If you asked me what I thought of the television series ‘Black Adder’, I’d tell you it was very funny, a real classic that took me through my teens and beyond, and that I considered myself to be a fan. I was not obsessive about it by a long way – I never really ‘got’ the first series but I loved the rest – but many years after it last showed, I’m still prone to confusing my continental colleagues with comments about ‘cunning plans’ and by pronouncing the name ‘Bob’ in that distinctive way that Rowan Atkinson had. I’m not sure what I expected J F Roberts’ book True History of the Black Adder to be, but when Curiousbookfans were offered a publisher’s copy, I put up my hand and said “Yes, please”.
I struggled with this book. I really struggled and eventually I gave up without getting very far. It lingered on my bed side table annoying me with its enormousness. I realised that much as I liked the show and would have been mildly interested to know a bit more about the thinking behind it, I really wasn’t curious enough to read 450 pages of intricate detail about the actors, the writers and everyone they ever knew before you even get to the historical information about the periods covered by the show. At times I struggled to know what was fact and what was fiction and the style of presenting the recent past as if it were some kind of ‘ye olde worlde’ stuff just got annoying very quickly. It proves – sadly – that you can write a very unfunny book about a very funny programme.
I’m sorry because I really wanted to love this book but I couldn’t. I can’t even summon the energy to drag through it and tell you much about it. I’m just not fan enough to deal with it. But that’s my problem, not yours. If you adore Black Adder, if your heart beats faster at the sound of the theme music and you can’t watch Time Team without blathering on about Baldrick, then you will quite possibly adore this book and read it repeatedly. I take my hat off to you – I couldn’t get into it at all.
True History of the Blackadder: The Unadulterated Tale of the Creation of a Comedy Legend by J. F. Roberts
Published by Preface Publishing, November 2012
With thanks to the publisher for sending a review copy.
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