Rowan Atkinson and the cast of legendary comedy series Blackadder are back for this one-off documentary special to mark 25 years since the original BBC transmission in 1983. Featuring ... See full summary »
It is 1917, and lunatic General Sir Anthony Cecil Hogmanay Melchett is leading the British troops at the front lines against the Germans, while everyone waits for Field Marshall Haig's big push. There are various emotions throughout the camp about it. For Captain Kevin Darling, Melchett's bull-dog-like right-hand man, it makes no difference, as it appears he will be safe and sound with the general when the big push occurs. For Lieutenant George Colhurst Saint Barleigh, he is overly excited at thrashing the Germans. For Private S. (probably for Sod-Off) Baldrick, it's a terrifying experience he is not looking forward to. For Captain Edmund Blackadder, however, it's something he's too cowardly too face. Self-centered, arrogant, and sarcastic, Blackadder is always constantly searching for a way out of this silly war, and will try various, often crazy, variations on escape, all of which will take a turn he never expected. Sharing a dugout with George and Baldrick, his main obstacle for ... Written by
The decision to set Blackadder in the trenches of World War One did not come from Ben Elton, Richard Curtis or any of the cast or producers. The BBC received an unsolicited script for a new Blackadder series set in a France during WWI, from a young first-time writer. Elton and Curtis felt that the script itself was not good enough, but liked the WWI setting, and subsequently wrote Blackadder Goes Forth using this idea. See more »
Throughout the series, Blackadder and George, both front-line officers in the trenches, are show with their rank insignia displayed on their cuffs, whereas Melchett and Darling, staff officers, are shown with their rank insignia on their shoulders. In reality, this would have been reversed: Cuff insignia was the standard, but front-line officers were allowed to wear theirs on their shoulders to make them less conspicuous to snipers. Shoulder insignia eventually became an army-wide personal option in 1917, and made permanent in 1920 when the cuff insignia was abolished completely. See more »
This forth and final series is perhaps the best of all the Black Adder
episodes; it is also more of a tragi-comedy than just plain old
slapstick perhaps because at the time (1989) the events of WW1 were
very much in the minds of a lot of people, whether it be surviving
soldiers or relatives.
As such there was some controversy when it was first broadcast by the
BBC for its apparent lack of respect to those who fought and lost their
lives for the sake of freedom & democracy.
However, in retrospect, this isn't strictly true because even with
Episode One there is a tangible shift in tone from previous Black Adder
series. Yes some of the slapstick tomfoolery is still there, mainly at
the expense of poor gormless Private Baldrick. But in addition a lot of
the supposedly funny lines do have quite serious undertones, and bely
the real truth of the sheer lunacy & farce that went on during the real
For those that know their 20th Century history, WW1 was seen as a
complete disaster for all and sundry, especially for the British
soldiers in the trenches, primarily because they were being commanded &
told how to fight a war by the most repulsive upper-class morons that
call themselves Generals that ever wore a uniform.
This was plainly represented by the bumbling fool, General Melchett (a
wonderfully bemusing performance from Stephen Fry). Melchett simply has
no idea of what life really is like for the troops on the front-line
while he prattles on 35 miles behind the front-line in some safe
palatial mansion where the most dangerous hazard to his life is whether
he can unscrew a cork out of a champagne bottle without it hitting him
in the face.
Melchett is a complete buffoon but only Captain Blackadder realises
this; everyone else thinks the General knows what he is doing purely
because of his rank & social standing. So it is no wonder that
Blackadder wants to mutiny because it's a hard choice deciding who the
real enemy is - the Germans or his own Generals.
General Melchett: Are you looking forward to the big push?
Private Baldrick: No sir, I'm absolutely terrified.
General Melchett: The healthy humour of the honest, Tommy. Don't worry
my boy, if you should falter, remember that Captain Darling and I are
Edmund Blackadder: About thirty-five miles behind you.
This dark humour is wonderfully interwoven with the usual witty lines
thanks largely to the writers, Richard Curtis and Ben Elton. It is
typically anti-war but with good reason, as Blackadder declares in one
"with 50,000 men being killed every week who is going to miss one dead
The madness of this war also draws our attention to those very same
front-line troops such as Blackadder, Baldrick & Lieutenant George.
Their living conditions are disgusting & the fear of being shot or
bombed out of their trench a very real possibility.
The humour is just an adjunct to the real horrors that are going on in
their lives, and this is beautifully concluded in the very sad finale.
No longer did the critics argue this series lacked any respect because
come the final few minutes of Episode Six we were treated to the sad
demise of all those soldiers fading into time and replaced by the
infamous poppy fields that strewn Northern France.
Blackadder Goes Forth is far more intelligent than a lot of sitcoms;
the writing and acting is exceptionally good, and also underpins the
true human sacrifice the millions of soldiers gave to their King &
country while the smug & arrogant Generals went home to more medals,
honours and riches than ever before.
School children of today find reading about history boring & not very
relevant. But thanks to this series I am sure young & old alike will
find this far more interesting, absorbing, damming & shocking than any
written word on the subject could ever say.
War Is Hell!
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