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The True History of the Blackadder: The Unadulterated Tale of the Creation of a Comedy Legend Hardcover – 11 Oct 2012


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Product details

  • Hardcover: 464 pages
  • Publisher: Preface Publishing (11 Oct 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1848093462
  • ISBN-13: 978-1848093461
  • Product Dimensions: 16.2 x 4.1 x 24.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 188,420 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

STEPHEN FRY: "Jem manages to write about popular cultural institutions with knowledge and affection, while avoiding the dismal traps of nerdy fanboyism on the one hand or grandiose cultural pseudo-intellectualism on the other. His research is flawless and the results are readable, illuminating and delightful."

THE TIMES LITERARY SUPPLEMENT: "J.F. Roberts's lively, warm-hearted True History of The Black Adder is a celebration of 'this incredible feat of comedy production'."

TIM BROOKE-TAYLOR: "An incredibly good job - and he got it RIGHT."
BARRY CRYER: "You're very charming, it's a pleasure to go on about it."
GRAEME GARDEN: "As Bibles go, I reckon THE CLUE BIBLE is among the top two."

THE TELEGRAPH: (The True History...) "Essential for any comprehensive comedy library..."

BRIAN BLESSED: "Tell them, 'Brian loves and trusts me.' What you're doing is so worthwhile, KEEP AT IT!"

Jem Roberts first emerged in Ludlow in the summer of 1978, and studied Film, TV and English Literature at the University of Wales, Aberystwyth. He lives in Bath, where he performs comedy both solo, and with his troupe/band The Unrelated Family.

Having written for games magazines from an illegally young age, a decade of working on titles from DVD Review, Total Advance and Xbox World to Disney Girl and Muffin the Mule followed graduation, until scribblings for fanzines Publish & Bedazzled and Kettering led to an invitation to chronicle fifty years of silliness in his first book, The Clue Bible: The Fully Authorised History of I'm Sorry I Haven't a Clue. When invited to suggest a follow-up, his lifelong devotion to Blackadder resulted in the marking of the 30th anniversary of the legendary sitcom's debut, with The True History of The Black Adder (As J.F. Roberts).

Jem has also been writing for children since long before anyone had ever heard of that Potter lad. 'Little Wee' was published in the charity collection Homespun Threads, an enormous new project, 'Brother Bernard' is currently boiling away on the hob, and he is working on a number of further books and literary projects for children of all sizes.

Product Description

Review

"a rather elegant overview of Eighties British TV comedy… If you have any interest in comedy, you will love this book … [Roberts’] research has been assiduous, his judgments are sound and his puppyish enthusiasm encouraged his interviewees to give their best. Unlike Baldrick’s cunning plans, this one seems to have worked" (Marcus Berkman Daily Mail)

"This really is the full history… for true buffs, this is not to be missed" (Press Association)

"lively, warm-hearted" (TLS)

"The True History of the Black Adder is a brilliant read for any fan of Edmund Blackadder, as well as a great introduction into the history of the contemporary comedy scene" (BookGeeks)

"An almost perfect history of the greatest British sitcom there has ever been" (comedy.co.uk)

Book Description

To mark the thirtieth anniversary of the first pilot episode of The Black Adder this is the complete history of the series with the co-operation of writers Richard Curtis and Ben Elton, producer John Lloyd, cast and crew. Including hitherto unseen material including extracts from a previously unseen and unproduced Christmas special.

