(In reality, only one of those last three was alive at the same time as Johnson: Coleridge was about 12 years old when Johnson died. The others hadn’t been born yet.)
In Prince’s House (in bedchambre)
G: (wakes, shouts) Oh, oh, oh, Blackadder! BLACKADDER!
E: (enters) Your Highness.
G: Wha–wha–what time is it?
E: Three o’clock in the afternoon, Your Highness.
G: Oh, thank God for that — I thought I’d overslept.
E: I trust you had a pleasant evening, sir…?
G: Well, no, actually. The most extraordinary thing happened. Last night,
I was having a bit of a snack at the Naughty Hellfire club, and some
fellow said that I had the wit and sophistication of a donkey.
E: Oh, an absurd suggestion, sir.
G: You’re right, it is absurd.
E: …unless, of course, it was a particularly *stupid* donkey.
G: You see? If only *I’d* thought of saying that…
E: Well, it is so often the way, sir, too late one thinks of what
one *should* have said. Sir Thomas Moore, for instance: Burned alive
for refusing to recant his Catholicism, must have been kicking him-
self, as the flames licked higher, that it never occurred to him
to say, "I recant my Catholicism."
G: Well, yes, you see, only the other day, Prime Minister Pitt called
me an "idle scrounger," and it wasn’t until ages later that
I thought how clever it would’ve been to have said, "Oh, bugger off,
you old fart!" I need to improve my mind, Blackadder. I want people
to say, "That George, why, he’s as clever as a stick in a bucket of
E: And how do you suggest this miracle is to be achieved, Your Highness?
G: Easy: I shall become best friends with the cleverest man in England.
That renowned brainbox, Dr. Samuel Johnson, has asked me to be patron
of his new book, and I intend to accept.
E: Would this be the long-awaited `Dictionary’, sir?
G: Oh, who cares about a title as long as there’s plenty of juicy murders
in it. I hear it’s a masterpiece.
E: No, sir, it is not. It’s the most pointless book since "How To Learn
French" was translated into French. (moves into living area)
G: (follows) You haven’t got anything personal against Johnson, have you
E: Good Lord, sir, not at all. In fact, I had never heard of him until
you mentioned him just now.
G: But you do think he’s a genius…?
E: No, sir, I do not. Unless, of course, the definition of `genius’ in his
ridiculous dictionary is "a fat dullard or wobblebottom; a pompous ass with
sweatly dewflaps." (presumably a mispronunciation of `dewlaps’)
G: Oh, close shave there, then. Lucky you warned me. I was about to em-
brace this unholy arse to the royal bosom.
E: I’m delighted to have been instrumental of keeping your bosom free of
G: Bravo — don’t want to waste my valuable time with wobblebottoms.
Er, fetch some tea, will you, Blackadder…?
E: Certainly, sir.
G: Oh, and make it two cups, will you? That splendid brainbox, Dr. Johnson, is
In Baldrick/Blackadder’s Quarters
E: (makes noise of disgust)
B: Something wrong, Mr. B?
E: Oh, something’s always wrong, Balders. (dumps all bottles and glasses
from the drinks tray he is carrying into a barrel, where they all break)
The fact that I’m not a millionaire aristocrat with the sexual capacity
of a rutting rhino is a constant niggle. But, today, something’s even
wronger. That globulous fraud, Dr. Johnson, is coming to tea.
B: I thought he was the cleverest man in England.
E: Baldrick, I’d bump into cleverer people at a lodge meeting of the Guild of
B: That’s not what you said when you sent him your navel.
E: *Novel*, Baldrick — not navel. I sent him my *novel*.
B: Well, novel or navel, it sounds a bit like a bag of grapefruits to me.
E: The phrase, Baldrick, is "a case of sour grapes," and yes it bloody well
is. I mean, he might at least have written back, but no, nothing, not even
a "Dear Gertrude Perkins: Thank you for your book. Get stuffed.
B: Gertrude Perkins?
E: Yes, I gave myself a female pseudonym. Everybody’s doing it these days:
Mrs. Ratcliffe, Jane Austin–
B: What, Jane Austin’s a man?
E: Of course — a huge Yorkshireman with a beard like a rhododendron bush.
B: Oh, quite a small one, then?
