Rowan Atkinson’s performance as Edmund Blackadder is regarded as one of television’s great comedy creations.
However, according to a former co-star, Atkinson went to some lengths to ensure he was the funniest person in the show.
Tom Baker, the Doctor Who actor, appeared in the second Blackadder series as a larger-than-life sea captain named Redbeard Rum. Baker played him with wild-eyed relish, delivering lines such as: “I’m a bluff old cove with no legs and a beard you could lose a badger in.”
Recalling the experience, he told Radio Times: “Rowan Atkinson was so anxious – he wasn’t very fun to work with. He took me aside the first afternoon of recording and he said, ‘You know, Tom, I’ve very experienced in this and the part you’re playing here, this sea captain, I think you’re actually doing too much. I think he should be as boring as you can make him.’
So, we then had the final run-through, and I did this boring routine, and the producer came down and said, ‘What’s going on, are you ill?’ I said, ‘No, no, no, I’m just taking in the notes from your boss.’