Blackadder: The Whole Rotten Saga

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    Danny Stephenson

    G&T Admin

    UKTV Gold has commissioned IMG Media’s Tiger Aspect to produce Blackadder Exclusive: The Whole Rotten Saga and Blackadder’s Most Cunning Moments, two specials providing a behind-the-scenes look at the BAFTA-winning comedy series Blackadder, which was on the air from 1983 to 1999.

    Each two-hour special, both premiering this July, features candid interviews with cast and crew as they share their personal experience of working on Blackadder. They will feature previously unseen footage of the show’s cast in rehearsals, getting into character during make-up sessions and donning their elaborate costumes.

    2 HOUR SPECIALS! I’m loving the fact that they’ve finally decided to do a documentary on Blackadder!



    Maybe we’ll finally get decent quality footage of the pilot.


    Jonathan Capps

    G&T Admin

    Or maybe some interviews with Rowan Atkinson? I’m very excited about this, despite it being stranded on fucking Girth Over Length Daily.



    I think I read in the Radiotimes that they didn’t interview Rowan Atkinson I’m afraid.


    Danny Stephenson

    G&T Admin

    Yeah, I also heard that Rowan Atkinson didn’t want to be interviewed, but it’s not out of the ordinary, though.


    Jonathan Capps

    G&T Admin

    Bah. Never mind.



    Is it just me, or does his non-involvement make Rowan look like a bit of a twat?

    I mean, he revisited Mr Bean enough times for god’s sake.


    Pete Part Three

    Rowan Atkinson is intensely private and tries to avoid giving interviews. His prerogative. It’s a shame, but I don’t believe it makes him look like “a bit of a twat”.


    Danny Stephenson

    G&T Admin

    What Pete said.



    Yeah, Pete’s right about that, in my eyes. He’s not obligated to suddenly become talkative just because someone decides to do a documentary.



    >Rowan Atkinson is intensely private and tries to avoid giving interviews.

    I’m sure a Blackadder documentary isn’t going to probe into Rowan’s private life. If he has a problem with discussing his work, fair enough, but I read a few interviews with him around the time of the recent Bean movie, and that didn’t seem to be the case.



    I have to agree with Pete/Danny/Phil, RA is famously very shy in that respect.
    He’s probably contracted to do a certain amount of promotion if it’s a new movie, but he’s certainly not obliged to take part in a retrospective clip show.
    It’s a shame he’s not involved, but … *shrugs*



    Hummingbird does make a good point in distinguishing the two. Whether you liked them or not, Atkinson probably wanted the Bean movies to make money. So he promoted them. They were projects he wished to become as profitable as possible. The quality might be debatable, but that’s pretty much beside the point.

    With Blackadder he has nothing to promote. It’s done and dusted. The only reason for him to go back to discuss it would be if he WANTED to go back and discuss it. Which he doesn’t. I mean, it sucks, we’d all love to hear from him, but he’s by no means alone in his desire to let a project that’s probably very close to his heart speak for itself.


    Danny Stephenson

    G&T Admin

    What Phil said.


    Pete Part Three

    What Danny said.



    Unless Mr. Atkinson wasn’t paid enough to comment on Blackadder of course, maybe they were on a diet?



    >Unless Mr. Atkinson wasn?t paid enough to comment on Blackadder

    Possibly. Although I doubt that he needs the cash.
    And presumably he’ll get a truckload of royalties from the show anyway.



    What Rowan said



    I absolutely agree with Phil’s last post – Rowan no doubt promoted the Bean movies because he stood to profit by it, they were movies with his name headlining, and both from a creative and commercial standpoint, it was in his best interests to promote them and do all he could to ensure their success. But to suggest he refuses to discuss Blackadder because of some (completely understandable) decision to remain mute on his private life makes little sense to me.

    It seems much more likely that the going rate wasn’t acceptable to him, or that he simply didn’t think it was worth his time, which in either case is sad since to a lot of people Blackadder was not only ‘his’ show, but also his finest hour(s).