E: Well, compared to Dorothy Wordsworth’s, certainly. James Boswell is the
only real woman writing at the moment, and that’s just because she
wants to get inside Johnson’s britches.
B: Perhaps your book really isn’t any good.
E: Oh, (caldwhallop?)! It’s taken me seven years, and it’s perfect. "Edmund:
A Butler’s Tale." A giant rollercoaster of a novel in four hundred sizzling
chapters. A searing indictment of domestic servitude in the eighteenth
century, with some hot gypsies thrown in. My magnum opus, Baldrick. Every-
body has one novel in them, and this is mine.
B: And *this* is mine (takes a small piece of paper from the front of his
trousers). My magnificent octopus.
E: (takes it) This is your novel, Baldrick? (unfolds it)
B: Yeah — I can’t stand long books.
E: (reads) "Once upon a time, there was a lovely little sausage
called `Baldrick’, and it lived happily ever after."
B: It’s semi-autobiographical.
E: And it’s completely utterly awful. Dr. Johnson will probably love it.
(a bell rings)
E: Oh, speak of the devil. Well, I’d better go and make the
great Doctor comfortable. Let’s just see how damned smart Dr. Fatty-
Know-It-All really is. (goes up stairway) Oh, and prepare a fire for
the Prince, will you, Baldrick?
B: What shall I use?
E: Oh, any old rubbish will do. Paper’s quite good. Here, (crumples up
Baldrick’s `novel’) try this for starters (throws paper at Baldrick).
In Prince’s House
(knock at door)
E: Dr. Johnson, Your Highness.
G: Ah, Dr. Johnson! Damn cold day!
J: Indeed it is, sir, but a very fine one, for I celebrated last night the
encyclopaedic implementation of my pre-meditated orchestration of demotic
G: (nods, grinning, then speaks) Nope — didn’t catch any of that.
J: Well, I simply observed, sir, that I’m felicitous, since, during the
course of the penultimate solar sojourn, I terminated my uninterrupted
categorisation of the vocabulary of our post-Norman tongue.
G: Well, I don’t know what you’re talking about, but it sounds damn *saucy*,
you lucky thing! I know some fairly liberal-minded girls, but I’ve
never penultimated any of them in a solar sojourn, or, for that matter,
been given any Norman tongue!
E: I believe, sir, that the Doctor is trying to tell you that he is happy
because he has finished his book. It has, apparently, taken him ten years.
G: Yes, well, I’m a slow reader myself…
J: (places two manuscripts on the table, but picks up the top one)
Here it is, sir: the very cornerstone of English scholarship. This book,
sir, contains every word in our beloved language.
E: Every single one, sir?
J: (confidently) Every single word, sir!
E: (to Prince) Oh, well, in that case, sir, I hope you will not object if
I also offer the Doctor my most enthusiastic contrafribularities.
(or maybe `contrafribblarities’, coming from the word `fribble’.
A closed-caption decoder would help here.)
E: `Contrafribularites’, sir? It is a common word down our way…
J: Damn! (writes in the book)
E: Oh, I’m sorry, sir. I’m anispeptic, frasmotic, even compunctuous to have
caused you such pericombobulation.
J: What? What? WHAT?
G: What are you on about, Blackadder? This is all beginning to sound a bit
like dago talk to me.
E: I’m sorry, sir. I merely wished to congratulate the Doctor on not having
left out a single word. (J sneers) Shall I fetch the tea, Your Highness?
G: Yes, yes! And get that damned fire up here, will you?
E: Certainly, sir. I shall return interfrastically. (exits) (J writes some
G: So, Dr. Johnson. Sit ye down. Now, this book of yours…tell me, what’s
it all about?
J: It is a book about the English language, sir.
G: I see! And the hero’s name is what?
J: There is no hero, sir.
G: No hero? Well, lucky I reminded you. Better put one in pronto! Ermm…
call him `George’. `George’ is a good name for a hero. Er, now, what about
J: There is no heroine, sir…unless it is our Mother Tongue.
G: Ah, the *mother’s* the heroine. Nice twist. How far have we got, then? Old
Mother Tongue is in love with George the Hero. Now what about murders?
Mother Tongue doesn’t get murdered, does she?
J: No she doesn’t. No-one gets murdered, or married, or in a tricky situation
over a pound note!
