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Home > Culture and Society

Death by Stoning and Dung for Dinner

6 February 2006

‘Blackadder’, at least for the last three series after its lavish false start, was a fat Eighties comedy truffle. Its convoluted, bilious quips were as gorgeous as the costumes - at least until the final series where they were all in dull green uniform, and there was this inexorable slither towards one of the most brutal and tragic denouements the BBC had ever seen. Richard Curtis and Ben Elton made something brilliant. Rowan Atkinson was terrific as the poised, suave, evil bastard surrounded by fools. Alas, he went on to be much more admired as an irritating speech-defect on drainpipe-trousered legs. Curtis went on to write immensely lucrative glurgey films with the occasional ray of comic sunlight, and Ben Elton became a professional insufferable smug prick and gave the world the Queen musical ‘We Will Rock You’, that triumphant fart in the face of good taste. (This, to the delight of Londoners who have suffered it for four years, is fucking off on a national tour soon. Take that, the provinces!)

Still, great comedy like ‘Blackadder’ is rare and precious, and should really not be shat upon by lazy comebacks and specials if it can be avoided. It’s only partly the creation of its writers, directors and actors; in total much greater than the sum of its parts. There’s something almost sacred about good comedy that makes it a real affront when its restful corpse is hauled up and obscenely jiggled about. So there were flinches and recoils when Curtis, Atkinson and Tony ‘Baldrick’ Robinson cobbled together a new episode for the millennium, but there’s thankfully been nothing since. Until now, of course, but since it’s In A Good Cause we’re not officially allowed to make a grouchy, pissy peep. Charity is a bit like religion in that it’s just not fair game. It’s like shooting kittens in a barrel after they’ve just solved world hunger. Even if they’re really creepy one-eyed kittens with no nose.

The Observer reported at the weekend that 30 or so writers and illustrators are contributing handwritten work to an auction for Book Aid International. JK Rowling is doing a family tree for Sirius Black, and DBC ‘Vernon God Little’ Pierre is chipping in a wee bit of prose. And Richard Curtis has resurrected Edmund Blackadder in his Elizabethan incarnation for a new mini-sketch. All good, all good. It will make lots of money to promote literacy, education and training in 40 countries. It will give the desperately deprived new hope. It will actually, awesomely, make a real difference. Just a few words scribbled on some paper. It’s a wonderful thing.

But - in the name of all that is vaguely amusing, even in that accidental million-monkeys-slipping-on-a-million-banana-skins way, what the hell is *this*?

....


...Blackadder: It would take more than you knowing how to read
to impress me.

Baldrick: Really, sir?

Blackadder: Yes.

Baldrick: How much more?

Blackadder: Let me put it this way. If I came into the room -
and William Shakespeare was on his knees begging you to help
him finish his next play, and Queen Elizabeth was on her knees
giving you a blow job, I would still not be impressed.

Baldrick: Why not, sir?

Blackadder: Because I know you to be the lowest creature ever
created by God and every time he looks down and sees you, he
hits his forehead with his fist and shouts - 'Stupid! Stupid!
Stupid! I totally and utterly fucked up that time.'

Baldrick: In which case, I will never try to impress you
again.

Blackadder: Good decision. Now, what in the hell did I want
you to do? I've completely forgotten... oh, yes, I remember.

Baldrick: What, my lord?

Blackadder: I want you to take this scroll to Ben Elton and
ask him to do a rewrite on this scene - Richard Curtis can't
think of a punchline...


....


What it is is the sound of a sturdy length of good rope being wound around and around Ricky Gervais to secure him to a chair, just in case he ever contemplates writing ‘The Gareth Keenan Mid-Morning Talk Show’ for Children in Need. Just because Curtis could have tossed off anything on the back of a napkin, doesn’t mean he should have produced that watery gobbit of anti-comic spooge and said ‘Hey, fuckadoodledo, that’ll do’. Hell, we could have helped him, if he was really struggling:


Blackadder: Baldrick, it may be Christmas, but there’s no need
for you to dress yourself as some kind of scrofulous plum
pudding that no one would eat unless they’d already been
through the cat, the contents of the gutter and most of the
furniture. What, in the name of God’s own nostril-hair, are
you doing?

Baldrick: I have necrotising fasciitis of the face. I will be
dead in two to three days.

Blackadder: Arse.



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