Blackadder’s Baldrick hits back at Gove accusations of comedy show being left-wing propaganda tool

Sir Tony Robinson, who played Baldrick in the hit television show Blackadder, has accused Michael Gove of “slagging off teachers”.

His remarks came after the Education Secretary wrote a contentious piece in the Daily Mail suggesting Blackadder had become a left-wing propaganda tool for portraying the First World War.

The final series of the programme, Blackadder Goes Forth, is set in the front-line trenches towards the end of the war.

Speaking on the Sky News Murnaghan programme, Robinson said: “I think Mr Gove has just made a very silly mistake; it’s not that Blackadder teaches children the First World War.

“When imaginative teachers bring it in, it’s simply another teaching tool; they probably take them over to Flanders to have a look at the sights out there, have them marching around the playground, read the poems of Wilfred Owen to them. And one of the things that they’ll do is show them Blackadder.

“And I think to make this mistake, to categorise teachers who would introduce something like Blackadder as left-wing and introducing left-wing propaganda is very, very unhelpful. And I think it’s particularly unhelpful and irresponsible for a minister in charge of education.

“Ultimately, if you think about it, what it’s really doing is just slagging off teachers. It’s just another example of slagging off teachers. I don’t think that’s professional or appropriate.”

In his article, Gove said: “The conflict has, for many, been seen through the fictional prism of dramas such as Oh! What a Lovely War, The Monocled Mutineer and Blackadder, as a misbegotten shambles - a series of catastrophic mistakes perpetrated by an out-of-touch elite. Even to this day there are left-wing academics all too happy to feed those myths.”

But has learned that it is by no means only left-wing academics who have said that an “out-of-touch elite” was a feature of the war. The description of British soldiers being “lions led by donkeys” was popularised by none other than Conservative MP Alan Clark, a war historian and minister in Margaret Thatcher’s government.

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Readers' comments (1)

  • Gove's right to call for some balance in the course, no viewpoint has a monopoly and Blackadder is written for comedy and sentimentality. 'Donkeys' was very controversial on its publication and granted it has some truth, but Alan Clark was a popular historian, prone to huge entertaining prose, but highly exaggerated to suit an agenda. Andrew Robertshaw, from National Army Museum has an interesting take on the conflict which is worth a ganders! If anything surely this stance opens up a fascinating debate on WW1?

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