BBC Radio 4 Documentary rescheduled

The BBC has settled a dispute over the rights to Blackadder that had forced it to drop a radio tribute.
I Have a Cunning Plan: 20 Years of Blackadder was to be broadcast on Radio 4 two months ago, but was pulled at the last minute when negotiations over the airing of clips hit a stalemate. The rights to the show belong to writers Richard Curtis and Ben Elton and producer John Lloyd, who were unhappy at the amount the BBC had offered to pay for footage. But the dispute has now been settled, and the show will air on Saturday August 23 at 10.30am.

The radio programme features interviews with the key players behind the enduring sitcom, as well as classic clips.

Blackadder@20 UK Gold Weekend news

UK Gold will be broadcasting a Blackadder weekend in June to celebrate the 20th birthday of The Black Adder. Filming of a series of interviews with cast and fans has now taken place and will be broadcast over the weekend.The broadcast dates are as follows – Weekend of June 14th / 15th. The weekend will be split into two different parts

Saturday 14th June (9:00pm – 1:20am) – The Story of Blackadder – The first of two compilations to mark the 20th anniversary including Blackadder’s Christmas Carol and a Comic Relief special – The Cavalier Years which hasn’t been shown for 15 years. Plus the first ever episode.

Here’s the line up:
Series 1, Ep 1 (The Foretelling)
Series 2, Ep 3 (Potato)
Series 3, Ep 4 (Sense and Sensibility)
Series 4, Ep 6 (Plan F: Goodbyeee)
The Cavalier Years
Blackadders Christmas Carol

Sunday 15th June (9:00pm – 1:00am) – The best of – selected episodes from series 2,3,4

Here’s the line up:
Series 4, Ep 1 (Plan A: Captain Cook)
Series 2, Ep 6 (Chains)
Series 3, Ep 2 (Ink and Incapability)
Series 2, Ep 1 (Bells)
Series4, Ep 2 (Corporal Punishment)

Remember, in between each episode are some intersticials (short bits) with interviews from cast and fans.

Strange that Beer isn’t being broadcast!

Scheming Blackadder’s cunning Millennium special

This is Lancashire – 13th September

After a gap of 10 years, the scheming Edmund Blackadder is set to return to the screen.

Accompanied by his loyal manservant Baldrick, the hit comedy series will be churning out the laughs for a New Millennium special episode, screened for visitors to the Dome.

In the 30-minute, £3 million movie, Baldrick cobbles together a time-machine out of cereal boxes, allowing the devious duo to travel back through the ages, said the Daily Record.

All the old favourites from the series are set to be reunited, including appearances by Rik Mayall and Kate Moss as Robin Hood and Maid Marian.

The film, written by comic Ben Elton and Richard Curtis, who also wrote the biggest grossing UK movie of all time, Notting Hill, is set to be shown on TV later next year.

Sky and BBC1 were embroiled in a battle as to which station would show the mini-movie first, after The Sun reported that the satellite channel had secured the rights to the programme.

Baldrick builds Blackadder time machine

Monday 13 September 1999 – EXCITE
Blackadder’s sidekick Baldrick, best known for his creativity with turnips, proves he can be even more imaginative by building a time machine.

The bumbling man-servant – played by Tony Robinson – builds a copy from Leonardo da Vinci’s designs in the new film Blackadder Back And Forth.

The film, in which the comic pair travel through the ages, can be seen by visitors to the Millennium Dome from January 1, 2000.

Rowan Atkinson stars as dapper Sir Edmund Blackadder, seen outside the gates of Blackadder Hall in his velveteen smoking jacket, who joins Baldrick for their time travels.

Atkinson and Robinson starred in four series of the BBC comedy Blackadder and were last united in Blackadder Goes Forth, shown a decade ago this month.
Baldrick, noted for his “cunning plans” but limited intelligence, finds he actually does something right by building a machine that works.

But the controls of his craft prove difficult to manage and they spin through history randomly, causing chaos.

Atkinson said: “Bringing Blackadder to the big screen has always been an ambition.

“I am delighted to be realising it to celebrate the arrival of the 21st Century, but extremely worried at the prospect of travelling through time with Baldrick.”

The film has been co-written by comic Ben Elton and Richard Curtis, who scripted the biggest grossing British movies of all time, Notting Hill and Four Weddings And A Funeral.

Blackadder’s Millennium Duel

BBC – 13th August 1999
Sky TV claims to have “poached” the Blackadder special.

The BBC and Sky TV are at loggerheads over which of the broadcasters owns the rights to screen a special millennium edition of the hit comedy show Blackadder.

