Sodoff Baldrick is the name of several fictional characters featured in the television series Blackadder. Each one serves as Edmund Blackadder's servant, sidekick, and punching bag. They are all portrayed by Tony Robinson (although in the unaired pilot episode he was played by Philip Fox). Just as Blackadder exists in many incarnations throughout the ages, so does Baldrick; whenever there is a Blackadder there is a Baldrick serving him. In the first series of the show, Baldrick is more intelligent than Blackadder, but this dynamic is reversed in subsequent series, with Baldrick's intelligence decreasing as the show continued. He is the only character other than the titular figure to appear in every episode of the programme.
A persistent feature among the Baldricks is their lack of sexual preference, which is often played upon for comic effect. Although Baldrick likes women, he sometimes ends up having encounters with other men, such as a sailor in "Money" (Blackadder II) and Will Scarlet (Blackadder: Back & Forth). He also expresses interest in marrying male characters to increase his social status, such as Blackadder in "Bells", or General Melchett in "Major Star" (Blackadder Goes Forth). Nonetheless, Baldrick also shows a degree of attraction to women, shown in his conversation with a prostitute in "Money", and in "Amy and Amiability", when he expresses disappointment upon receiving a perfunctory kiss from Blackadder (instead of the voluptuous Lady Sarah Cheapside). Each Baldrick, at various points over the four series, is also willing - and at times eager - to indulge in crossdressing.
Other traits shared by all Baldricks are complete lack of hygiene and an obsession with turnips. He also proves more intelligent than Blackadder's other companions - such as Lord Percy or George - although only slightly.
Although cleverer than the Prince, Baldrick, knowing his place in the mediaeval pecking-order, holds him in awe. He often leads cheers in the Prince's honour (along with Lord Percy, who tries hard to join in), fills his head with illusions of grandeur, and often ends up doing his dirty work. This included carrying the decapitated body of Richard III and sleeping with the Spanish Infanta, Edmund's fiancée, so that Edmund didn't have to. The latter task resulted in several injuries, including a seriously blackened eye. When Baldrick is abandoned by Edmund in the final episode, a tear falls from his eye.
This Baldrick also has cunning plans that, contrary to most of the "cunning plans" of his descendants, mostly work, although they often initially seem ridiculous (and sometimes get messed up due to the actions of Lord Percy). For instance, when Edmund seeks to kill Dougal McAngus, Baldrick suggests that he gets an enormous great cannon, takes McAngus outside, makes him stick his head down the cannon and then blow it off. Edmund scoffs at this, and instead tries to kill McAngus using several different "cunning plans" of his own. After having failed miserably with all of these, he resorts to using Baldrick's original plan, which works.
It was this Baldrick who suggested the title 'The Black Adder' for Prince Edmund (Edmund wanted to be called 'The Black Vegetable'), which his descendants later adopted as a surname.
This Baldrick survived the last episode as he and Lord Percy had poisoned the wine to stop the Black Seal. But Percy poisoned the whole batch, killing the king, the queen, Prince Harry, the entire court and Edmund. He and Percy tried to stop them but they were too late.
The "clever" Baldrick character was ditched after the first series, becoming steadily more imbecilic with each incarnation.
Elizabethan Baldrick is the servant and bondsman, rather than a friend, to Lord Blackadder, who mistreats him, and, Baldrick claims, at first tried to kill him. He has a bedroom in Blackadder's house, but has also been forced to sleep in the gutter and on the roof. He has a tendency to eat dung. Baldrick has been in Lord Edmund's service longer than either of them care to remember. While his master treats him with utter contempt, he remains intensely loyal, showing a strong desire to please Blackadder.
This Baldrick, whilst perhaps not as dim as his descendants, is far more stupid than the original. A kindly soul, Baldrick's lack of formal education is compensated for by his basic streetwise cunning. While his "cunning plans" do sometimes have a strange, twisted and often perverse logic and cunning to them (one suggestion was that Blackadder repay his debts by making money as a male prostitute, another is to disguise a "mad, wild, killer bull" as a rooster and enter it in a cockfight), he does possess an entertaining level of stupidity. In one episode, Blackadder attempts to teach Baldrick how to add, asking if he had "two beans, and [I] add two more beans, what does that make?". Baldrick's conclusions ("Some beans", "Three beans... and that one", and "a very small casserole"), lead Blackadder to comment "To you, Baldrick, the Renaissance was just something that happened to 'other people', wasn't it?" and that "The ape-creatures of the Indus have mastered this". He did, however, figure out the equation in the middle of a later conversation.
