Blackadder in Bethlehem

Below is an extract from Richard Curtis’  screenplay for a Christmas Special of Blackadder that was never made back in 1988.

The script is taken from a new book on Blackadder written by Jem Roberts.


“And it came to pass, in those days when a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be enrolled. This was the first enrolment, when Quirinius was Governor of Syria. And all went to be enrolled, each to his own city. And this did constitute an enormous business opportunity for Hoteliers all over the land of Judah, not least in the city of David, which is called Bethlehem.”

Cut to the outside of the inn; the sign reads “Blackadder Inn: Merry Enrolment Day!” Caption: 24 December.


It should be quite realistic, not a romanised reception desk. Enter Blackadder. He has long Jewish locks – looks Arabic.

Blackadder: Baldrick! (Enter Baldrick. He looks awful, as usual) Where the hell is that turkey?

Baldrick: What turkey, master?

Blackadder: I told you to buy a turkey for tonight’s special supper. For Jehovah’s sake this is the most important night in the history of this hotel – please our customers tonight and we’ll get them back every year – tonight could be the beginning of something big, something which will change the world.

Baldrick: All right, I’ll go out and get it…


Baldrick is arriving back. He takes a big turkey out of his sack, clears the table, and begins to pluck it. But as he pulls out the first feather…

Turkey: What the hell are you doing?

Baldrick: Who said that?

Turkey: Me.

Baldrick: Oh, my God.

Turkey: What an incredible way to behave – bring me back here to your house, and then start tearing my bloody feathers out. You little b——!

Baldrick: But I have to do it; you’re the master’s supper.

Turkey: (utter outrage) I beg your pardon?

Baldrick: You’re the special dinner.

Turkey: Wait a second – you mean, not satisfied with tearing my feathers out, you’re actually going to eat me as well?

Baldrick: That’s right.

Turkey: But I’m a talking turkey – with me, you could buy a hundred ordinary turkeys.

Enter Blackadder slightly flappy.

Blackadder: Baldrick – we need some entertainment for tonight.

Baldrick: We’ve already got it, lots of wine and our special feast. Although –

Blackadder: No, come on, come on – entertainments – you know, snake tamers, lion charmers, that kind of thing. Can you think of anyone in that line?

Baldrick: Well, my cousin is a very good all-round family entertainer.

Blackadder: (suspicious) Really?

Baldrick: Well, he’s not a bad magician.

Blackadder: Tell the truth, Baldrick. (Hits him.)

Baldrick: My cousin’s a c— magician, but he’s got a collection of funny hats. (Blackadder just hits him.) My cousin’s got one funny cap.

Blackadder: Then get him round here at once – and finish plucking that turkey.

Baldrick: I can’t.

Blackadder: Why not?

Baldrick: Well, I’ll let the turkey answer for itself.

Blackadder: I’m sorry?

Baldrick: It’s a talking turkey.

Blackadder: Of course it is. (To the turkey.) Tell me, we’re undecided what vegetables to do with you. What do you think? Peas or parsnips? (Pause.) Sorry – didn’t quite catch that. (Pause.) Mmm – Baldrick – do you remember what the punishment for lying and time wasting is under Roman law?

Baldrick: Ahm…

Blackadder: It’s something to do with a hand and a very sharp axe, isn’t it?

Baldrick: Oh, yes.

Blackadder: Now, get that cousin, and round up any other entertainers, or we’re in trouble. And get that turkey in … NOW!

(Blackadder leaves.)

Baldrick: Why didn’t you say anything while he was here?

Turkey: I was shy.

Baldrick: Well, I’m going to have to do it anyway.

Turkey: You cruel b——.

Baldrick: But I’ll go and talk to my cousin first.

Turkey: Phew. At least it gives me time to make peace with God… Oh, and by the way… if it comes down to parsnips or peas, I prefer parsnips.

Baldrick: Brilliant.


A bunch of people are checking in. Blackadder is quite thrilled…

Blackadder: Excellent, excellent. (He eventually has to write “No” in front of “Vacancies”) Brilliant. The place is full. Rachel – Baldrick – if anyone else comes – it is full. We haven’t got room to squeeze in a mouse…

He exits, as Rachel potters round the desk. There is a sound of angels vaguely in the background – and Joseph enters, a nice man with a beard.

Joseph: Good evening. Is there any room at the inn?

Rachel: I’m afraid not.

Joseph: What – totally sold out?

Rachel: Totally booked up.

Joseph: Fine. Fine. Oh, god. (He starts to cry.)

Rachel: What’s the matter?

Joseph: Oh, no, it’s fine. It’s just that my wife and I have been travelling for weeks now – and she’s about to give birth, I mean literally it could be at any moment. And, well, I suppose she’ll just have to have the baby in the street.

Rachel: Well, maybe we could find somewhere. Go on, bring your wife in.

Joseph: Oh, thank you very much. (He goes to the door.) Darling – there’s a place!

It turns out that Blackadder is actually returning, and nose to nose with him. Blackadder is not happy.

Blackadder: I’m sorry?

Joseph: I was just telling my wife there was a room here.

Blackadder: Ah – and who told you that?

Rachel: It was me.

Blackadder: And where is this extraordinary room going to magically spring from?

Rachel: Well, I thought perhaps they might stay… (Enter Baldrick.) In Baldrick’s room.

Blackadder: Oh, well, yes, all right. How about I offer you this young man’s room?

Joseph: That sounds excellent.

Blackadder: Yes. It’s not that excellent – less of a room, more of a manger.

Joseph: As long as it’s inside, it’ll do us.

Blackadder: Ah.

Joseph: It’s outside?

Baldrick: Outsidish. Come on – you’ll be all right.

Blackadder: Great, let’s get on with the evening. And tell her, if she does have the kid, to keep the noise down. We don’t want him crying during the entertainment.


Baldrick leads Joseph in. It is a total hole.

Baldrick: Here we go. Had any thoughts about what you’re going to call the baby?

Joseph: Not really. If it was a girl we thought maybe after its mother.

Baldrick: What’s her name?

Joseph: Mary. We’re having a lot more trouble with the boy’s name. Any ideas?

Baldrick: Well, my name’s Baldrick, but I doubt if you’d want that.

Joseph: Well, it’s not bad. Baldrick. Yes, not bad…

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