    > Possibly. Although I doubt that he needs the cash.

    If 100 grand materialised in your bank account tomorrow, you’d still expect your boss to pay you the going rate.



    It being an issue of money alone would surprise me, not when Fry and Laurie, among others, have been interviewed – the going rate will likely have been on the table, but he’s far from required to take it simply because it’s ‘reasonable’.

    There’s certainly a world of difference between a satellite TV interview for an old show for which you’re going to get repeat fees regardless, and a movie funded by a studio who make their investment conditional on, among other things, the star doing promotion. He ain’t the Wachowski brothers!

    Chances are the guy doesn’t LIKE interviews, doesn’t want to do them – plenty of actors prefer not to be ‘themselves’ on camera (which kinda is part of keeping your private life private, in as much as ‘who you are’ and ‘what you think’ is part of that) – and simply avoids them whenever possible.



    There’s a bit of a difference though between the usual promotional interviews and lovingly looking back on a classic series you were played a major part in. It’s like if any of the Dwarf cast had refused to be involved with the DVDs just because they’re a ‘private’ person. Maybe if there was some sort of issue with Rowan and other people who worked on Blackadder, but afaik there wasn’t. I mean FFS he did Back and Forth.

    There are various reasons why Christopher Eccleston wouldn’t do something like this in years to come. While I would guess, like with Rowan, he’s proud of what he did on Who, it’s everything surrounding it that was the problem. He was made to look like a dick by the press and the BBC. Though he probably should have realised you can’t avoid the machine on a show of Who’s size.



    It does make me wonder, I must admit. Yes, Rowan clearly isn’t keen on being interviewed. But he will do it on occasion, and this is surely going to be a complimentary document that reflects well on him at the peak of his talent and success…I guess the idea that, when most of his (also hugely successful) castmates who played much smaller roles, have agreed to pay tribute to the series – ostensibly (from an acting point of view) Rowan’s series – that his refusal to comment is difficult to understand to a mere pleb like me.



    > There?s a bit of a difference though between the usual promotional interviews and lovingly looking back on a classic series you were played a major part in

    Indeed there is. One could mean the difference between making the film and not getting the funding, while the other is ultimately an inconvenience.

    These things take place in studios under hot lights, with make-up, retakes, time pressures and transport difficulties. It’s not like they’re just SUCH a ball for those involved: it doesn’t feel any more ‘loving’ when they’re doing it. It just feels less important.

    > It?s like if any of the Dwarf cast had refused to be involved with the DVDs just because they?re a ?private? person.

    Yes, this is true – it’s exactly like that. In that, if any of them felt that way, they could quite reasonably not come in. They’d be within their rights to do so. And while it’s basically a reasonable position to hold, that wouldn’t stop a few fans online bitching about it.

    > There are various reasons why Christopher Eccleston wouldn?t do something like this in years to come. While I would guess, like with Rowan, he?s proud of what he did on Who, it?s everything surrounding it that was the problem.

    It’s not just that though, is it? It’s that he doesn’t like to do it, just as with Atkinson. He doesn’t do ’em – for anything – unless he has to.

    What’s so bad about a creative talent wanting to let the work speak for itself?



    > What?s so bad about a creative talent wanting to let the work speak for itself?

    Sometimes, watching Confidential makes me wish this were the case with Who. I don’t generally watch the Confidentials straight after the episodes because it ends up making me enjoy the episodes less. That’s maybe getting into the whole area of behind-the-scenes stuff ruining the ‘magic’ of filmmaking. Obviously I don’t think that about everything, but with Who there’s way too much backslapping and the Confidentials are definitely too long. Their total running time is probably longer than the main series itself FFS. Watching so much ‘making of’ actually DURING a series makes you think of that when watching the next episode, instead of just enjoying the story.



    Confidential is certainly WAY too long for what it has to say. Ooh look, more gushing about everyone’s wonderfulness, hurrah a montage of clips from the episode we just watched! What are they now, 45 minutes? It’s entirely too much for what’s being said.



