Blackadder reunion foiled after TV boss said comedy classic needed more 'baking'

A long-awaited Blackadder reunion floundered after a senior broadcasting executive said there should be more “baking” in the show, the comedy’s producer has revealed.

John Lloyd, who also brought QI, Not the Nine O'Clock News and Spitting Image to our screens, said discussions over a first new Blackadder series in 25 years stalled when commissioners came up with a cunning plan - the historical comedy should become more like The Great British Bake Off.

Speaking at a Sky Arts launch of a new series of The South Bank Show, in which Melvyn Bragg profiles the veteran producer, Lloyd revealed: “A particular controller/commissioner rang me up and said ‘John, you’re a genius, we’d like to do the new Blackadder’. I said ‘great’.

“Then they said ‘what are your ideas?’ ‘I don’t know, you just called me up. Are you going to give me a commission?’

“‘No, no, you’ve got to tell us your ideas and then we’ll tell you what we think of it.’ ‘Hang on, I thought I was a comedy genius, will you trust my ideas?’ ‘No, you’ve got to tell us your ideas and we’ll tell you what we think of it.’”

Lloyd explained the commissioning logic that subsequently unfurled: “Blackadder, that’s a bit dark isn’t it? How about Greyadder…no, Whitesnake, that’s what we should call it! It shouldn’t be about history because people don’t like history…it’s called Whitesnake and it’s about baking. No, baking’s been done so…frying.

“It’s a panel game about frying called Whitesnake with Stephen Fry in it.”

A frustrated Lloyd told the executive: “But I wanted to do a sitcom with people you’ve never heard of?” He was told: “No, we’re the commissioners thank you very much, we’ll tell you what we want. If you don’t want it, we’ll get someone else to do it.’ This is honestly the way it works.”

A Blackadder feature film has instead been mooted but Lloyd said: “I think to be honest we should leave it there because it’s very difficult to top where it was.”

Citing the new Dad’s Army film starring Bill Nighy, Lloyd said: “For Christ’s sake, there’s a whole universe out there. Does everything have to be a retread of something else?”

Lloyd, who described the current state of television comedy as a “thoroughgoing disaster” which could “sink” the BBC, attacked Michael Gove, who accused the First World War-set Blackadder Goes Forth of peddling “myths” about the conflict.

“I honestly wonder whether the Secretary of State has seen Blackadder at all,” Lloyd said. “The central situation is based on Alan Clark’s book Lions Led By Donkeys and Clark was one of the most right-wing historians. I can’t think of a more classically British patriotic scene than when the characters finally do their duty and go to what we must assume is their deaths.”

Lloyd said he was delighted that Blackadder continues to be used as a teaching aid in schools. “The idea that it is some sort of propaganda weapon is truly sad and pathetic. It’s a brilliant teaching tool because it gets kids laughing and paying attention and then teachers ask them ‘What do you think? Was it really like that?’”

Daniel Radcliffe, author Kate Atkinson and playwright Abi Morgan are among the figures profiled in the new South Bank Show series, revived by Sky Arts after ITV axed the strand. Bragg promised the series would “inform, educate, and entertain”, consciously adopting the Reithian mantra which once guided the BBC.

Sky Arts was now one of the “big beasts” of arts broadcasting, challenging the BBC, argued Bragg, who welcomed a pledge by Tony Hall, BBC Director-General, to place arts programming back at the heart of the corporation with new investment.

Classic shows from the ITV archive will be updated in a new series of South Bank Show Originals. New interviews with leading figures and contemporaries will place profiles of Francis Bacon, Iggy Pop, Pavarotti, Ingmar Bergman and Sylvie Guillem and Paul McCartney in a fresh context. The South Bank Show returns on Sky Arts on 22 May.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Sport
Wembley Stadium
footballNews follows deal with Germany
Arts and Entertainment
A spell in the sun: Emma Stone and Colin Firth star in ‘Magic in the Moonlight’
filmReview: Magic In The Moonlight
Voices
voicesApple continually kill off smaller app developers, and that's no good for anyone
Sport
A 'Sir Alex Feguson' tattoo
football

Arts and Entertainment
Ben Whishaw is replacing Colin Firth as the voice of Paddington Bear
tv

Thriller is set in the secret world of British espionage

Life and Style
life

News
ScienceGallery: Otherwise known as 'the best damn photos of space you'll see till 2015'
Life and Style
fashion

Bomber jacket worn by Mary Berry sells out within an hour

Sport
Andros Townsend is challenged by Vladimir Volkov
football
Arts and Entertainment
Rapper Jay Z performs on the Pyramid Stage at Glastonbury in 2008
musicSinger sued over use of the single-syllable sample in 'Run This Town'
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Media

Head of Marketing - London

£60000 - £85000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Interim Head of Marketing / Marketin...

IT Application Support Engineer - Immediate Start

£28000 per annum: Ashdown Group: IT Software Application Support Analyst - Imm...

Digital Project Manager

£25 - 30k: Guru Careers: A Digital Project Manager is needed to join an exciti...

Paid Search Analyst / PPC Analyst

£24 - 28k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Paid Search Analyst / PPC...

Day In a Page

Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

The Imitation Game, film review
England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week