G: Well, now, look, Dr. Johnson, I may be as thick as a whale omelette, but
even *I* know a book’s got to have a *plot*.
J: Not this one, sir. It is a book that tells you what English words *mean*.
G: I *know* what English words mean — I *speak* English! You must be a bit
of a thicko.
J: Perhaps you would rather not be patron of my book if you can see no value
in it whatsoever, sir…
G: Well, perhaps so, sir! As it sounds to me as if my being patron of this
complete cowpat of a book will set the seal once and for all on my
reputation as an utter turnip-head!
J: Well! It is a reputation well deserved, sir! (sarcastically) Farewell!
(opens door to find Edmund with tea tray)
E: Leaving already, Doctor? Not staying for your pendigestatery
J: No, sir! Show me out!
E: Certainly, sir. Anything I can do to facilitate your velocitous
J: (to Prince) You will regret this doubly, sir. Not only have you
impeculiated (turns to Edmund and makes a boasting noise, then continues)
my dictionary, but you’ve also lost the chance to act as patron to the only
book in the world that is even better.
E: Oh, and what is that, sir? "Dictionary II: The Return of the Killer Diction-
J: No, sir! It is "Edmund: A Butler’s Tale" (Edmund knocks over some of the
teacups) by Gertrude Perkins — a huge rollercoaster of a novel crammed
with sizzling gypsies. (to Prince) Had you supported it, sir, it would
have made you and me and Gertrude millionaires.
E: (shocked) Millionaires!! (clears his throat as J and P look at him oddly)
J: But it was not to be, sir. I fare you well — I shall not return.
E: (to Prince) Excuse me, sir. (follows Johnson out) Er, Dr. Johnson…
A word, I beg you.
J: A word with you, sir, can mean seven million syllables. You might start
now and not be finished by bedtime! (pauses, realised he’s forgotten
something) Oh, blast my eyes! In my fury, I have left my dictionary
with your foolish master! Go fetch it, will you?
E: Sir, the Prince is young and foolish and has a peanut for a brain. Give
me just a few minutes and I will deliver both the book and his patronage.
J: Oh, will you, sir… I very much doubt it. A servant who is an influence
for the good is like a dog who speaks: very rare.
E: I think I can change his mind.
J: Hmpf! Well, I doubt it, sir. A man who can change a prince’s mind is
like a dog who speaks *Norwegian*: even rarer! I shall be at Mrs. Miggins’
Literary Salon in twenty minutes. Bring the book there. (exits)
Back in the Prince’s House (a fire is blazing in the fireplace)
E: Your Highness, may I offer my congratulations?
G: Well, thanks Blackadder. That pompous babboon won’t be back in a hurry.
E: Oh, on the contrary, sir. Dr. Johnson left in the highest of spirits.
E: He is utterly thrilled at your promise to patronise his dictionary.
G: I told him to sod off, didn’t I?
E: Yes, sir, but that was a joke…surely.
G: Was it?
E: Certainly! and a brilliant one once more.
G: (happy at the idea he managed to pull off a joke, pretends that that was
his intention all along) Yes, yes! I…er…suppose it was, rather,
E: So may I deliver your note of patronage to Dr. Johnson as promised?
G: Well, of course. If that’s what I promised, then that’s what I must do.
And I remember promising it distinctly.
E: Excellent. (to Baldrick) Nice fire, Baldrick.
B: Thank you, Mr. B.
E: Right, let’s get the book. Now; Baldrick, where’s the manuscript?
B: You mean the big papery thing tied up with string?
E: Yes, Baldrick: the manuscript belonging to Dr. Johnson.
B: You mean the baity fellow in the black coat who just left?
E: Yes, Baldrick: Dr. Johnson.
B: So you’re asking where the big papery thing tied up with string be-
longing to the baity fellow in the black coat who just left is.
E: Yes, Baldrick, I am; and if you don’t answer, then the booted bony thing
with five toes at the end of my leg will soon connect sharply with the
soft dangly collection of objects in your trousers. For the last time,
Baldrick: Where is Dr. Johnson’s manuscript?
B: On the fire.
E: (shocked) On the *what*?
B: The hot orangy thing under the stony mantlepiece.
E: You *burned* The Dictionary?
E: You burned the life’s work of England’s foremost man of letters?
