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It is often said, mainly by British people, that British TV comedy is the best in the world. There are not many things that will turn a hardened ex-pat into a nostalgia-ridden homesick wimp, but the mere mention of classic shows like Only Fools and Horses, Fawlty Towers or Blackadder might do the trick. The latter of that holy trinity is now on Finnish screens, so if you’ve never watched the adventures of Edmund Blackadder then, well, what’s wrong with you, frankly?

In their wisdom, TV Viisi is broadcasting the second series on Wednesdays at 8.30 pm. This is brilliant scheduling, as this is the exact same time the series was shown when I watched it as an impressionable teenager, thereby making the nostalgia factor increase by one. Incredible, wouldn’t you say? Blackadder the Second stars Rowan Atkinson as the titular aristocrat who, ably hindered by his assistant Baldrick (Tony Robinson), attempts to win the favour of the juvenile Queen Elizabeth I (Miranda Richardson). Apart from Atkinson, who everyone knows now as Mr. Bean, it also features Hugh Laurie, a.k.a. Dr. House, and Stephen Fry. Part of the joy comes from watching these now iconic actors when they were young (or at least younger).

The rest of the joy comes from the fact that the script for the last three seasons of Blackadder are filled with some of the funniest one-liners, put-downs, insults and running gags that have ever graced the screen. There are only six episodes per season, but what episodes! Like the episode where Edmund becomes the Queen’s executioner (sample quote: “To you, Baldrick, the Renaissance was just something that happened to other people, wasn’t it?”); or the one where he tries to out-explore Sir Walter Raleigh (“To you, it’s a potato. To me, it’s a potato. But to Sir Walter bloody Raleigh, it’s fine carriages, luxury estates and as many girls as his tongue can cope with!”); or, in my opinion the best of the second season, the one where he has to convince his puritanical relatives to endow him while simultaneously taking part in a drinking competition (“I found it particularly ironic, my lord, because I’ve got a thingy that’s shaped like a turnip”), it’s a brilliant show.

Rather incidentally, in case you need an excuse to watch it you can say it’s educational. I learnt everything I know about the Regency from season three. However, don’t let the presence of Blackadder on TV Viisi lull you into a false sense of televisual security, as this gem lies concealed beneath a pile of dross of the highest order. Other shows include the atrocious Geordie Shore and awful Finnish show Tallinna, although it’s worth checking out their schedules for occasionally good documentaries and other British imports like Little Britain and Hale & Pace (remember them?). But anyway, Blackadder – it’s the best thing on TV at the moment.

Nick Barlow
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The writer knows the art of channel surfing.

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