Inside This Book (Learn More)
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By oldstuff VINE VOICE on 16 Oct 2012
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
The book begins with a rough biography of each of the main actors, writers and producers of the show. You are then, for the remainder of the book, treated to a combination of brief era introductions on how the "chronicles" of the Blackadder fit in with history and then the actual tales of how the shows were put together by those involved. You also get snippets of what each actor and writer was doing between series. The biggest problem with this book for me was that a reasonably large percentage of the quotes and dialogue had been used in the UK Gold programme on the making of Blackadder so I had heard a lot of it before. However, it is still well-written, has plenty of new stuff like the dialogue from scenes that were cut-out. A decent read for any fan of one of the greatest ever sitcoms.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Bob Marlowe on 23 Jan 2013
Format: Hardcover
Quite simply the definitive guide to the much loved comedy series. The making of each incarnation is discussed in detail from the unscreened pilot, through The Black Adder, Black Adder 2, Blackadder the 3rd up to Blackadder Goes Forth taking in the specials; Blackadder's Christmas Carol, Blackadder the Cavalier Years and Blackadder Back and Forth (which none of those involved seem to like).
There is information on why this particular period was chosen for spoofing, which characters were originally intended for different actors e.g. Tony Robinson was always intended to play Baldrick but when the pilot shoot was delayed and he was unavailable Philip Fox took the role (for the pilot only). Also there were what you might call "double acts" such as Miriam Margolyes and Jim Broadbent (Queen of Spain and her translator series 1), Mark Arden and Stephen Frost (guards series 1), considered succesful in series 1 had roles more or less written for them which had to be recast when one was not available. E.G. Arden returned to play another guard in series 2 but Frost was unavailable. Lord and Lady Whiteadder were intended for both Miriam & Jim but in the event only Miriam was available. When it came to Christmas Carol, the chance to reunite them as Victoria and Albert was taken.
There are in addition to well known tales such as how series 2 had to scale down budget and how Rik Mayall wanted to have better lines than Atkinson for Flashheart, lesser known stories and information. Examples are how the latest Bishop of Bath and Wells was the subject of baby eating jokes, people still stopping Miriam Margolyes in the street requesting she slaps them crying "wicked child" how Wilfrid Brambell walked off the set in series 1 and who Brian Blessed wanted to play in series 2.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Mama on 24 Oct 2012
Format: Hardcover
I'm one of the generation who grew up with Blackadder, still love re-watching it and find myself quoting it frequently with my equally die-hard fan buddies. Probably I'm JF Roberts' perfect nightmare in terms of a reader... I shall now try to review it without ruining it for the rest of you.
I LOVED this book. It did absolutely everything it promised on the cover. It *was* a full history, not only giving the biographies of the actors and creative team but also a firm grounding of the comic and social culture which gave rise to Blackadder. It then went on to drill down into each series, how they were created from the writing through to how the performances evolved. There's lots of new interviews and plenty of facts - like another reviewer, I am sure this a book I shall go back to again and again.
Probably what I liked best was the author's tone - clearly Roberts is a fan too and approached the work with joy, passion and humour which really shine through.
Just buy it, you'll be glad you did. And if you're fan too, you'll find it makes you watch again with a whole next level of appreciation and enjoyment.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Sighdone on 7 Feb 2013
Format: Hardcover
This fantastic book documents a period of comedy that I grew up on and maintain an unhealthy fascination with, and I still found myself learning many new things.

Tautly written with a nice framing device, Mr JF Roberts takes us through the creation of the series, and the development of its successive incarnations. Reading about the tortuous rehearsal process, and hearing how it still rankles with the stars, writers, directors and producers after all these years, you get an insight into why this series was so good.

What's more, there's an exhaustive examination of what each and every person was up to between series, thus providing a great history of television comedy throughout the final decades of the 20th century.

You should read it.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By DGB Reviewer on 21 Oct 2012
Format: Hardcover
Let me start by saying, I am not a die hard Blackadder fan, but like any normal human who experienced 80s TV first hand it has a firm place in my heart. I was recommended this book for a holiday read by a journalist friend, who also happens to review literature for a well known tabloid. With my holiday coming up, how could I resist?
My friend was spot on the money. It is obvious that the author has spent years studying the Blackadder series and cast and the result is a well-rounded and yet surprisingly easy read that can be picked up and put down to suit your current pace of life. Which, as my friend rightly pointed out, is exactly what you need for a holiday book. If you have plenty of time to wallow in new historical Blackadder fact then you can get lost in the book for hours. Or if you have a 30 minute bus journey then you can certainly absorb a handful of pages for a quick fix.
I learnt an awful lot from this and I reckon in a couple of years I will enjoy reading it again, when I have no doubt forgotten it all.
An easy to recommend book that will shed new light on the lovely Blackadder people, along with the shows journey of development, all the while tickling you with nostalgia. Pick it up today, it wont disappoint.
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