The Cavalier Years
Sir Edmund Blackadder – ROWAN ATKINSON
Baldrick – TONY ROBINSON
King Charles I – STEPHEN FRY
Cromwell – WARREN CLARKE
In 1648, King Charles was in flight from the wrath of Cromwell & his Roundheads. Only
two men remained faithful, risking certain death by their fidelity to the crown. One was
the sole descendent of a great historical English dynasty — his name, Sir Edmund
Blackadder. The other was the sole descendent of an unfortunate meeting between a
pig-farmer & bearded lady. History has, quite rightly, forgotten his name.
[Blackadder Hall; November 1648]
Edmund: [coming into the hall (same set as
Blackadder’s quarters in BA3)] Baldrick!
Baldrick: [cutting heads off fish] Yes, sir?
Edmund: [throws his hat down; rubs his
hands together] Get me some mulled ale, will you? I’m freezing.
Baldrick: How’s the King, sir?
Edmund: Erm, about as comfortable as can be
expected for a man who’s spending the winter in a blackcurrant bush.
Baldrick: [dropping spices into an ale goblet] Do
you think the Roundheads will find him? [gives ale goblet to Edmund]
Edmund: Certainly not. I’ve assured him that he
is as likely to be caught as fox being chased by a pack of one-legged hunting
Baldrick: [challengingly] Is that true?
Edmund: Yes, of course it’s true. Have you ever
known me to lie to the King?
[Edmund quickly puts down his ale, grabs Baldrick
from across the table, picks up a knife and holds it to him.]
Edmund: Exactly. He is absolutely safe as long as
you keep your fat mouth shut.
Baldrick: You can trust me, sir.
Edmund: [laughs; lets go; puts down knife] Right,
Baldrick; I’m off to answer the call of nature. [heads for stairs] If, by any freak
chance, Oliver Cromwell drops in here for a cup of milk in the next ninety seconds,
remember: [points at Baldrick from the top of the stairs; speaks insistently] The
King is not hiding here.
Baldrick: Yes, sir. [goes back to chopping fish
heads; begins to sing] "Greensleeves is–"
[Oliver Cromwell drops in. He is accompanied by a
Cromwell: Good evening, citizen! I am Oliver
Cromwell. My men have surrounded your house, and I am looking for royalist scum. [draws
his sword; points it at Baldrick] Is the King hiding here?
Baldrick: Erm… [thinks … thinks … thinks
Cromwell: [points sword up to Baldrick’s throat]
On pain of death and damnation, are you absolutely sure?
Baldrick: Yes, I am.
Cromwell: I see. [sheaths sword] Well then, my
proud beauty [puts his hand behind Baldrick’s head], you won’t mind if my men come in from
the cold, will you…
Roundhead: [shouts out the door] Men! Come in
from the cold, will you!
Cromwell: [picks up a purple cup and the milk
jug] Now; we shall all have a cup of milk by your fireside.
Baldrick: All right, but don’t touch the purple
Cromwell: Why not?
Baldrick: That’s the King’s.
[Two Weeks Later. The Tower of London.]
[King Charles is praying at the foot of the bed.
The door opens, and he stands and turns as Cromwell and a guard enter.]
Cromwell: [to guard] Thank you, citizen. You may
leave me alone with King Charles.
[The guard bows and exits.]
King: Ah, Mr Cromwell! How delightful to see you
again. [shakes Cromwell’s hand] Um, don’t get up?. Tell me: Er, have you come far?
Cromwell: I have, sir! from country squire to Law
Protector of England!
King: Fascinating! Absolutely fascinating. Erm,
tell me: Er, what exactly does a Law Protector do, as it were?
Cromwell: He spells your doom, sir!
King: He spells my doom? Wonderful! Well, that’s
particularly exciting, because so many people these days can’t spell at all! er,
particularly, as you know, in the inner cities, which is my area of interest.
Cromwell: [?] speech, sir! But all your fine
words won’t save you from the scaffold!
[A cowled priest has entered]
King: [to Cromwell] Jolly good! Fascinating!
Cromwell: A priest, sir, to help you make your
peace with God before you die!
King: [to priest] Ah, hello!
