World Stamps

Great Britain dedicates set to a classic comedy

May 23, 2023, 9 AM

By Molly Goad

Great Britain’s Royal Mail issued a full suite of stamps and related products May 17 to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the four-series British sitcom Blackadder.

The show originally aired on BBC One from 1983 to 1989 and starred Mr. Bean actor Rowan Atkinson as the conniving troublemaker Edmund Blackadder. English comedian/actor Tony Robinson played Blackadder’s minion, Baldrick.

The series was created by writer Richard Curtis and Atkinson, along with BBC producer John Lloyd and co-author Ben Elton.

A set of eight stamps capture moments from each series of the classic British sitcom in four horizontal se-tenant (side-by-side) pairs.

Scenes from the first series, The Black Adder, appear on a pair of £2 stamps: episode 3, “The Archbishop” (Atkinson, Brian Blessed) and episode 2, “Born to be King” (Atkinson, Tim McInnerny, Robinson).

The two £2.20 stamps are from the Blackadder II series: episode 1, “Bells” (Miranda Richardson, Patsy Byrne) and episode 4, “Money” (Atkinson, McInnerny, Robinson).

The £2.20 stamps meet the international rate for letters and cover all standard letters weighing up to 100 grams sent worldwide. The £2 stamps pay the international economy rate for large letters weighing up to 100 grams.

Two nondenominated second-class stamps (currently 75 pence) contain scenes from Blackadder the Third: episode 3, “Nob & Nobility” (Hugh Laurie, Robinson, Atkinson) and episode 6, “Duel & Duality” (Atkinson, Stephen Fry). (Laurie later played the title character in the American medical drama House.)

Two nondenominated first-class stamps (currently £1.10) show scenes from the last episode (episode 6, “Goodbyeee”) of the final series, Blackadder Goes Forth.

True North designed the set with television stills used with permission from BBC Motion Gallery/Getty Images.

The PVA-gummed stamps were printed by Cartor Security Printers by lithography in sheets of 60 (also available in half sheets of 30). The stamps measure 41 millimeters by 30mm each with perforations that gauge 14.5 by 14.

Additionally, Royal Mail issued a souvenir sheet of four stamps exhibiting the progression of the character Edmund Blackadder throughout the four series.

The first £2.20 stamp shows Edmund from the first series, set during medieval times.

Royal Mail said: “Meet Prince Edmund, aka the self-styled Black Adder: youngest son of the fictitious King Richard IV and accidental murderer of his predecessor, Richard III. Edmund is unpopular at court and constantly overlooked by his father, who barely knows his name. But Edmund is also driven by ambition, constantly dreaming up ways to plant himself upon the throne of England.”

Next in the sheet is Blackadder II, set in the Elizabethan period, on a first-class stamp. The stamp features Lord Edmund Blackadder as “a rakish nobleman with a finely sculpted beard and immaculate dress sense,” according to Royal Mail.

A second £2.20 stamp takes us to the Regency era in Blackadder the Third, when Edmund has been “reduced to the status of a humble head butler in the extravagant 19th-century palace of George, the Prince Regent.”

The final stamp in the sheet is from the final season, Blackadder Goes Forth, set during World War I and shows Captain Blackadder in military attire. The stamp pays the first-class rate.

The self-adhesive stamps in the souvenir sheet were printed by Cartor Security Printers by lithography and measure 27 mm by 37mm each with perforations that gauge 14 by 14. The souvenir sheet measures 146mm by 74mm.

True North designed the sheet with Blackadder photographs courtesy of the BBC Photo Library.

Other products for the Blackadder stamp issue include a presentation pack containing the 12 stamps in a fold-out souvenir pack, a set of 13 postcards featuring enlargements of the stamps plus a composite image of the souvenir sheet, a collector’s sheet (10 stamps with se-tenant labels), a platinum souvenir sheet, a press sheet, framed stamps, framed souvenir sheet and a framed collector’s sheet.

Also included in the May 17 issue are first-day covers for both the set of eight stamps and the souvenir sheet with postmarks from either Tallents House or Cunningsburgh, Shetland.

The Cunningsburgh postmark includes the quote “I have a cunning plan,” a familiar phrase used throughout the comedy.

The stamps and related products can be ordered from Royal Mail’s website. Ordering information also is available from Royal Mail, Tallents House, 21 S. Gyle Crescent, Edinburgh, EH12 9PB, Scotland.

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