Eighties TV Season: Blackadder Pilot

Continuing a series of posts on TV shows from the eighties we come to Blackadder, specifically the pilot which was never aired, but is available in varying quality on the internet.

I find it absolutely fascinating to see a classic TV series in a pre-production form. It is transferred to what I think is the reign of Henry VII because there is definitely a king on the throne and there is a troupe of Jumping Jesuits (necessitated by the eunuchs cancelling), so obviously this was pre-reformation. You will, however, read that the historical allusions are vague, and I can't really disagree. The initial broadcast series of Blackadder was set earlier than this.

It's particularly interesting to see that Baldrick is played by actor Philip Fox, which casting gives the role quite a different feel from the one we all know from the Tony Robinson portrayal. 

What does, however, come across loud and clear, is the character of Blackadder, fully formed. He connives, conspires, and manipulates his way through this pilot with every detail complete, and it's magnificent. I love the way he interrupts the play for the queen's birthday drssed as a ghost covered in a sheet, because his plot has gone wrong!

There is further interesting casting; John Savident, who plays the king, will be familiar to every reader of this blog. And as a messenger we get a brief glimpse of the incredibly beautiful Simon Gipps-Kent.

I am most struck by the fact that the decisions made between this pilot and the broadcast series were obviouslly all right and made Blackadder the series we know.

My favourite bit: the play on words about the villain either being hung, well, or well hung. But that's the kind of mind I've got. Nobody would think I met Henry VIII the other week. He kept saying how his wives didn't understand him.

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