Present Across the Series
- Reality Subtext: Stephen Fry's homosexuality is amusingly alluded (and Played for Laughs) to by some of his characters' actions:
- Lord Melchett (Blackadder II) had a very... close relationship with Flossie the sheep.
- General Melchett's "one true love" was Speckled Jim, his pet pigeon. In another episode he falls for George's drag act, and considers a woman's "drag act" a disaster.
- Star-Making Role: For Tony Robinson in the UK.
- What Could Have Been:
- One idea for a fifth series would have had Blackadder as a member of Margaret Thatcher's cabinet in the 1980s.
- Another idea was to do a World War II prisoner escape story.
- Yet another was The Red Adder, with Blackadder being a secret policeman in Russia during the Revolution. It would turn out that by the end of the series, he'd be doing the same job only in a different uniform.
- A fifth series or a movie set in the The '60s about a rock band was on the cards at one point but nothing came of it. Blackadder would have been the bastard son of Queen Elizabeth and was in a band called The Blackadder Five, with Bald Rick on drums.
- There was also talk of a sixties Tuxedo and Martini spoof called either Blackadder MI-5 or Blackadder 005.
- Stephen Fry suggested a Boarding School series called Blackadder in the Fifth.
- Richard Curtis had the idea of Blackadder as a corrupt Oxford don and Baldrick as his "scout" (housekeeper) "so essentially they would have been married for forty years".
- Word of God: Turnips are mentioned a lot, from the second series on. In series three, they become Baldrick's only ambition in life. The creators say this is because someone confused them with parsnips, which explains the joke about their shape in series two.
- You Look Familiar: Tim McInnerny, Miranda Richardson, and Stephen Fry all made guest appearances in various episodes.
Present in The Black Adder
- Character as Himself: Mad Gerald in the finale "Born to Be A King". He's played by Rik Mayall.
- Dawson Casting: Robert East, who played Edmund's older brother Harry, Prince of Wales, was just seven years younger than BRIAN BLESSED, who played his father, King Richard IV.note
- Old Shame: Rowan Atkinson and producer John Lloyd spend a significant amount of time badmouthing this series in the documentary included on the DVD boxset, calling it "pretty, but dreary to watch."
- The Pete Best:
- BRIAN BLESSED (Richard), Elspet Gray (Gertrude), Robert East (Henry) all qualify, as none of them would return for the later, more popular incarnations of the series (Blessed was asked back for one-off appearances in the third and fourth series, but was unavailable on both occasions).
- Going back a step further, John Savident (the King), Robert Bathurst (Henry), and Philip Fox (Baldrick) were replaced between the pilot and the series; only Rowan Atkinson, Tim McInnerny, and Elspet Gray remained of the primary cast from the pilot.
- Shoot the Money: The BBC gave this series an unusually large budget, which is why there was extensive location shooting at a real castle: they didn't necessarily need it but they certainly could afford it. For subsequent series, the budget was cut down to the bone and the show compensated with the clever scripts and storylines it is best known for.
- What Could Have Been: The original pilot episode was much more similar to what the later Blackadder installments would be like (for example, Edmund was much more savvy and snarky in the pilot than he was in the series, except in "Born to Be King", of which the pilot was an early version), but Executive Meddling resulted in the version of The Black Adder that we know and... well, treat as a valued and respected friend, but not really love, per se. Most fans believe that had the finished series combined the pilot episode's characterisations with the cast that we ended up with, it would have been vastly superior.
Present in Blackadder II
- Irony as She Is Cast: Miriam Margolyes, who played the authoritarian and crazily Puritanical Lady Whiteadder, is actually gay and Jewish.
- Old Shame: Tom Baker was so embarrassed by his guest role in "Potato" that he felt that his Equity card should have been revoked.
- Out of Order: "Head" was originally intended to be the first episode, and was first to be filmed. This resulted in the small continuity error of Lord Percy still having a beard in "Head" which he shaves off in "Bells". In addition, during the early scenes of "Head", the principal characters are introduced to the audience with Baldrick's stupidity highlighted.
- Romance on the Set: Rowan Atkinson met his second wife, makeup expert Sunetra Sastry, while working on this series. (They divorced in 2015.)