    I remember seeing Atkinson interviewed on This Morning and Schofield & Fern made a really big deal of the fact that he doesn’t do interviews and then he turned up they mostly asked him bizarre questions about his rubbery face interspersed with clips exhibiting his rubbery face. The penultimate question they asked him was about the rarity of his interviews and he said he didn’t like repeating himself. So presumably there is interview footage out there that Mr Atkinson feels covers whatever he might be asked.



    I’m sure he was on Parkinson one time. Yep, here it is –


    Tarka Dal

    Well everyone loves Parky.

    Apart from Meg Ryan and Muhammed Ali, obviously.


    Jonathan Capps

    G&T Admin

    I don’t like Parky. Over-rated old fool.


    John Hoare

    G&T Admin

    I have an old ad for The Times with Parkinson in, playing cricket.

    It ends with some young lovely telling him: “Never mind Mr. Parkinson, perhaps you’ll score later…”




    I think Rowan is busy alphabetising the alphabet soup.


    Tarka Dal

    Apart from Meg Ryan, Muhammed Ali and Cappsy, obviously.



    Pete Part Three

    What did everyone think?

    Thought it was OK, a slight reliance on clips. I don’t think I learnt anything new about the show though; the Britain’s Best Sitcom documentary covered similar ground.


    Ian Symes

    G&T Admin

    I forgot it was on, so I didn’t really watch it properly. But why were II and The Third covered by about ten minutes each, and then half the bloody show given over to Goes Forth? I love Goes Forth as much as the next man, but I was expecting a bit of balance.

    Also, although this isn’t remotely a surprise, it wasn’t The Whole Rotten Saga, was it? No Cavalier Years, no Shakespeare Sketch, King’s Birthday, Army Years, etc. I missed the start, but I’d put money on there being no clips of the pilot.



    I stopped watching about halfway through. Didn’t learn anything new, saw the same old clips all over again and the behind the scenes clips were all taken from the Back and Forth DVD. No footage of the pilot. Didn’t hear much new at all disappointingly.



    Did it talk about the first series much?


    Turk Thrust

    Yeah, they devoted a reasonable amount of time to the first series.


    Danny Stephenson

    G&T Admin

    no Shakespeare Sketch, King?s Birthday, Army Years,

    The what, the what, and the what?



    >Did it talk about the first series much?

    Yes, but they didn’t cover the unaired pilot though. (Not that I remember anyway, I think I missed the first minute or so, but they wouldn’t have had time, I don’t think.)

    I think they were fair to it overall. One of the production team said he hated it, others were more balanced. Overall it was considered a bit messy, but with some great bits, in it.

    I’d agree with the latter I think. I didn’t see the first series until relatively late (when I bought the cream coloured box-set.) Whilst it dragged a bit in places, I find it rather underrated.


    Pete Part Three

    >The what, the what, and the what?



    I’ve seen Blackadder’s Christmas Carol, The Cavalier Years (I didn’t see that until I purchased the Carol DVD) and Back and Forth. I missed all the others.



    Enjoyable comments, but yeah nothing new. What really was wank though, was Howard Goodall quite rightly making comments about how in Blackadder II the end credits were a fun extra thing that on todays TV would be replaced with a resized advert box telling you about what is on next. And then despite the documentary being a celebration of this show, they go and put a big logo and “up next the royle family” animated box over the dramatic final scene from goes forth, I know we’ve all seen it loads before, but it rather detracts from the point being made at the time about it, after some nice footage of the original take at full and normal speed. And then equally the show squashes the end tapistry graphics credits in the very same manner lament earlier. I found the recaps after each ad break annoying also. They clearly didnt expect anyone to be tuned in hour the whole 2 hours.

    The played footage of the filming on Back an forth as if it was filming of Blackadder II, and the rehearsal footage of Goes Forth was good, I hadnt seen that, but is was used pretty sparsely.



    Did anyone else find it a bit odd that Mrs Miggins didn’t even get a passing mention?