Time for Blackadder, starring show regulars Rowan Atkinson, Tony Robinson and Tim McInnerny and including cameos from the likes of Kate Moss and Colin Firth, will be part of the year-long celebrations at the Millennium Dome.

The film will first play in the Dome’s Sky-sponsored entertainment venue – Skyscape.

The feature, penned by Richard Curtis and Ben Elton, was in development before Sky offered to fund the millennium event.

Sky television claims to have bought the one-off film for £4m. The satellite broadcaster says this deal gives it “exclusive” rights to air the programme on TV. The BBC, which has made four series of the acclaimed historical sitcom, rubbishes suggestions that the half-hour millennium show will not be seen on the station.
Blackadder not “lost”.

“It is certainly not the case that we have lost Blackadder,” said a BBC spokeswoman. “The stars agreed to do it on the basis that it would be on BBC One.”

However, the corporation has conceded that the stand-alone film, which follows Blackadder and his trusty sidekick Baldrick as they hurtle through time, may be screened first by its satellite rival.

Sky ‘has a deal’

“We have a deal,” insisted a Sky publicist in response. “The BBC are obviously having trouble coming to terms with their loss.”

The company behind the Dome says neither broadcaster has yet secured rights to the show.

“We are currently in discussions with both Sky and the BBC as to the broadcasting of the film after the exhibition closes,” said a spokesman for the New Millennium Experience Company.

If Sky can block the BBC from showing the special, the loss could prove doubly embarrassing for the corporation.

Not only has the BBC been home to the show, which made household names of its stars, since 1983, but this latest disputed episode was produced by the station’s head of comedy Geoffrey Perkins.

The row has surfaced after a number of high-profile defections have dented BBC prestige. The departure of sports presenter Des Lynam to ITV last week has been seen as a particular blow for the company.

The corporation lost film critic Barry Norman to Sky last year. Norman’s 26 years with the BBC had made him one of the station’s most familiar faces.

Blackadder filming on Hankley Common

Some great news from fellow Blackadder fan Chris S. – Date: 26/06/1999The filming of Blackadder (the new film or the millennium thing?) is currently taking place on Hankley Common, Elstead near Farnham, Surrey, UK.

The scenes being shot involve a time machine (appears to be made of hessian with a large clock face), a Roman wall defended by centurions and a horde of ancient Britons attempting to storm the same. There are also Roman chariots and horses involved.

Blackadder has cunning plans for the dome

Article printed in the Sunday Times 17th January 1999
by Nicholas Hellen and Tim Tezisler

THE comedian Rowan Atkinson, who played the dastardly television character Edmund Blackadder, has hatched his most cunning plan: to rewrite British history for an official film marking the year 2000 that will be shown at the dome in Greenwich, southeast London.

He submitted a written proposal last week to Jenny Page, chief executive of the dome company, for a comic tour from the Roman occupation of Britain to the present day. The project was endorsed by Michael Grade, chairman of the dome’s creative advisory panel. The short movie, which will be screened at hourly intervals to the dome’s visitors, will feature the best of the nation’s comic talent, alongside the cast of Blackadder, the acclaimed 1980s BBC comedy series.

Atkinson will be the central figure of the film, according to the two-page proposal under consideration by the dome organisers, the New Millennium Experience Company (NMEC), because of the international popularity of his Mr Bean character. He is to appear in character as Blackadder in the opening and closing scenes, accompanied by his pea-brained sidekick, Baldrick, played by Tony Robinson. But through much of the movie he will play other roles, as he travels through time from one farcical scene to another. Atkinson’s popularity is at odds with the Labour party’s public image. His Mr Bean character is a socially inept mute. When Atkinson is away from the cameras he is resolutely unfunny, living quietly with his wife Sunetra and their two children.

One insider said there was no danger that the film would be hijacked by Labour to “preach” an approved version of history. “I can guarantee that anybody who watches our film will know that little bit less about our history than they did before,” said the source. In the television series, Richard III, played by Peter Cook, was accidentally beheaded by Blackadder. He replaced the severed head and pumped his arms vigorously in a futile attempt to breathe life back into the king. In another scene, when the action had moved to Elizabethan times, Baldrick attempted to go into dockyard prostitution in an effort to save himself from being cauterised with a hot poker.