Edmund: [for the priest is he] Your Majesty, I
can arrange for certain monies to be paid, to allow you to escape. [removes cowl]
King: Blackadder! You’re dressed as a priest! How
dangerous and stupid and perverted! It’s just like school! [mumbles something]
Edmund: Sire, this is a matter of life and death.
King: Nonsense, Blackadder — I don’t think
there’s a jury in England that would bring in a verdict of `guilty’ against >me<.
[There’s a knock on the door, and the guard
returns, delivering a piece of paper to Edmund.]
Guard: Your Majesty — the verdict of the jury.
King: So, what does it say? Er, `Guilty’, or `Not
Edmund: [looks at it] I’ll give you two
King: Er, `Not Guilty’?
Edmund: One more guess.
[Blackadder Hall. Baldrick is holding a fish in
his right hand, and whacking at its head with a wooden rod. He then puts the rod down and
inserts a knife down the fish’s `neck’. Edmund enters.]
Edmund: Oh, damn — one measly civil war in the
entire history of England, and I’m on the wrong bloody side!
Baldrick: Something wrong, sir?
Edmund: Yes, Baldrick, yes, there is. Don’t you
realise that, if the King dies, we royalists are doomed? We will enter a hideous age of
puritanism — they’ll close all the theatres; lace handkerchiefs for men will be illegal;
and I won’t be able to find a friendly face to sit on this side of Boulogne. If they so
much as suspect our loyalties, our property will be forfeit and we’ll be for the chop.
Baldrick: Ooh, I love chops…
Edmund: Baldrick, your brain is like the
four-headed man-eating haddock fish-beast of Aberdeen.
Baldrick: In what way?
Edmund: It doesn’t exist. Oh god, what are we
going to do?
Baldrick: Don’t despair, sir — something will
Edmund: Not under puritanism, it won’t. We must
do something, otherwise the Blackadders are as doomed as that ant.
Baldrick: What ant?
Edmund: [picks up a meat tenderiser, bangs it
against the table, then holds up the tenderiser for Baldrick to see] That one.
[January 30th. The day of the Execution of King
Charles the First.]
[The Tower of London. King Charles sits on the
King: So this is the day of the execution of
Charles the First…
Edmund: [tossing an orange from the fruit basket
to himself] Absolutely not, Your Majesty! Those Roundhead traitors have one final hurdle
that they will never str addle.
King: How fascinating! Erm, what is that,
Edmund: They will never find a man to behead you.
They’d have hundreds of volunteers to cut Cromwell’s head off — he’s such an ugly devil.
He’s got so many warts on his face that it’s only when he sneezes that you find out which
one is his nose. But they will never find a man to execute you.
King: [stands] Well, you see, I find that
absolutely tragic! You know, there are so many young people who would leap at a chance
like this. Oh, I don’t know … all they need is the initiative, somehow. I suppose, in a
sense, that’s what my [?] Scheme is all about.
King: Yes. On the other hand, of course, I don’t
>want< my head cut off… Er, it’s a question of balance, isn’t it? like with so
Edmund: Shut up — with the greatest respect —
King: Thank you.
Edmund: They will never find an executioner; and
if they do, may my conjugal dipstick turn into a tennis racket.
[There is a knock on the door. Edmund puts the
cowl over his head as the guard enters with a message, giving it to Edmund.]
Guard: A message for the King. [leaves]
Edmund: [reads the message] Ah… [He drops his
orange; it bounces back up as though hit by a tennis racket. He looks a bit confused, and
casts his eyes downward.]
[Blackadder Hall. Baldrick is singing while
chopping heads off fish.]
Baldrick: "There’s a tavern in the town —
IN THE TOWN!"
Edmund: For God’s sake, stop that, Baldrick! It’s
bad enough having one’s life in utter ruins without being serenaded by a moron with all
the entertainment value of tap-dancing oyster.
Baldrick: I’m sorry, sir — I can’t help it. See,
I’ve just had a little windfall.
Edmund: Baldrick, I’ve told you before: If
you’re going to do that, go into the garden.
Baldrick: No — I mean I’ve come into some money.
Edmund: Really… Family inheritance?
Baldrick: No. I ate that ages ago.
Edmund: Oh yes, of course; your thoughtful father
bequeathed you a turnip.
Baldrick: No, it was fifty pounds, actually — it
was delicious. But this is just a little something that fell in my lap.
