Blackadder made the official hero of English history

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The Independent Online
VISITORS TO the Millennium Dome will have the chance to see Cate Blanchett, Dame Judi Dench and Miranda Richardson jostling for the throne as the true Elizabeth I in a special Blackadder version of British history. The first new episode of the show for 10 years will be viewed by 50,000 people a day on Britain's biggest movie screen.

Rowan Atkinson, Tony Robinson - who plays the much put-upon sidekick Baldrick - Stephen Fry and Hugh Laurie will join a crowded cast of stars to tell a flawed version of the nation's history.

The pounds 3m film, provisionally titled Blackadder Back And Forth, will see the regular cast travel backward and forward in time to take part in key historical events. These include the building of a prehistoric children's playground at Stonehenge, an incident in which Baldrick causes the beheading of Charles I and a Battle of Hastings with a new outcome.

"Blackadder finds himself in a time machine modelled on drawings from a book by Leonardo da Vinci," the executive producer, Geoffrey Perkins, said. "Unfortunately, it has been built by Baldrick out of empty Weetabix cartons and they spend their time struggling to get back to the present day." The film is to feature characters from contemporary British culture, and the producers hope to sign up the footballer David Beckham so they can recreate his sending off against Argentina in the 1998 World Cup.

Other stars likely to appear include the generation of British comedians who became famous partly thanks to the four original series of Blackadder. These include Rik Mayall, Adrian Edmondson, Dawn French and Jennifer Saunders. The film will be written by the original authors of Blackadder, Ben Elton and Richard Curtis, who took time out from scripting Notting Hill to work on the project.

"A lot of the jokes and the storyline are unfinished," said Tony Robinson when announcing the film at the Montreaux Television Festival. "But that was the way we always did it. It was a collaborative venture and was often left until the last minute."

Queen Elizabeth I will be a major character in the film and the producers hope to sign up the award-winning actresses who have played her in recent years: "Blackadder wants to find out this time whether Elizabeth was a virgin queen or a big ginger tease," said Mr Perkins.

The film is a collaboration between the BBC, which is providing Mr Perkins, its head of comedy, the independent production company Tiger Aspect and BSkyB, which is sponsoring the Millennium Dome's entertainment zone, Skyscape. The film will be shown on two screens 20 metres wide, in cinemas each capable of seating 2,500 people at a time.

On television, the four Blackadder series lampooned the Plantagenets, the Tudors, the Georgian Regency and the First World War.