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Daily Mirror
Daily Mirror
Dan Warburton

Portrait of TV comedy icon sneaked into stately home - and mistaken for Shakespeare

How's this for a cunning plan? Telly bosses sneaked a painting of Blackadder into a stately home’s collection of fine art to celebrate the comedy’s 40th birthday.

And the portrait of Rowan Atkinson ’s character in Elizabethan attire has already been mistaken for William Shakespeare and Sir Walter Raleigh.

Artist Tom Croft spent more than 60 hours on the oil painting for TV channel Gold, which will mark the hit BBC series’s anniversary on June 15.

It was unveiled by Baldrick actor Tony Robinson at 17th Century Audley End House in Saffron Walden, Essex.

Tony, 76, said: “Tom did an amazing job at capturing Edmund’s witty expression. Baldrick would be thrilled.”

The painting was sneaked into Audley End House (PA)
Atkinson and Robinson as Blackadder and Baldrick (BBC Worldwide)

Peter Moore, from English Heritage, said: “We have an extensive collection of royal portraits [at Audley End], including Elizabeth I, so it is only fitting her court nobleman Edmund Blackadder should be displayed alongside her. He’s TV royalty in his own right.”

A survey by Gold found 71% of viewers say Blackadder is the funniest UK sitcom of all time.

Blackadder was voted the nation's favourite character, with 81 per cent of Brits in agreement - closely followed by Baldrick at 62 per cent.

More than two thirds (69 per cent) of Brits said Blackadder is the most iconic show from the 80s, and all these years later over two fifths (46 per cent) say they quote Blackadder lines on a regular basis.

In fact, nine in 10 people polled (89 per cent) said they still find the show just as funny and enjoyable now - 40 years after it first aired.
And over half (56 per cent) also admitted to being likely to binge-watch the classic series.

According to those surveyed, Blackadder taunting Samuel Johnson with his vocabulary is the funniest Blackadder moment ever - taking 41 per cent of the vote.

The scene sees Johnson, played by the late Robbie Coltrane, marvelling in his completion of the first ever dictionary - only for Edmund to offer him his "enthusiastic contrafibularities".

The 40th anniversary celebrations will also see the release of two brand new documentaries - 'Blackadder: A Cunning Story' and 'Blackadder: The Lost Pilot' - which includes the first TV outing for the original Blackadder pilot.

Gerald Casey, Gold channel director, said: "Forty years on since the show began, the nation still loves Blackadder just as much. From Edmund's wit to Baldrick's cunning plans, we knew we wanted to celebrate the iconic show in a way that celebrated its humour and history.

"This portrait is an incredible tribute to a much-loved character, and we're so thankful to have had Tony Robinson help us to unveil it.

"We're excited for comedy fans across the UK to celebrate this momentous anniversary with us on Gold and enjoy the brand-new documentaries that show Blackadder as you've never seen it before!"

Catch all episodes of Blackadder from the start on Gold from today, ahead of the 40th anniversary on June 15.

Plus, the new documentaries “Blackadder: The Lost Pilot’, and “Blackadder: A Cunning Story', will air on June 15 and June 16, respectively, at 9pm, only on Gold.

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