B: Well, you did say "burn any old rubbish."
E: Yes, fine.
G: Isn’t it, er…Isn’t it going to be a bit difficult for me to patronise
this book if we’ve burnt it?
E: Yes, it is, sir. If you would excuse me a moment…
G: Oh, of course, of course. Now that I’ve got my lovely fire, I’m as happy
as a Frenchman who’s invented a pair of self-removing trousers.
E: Baldrick, will you join me in the vestibule?
In the Corridor (vestibule)
E: (grabs Baldrick by the lapels) *We* are going to go to Mrs. Miggins’,
we’re going to find out where Dr. Johnson keeps a copy of that
dictionary, and then *you* are going to steal it.
E: Yes, you!
B: Why me?
E: Because you burnt it, Baldrick.
B: But then I’ll go to Hell forever for stealing.
E: Baldrick, believe me: eternity in the company of Beezlebub and all
his hellish instruments of death will be a picnic compared to five
minutes with *me* and this pencil…if we can’t replace this dic-
In Mrs. Miggin’s coffee shoppe (`Literary Salon’)
(Shelley, Coleridge, and Byron are at a table. Shelley sits up holding a
handkerchief; Byron stands very erect, staring straight ahead at nothing;
Coleridge appears dead. As Shelley begins to speak, the person at the next
table stands and moves to a table as far away as possible.)
S: O, Love-(?) ecstasy that is Mrs. Miggins, wilt thou bring me but one cup
of the browned juicings of that naughty bean we call `coffee’,
ere I die…
M: (swoons) Ooohhhh, you do have a way of words with you, Mr. Shelley!
By: To Hell with this fine talking. Coffee, woman! My consumption grows
evermore acute and Coleridge’s drugs are wearing off.
M: Ohh, Mr. Byron, don’t be such a big girl’s blouse!
(cut to outside of shoppe…dogs bark)
E: Don’t forget the pencil, Baldrick.
B: Oh, I certainly won’t, sir.
(Edmund and Baldrick enter)
E: Ah, good day to you, Mrs. Miggins.
M: (swoons and giggles)
E: A cup of your best hot water with brown grit in it. Unless, of course, by
some miracle, your coffee shop has started selling coffee.
By: Be quiet, sir. Can’t you see we’re dying?
M: Don’t you worry about my poets, Mr. Blackadder. They’re not dead, they’re
just being *intellectual*.
E: Mrs. Miggins, there’s nothing intellectual wandering around Italy in a big
shirt, trying to get laid. Why are they *here* of all places?
By: We are *here*, sir, to pay homage to the *great* Dr. Johnson, as, sir,
E: Oh, well, absolutely! Erm…I intend to. Er, you wouldn’t happen to have a
copy of his dictionary on you, would you, so I can do some revising before
he gets here?
J: Friends, I have returned.
(poets welcome him; Edmund says `Hurray’)
By: So, sir, how was the Prince?
J: (ajusting his powdered wig) The Prince was and is an utter fool, and his
household filled with cretinous servants. (his gaze then falls upon Edmund,
and he does a double-take while the poets laugh)
E: Good afternoon, sir.
J: And *you* are the worst of them, sir. After all your boasting, have you
my dictionary and my patronage?
E: Not quite. The Prince begs just a few more hours to really get to
grips with it.
E: However, I was wondering if a lowly servant such as I might be permitted
to glance at a copy.
Poets and Johnson: COPY?!
J: There is no copy, sir.
E: No copy?
J: No, sir. Making a copy is like fitting wheels to a tomato, time consuming
and completely unnecessary.
E: But what if the book got lost?
J: I should not lose the book, sir, (stands, coffee cup in hand, approaching
Edmund menacingly) and if any other man should, I would tear off
his head with my bare hands and feed it to the cat! (breaks coffee cup
E: Well, that’s nice and clear.
By: And I, Lord Byron, (unsheathing a sword) would summon up fifty of my men,
lay siege to the fellow’s house and do *bloody murder* on him. (rests
sword on Baldrick’s shoulder)
C: (pointing a blade at Edmund) And I would not rest until the criminal was
hanging by his hair with an Oriental disemboweling cutlass thrust up his
E: I hope you’re listening to all this, Baldrick.
