Page 3 Profile: Blackadder and Co, TV characters

 

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The Independent Online

Blackadder returns – again?

Education Secretary Michael Gove may have accused Blackadder of peddling “myths” about the First World War designed to “belittle Britain and its leaders,” but researchers have revealed that the real-life counterparts of Cpt Blackadder and his comrades really did exist. Starring Rowan Atkinson, Tony Robinson, Hugh Laurie, Tim McInnerny and Stephen Fry, Blackadder Goes Forth was set in the trenches of 1917.

How was the discovery made?

Dominic Hayhoe, chief executive of the military genealogy organisation Forces War Records, said: “We were uploading new information onto our database when we came across a Captain Blackadder. As fans of the show, we wondered if we could find the military records of the other fictional characters’ namesakes.”

A cunning plan. What did they unearth?

Cpt Robert John Blackadder was born in January 1884 in Dundee. Like Atkinson’s character, the real Blackadder worked his way up the army. He fought in the Somme in 1916 and was awarded the Military Cross in 1918 for “conspicuous gallantry”. He survived the war and   died in June 1968.

What of the other characters?

Pte James Baldrick was born in 1892 and brought up in Londonderry. He was killed in 1914 aged just 23 at the Battle of Messines. Cpt John Clive Darling, was born in 1887, served through the war as a signalling officer to the 20th Hussars until he retired in 1923 as a Major. He died aged 45 in 1933. Lt Athelstan Key Durance George was also born in 1887 in Brixton, London. He joined the King’s Liverpool Regiment in 1907 and his Colonel described him as the best second lieutenant he had ever had. He was killed in 1914.

Is somebody missing?

That would be Fry’s incompetent warmonger, General Melchett – “the only person we haven’t been able to track down,” Mr Hayhoe said. “But he makes an appearance in the Second World War.”

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