Edmund: Not the first time that there’s been a
little something in your lap, Baldrick.
Baldrick: No… But this one is a job.
Edmund: Really… [paying more attention to the
message delivered in the previous scene] I just don’t understand it. Where on Earth did
they find a man so utterly without heart and soul, so low and degraded as to accept the
job of beheading the King of England? [He pauses, looks into the camera, and turns to
Edmund: That little job that fell into your
Edmund: It wasn’t, by any chance, something to do
with an axe, a basket, a little black mask, and the King of England…?
Edmund: Go on.
Baldrick: I couldn’t find a basket…
Edmund: You very small total bastard! [grabs him
and picks up the axe from the table]
Baldrick: Oh, please, sir! Don’t kill me! I have
a cunning plan to save the King!
Edmund: Well, you’ll forgive me if I don’t do a
cartwheel of joy — your family’s record in the department of cunning planning is about as
impressive as Stumpy O’Leg McNoleg’s personal best in the Market Harbour Marathon. All
right… What’s the plan? [puts down axe]
[Baldrick picks up a pumpkin, and smiles.]
Edmund: A pumpkin is going to save the King…
Baldrick: Aah! [puts down pumpkin] But, over
here, I have one that I prepared earlier. [picks up another pumpkin; one with eyes, nose,
moustache and beard painted on, and with some hair placed on top] I will balance it on the
King’s head, like this. [demonstrating] Then, I will cover his real head with a cloak, and
then, when I execute him, instead of cutting off his real head, I will cut off the
pumpkin, and the King survives!
Edmund: I’m not sure it’s going to work, Balders.
Baldrick: Why not?
Edmund: Because, once you cut it off, you have to
hold it up in front of the crowd and say, "This is the head of a traitor," at
which point, they will shout back, "No it’s not — it’s large pumpkin with a pathetic
moustache drawn on it."
Baldrick: I suppose it’s not one hundred percent
Edmund: It’s not >one< percent convincing,
Baldrick. However, I’m a busy man, and I can’t be bothered to punch you at the moment. [he
holds his arm up with his hand clenched] Here is my fist. Kindly run towards it as fast as
Baldrick: Yes, sir. [He does so.]
Edmund: I just don’t understand it! What
possessed you to take the job?
Baldrick: Oh, I’m sorry, sir — it was just a
wild, silly, foolish plan. I thought, with the money I got from executing the King, I
could sneak out and buy a brand-new king when no-one was looking, and pop him back on the
throne without anyone noticing.
Edmund: Your head is as empty as a eunuch’s
underpants. You’d do anything for thirty pieces of silver, wouldn’t you…
Baldrick: It was a thousand pounds, actually, sir
— plus tip! [holds up bag of money]
Edmund: [takes bag] Well, I suppose somebody’s
got to do it, hadn’t they! And if it’s going to be done, it’s got to be done in a single
stroke by someone who actually owns an axe. We don’t want you hacking away at it all
afternoon with that cheap pen-knife of yours. It would be so embarrassing to have King
Charles staggering around Hampton Court tomorrow morning with his neck flapping like a
Baldrick: Sir, you don’t mean…?
Edmund: Yep — >I’m< doing it. Lend me your
costume, then go immediately to the King and inform him that Sir Edmund Blackadder cannot
be with him tomorrow. [points at Baldrick] And make sure you think up a bloody good
[The Tower of London]
Baldrick: …so that’s why he can’t be
here. Sorry. [leaves]
King: I see. Well, I quite understand, yes…
[Cromwell and the executioner (Edmund, hooded)
Cromwell: Sir, the moment has arrived! Are you
ready to meet your maker?
King: Well, I’m always absolutely fascinated to
meet people from all walks of life, but, er, yes, particularly manufacturing industries…
Cromwell: Well then, have a quick walk and talk
with your executioner, and let’s get on with it. [leaves]
King: Right. [He buzzes a bit, then slaps his
hands together as though squashing a fly. Meanwhile, Edmund has closed the door behind
Cromwell.] Well, I’m sorry, my friend, I’m alone here today — I had hoped that my good,
loyal chum, Sir Edmund Blackadder, would be here with me, but, unfortunately, his wife’s
sister’s puppy fell into the strawberry patch, so, naturally, he can’t be with us.
