The King’s Birthday

This short sketch was performed at HRH Prince Charles’ 50th Birthday Gala. It was televised on ITV (in the UK) on 14 November 1998.

The Cast:
Lord Blackadder – Rowan Atkinson
King Charles II – Stephen Fry

The Script:
Written by – Ben Elton (His name appears in the end credits, so I am assuming this was his fine work)

The year is 1680, and King Charles II is celebrating his 50th birthday. He’s been on the throne for the past twenty years.

Very familiar theme tune played on the harpsicord. Blackadder is standing at a lectern; he is writing.

There, that should do it. (Stops writing)
(He reads from the parchment and walks away from the lecturn)
To my Lords of the King’s own Counsel. I received this morning, your kind invitation to organise a gala performance, to celebrate his gracious majesty, King Charles, surviving another year with head and shoulders still attached.
I am replying by return to thank you. And when I say ‘to thank you’, I mean of course, to tell you, to ‘Sod off’. I would rather go to Cornwall, marry a pig, have 13 children by her and see them all become members of Parliament. I would rather hack off my big toe, slice it, mix it with beetroot and serve it to the poor folk of Clapham as a light summer salad. Ask me if you wish, to bury my face between the buttocks of a flatulent baboon, but never under any circumstances ask me to involve myself in a Royal Gala performance.

My reasons, my Lords, are two-fold. In the first part, it is a well, and long-established fact, that Royal Galas are very, very, very dull. So dull, that strong men have been known to stab their own testicles in an effort to stay awake through the all-singing, all-dancing, no-talent tedium that represents British variety at its best. There are more genuine laughs to be had conducting an autopsy. There is more musical talent on display every time my servant Baldrick breaks wind. If the King has even half a brain, which I believe is exactly what he does have, he will spend his birthday in pious prayer, naked, in a bramble patch, with mousetraps attached to his orbs and sceptre.

I hope I make myself clear. I am yours, as ever, Lord Blackadder, Privy Cousellor, shortly to be Privy Attendant, if Cromwell has his way with the aristocracy.

(short fanfare plays and King Charles walks on stage)

Your majesty!

King Charles:
mmmaaahhh Slackbladder! ahhh! Boll-de-roll and hi-de-hi. Baaa! It’s my birthday and I’ll baaa if I want to! I just popped in to see if you were going to organise my Royal Gala.

Well your majesty, it’s interesting that you should mention it…

King Charles:
I was talking about it the other day to Lord Rumsey, and the cringing Kurd dared to suggest that we tone things down a bit to pander to the popular mood. I want you to kick his arse and give him a good clout about the head.

Well, certainly sir, but…

King Charles:
You’ll find his arse in a ditch in Tyburn and his head on a spike at Traitors Gate. I take it, incidentally Blackadder, that you think a birthday gala is a good idea?

Sire, I think it will be the most exciting creation since God said to himself ‘god, it’s a bit dark around here, how about I brighten things up a bit?’.

King Charles:
Splendid! I shall want you to open the whole thing… some sort of speech telling everybody how wonderful it’s all gonna be, you know the sort of thing.

But of course, sire, it would be my honour.

King Charles:
Excellent, excellent, well done! Let’s have a preview then now. Show me what you can do. Improvise, let’s have a look.

(looking worried) Umm… well… umm…

King Charles:
Come on, come on, let’s hear something.

Umm… well… umm… your majesty, your royal highnesses, my lords, ladies and gentlemen. I stand here tonight as excited as a masochist who has just been arrested by the Spanish Inquisition. What you are about to witness will be the most exciting piece of entertainment since Bernard the Bear Baiter stopped using a big brown cushion and actually got himself a bear. I ask you to put your hands together as I joyfully introuduce this 50th birthday celebration. Let the revelries begin!

(They both walk off the stage. King Charles has his arm round Blackadder)

King Charles:
Hmm! Very good, very good. Needs a few jokes of course…

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