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Authors: J. F. Roberts

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The True History of the Blackadder

BOOK: The True History of the Blackadder
13.19Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub


About the Book

About the Author

Also by Jem Roberts

Title Page



Parte the First

Parte the Second

Parte the Third

Parte the Fourth

Parte the Fifth

Parte the Sixth



Picture Section

Picture Permissions




About the Book

The True History of the Black Adder
is the very first in-depth examination of the creation of a brilliant British institution like no other, arguably the greatest sitcom of all time,

Using existing archive footage and rare literature, plus new revelations from personal interviews with the makers including John Lloyd, Rowan Atkinson, Tony Robinson, Richard Curtis, Ben Elton, Stephen Fry, Brian Blessed and many more, J. F. Roberts relates the full scope of the tale of how the 1970s alumni of three great universities – Oxford, Cambridge and Manchester – discovered a unique chemistry that would see them build a timeless comic masterpiece.

At last
enthusiasts can now uncover THE cunning plan, in all its hideous hilarity.

About the Author

Jem Roberts was born in Ludlow and studied English, Film & Television at Aberystwyth University. A lifetime in magazines led to the honour of writing his first book, the acclaimed Clue Bible,
The Fully Authorised History of I’m Sorry I Haven’t a Clue
, whereupon a life-long adoration for
made this follow-up a must. He lives in Bath, where he runs the comedy gang The Unrelated Family, writes strange tales for young readers and works on his third work of comedy history when he can.


Also available by Jem Roberts

The Fully Authorised History of I’m Sorry I Haven’t a Clue

For My Own Dark Dynasty

This True History would remain villainously repressed if it weren’t for the kindness and support of many, many people who gave me their time. Most particularly Rowan Atkinson CBE, Brian Blessed, Richard Curtis CBE, Ben Elton, Stephen Fry, Sir Tony Robinson and especially John Lloyd CBE.

Parte the First:


Thou, nature, art my goddess; to thy law
My services are bound. Wherefore should I
Stand in the plague of custom, and permit
The curiosity of nations to deprive me
For that I am some twelve or fourteen moonshines
Lag of a brother? Why bastard? Wherefore base?
When my dimensions are as well compact,
My mind as generous, and my shape as true,
As honest madam’s issue? … I grow; I prosper:
Now, gods, stand up for bastards!

King Lear, Act 1, Scene 2

many great bastards, but it has been chronicled by almost as many. For the majority of the history of History, the ever-so-humble scribe who picked up the quill and positioned the vellum for any form of ‘factual’ chronicle generally sat down to begin work with a cry of ‘Payback time!’ ringing in their ears. Terry Jones – noted medieval historian, author of
Who Murdered Chaucer
and Python – puts it best: ‘Propaganda’s nothing new, it’s always been there, and historians just use whatever they’ve got at the time.’

The story of our governance is by its very nature one of the gaining and retaining of power, and power is fuelled by propaganda, the facts be damned. Once power was obtained (certainly in antiquity), the ruler’s word tended to become law anyway, and it was difficult for any medieval conspiracy theorist to offer so much as a ‘Hang on …’ without it being taken as a request for voluntary physical dissection.

It’s only when there’s an unexpected transfer of power that the mechanism behind the forging of History becomes apparent. One scribe’s gospel truth becomes pernicious tittle-tattle, while the heresy of a traitor can become state-approved fact, if it suits the tenant of the throne and his or her friends. This doesn’t just involve textual gainsaying like a sundered celebrity couple in competing tabloids, either. For new histories to be written, old ones were necessarily burned, ripped, expunged from existence, and the keepers of the closest thing to ‘the facts’ silenced.

This political vandalism would be bad enough, if priceless archives and precious artefacts hadn’t also fallen victim to the more freakish
forces of nature: fire, flood and Vikings with no appreciation of the value of a good monastic library. The Roman Catholic Church may not have been the most moral of organisations (and the Romans themselves had hardly been that bothered about preserving the culture and history of the ancient Britons they crushed under foot – not to mention that nasty business in the library at Alexandria), but when the executives of Henry VIII’s Reformation watched the scriptoriums of Britain’s monasteries crumble into ash, did they spare a thought for the knowledge being theoretically scattered to the winds?

One of the few early historians whose particular jumble of events has survived, Geoffrey of Monmouth, wrote in his
Historia Regum Britanniae
of figures like Arthur, Lear, and many other possible flesh-and-blood Britons since consigned to the world of myth, and insisted that his evidence came from an ‘ancient book in the British language that told in orderly fashion the deeds of all the Kings of Britain’ – a source which has never been identified, presumed destroyed. Some modern historians even happily claim that Geoffrey’s story of working from existing sources is a fantasy in itself, but in the realm of hearsay why deny the more interesting version of events? The party line that tends to begin the History of Britain with the Roman Invasion, many millennia after the country was first settled, is the result of centuries of academic party-pooping and cowardly clinging to the state-approved propaganda machine. If a new version of our history could be found, one not told by the Powers That Have Been, but by the little man, the underachiever with perhaps an eye but barely a buttock on the throne, then its retelling of our country’s story should be taken in and digested fully, for the healthiest record of our evolution as a nation to be regurgitated.

This is why the Blackadder Chronicles are such a precious primary source for anybody with even the vaguest interest in British History. Although it’s now three decades since word first emerged of the Chronicles’ discovery, they have remained unexamined in any scholarly
depth. Yet they tell us of an entirely forgotten epoch, an undocumented reign in which the Wars of the Roses became but a memory. The propaganda commissioned by Henry VII successfully silenced the sworn statements of the Blackadder family for five hundred years, but now is the time for the Truth to be heard. Or
truth, at least – an unlikely truth perhaps, and a
truth, but a more entertaining story than the official rubbish invented by King Henry’s hired hacks, anyway.

Primary sources backing up the Blackadder family’s claims have remained impossible to identify since the Chronicles’ discovery – and it is true that only one academic has ever been allowed direct access to the documents themselves, J. H. W. Lloyd (putative Professor of Loafing at the University of Camelot) gaining the exclusive honour thirty years ago, since when the priceless volumes have remained behind locked doors. But in this history, with the help of one of Britain’s foremost historical experts, Professor Justin Pollard, we will be revisiting Lloyd’s research, and holding his findings up to the light of established history, to see just how much water the Blackadder version of our nation’s narrative can hold – or, indeed, how far existing British History has been perverted in order to keep the noble family out of the limelight, and promote the version of events approved by each successive royal winner.

BOOK: The True History of the Blackadder
13.19Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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