- A new portrait of Blackadder was revealed at one of England's greatest mansion houses
- Tourists were left bemused - mistaking the comedy character for Shakespeare, British aristocracy and even Henry VIII
- Tony Robinson, who played Baldrick in the TV show, unveiled the new painting at English Heritage's Audley End House - a historic Jacobean mansion in Essex
- Renowned artist Tom Croft painted the portrait over 60 hours, using traditional Elizabethan methods
- The stunt was cunningly orchestrated by TV channel Gold, which is marking the 40th anniversary of the TV series with brand new, never before seen documentaries about the making of Blackadder, including 'Blackadder: The Lost Pilot'
- Almost three quarters (71%) say that Blackadder is the funniest UK sitcom of all time
A new portrait of Edmund Blackadder was secretly installed overnight at Audley End House to mark the 40th anniversary of the beloved TV series.
Visitors were left scratching their heads as they stumbled across the oil painting hanging in the Great Hall of the historic Jacobean mansion in Essex, mistaking the portrait of Blackadder for Shakespeare, Sir Walter-Raleigh and even Henry VIII.
The stunt was orchestrated by TV channel Gold, which is marking the 40th anniversary of the TV series with a month long celebration of the much-loved series. The celebration includes two brand new documentaries Blackadder: A Cunning Story and Blackadder: The Lost Pilot - which includes the first TV outing for the original Blackadder pilot.
The painting, created by renowned artist Tom Croft, shows the much-loved Rowan Atkinson character in his Elizabethan attire, painted in a classical oil on canvas style and completed with an ornate gold frame.
Tom painted the portrait across 60 hours, after rewatching series two of Blackadder repeatedly for reference.
Reactions to the painting were captured in a new video featuring comedy legend Tony Robinson, who famously played Baldrick, Blackadder's servant and sidekick, and who cunningly helped sneak the portrait into Audley End House.
Paying homage to Blackadder, the nation's best quick-witted character, Tony Robinson said:
What an honour to have been asked to unveil this incredible painting - and what a cunning plan to have it installed by Gold in such an extraordinary location to celebrate 40 years of Blackadder. Tom Croft did an amazing job at capturing Edmund's witty expression, and I know Baldrick would be thrilled to see his hero hanging at Audley End House.
Peter Moore, English Heritage's Curator of Collections and Interiors at Audley End House, said:
At English Heritage we care for a remarkable collection of paintings, and the walls of Audley End House are hung with masterpieces by the likes of Hans Holbein and Sir Anthony Van Dyck. We also have an extensive collection of royal portraits, including Elizabeth I herself, so it seems only fitting that her court nobleman Edmund Blackadder should be displayed alongside her. After all, he's been TV royalty in his own right for the past 40 years!
New research by the channel finds that almost three quarters (71%) of Brits agree that Blackadder is the funniest UK sitcom of all time. Baldrick has also been voted the nation's second favourite character with 62% of Brits in agreement, only after Blackadder himself at 81%.
The poll of 2,000 Brits by Gold reveals the nation's love of Blackadder, finding that almost nine in 10 Brits (89%) still find the show just as funny and enjoyable watching it now, 40 years after it aired.
According to those surveyed, Blackadder taunting Samuel Johnson with his vocabulary is the funniest Blackadder moment ever - taking 41% of the vote. The scene sees Johnson, played by the late Robbie Coltrane, marvelling in his completion of the first ever dictionary, only for Edmund to offer him his "enthusiastic contrafibularities".
69% of Brits agree that Blackadder is the most iconic show from the 80s, and all these years later over two fifths (46%) of those polled still say they quote Blackadder lines on a regular basis.
Gerald Casey, Gold channel director, said:
40 years on since the show began, the nation still loves Blackadder just as much. From Edmund's wit to Baldrick's cunning plans, we knew we wanted to celebrate the iconic show in a way that celebrated its humour and history. This portrait is an incredible tribute to a much-loved character, and we're so thankful to have had Tony Robinson help us to unveil it. We're excited for comedy fans across the UK to celebrate this momentous anniversary with us on Gold and enjoy the brand-new documentaries that show Blackadder as you've never seen it before!"
Over half of Brits (56%) also admitted to being likely to binge watch the classic series. Catch all episodes of Blackadder from the start on Gold from today, ahead of the 40th anniversary on 15th June. Plus, see new documentaries 'Blackadder: The Lost Pilot' on June 15th at 9pm and 'Blackadder: A Cunning Story' on June 16th at 9pm, only on Gold.
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Notes to editors
The Blackadder likeness was created by renowned artist Tom Croft, who previously gained media attention for his 'Portraits for NHS Heroes' initiative during the pandemic.
English Heritage's Audley End House and Gardens in Essex is an impressive 17th-century Jacobean mansion, rich in history and boasting an impressive collection of fine art. Audley End was once the site of Walden Abbey, a Benedictine monastery that was dissolved and granted to the Lord Chancellor Sir Thomas Audley in 1538 by Henry VIII.
English Heritage cares for over 400 historic buildings, monuments and sites - from world-famous prehistoric sites to grand medieval castles, from Roman forts on the edges of the empire to a Cold War bunker. Through these, they bring the story of England to life for over 10 million people each year.
Registered charity no. 1140351 www.english-heritage.org.uk
Dedicated to celebrating the best of British comedy, Gold is the nation's favourite comedy channel. Classic British comedy series loved by all the family sit comfortably alongside new UKTV Original scripted comedies crafted by some of the nation's finest comedic minds, such as Dad's Army: The Lost Episodes, Murder, They Hope, The Cockfields and Sandylands. Meanwhile Gold's unscripted series reunite the stars and partnerships of the nation's best-loved shows to get to the heart of what makes them so evergreen - from passion projects such as French & Saunders: Funny Women, Billy Connolly Does..., Lenny Henry's Race Through Comedy and Ricky and Ralf's Very Northern Road Trip to the retrospective likes of dinnerladies diaries and The Fast Show: Just A Load of Blooming Catchphrases. Gold is the perfect tonic to make you laugh whatever the time of day.
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