Grade has invested considerable effort in persuading Atkinson and the Blackadder team to get together again in his search for the crucial “wow” factor that is deemed to be necessary to make the dome a success. For years in showbusiness circles, the prospect of a new venture for Blackadder has been dismissed as being as unlikely as reuniting the surviving Beatles. Tensions between the Blackadder team, which also included Stephen Fry, the actor, and Richard Curtis and Ben Elton, the script writers, led to its demise in 1989 at the height of its popularity. In the last tragi-comic episode, set in the trenches during the first world war, Hugh Laurie, as Lieutenant the Honourable George Colthurst St Barleigh, requested: “Permission to wobble bottom lip, sir?”, before marching off to his death. Rumours over the past decade that Blackadder might return in the guise of a 1960s hippie, a Conservative MP or an astronaut all proved unfounded. Several members of the team achieved international success, complicating still further any ambition to re-form. Atkinson earned millions from his portrayal of Mr Bean, scripted by Curtis, who also wrote the box office hit, Four Weddings and a Funeral. Elton became a playwright and a bestselling novelist.

Delicate negotiations to persuade the comics to reunite began last November. Talks were led by Grade, who as controller of BBC1 once threatened to axe Blackadder because it did not provide “enough laughs to the pound”, and two fellow advisers to the dome, Matthew Freud, the publicist, and Alan Yentob, the BBC executive.

Several reserve plans were developed, in case the project collapsed, including a reworking of the BBC1 sitcom, Only Fools and Horses, starring David Jason and Nicholas Lyndhurst. This may still be incorporated into the film. An insider said: “We are well on the way to getting a line-up appealing equally to overseas visitors as to coach parties from Accrington.”

Blackadder’s 30-minute millennium film is to be screened in the “Baby Dome”, an auditorium attached to the main building and housing two 2,500-seat cinemas, which is being sponsored for £12m by BSkyB, the satellite channel in which the publisher of The Sunday Times has a 40% stake. Although the comedy characters were first aired on the BBC, BSkyB will put up a strong fight to screen the film once its dome run is over. A spokesman for NMEC said: “The 30-minute film shown in Sky’s zone will be based on one of Britain’s greatest cultural exports – our sense of humour.”

Dome’s Dastardly future

Article printed in the Sunday Mirror 17th January 1999
BLACKADDER is to go forth into the 21st century – at the Millennium Dome.
Rowan Atkinson, who travelled down the ages as the dastardly TV hero,
is to star in a specially-made film charting British history since Roman times.
The film, co-starring a host of British comic talent, will be screened hourly
at the Dome in Greenwich.

Blackadder goes forth for a film in the Baby Dome

Article prined in the Sunday Telegraph on 8th November 1998
By Jacqui Thornton

MILLENNIUM Dome chiefs have a cunning plan to attract visitors: a welcome by the caddish and conniving Edmund Blackadder. The television comedy character created by Rowan Atkinson is being wooed to welcome visitors in a 20-minute film to be shown at the Baby Dome, the entertainment centre next to the exhibition. It is thought that the historical nature of Blackadder, who appeared on television screens in four different centuries, would be an ideal and entertaining introduction to the exhibition.

Although nothing has been signed, negotiations have started and it is understood that the comedian is the first choice of Millennium Dome executives. A senior director said last week: “It will be hilarious.” Blackadder and his sidekick Baldrick, played by Tony Robinson, have appeared in four series, set in medieval, Elizabethan and Georgian times and the First World War.

It is undecided which of these would be used in the film, but the historical nature of the characters is understood to be fitting for the theme of time chosen for the Millennium celebrations. It has already been mooted that Blackadder could be resurrected for the Millennium. The comedian is understood to be in talks with Richard Curtis, who wrote the show with Ben Elton, for a biblical setting. The Dome film would be an ideal way of promoting it. It is not known whether the BBC would make the film or whether it would go to BSkyB, the satellite television channel which is sponsoring the Baby Dome.

Last month the company transferred its £12 million funding from the Serious Play zone. Twelve million people are expected to visit the Baby Dome in the year 2000. Its two 2,500-seat cinemas will be used to explain to visitors what they are about to see in the main exhibition. A spokesman for the New Millennium Experience Company said nothing had been decided about the film, but one source involved in the production said: “There is a cunning plan, and using Rowan is a distinct possibility.” A BBC spokesman said: “If the writers and performers of Blackadder wanted to do something special the BBC would be delighted and look forward to seeing them reach some sort of agreement.”

Penguin’s cunning plot

This article was posted in the May 15th edition of Publishing news

Penguin’s cunning plan for Christmas sales success – as Baldrick might put it – is to publish, for the first time, the complete scripts of the four Blackadder series. The Blackadder Chronicles will be a Michael Joseph hardback and will also include new material written by the series’ creators Richard Curtis, John Lloyd and Ben Elton. All royalties will go to Comic Relief and actors from the series will help promote the title. Publisher Louise Moore commented, “Penguin are delighted to be publishing this unique book and know we will have tremendous fun in the process. But we do not see this as a single project. The hardback will be just the start of a long and illustrious life for the material.