Tony Robinson addresses Rowan Atkinson’s absence from Blackadder sketch


Sir Tony Robinson has addressed Rowan Atkinson’s absence from the forthcoming Blackadder return for Comic Relief, saying: “This just happens to be a script for Baldrick.”

he 76-year-old actor is to reprise his role as the servant and sidekick to Atkinson’s Blackadder for the first time in nearly 25 years for the Red Nose Day appeal show on March 17, but Atkinson will not return to the title role.

Sir Tony and Atkinson starred alongside each other in the classic BBC sitcom from 1983 to 1989 and in a number of subsequent specials.


Rowan Atkinson as Blackadder and Sir Tony Robinson as Baldrick in a special one-off edition of Blackadder for Comic Relief in 1988 (PA)

Asked on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme on Wednesday if he thinks the sketch will be incomplete without Atkinson, Sir Tony said: “No, this just happens to be a script for Baldrick.”

He added: “Rowan always contributes to Comic Relief. I’m sure he’ll be there in some form or another.”

The actor also spoke of his enthusiasm at being asked to reprise his role by the sitcom’s co-writer, Richard Curtis, after they saw each other at a recent Radio Times event.

He said: “It was extraordinary for me. This was a character that I hadn’t played for 25 years and I suddenly got this beautifully crafted script, and I said ‘Yeah, try and keep me away from it!’.

“But everyone has to keep very quiet about it because it’s not sorted yet, and that’s where I was last night.”

Sir Tony confirmed the word “turnip” does appear in the script a number of times, as Curtis previously revealed, and said he feels this light-hearted humour is part of Baldrick’s appeal to the public.

“He is everyman, isn’t he? We are living in such gloomy times, where people feel under such enormous pressure, that I think a character like Baldrick speaks for the survival instincts in all of us”, he said.

“In a way, he’s a bit like Buster Keaton or Charlie Chaplin, isn’t he? One of those comedians or comic creations that doesn’t really say very much at all, but when he does it’s very, very personal.”


Rowan Atkinson as Edmund Blackadder with Sir Tony Robinson as Baldrick (Martin Keene/PA)

He added that the “brainless” character also acts as a contrast with the more “sophisticated” roles played by Hugh Laurie and Stephen Fry.

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Sir Tony previously reprised his role for a Comic Relief Red Nose Day sketch in 1988 alongside Atkinson.

The special, which was set during the English Civil War, saw Edmund Blackadder and Baldrick as the last two men loyal to the defeated King Charles I of England.

The veteran actor also returned to the role in 1999 for the short film special Blackadder: Back & Forth.

Reflecting on whether his forthcoming sketch could be a precursor for a new Blackadder series, Sir Tony said: “The argument always is that, however good a new series might be, the people who are watching it wouldn’t be in the same state of mind and same state of emotions as they were when they watched the first series, so they wouldn’t feel as warm about it, they wouldn’t feel as good about it.

“Even if it was absolutely great, they’d probably go ‘It’s not like the old series, is it?’

“So I think that’s one of the main reasons why no-one has ever seriously thought about writing another series, but who knows? It’s not down to me. It’s down to Richard and Ben (Elton).”


Blackadder co-writer Richard Curtis asked Sir Tony Robinson to reprise his role as Baldrick for a Red Nose Day sketch (Ian West/PA)

Speaking to Gary Davies on the Radio 2 Breakfast Show on Tuesday about the Comic Relief charity show, Curtis said he is “excited” at the prospect of a new Baldrick sketch.

“We’re just conspiring about it now, so I think there’s going to be a marvellous, turnip-based thing with Tony Robinson now back in action. So I’m excited about that.”

Asked whether Atkinson is also going to be involved, Curtis replied: “No, Rowan’s far too serious to do any of that.”

Curtis co-founded the charity Comic Relief with comedian Sir Lenny Henry in 1985.

Singer Kylie Minogue will also be involved with the TV appeal show and there will be a Love Island sketch which was filmed in the show’s current location, South Africa.

Money raised for Comic Relief’s Red Nose Day will help the cost-of-living crisis and tackle issues such as homelessness, mental health problems and food poverty in the UK and across the world.

A portion of the money raised will also go towards the emergency response to the earthquake in Turkey and Syria.

– Red Nose Day returns to BBC One on March 17 with hosts AJ Odudu, David Tennant, Joel Dommett, Paddy McGuinness and Zoe Ball.


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