- Serendipity Writes the Plot: Blackadder's amusing and much-imitated pronunciation of "Bob" is a result of Rowan Atkinson's stutter. He has special difficulty with the letter "b". This led to a memorable Throw It In! in season 4: see below.
- What Could Have Been:
- BRIAN BLESSED claims that the original plan was that he would have played Queenie. And been madly in love with Edmund. It's quite a terrifying idea.
- There was a murder mystery episode that was abandoned when nobody could get it to work.
- Jim Broadbent was supposed to play Lord Whiteadder, again opposite Miriam Margoyles, but was unavailable.
- Wag the Director: Rik Mayall only agreed to play Lord Flashheart under the proviso that every single line he had was funnier than Rowan Atkinson's.
- You Look Familiar: Hugh Laurie shows up in the final two episodes of the season, but in two unrelated roles: in "Beer", he's Simon Partridge, one of Blackadder's jolly drinking buddies; and in "Chains", he plays the villain, the wicked Prince Ludwig. Laurie evidently must have had a good time on set, since he went on to return in the following two seasons as a major cast member.
Present in Blackadder the Third
Present in Blackadder Goes Forth
- Actor Allusion: In "Captain Cook", Melchett tells George that his Uncle Bertie sends his regards. Blackadder predates Jeeves and Wooster, so it's a prescient Actor Allusion!
- Actor-Inspired Element: It was Stephen Fry who came up with the name Darling, as he went to school with a boy of that name and was tormented by it. The character was originally named Cartwright.
- Actor-Shared Background: Melchett and George are both implied to have gone to Cambridge, just like Stephen Fry and Hugh Laurie. (Averted with Blackadder, who didn't go to university, unlike Oxford graduate Rowan Atkinson.)
- Serendipity Writes the Plot:
- When Flashheart is carrying off Bob the driver and they keep saying "Woof!" to each other, Blackadder sourly remarks "God, it's like Crufts in here." This was an ad lib by producer John Lloyd: the line as originally written was "God, it's like Battersea Dog's Home in here" but Rowan Atkinson's stutter kicked in and he couldn't get around the "b" in "Battersea". After several failed takes, Lloyd instructed the floor manager to tell Atkinson to change the reference to Crufts, Britain's most famous dog show. The result got a huge laugh from the studio audience (partly out of relief). Stephen Fry remarked that it was an inspired bit of on-the-fly producing from Lloyd.
- The Tear Jerker ending to the final episode, in which the main characters charge into no-man's land but are then obscured by a huge explosion before the image fades to a field of poppies, had to be thrown together in post-production. There was limited filming time, and the director had no experience with action scenes, and there was no money for a stunt co-ordinator in the budget. The resulting footage of Blackadder, George, Baldrick and Darling charging through No Man's Land while shells blew up around them looked distinctly underwhelming (they just fell over and lay on the ground looking not very dead), but the explosion effects were also so terrifying for the actors that Rowan Atkinson refused point-blank to do any retakes. The footage was deemed unusable, but while the film editor was cycling through it and trying to figure out what to do, he realised that slowing it down made it far more effective. As a result, they re-edited the footage, slowed it down, dropped the audio out and replaced it with the theme music played as a Lonely Piano Piece, and then at the moment a large explosion obscured the actors from view, crossfaded to a still photograph of some poppies. The result was the most hard-earned Downer Ending to any situation comedy.
- Troubled Production / Wag the Director: According to Stephen Fry and Tony Robinson, there was a lot of friction between the cast and writers during the making of this series, with the actors frequently rewriting the script on the set, which the two have admitted doing themselves. The resulting atmosphere on-set — together with producer John Lloyd leaving the BBC and the knowledge that any hypothetical Blackadder 5 would be eviscerated by the critics if it was even slightly worse than the previous series — made it certain that this would be the final Blackadder production until Back & Forth ten years later.
- What Could Have Been: Originally, everyone was supposed to be dramatically gunned down, with Captain Blackadder being the only survivor and sneaking away, before being seen as an old man in an epilogue scene that never got filmed. This didn't happen due to Serendipity Writing The Plot: see above.
- Word of God: According to Stephen Fry, Melchett loudly grunts every time he sits down because has hemorrhoids.