What’s up, Sevenettes. Welcome back to Trivia Tuesday. In keeping with Blackadder month, that is exactly what we’re gonna cover. Last week, we went over the Tudor era Blackadder. This week, we’re going a little further forward to the Elizabethan era, the point where most fans agree the show (as well as the main character) Grew The Beard, so to speak. It’s Blackadder II.
Trivia Tuesday – Blackadder II
The transition from Series one to series two saw many changes. The budget was cut significantly so the extravagant location footage was no more. This meant most episodes would use two, maybe three sets. These would include the main room of Blackadder’s house and the Queen’s Court. This would be more in keeping with sitcoms at the time when compared to the previous series.
The only location footage used in the show was for the courting scene from Bells and the closing credits, both of which were filmed in the gardens of Wilton House in Wiltshire. It took a mere two days to film. A little bonus trivia for you about the various songs sung during these credits; they’re actually sung by Howard Goodall, the one behind the theme to my favourite show of all time, Red Dwarf.
They also decreased the number of actors involved. There were no longer shedfulls of extras and the core cast was condensed down to half a dozen people, with one or two guest stars thrown in. Richard Curtis said that this resulted in a much more enjoyable filming experience, comparing it to a friendly bunch of school chums.
One other major change was in the writer’s room. Ben Elton was brought in to replace Rowan Atkinson, who no longer wished to write the series. Ben proceeded to make several changes that have now become recognisable elements of the franchise. Most notably, Baldrick’s intelligence was scaled back in order for him to play foil to Blackadder. It was also Ben’s idea to set the series in the Elizabethan age, thinking it a much sexier age the kids would relate to.
Ben Elton also gave us Baldrick’s fascination with turnips. But the whole thing was actually based on a misunderstanding. Ben actually confused them with another vegetable; parsnips. This resulted in a joke about a penis shaped “turnip” that confused a number of fans. This was corrected in the following series where we actually got turnip-shaped turnips instead.
Brian Blessed, who played King Richard IV in the previous series, went on record as saying he wanted to come back for the second series. He said he wanted to play Queen Elizabeth and would have been madly in love with Edmund. You know what, Brian, I think we would have been okay with that.
There is a notable continuity error near the beginning of the series surrounding Lord Percy. In the first aired episode, Bells, Percy is clean shaven. In the second episode, Head, he has a beard which he subsequently shaves in a huff part way through the episode. This is actually because Head was supposed to be the first episode, with Bells being the second. In most sitcoms, switching the episode order wouldn’t create too much of a continuity problem. This is one of the rare occasions that it did.
Much like the previous series, Blackadder II did draw some inspiration from Shakespeare. Tim McInnerny, who plays the Percy line as well as Darling from series four, said he based his performance on Sir Andrew Aguecheek from William Shakespeare’s play, Twelfth Night.
The series introduced a number of popular characters who would return in later series. The two most notable were Lord Flashheart, portrayed by Rik Mayall, and Stephen Fry’s first outing as a Melchett. Stephen Fry chose a more relaxed and calmer performance for this Melchett when compared to the subsequent Melchetts, most notably General Melchett from Blackadder Goes Forth. But there is one thing that should be noted about this Melchett. He is implied to have had intimate relations with a sheep. General Melchett would frequently exclaim “Baaaaahh!” at various random points as a nod to this. Basically, it’s implied all Melchetts are descended from sheep.
Miranda Richardson’s role as the Queen was actually rewritten from how it was originally going to be due to how silly Miranda was playing it. The finished product was, in my opinion, absolutely delightful. Miranda herself beat out 40 other actresses to get the role. This wasn’t even the only role she had either. In the episode entitled Potato, she is the voice of the child singing “sour puss, grumpy face” outside Edmund’s window.
In another example of the writers using anachronisms for the sake of a joke, there is a conversation between Blackadder and Percy with Blackadder expressing annoyance at Percy’s use of theatrical phrases. He says something along the lines of “It’s a short step from ‘Tush’ to ‘Hey Nonny Nonny’ and then I shall have to call the police.” The police force weren’t actually a thing back in Elizabethan times but we let it slide because, you know, Rule Of Funny.
And finally, I have chosen this weeks video purely to play up to the fans. You know him all too well. Men want to be him and women (and sometimes men too) want to be with him. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you Lord Flashheart. Note how his awesomeness almost destroys the entire set around him.
That’s all we have for series 2. We’ll go over some trivia from Blackadder The Third next week and I’ll return on Thursday with another Blackadder themed Seven. If you wanna help out the blog, click the Loot Crate link below and buy something. I’ll see you next time, dudes. Party Hearty.
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