In Prince’s House (Prince is peeling an apple)
E: Sir, I have been unable to replace the dictionary. I am therefore leaving
immediately for Nepal, where I intend to live as a goat.
E: Because if I stay here, Dr. Johnson’s companions will have me brutally
G: Good God, Blackadder, that’s terrible! (aside) Do you know any other
E: And, of course, when the people discover you have burnt Dr. Johnson’s
dictionary, they may go round saying, "Look! There’s thick George. He’s
got a brain the size of a weasel’s wedding (tackle?)."
G: In that case, something must be done!
B: (famously) I have a cunning plan, sir.
G: Hurrah! Well, that’s that, then.
E: I wouldn’t get overexcited, sir. I have a horrid suspicion that Baldrick’s
plan will be the stupidest thing we’ve heard since Lord Nelson’s famous
signal at the Battle of the Nile: "England knows Lady Hamilton’s a virgin.
Poke my eye out and cut off my arm if I’m wrong."
G: Great! Let’s hear it, then.
B: It’s brilliant. You take the string — that’s still not completely
burnt — you scrape off the soot, and you shove the pages in again.
E: Which pages?
B: Well, not the same ones, of course.
E: Yes, I think I’m on the point of spotting the flaw in this plan, but do
go on. Which pages are they?
B: Well, this is the brilliant bit: You write some new ones.
E: …some new ones. You mean rewrite the dictionary. I sit down tonight and
rewrite the dictionary that took Dr. Johnson ten years.
E: Baldrick, that is by far and away, and without a shadow of doubt, the worst
and most comtemptible plan in the history of the universe. On the other
hand, I hear the sound of disemboweling cutlasses being sharpened, and it’s
the only plan we’ve got, so if you will excuse me, gentlemen…
G: Perhaps you’d like me to lend a hand, Blackadder. I’m not as stupid as I
B: I *am* stupid as I look, sir, but if I can help, I will.
E: Well, it’s very kind of you both, but I fear your services might be as
useful as a barber shop on the steps of the guillotine.
G: Oh, come on, Blackadder, give us a try!
E: Very well, sir, as you wish. Let’s start at the beginning, shall we?
First: `A’. How would you define `a’?
B: Ohh…..`a’ (continues this in background)
G: Oh, I love this! I love this: quizzies….Errmmm, hang on, it’s coming…
ooohh, crikey, errmm, oh yes, I’ve got it!
G: Well, it doesn’t really mean *anything*, does it?
E: Good. So we’re well on the way, then. " `a’; impersonal pronoun —
doesn’t really mean anything." Right! Next: `A’… `A-B’.
(Baldrick and Prince ponder over this)
B: Well, it’s a buzzing thing, innit? `A buzzing thing’.
E: Baldrick, I mean something that starts with `A-B’.
B: Honey? Honey starts with a bee.
G: He’s right, you know, Blackadder. Honey *does* start a bee…and a flower,
E: Yes, look, this really isn’t getting anywhere. And besides, I’ve left out
G: Oh well, don’t say we didn’t give it a try.
E: No, Your Highness, it was a brave start. But I fear I must proceed on my
own. Now, Baldrick, go to the kitchen and make me something quick and sim-
ple to eat, would you? Two slices of bread with something in between.
B: What, like Gerald, Lord Sandwich, had the other day?
E: Yes — a few rounds of Geralders.
(Sometime later, it is nighttime. Edmund is sitting at desk writing the
dictionary. Candles flicker. Prince George comes in)
G: How goes it, Blackadder?
E: Not all that well, sir.
G: Well, let’s have a look…(reads) "Medium-sized insectivore with
protruding nasal implement." (pauses) Doesn’t sound much like a bee to me.
E: (shouts) It’s `aardvark’, can’t you see that, Your Highness? It’s a
G: Oh dear — still on `aardvark’, are we?
E: Yes, I’m afraid we are. And if I ever meet an aardvark, I’m going to
step on its damn protruding nasal implement until it couldn’t suck
up an insect if its life depended on it.
G: Got a bit stuck, have you?
E: I’m sorry, sir. It’s five hours later, and I’ve got every word in the
English language except `a’ and `aardvark’ still to do. And I’m not
very happy with my definition of either of them.
G: Well, don’t panic, Blackadder, because I have some rather good news.
E: Oh, what?
