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George (Blackadder character)

George is the name of two characters appearing in the historical BBC sitcom Blackadder played by Hugh Laurie. The first was a caricature of HRH The Prince George, Prince of Wales, the second (presumably a distant descendant of the first), Lt. George C. St Barleigh, serves as a stereotype of the ever-optimistic young officer in the British Army during World War I. Writers of the show have confirmed that George and Laurie were brought in after Tim McInnerny did not want to play the part of Blackadder's aristocratic foil any more for fear of being typecast.

Character

Both Prince George and Lt. George are portrayed as ignorant and dim-witted "upper class twits". In Blackadder the Third, the Prince of Wales was represented as a foppish, obnoxious buffoon who spent money extravagantly (especially on fancy trousers and socks). The fact that Hugh Laurie was young and thin, and the real Prince of Wales was, by this point, old and fat did not seem to bother writers Ben Elton and Richard Curtis, who still referred to him as "a fat, flatulent git." In the series, Prince George's butler was a certain Mr. E. Blackadder, assisted by his dogsbody, S. Baldrick. In Blackadder Goes Forth, Lieutenant George, stationed in the trenches of World War I, carries himself with a great deal more innocence than the Prince, and his blind optimism shows that he is unaware of the seriousness of his situation. Rather, he treats the war as a jolly game or as an exciting adventure story, and cannot wait to get to grips with the enemy (blissfully ignorant of the fact that he'll be wiped out by machine guns long before he can get to them). He is also rather patriotically gullible, naively believing even the most exaggerated and ludicrous items of propaganda issued by the British.

Character development

Blackadder the Third

Created as a replacement for the Lord Percy Percy character, George, the Prince Regent appears to be about as (if not more) stupid than Percy. In fact, the character can be better described as a composite of series 2's Percy (foppish upper-class twit) and Queenie (temperamental, selfish monarch). He is also rather uncouth and oafish. It once took him a week to put on a pair of trousers by himself, and even then they were on his head. He relies greatly upon his butler, Blackadder (who despises George for his immense wealth and stupidity) to rectify problems in his life, such as parliamentary anger at his excesses or financial troubles.

He also did not appear to understand the concept of acting and at the end of a performance of Shakespeare's Julius Caesar demanded that someone arrest the actor playing Marcus Junius Brutus, having shouted "Look behind you, Mr Caesar!" in the murder scene.

While temperamental and priggish at times, George is helpful and loyal. He knows he is not a vastly intelligent man (describing himself as "as thick as a whale omelette") but he is keen on self-improvement. He did not quite understand the concept of Samuel Johnson's dictionary, but found it useful for indulging his prurient interests (by looking up rude words). According to the show, George was shot dead around 1805 by the Duke of Wellington, who had mistaken him for Blackadder, who was subsequently mistaken for the prince by his mad father and presumably went on to live what history records as the rest of George IV's life. Interestingly, George is often referred to in the script as being fat (in keeping with his real life counterpart), despite Hugh Laurie's slim physique.

Blackadder Goes Forth

In the fourth series George (full name: Lieutenant The Honourable George Colthurst St. Barleigh MC) is a frontline army officer who joined the army on the first day of the First World War. He had been attending Cambridge University before the outbreak of hostilities. He lacks any kind of skill, competence or authority as an officer, but due to his upper-class status and education went straight into the commissioned ranks upon enlisting. Although showing no improvement in intelligence George carries an air of childhood innocence with him unlike the vain and sexually driven Prince Regent. George serves in a trench under his commanding officer Captain Blackadder, to whom his presence is a constant annoyance. Despite Blackadder's obvious contempt for him, George both admires and likes his superior officer. The two share their Flanders dugout with Private S. Baldrick. An idealistic, upper-class Edwardian fool, George remains as optimistic about the war as the day he signed up, undeterred by having spent the last three years in the trenches. He is generally oblivious to much of what goes around him, failing to recognize the dangers of including sensitive military information in letters to relatives in Munich. He readily believes pro-war propaganda and is always eager to confront the enemy despite the grim reality that going over the top would mean all but certain death. Nonetheless, he is genuinely well-intentioned, and defends Captain Blackadder at his court-martial (albeit incompetently). He also shows a unique sense of personal loyalty, as he endangers his own life to rescue Blackadder and Baldrick from behind enemy lines on one occasion. George is shown to have a special friendship with General Melchett, an old family friend with whom he shares his public school 'tally-ho' attitude towards the war. Melchett even offers George a way out of the trenches for the 'final push', which he refuses, much to Blackadder's incredulity. Nonetheless, before the order to advance arrives, the gravity of his situation appears to dawn on him as he realises that all his fellow members of the Trinity College tiddlywinks team (The "Trinity Tiddlers") who signed up with him in "The Golden Summer of 1914" are now dead; he is unable to satisfactorily answer Baldrick's impassioned questioning of why they're fighting, and expresses his fear of dying shortly before going over the top.

The Trinity Tiddlers

Blackadder's Christmas Carol

In Blackadder's Christmas Carol Prince George appears while Ebenezer Blackadder is being shown his past. In the distant future a Lord Pigmot (also played by Hugh Laurie) is shown, allowing one to assume that he is a distant descendant of George. Hugh Laurie also narrated Blackadder's Christmas Carol.

Blackadder: Back and Forth

Laurie reprised the role in the millennium special Blackadder: Back & Forth, playing the Roman Consul Georgius and the modern day Lt George Bufton-Tufton, The Viscount Bufton-Tufton.

References

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