Blackadder could have been axed after just one series, reveals former Beeb boss

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Blackadder's tour of history was almost cut short

Blackadder, which starred Rowan Atkinson as cunning Edmund Blackadder and Tony Robinson as dopey sidekick Baldrick, nearly only survived one series, former BBC 1 controller Michael Grade has revealed.

Grade, who famously decided to postpone Doctor Who, admitted in an interview with the Evening Standard that Blackadder could have been on his firing list.

The first series of Blackadder, set in the 15th century, had a very different feel about it. For starters Edmund lacked the cutting edge wit he had later on and Grade was clearly unimpressed by what he saw. Rather than axing the show, though, he decided it needed to be shot in a studio.

Talking about series one, he said: “They were all running around the hillsides in Wales trying to shoot a Hollywood comedy on a BBC minuscule budget. I made them come into the studio and do it with an audience. And the rest is history. I saved them from themselves.”

WHAT IS ON TONIGHT? Check out our NEW and Improved TV Guide


Blackadder Goes Forth was arguably the greatest series of the long-running comedy (pic: Photoshot/Getty Images) (Image credit: Photoshot)

As Grade eludes to, Blackadder went on to become one of Britain’s best loved comedies – the second series saw Edmund in Elizabethan England, the third in the Regency period and the fourth during World War One.

Meanwhile, Grade also spoke about how much he loathed Doctor Who at the time. “I hated Doctor Who. I said to the producer, “Do you go to the cinema much? Have you seen Star Wars or ET?’ He said yes. I said, ‘I’ve got news for you so has our audience. What we were serving up as science fiction was garbage.”

MORE: Is Doctor Who getting a Christmas special this year?

Grade took the decision to postpone another series of Doctor Who and the show was eventually axed in 1989 by the BBC, before being revived in 2005.

Main picture: Getty Images

David Hollingsworth

David is the What To Watch Editor and has over 20 years of experience in television journalism. He is currently writing about the latest television and film news for What To Watch.

Before working for What To Watch, David spent many years working for TV Times magazine, interviewing some of television's most famous stars including Hollywood actor Kiefer Sutherland, singer Lionel Richie and wildlife legend Sir David Attenborough. 

David started out as a writer for TV Times before becoming the title's deputy features editor and then features editor. During his time on TV Times, David also helped run the annual TV Times Awards. David is a huge Death in Paradise fan, although he's still failed to solve a case before the show's detective! He also loves James Bond and controversially thinks that Timothy Dalton was an excellent 007.

Other than watching and writing about telly, David loves playing cricket, going to the cinema, trying to improve his tennis and chasing about after his kids!