Writing Blackadder

Not long ago, we bought the final series, Blackadder Goes Forth, the one set during the First World War, having realised that neither Michael nor I had ever seen the whole thing, despite Michael being such a WWI buff and me being such a Brit-com addict. Also, we reasoned, it would be educational for the girls… (And at least one of them loved it, and caught up with seasons two and three on iView, or maybe it was Youtube.)

So having been reminded how clever and funny Blackadder was, when I saw this book at the library I couldn't resist it. And it was, on the whole, an interesting read, though slightly burdened in places with a weight of crushing detail about the careers and relationships and true histories of everyone who ever walked onto the Blackadder set. (It was sad, and disconcerting, to read about the late lamented Rik Mayall in the present tense.)

But there was heaps to enjoy. I liked the story about the day that Rowan Atkinson stepped out of the dressing-room in full Elizabethan regalia for the first time, and the women in the studio were taken aback, and murmured to each other, 'Wow… he's actually quite, you know, sexy…' which was exactly the way I felt about Elizabethan Blackadder, too! Something about the combination of the ruff, the pearl earring and the curled lip just worked for Rowan Atkinson the way nothing else ever quite has…

And there were juicy details about the writing process. Just about every actor in the ensemble was also a writer, and they all felt they had something helpful to contribute to the script, which could be agonising. Apparently the character of Captain Darling was originally a colourless, flat character called Cartwright and Tim Mcinnerny complained that even his name was boring; it was someone's suggestion, during rehearsals, that he should be called 'Darling' which brought the character to full, twitching, resentful life.

It was a reminder of how much fun, and how productive, collaborative writing can be. Hm, perhaps there's a blog post in that!


  1. Dear Kate,

    I completely loved reading your blog and you're right..there is something quite sexy about Rowan Atkinson in Elizabethan get up!

    You probably don't remember me but I wrote to you nearly 10 years ago because I just had to tell you how brilliant The Singer of All Songs (and the following books) were! Darrow was my first literay crush..I am now 24 and my crushes include Heathcliffe, the 11th Doctor and Aragorn from Lord of the Rings but you never forget your first love! :)

    Im writing to ask you if there was any chance you would grant me permission to write a screenplay for The Singer of All Songs? I think it would make a fantastic movie and I'd love to be able to write the script.

    I graduated from Notre Dame in Perth with a degree in Politics and Journalism; although Im a journalist my dream is to tell stories. If there is any chance you would be interested in a script for your book please let me know. It would be an honour.

    Thank you for reading my post. Im just so excited about reading your blog and I hope to hear from you soon.

  2. Hi Joanne,

    Sorry it's taken me a while to reply. You are very welcome to take a shot at writing a script for Singer. But if you do manage to get a producer on board, I expect to hear from you again with a formal offer!

    Best of luck (and Darrow says thanks, he's very flattered, and he sends his regards ;-)