Blackadder portrait installed in stately home

Thursday 1st June 2023, 8:43am

Blackadder portrait. Tony Robinson

As can be seen in the video below, a new portrait of Edmund Blackadder was secretly installed overnight at a stately home.

The painting was placed in Audley End House in Essex 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, mistaking the portrait of Rowan Atkinson's character for - amongst others - 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. Their schedule includes two brand new documentaries Blackadder: A Cunning Story and Blackadder: The Lost Pilot - the latter of which includes the first TV screening of the original pilot.

The painting, created by renowned artist Tom Croft, shows the much-loved character in his Elizabethan attire, painted in a classical oil on canvas style and completed with an ornate gold frame. Croft painted the portrait across 60 hours, after rewatching Series 2 of Blackadder repeatedly for reference.

Tom Croft painting the Blackadder portrait

Tony Robinson, who played Baldrick in the series, says: "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, comments: "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!"

Blackadder. Image shows from L to R: Lord Edmund Blackadder (Rowan Atkinson), Queen Elizabeth I (Miranda Richardson). Copyright: BBC

New research by the channel finds that almost three quarters (71%) of Britons agree that Blackadder is the funniest UK sitcom of all time. Gerald Casey, Gold channel director, comments: "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!"

Then re-run of Blackadder starts from today on Gold from today, ahead of the 40th anniversary on 15th June. Blackadder: The Lost Pilot airs on the 15th at 9pm, with Blackadder: A Cunning Story on 16th June at 9pm.

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