G: Well, we didn’t take `no’ for an answer, and have, in fact, been working
all night. I’ve done `B’.
E: Really? And how have you got on?
G: Well, I had a bit of trouble with `belching’, but I think I got it
sorted out in the end. (burps) Oh no, there I go again! (laughs)
E: You’ve been working on that joke for some time, haven’t you, sir?
G: Well, yes, I have, as a matter of fact, yes.
E: Since you started…
E: So, in fact, you haven’t done any work at all?
G: Not as such, no.
E: Great. Baldrick, what have you done?
B: I’ve done `C’ and `D’.
E: Right, let’s have it, then.
B: Right. "Big blue wobbly thing that mermaids live in."
E: What’s that?
E: Yes — tiny misunderstanding. Still, my hopes weren’t high. Now,
what about `D’?
B: I’m quite pleased with `dog’.
E: Yes, and your definition of `dog’ is…?
B: "Not a cat."
E: Excellent. Excellent! Your Highness, may I have a word?
E: As you know, sir, it has always been my intention to stay with you until
you had a strapping son and I one likewise to take over the burdens
of my duties.
G: That’s right, Blackadder, and I thank you for it.
E: But I’m afraid, sir, that there has been a change of plan. I am off to
the kitchen to hack my head off with a big knife.
G: Oh, come on, Blackadder, it’s only a *book*. Let’s just damn the fellow’s
eyes, strip the britches from his backside and (warn?) his heels to
E: Sir, these are not the days of Alfred the Great. You can’t just lop
someone’s head off and blame it on the Vikings.
G: Can’t I, by God!
G: Oh well, all right, then let’s just get on with it! I mean, boil my brains,
it’s only a dictionary. No-one’s asked us to eat ten raw pigs for
breakfast. Good Lord, I mean, we’re *British*, aren’t we? (exits)
E: You’re not — you’re German. (to Baldrick) Get me some coffee, Baldrick.
If I fall asleep before Monday, we’re doomed!
B: (sweetly) Mr. Blackadder, time to wake up.
E: What time is it?
B: Monday morning.
E: (panics) Monday morning?! Oh my God — I’ve overslept! Where’s the quill?
Where’s the parchment?
B: I don’t know. Maybe Dr. Johnson’s got some with him.
B: He’s outside.
E: (screams) AAAOOOOHHHH!
J: Are you ill, sir?
E: No, you can’t have it. I know I said Monday, but I want Baldrick to read
it, which, unfortunately will mean teaching him to read, which will take
about ten years; but time well spent, I think, because it’s such a very
J: I don’t think so.
E: (exclaims) Oh God — we’ve been burgled!! (pauses) What?
J: I think it’s an awful dicitonary, full of feeble definitions and ridiculous
verbiage. I’ve come to ask you to chuck the damn thing in the fire.
E: Are you sure?
J: I’ve never been so sure of anything in my life, sir.
E: I love you, Dr. Johnson, and I want to have your babies. (they embrace;
Edmund notices a woman standing behind Johnson) Oh, sorry, excuse me, Dr.
Johnson, but my Auntie Marjorie has just arrived. (looks at Baldrick,
who has an Alsatian’s head on him) Baldrick, who gave you permission to
turn into an Alsatian? (Baldrick waves; Edmund realises the absurdity
of the scene) Oh God, it’s a dream, isn’t it? (Johnson, Baldrick and
Auntie `twirl’ out the door) It’s a bloody dream! (sound of harps are
heard) Dr. Johnson doesn’t want us to burn his dictionary *at all*.
(Monday morning – Take Two – Reality)
B: Mr. Blackadder, time to wake up.
E: What time is it?
B: Monday morning.
E: (panics) Monday morning?! Oh my God — I’ve overslept! Where’s the quill?
Where’s the parchment?
B: I don’t know. Maybe Dr. Johnson’s got some with him.
B: He’s outside.
E: Ah– (stops himself…deja-vu experience) Now hang on. Hang on. If we go
on like this you’re going to turn into an Alsatian again.
(Johnson and other poets bang noisily at the door)
E: Oh my God! Quick, Baldrick, we’ve got to escape.
S: (?), sir! Bring out the dictionary at once.
By: Bring it out sir, or, in my passion, I shall kill every one by giving them
C: Bring it out sir, and also any opium plants you may have around there.
