In my personal view the Blackadder project, which began to be funny with the Elizabethan series 2, really hit its stride with series 3 – set in the Regency period, with Hugh Laurie outstanding as the Prince Regent himself. Before that I had watched it more for the aristocracy of its comedic guest stars. It was only with Blackadder Goes Forth, set in the WW1 trenches, that it became both a bona fide classic and laugh-out-loud amusing.
In the past week, by chance, it has become the battleground for political debate over the origins and impact of WW1 as the centenary of that seminal conflict fast approaches.
Firstly, against the background of general ‘issues’ over how to commemorate – rather than celebrate – WW1, Education Secretary Michael Gove wrote an article attacking the lazy and facile tendency (here I am paraphrasing for the sake of brevity) of teachers and others to take Blackadder Goes Forth as a definitive ‘take’ on the conduct of the British nation and its military leaders during that war.
Secondly, Shadow Education secretary Tristram Hunt responded with an attack on Gove, claiming that he is completely wrong.
Thirdly, the newly knighted Sir Tony Robinson – he of Blackadder’s ‘Baldrick’ and Time Team fame – has weighed in by claiming that Gove’s article was not only politically-motivated but a thinly-disguised attack on the teaching profession.
Now London Mayor Boris Johnson has joined the fray by taking a tilt at Tristram Hunt in his latest article penned for the Daily Telegraph.
Not a few Norwegian forests have been decimated in the cause of political pundits and others speculating as to whether Johnson is either a larger-than-life (and occasionally amusing) buffoon or, alternatively, a highly-intelligent polymath who disguises his cleverness and elephant-sized ambition beneath a carefully-constructed, disorganised and dishevelled, public persona designed with populist appeal in mind.
On this, for me personally, the jury is still out.
Nevertheless, as an example of polemic attack, I rather enjoyed this latest Johnson piece – see here – DAILY TELEGRAPH