UK, BBC, Sitcom, colour, 1986
Starring: Rowan Atkinson, Tony Robinson, Tim McInnerny
The premise: England 1560, and the flawed genes of the Blackadder family have resurfaced in the melting pot of history, giving us another Edmund, the bastard great, great grandson of the original Black Adder. Now with Blackadder as an established surname, this latest Edmund is markedly different from the first. As greedy, indolent and cowardly as his ancestor, this Blackadder has brains and cunning aplenty. Tudor England proved to be a dangerous time for the scheming Edmund, especially with a childlike and selfish Queen who could turn instantly from being enamoured with her subject to wanting him beheaded. Elsewhere, he had an enemy in the court, Lord Melchett, a favourite with the Queen. Melchett regarded Edmund as a transparent yet still dangerous rival. By Blackadder's side was another Baldrick, whose family seemed compelled to produce sub-human specimens destined to serve the dastardly Blackadders.
Blackadder II nearly didn't happen, the cost of the first series deterring BBC executive Michael Grade from permitting a second. But major changes to the series were afoot: Atkinson realised that the location scenes got in the way of the comedy, and that by filming nearly everything in a studio, with an audience, they could cut costs and heighten the humour. Atkinson stepped down from writing duties and Ben Elton was brought in to work with Curtis on the scripts. He was an inspired choice, bringing to the production quickfire dialogue, rich verbal weaponry and a fitting dose of vulgarity. Atkinson was in his element as the sneering, superior Edmund, a cold and calculating man surrounded by fools. The new-style dialogue particularly suited him, his character revelling in wonderfully convoluted insults such as, 'Your brain is like the four-headed man-eating haddock-fish beast of Aberdeen. It doesn't exist'.
Researched and written by Mark Lewisohn.
Number of episodes: 6
Length: 30 mins