J: Bring it out sir, or we shall break down the door.
E: (opens the door) Ah, good morning. Dr. Johnson, Lord Byron–
J: Where is my dictionary?
E: And what dictionary would this be?
J: The one that has taken eighteen hours of every day for the last ten years. My mother died; I hardly noticed. My father cut off his head and fried it in garlic in the hope of attracting my attention; I scarcely looked up from my work. My wife brought armies of lovers to the house, who worked in droves so that she might bring up a huge family of bastards. I cannot–
E: Am I to presume that my elaborate bluff has not worked?
E: Right, well the truth is, Doctor — now; don’t get cross, don’t over-react…the truth is…we burnt it.
J: Then you die!
(Poets all raise their swords to Edmund; Prince George enters from his sleeping quarters, carrying the dictionary)
G: ‘morning, everyone. You know, this dictionary really is a *cracking* good read. It’s an absolutely splendid job!
J: My dictionary! (to Edmund) But you said you burned it!
G: I think it’s a splendid book, and I look forward to patronising it
J: Oh, well, thank you, sir. well, I think I’m man enough to sacrifice the pleasure of killing to maintain the general good humour. (to poets) There’s to be no murder today, gentlemen. (poets complain) But prepare to Mrs. Miggins’ — I shall join you there later for a roister you will never forget!
(poets cheer and exit)
J: (to George) So, ahem, tell me, sir, what words particularly interested to you? (this grammatically is incorrect, but is what the actor says)
G: Oh, er, nothing… Anything, really, you know…
J: Ah, I see you’ve underlined a few (takes dictionary, reads): `bloomers’; `bottom’; `burp’; (turns a page) `fart’; `fiddle’; `fornicate’?
J: Sir! I hope you’re not using the first English dictionary to look up rude words!
E: I wouldn’t be too hopeful — that’s what all the other ones will be used for.
B: (to Edmund) Sir, can I look up `turnip’?
E: `Turnip’ isn’t a rude word, Baldrick.
B: It is if you sit on one.
J: Really, sir, we have more important business in hand. I refer, of course, to the works of the mysterious Gertrude Perkins.
E: Mysterious, no more, sir. It is time for the truth. I can, at last, reveal the identity of the great Gertrude Perkins.
J: Sir, who is she?
E: She, sir, is *me*, sir. *I* am Gertrude Perkins.
G: Good Lord!!
E: And what’s more: I can prove it. Bring out the manuscript, and I will show you that my signature corresponds exactly with that on the front.
J: Why, I must have left it here when I left the dictionary.
G: (with wide-eyed excitement) This is terribly exciting!!!
E: Baldrick, fetch my novel.
E: Yes, the big papery thing, tied up with string.
B: What, like the thing we burnt?
E: Exactly like the thing we burnt.
B: So you’re asking for the big papery thing tied up with string, exactly like the thing we burnt.
B: We burnt it.
E: (calmly) So we did. Thank you, Baldrick — seven years of my life up in smoke. Your Highness, would you excuse me a moment?
G: By all means.
E: (outside, screams) OH GOD, NO!!!!!!!!!!!! (re-enters) Thank you, sir.
J: Burned, you say? That’s most inconvenient. A burned novel is like a burned dog: You–
E: Oh shut up!
B: (to Johnson) Sir, I have a novel. (gives Johnson the bit of paper seen earlier)
J: (reads) "Once upon a time there was a lovely little sausage called `B–" Sausage?! SAUSAGE?!!!!! Oh, blast your eyes! (throws paper down and exits angrily)
B: Oh, well, I didn’t think it was *that* bad!
E: (looking inside the dictionary) I think you’ll find he left `sausage’ out of his dictionary, Baldrick. (shuts the dictionary, but notices something on the first page) Oh, and `aardvark’…
G: Oh, come on, Blackadder; it’s not all that bad — nothing a nice roaring
fire can’t solve. Er, Baldrick, do the honours, will you?
B: Certainly, Your Majesty.
(Prince and Edmund exit. Baldrick picks up Edmund’s crumpled papers from trying to write the dictionary, and the *real* Dictionary. He thumbs through the Dictionary, then tosses it into the fire.)
(C) BBC MCMLXXXIII