    Pete Part Three

    I think that sketch proves why Blackadder should rest in peace.


    John Hoare

    G&T Admin

    I saw the last half of this the other night. What I saw was inconsequential fluff – fun enough to watch, the odd nice bit of insight here and there from the cast, but nothing too strenuous for the mind. You CAN produce a comedy documentary for a mainstream audience and still include the more esoteric stuff – Comedy Connections is far from perfect, but there’s usually some stuff I didn’t know, and some rarely-seen clips here and there. If only they could have done that here.

    Also, cropping the clips to widescreen managed to ruin at least one joke – the shot-at helmet, which was barely on-screen!

    The worst thing wasn’t even the docco’s fault, though – JUST as they showed the climatic clip from the end of Goes Forth, with them going over the top… they stick a fucking massive “COMING NEXT” banner up the top at the screen. COMPLETELY wrecking the entire mood. It’s stuff like this which makes me despair. The worst thing is, I’m not even entirely convinced it was an accident – I really hope it was, and I could cope with that, but I suspect that they just didn’t care.


    Tarka Dal

    It appears ITV are running something akin to Comedy Connections, or at least a nostalgic look back at their classic sitcoms.

    Yes I know.


    John Hoare

    G&T Admin

    They’ve got loads of classic sitcoms! Not as many as the BBC admittedly, but still. Do you want the list, sir?

    Not seen this new show though. I’m bloody awful at watching anything on ITV these days, just because I’m not used to tuning into the channel…


    Pete Part Three

    >Do you want the list, sir?

    Probably for the best if you leave it. ;-)


    Jonathan Capps

    G&T Admin

    > Probably for the best if you leave it. ;-)

    I promise, John will make a fool out of you.


    Pete Part Three

    I can do that perfectly well on my own, thank you very much!

    But I’m afraid that not everyone appreciates George and Mildred at al.


    Tarka Dal

    I know sorry, I was trading a bit on the cliche of ITV Sitcoms being mostly bunkem.

    Still if we go back to the 70s then sure, but since then? Isn’t it fair to say that the BBC had them over a barrel in the 80s in terms of pure sitcom (So not including great stuff like Saturday Live, Spitting Image and Auf Wiedersehen Pet) and since then anything with real quality seems to have come from BBC2/Channel 4

    Anyhow, something I’ve just noticed. The show featured this week…

    Comedy Classics: Brass
    A celebration of the Eighties sitcom starring Timothy West as Bradley Hardacre, a greedy capitalist tyrant lording it over the downtrodden villagers of Utterley, in particular the lowly Fairchild family. Set in the 1930s, the show was a send-up of the gritty old cliches of Northern England, penned by former Coronation Street scriptwriters Julian Roach and John Stevenson SUB

    …isn’t on the list above!


    Seb Patrick

    I haven’t got round to watching the Blackadder docco yet, but I have just been watching series two again. I’d never noticed it before (probably because I’ve never really watched them in order before), but it must have been *really* disconcerting for viewers to have Bells as the first episode! Head does a lot to establish who the characters are, how Blackadder and Baldrick are different from the first series, and so on (and also has the closing song referring to “His great grandfather was a king” etc.) – but then for some reason they stuck Bells first, which throws you in as if you know all the characters straight off!


    Pete Part Three

    Plus, Percy shaves off his beard.


    Jonathan Capps

    G&T Admin

    Personally, I think it’s ruined by the canned laughter.



    Blackadder best bits tonight. I’m in two minds on this kind of show. They’re entertaining but they gooo…. oooon…. sooo….. loooooong. (See what I did there?)


    Jonathan Capps

    G&T Admin

    > (See what I did there?)






    Danny Stephenson

    G&T Admin



    Pete Part Three


    Great news if it turns out true.


    Danny Stephenson

    G&T Admin

    It shoudl be, but i’m confused why they would do a documentary so soon after already doing one.


    Jonathan Capps

    G&T Admin

    Glad a proper channel is doing one.

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