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Evening Standard
Evening Standard
William Mata

Blackadder 40th anniversary: Where to watch the unaired pilot episode tonight

The never-before-seen first episode of Blackadder is set to be finally aired on British television to mark the comedy series’s fortieth anniversary.

The historical (and hysterically funny) show has remained one of the most beloved even after having long since departed our screens, having been first broadcast in 1983.

However, the show — written by Richard Curtis and Sir Ben Elton — was pitched to the BBC a year before and a pilot episode was produced but never aired.

Rowan Atkinson plays the eponymous lead Edmund Blackadder, the antihero who appears in different guises in all four series which are each set in a different point of British history from the 15th to 20th centuries. Blackadder himself is an aristocrat who is assisted by his dogsbody, Baldrick.

Sir Tony Robinson played the gormless and naive Baldrick for all four series (although his character was considerably more astute in the first series, with Blackadder being more foolish) and recently said that, despite the character’s stupidity, he would have “very high status” in the current British government. Philip Fox was cast as Baldrick in the unaired pilot episode in one of several differences in casting.

What is in the Blackadder pilot episode?

The episode is set in the 16th century — around 100 years after the events of The Black Adder, series one, took place.

In theme and tone is more similar to Blackadder II, which is also set in the 1500s.

However, key differences are that the characteristics of Blackadder and Baldrick are reversed for the pilot, with Atkinson’s character being found short of logic, and is more similar to the first series.

In addition, King Richard IV of England is played by John Savident in the pilot, whereas the character was played by Brian Blessed on television. Robert Bathurst was replaced by Robert East in the role of Harry, Prince of Wales.

Sir Tony, in the Radio Times, warned viewers that scene one was “tedious” but the pilot did contain “flashes that are really good”.

“In a way, series one was itself a pilot,” he continued, in reference to The Black Adder, which won viewers but was critically seen as the weakest of the four series.

Where to watch the unaired pilot

Blackadder: The Lost Pilot will be shown at 9pm tonight (Thursday) on Gold.

How many episodes of Blackadder are there?

As part of the original run, there were 24 episodes across series one to four.

There are also four special episodes: Blackadder: The Cavalier Years in 1988, Blackadder’s Christmas Carol also in 1998, Blackadder: Back & Forth in 1999, and a Red Nose Day special which aired earlier this year.

Social media reactions to Blackadder anniversary

As usual with any television comeback event, fans are getting excited on Twitter. Here are some of the best tweets from the day.

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