusiasm, and more recently he presented a series on classical music for Classic FM.

But parallel to his showbiz career Robinson has also been a genuine political force, firstly in four years as vice-president of the actors’ union Equity.

But bigger still, he spent two years on the Labour Party’s National Executive Committee from 2000-4, which currently numbers Tony Blair, John Prescott and Gordon Brown among its members.

That level of political life is surprising for a comprehensive school- educated comedy actor.

“I’m the only person I know with more honorary degrees than O-levels,” he joked.

“For the first 20 years I carried a chip on my shoulder because I thought other people were cleverer than me.

“It was only working with the Stephen Fry-sized brains of this world that taught me there were things I could do that others couldn’t, as well as the other way around.

“That gave me an enormous amount of confidence.

“But also, everyone on Blackadder was Oxbridge- educated so people presumed I was too and offered me the sort of jobs I would never have otherwise been given.

“It was a sort of con trick.”

At one point Robinson was even touted as a candidate for Mayor of London and, while he is resolutely New Labour, he retains strong socialist revolutionary tendencies.

He was reluctantly involved with the make Poverty History Campaign, believing it didn’t aim high enough.

“My problem with MPH, and it’s not hindsight because I’ve always said it, was that you don’t change things by getting a million people on the streets for one day. You do it by getting a million people on the street every day for weeks and months,” he said with conviction.

“We should learn from the fall of the Berlin Wall and communism when the people of eastern Europe stayed on the streets until they got real change.”

The leap from comedy actor to history programme presenter isn’t that big; the leap from both of those to politics is larger, but Robinson draws them together thus: “Politics and history are one and the same. They are both about the decisions people make at important times.”

Actress with a love of art

Source: Lowestoft Journal

AS a character in one of the most popular comedy series ever, you would never expect Helen Atkinson Wood to be sitting on the beach at Walberswick capturing the scene with a set of watercolours.

But for the former Blackadder actress, it is the inspiration of north Suffolk that has given her the drive to pick up the paintbrush again.

Dividing her times between her homes in London and Blythburgh, the stage and screen actress, who is probably best known for her portrayal of Mrs Miggins in Blackadder The Third, is currently seeing her work celebrated in a completely different way with six of her local watercolour scenes taking up residency in Southwold Gallery.

Helen, who studied fine art at Oxford University, saw her passion for art resurface after she took part in Celebrity Watercolour Challenge, which she went on to win.

“I began to love painting again and had forgotten how much I had enjoyed it. Around that time I met someone who was part of a painting group at the church I go to in Blythburgh, Chris Sinclair who is a brilliant inspiration and his wife Wendy. There is a small group of us who have a cup of coffee, a piece and cake and paint.

“They have some really inspiring ideas about painting and I really came back to it. I paint only for pleasure. I have a very good living from my other career and this is something that I decided to venture into, but I do take it very seriously,” she said.

Helen’s first exhibition was in the summer of last year at Walberswick Village Hall but she now plans to provide paintings depicting scenes of Walberswick Church, marshlands, seascapes and images of Blythburgh for as long as the gallery asks for them

She said: “I live and work in London, which is not particularly conducive for painting and drawing, there is no time and space to do it. My dad enjoyed painting and I picked that up from him. I started when I was at school but I knew I wanted to be an actress. I was accepted into the Ruskin School of Drawing and Fine Art, which was part of Oxford University and I knew I would get an opportunity to act.”

It was there as a teenager she met her friend and fellow comedian Rowan Atkinson, with whom she still spends her Christmas’ with.

And while starring in a number of productions, she used the theatres she was appearing at to sell some of her paintings.

It was her association with the comedy star that led her to meeting Ben Elton, who years later created the part of Mrs Miggins.

During her career Helen has worked on a variety of productions with Elton including The Young Ones, Happy Families and Silly Cow.

In more recent years she has turned her skills to TV presenting and travel writing as well as being a guest on shows such as Have I Got News For You.

She has joined forces with journalist John Simpson to host Radio Four show travel quiz and recently finished a pilot for a new situation comedy, which also stars actress Liza Goddard.

Aside from her life on the stage and screen and away from the hustle and bustle of her London life, Helen spends time riding her horse Adam, who she always takes to the animal services at Blythburgh Church. She also loves swimming in the sea as often as possible and taking a picnic to a local beauty spot and settling down with her paints.