Edmund: [disguising his voice] Uh huh…
King: All I can do is bid you do your duty well.
Edmund: Well, thank you, Your Majesty. And may I
say how much I mourn for your lot, and bid you remember others before you who have died
King: Thank you. I take great solace from that.
Edmund: Sir Thomas Moore, for instance: A
great, generous man to the last. He apparently tipped his executioner handsomely… [turns
up a palm]
King: Oh, I’m so sorry — I thought service was
included. I beg your pardon. [reaches in a bag of money] Um, here you are. [places a coin
in Edmund’s palm]
Edmund: [looks at coin] Hmm. And then there was
the Earl of Essex…
King: Was there…
Edmund: A truly great man — they still sing his
famous ballad down the Chepstow Arms.
King: What ballad is that?
Edmund: [sings] "The Earl he had a thousand
sovereigns, hey nonny no! He gave them all away to the man with the axe … oh!"
King: [looking at his bag] A thousand sovereigns?
Edmund: Well, you can’t take it with you, Your
King: Very true. Well, there you are. [gives bag
to Edmund] Do keep the change.
Edmund: Thank you, Your Majesty. [puts coin back
into bag] [fake voice slips a bit] Right; should we go?
King: Just a moment! [stops Edmund from leaving]
That voice has a strangely familiar ring … and so does that finger! [he removes the
Edmund: [acts surprised] Hello, Your Majesty!
King: You cunning swine!
Edmund: Er, yes, well, er, er, er…
King: Marvelous! Splendid! You duped Cromwell and
you’ve concocted a cunning plan to help me and my infant son escape to France!
Edmund: [as though he’d forgotten] Ah yes! That’s
King: So, let’s put your cunning plan into
operation straight away!
Edmund: Yes, let’s… Er… Well… You start the
King: No, no — after you.
Edmund: Er, yeah, right, yes… [thinks;
remembers something] Er, oh yes! Yes, right! and it’s a very good plan! It’s a staggering,
bowel- shatteringly good plan!
[Ten Minutes Later]
[Edmund is hooded. Baldrick stands next to him.
Cromwell: Is the King ready?
Edmund: [fake voice again] He is. [calls to the
back of the room] Come, Your Majesty!
[King walks forward. He has a hood over his head,
and is balancing a pumpkin with a face drawn on it. Cromwell, King and Edmund leave.
Baldrick listens to the goings on … ]
[There is a drum roll. It ends with the sound of
a chop. The crowd cheers. Baldrick smiles. The crowd suddenly sounds disappointed.
Baldrick suddenly stops smiling.]
Edmund: This is the head of a traitor!
Crowd: No it’s not — it’s a huge pumpkin with a
pathetic moustache drawn on it!
Edmund: Oh yes — so it is! Sorry! I’ll try
[There is a drum roll. In ends with the sound of
a chop. The crowd cheers.]
[Blackadder Hall. Edmund is cradling a baby boy.]
Baldrick: Well, sir, they can’t say you didn’t
try. Now the future of the British monarchy lies fast asleep in your arms, in the person
of this infant prince. And, with the money you’ve earned, you and he can escape to France.
Edmund: [wiping a hand on his shirt] Well, quite.
Baldrick: On the other hand, you can stay here,
and, as a known loyalist, the Roundheads will come and cut your head off.
Edmund: [stands] Exactly, Baldrick!
[There is a pounding on the door.]
Edmund: Oh my god!
[A voice outside shouts. (Sounds like "Do
you want the house burned?")]
Baldrick: Oh no! We’re surrounded! What’ll we do?
Edmund: Well, at times like this, Baldrick, there
is no choice for a man of honour. He must stand and fight, and die in defence of his
[looks at baby] future sovereign.
[More pounding on the door.]
Edmund: Fortunately, I’m not a man of honour…
[tosses baby to Baldrick; pulls off his long black hair to reveal short blond hair;
removes his moustache and beard, too]
[a Roundhead breaks in and enters.]
Edmund: [to Roundhead] Thank God you’ve come!
[points at Baldrick] Seize the royalist scum!!!
[The Roundhead, sword drawn, approaches Baldrick,
who looks hopeless, dangling the baby from its swaddling clothes.]
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