It was also in this series that the first signs of Baldrick's love of turnips was shown, in the episode Beer, where he and Percy famously discover a turnip shaped like a "thingy". Baldrick later describes the incident as "triffic". He is particularly delighted by the discovery, because it contrasts with his own "thingy" which is shaped like a turnip. In the same episode Baldrick reveals his recipe for "Turnip Surprise" - "the surprise is : there's nothing in it except the turnip". He is amazed when Blackadder points out that the Turnip Surprise is in fact simply a turnip.
Baldrick once went on an "all mouse diet" by hanging a piece of cheese off of the end of his nose and lying with his mouth open, hoping that mice would scurry in. He later tried the same thing, with a mouse on the end of his nose to catch a cat, for variety.
Baldrick was also bridesmaid at Lord Blackadder's abortive wedding. "Queenie" kept him as a pet, calling him Lassie (Baldrick did not complain) and he stuck two pencils up his nose, so that he could attend a Royal fancy dress party as a pencil case.
It can be argued that the sole triumph of this Baldrick was noticing that the mangroves and flowing lava probably meant that Captain Redbeard Rum hadn't, after all, berthed his ship in Southampton; however, a counter-argument exists that he can also be acclaimed for actually being able to tell the difference between a head and a foot, unlike future Baldricks, such as the Georgian version.Sir Edmund Blackadder. Like his Elizabethan ancestor he moonlights as an executioner, although in his case it is part of a cunning plan to save the life of Charles I of England by replacing his head with a pumpkin. He is the son of a pig farmer and a bearded lady.
Regency Britain works as an "underscrogsman" (apprentice dogsbody) to Mr. E. Blackadder Esq., butler to Prince George. He lives in a pipe in the upstairs water closet of the Palace. The third Baldrick is much more noticeably stupid and disgusting than those previous to him. Like his Elizabethan ancestor, he is known to eat dung occasionally. He is also more childlike; when asked if he has any distinguishing features, referring to his nose he asserts, "I've got this huge growth in the middle of my face". There is not the slightest sign of "cunning" in any of his plans, which include:
Blackadder also claims that Baldrick has never changed his trousers, and implores him never to do so, for they are, Blackadder claims, akin to Pandora's Box.
Although he is now on a closer social standing to Blackadder than before, he still receives the same level of abuse as his Elizabethan ancestor. Edmund punches him; kicks him; breaks a milk-jug over his head; smashes a huge turnip on his head; roasts him for a few minutes on a spit; grabs him by the shirt collar; threatens to cut him up into strips and tell the prince that he walked over a very sharp cattle grid in an extremely heavy hat; and promises five minutes of hellish tortures involving a small pencil, equalling anything possible from Beelzebub over all eternity. However, he does seem to have a higher level of friendship with Blackadder than the other series.
However, despite his noticeable disabilities, this Baldrick has more success than any of the others. In an election rigged by Blackadder, he is elected M.P. for Dunny-on-the-Wold, a rotten borough, although he was intended to be a puppet for Blackadder to manipulate (Blackadder's political opponents succeed in manipulating him instead). He is later made a Lord by Prince George, and is, therefore, eligible to sit in the House of Lords (although whether or not he ever does so is another matter, and as he is never again referred to by his title after episode 1, it seems plausible that Blackadder persuaded the Prince to attaint Baldrick of his peerage). He also succeeds where no Baldrick has succeeded before or since, in calling Blackadder a "lazy, big nosed, rubber-faced bastard".
Baldrick spends the £400,000 he received as a Lord on an enormous turnip ("Well, I had to haggle.") Blackadder later destroys it by sticking it on Baldrick's head.
Baldrick isn't given any sort of first name until this third series, when he speculates that it might be "Sod-off", since in childhood when he played in the gutter when he said to the other snipes, "Hello, my name's Baldrick," they would reply, "Yes, we know. Sod off, Baldrick!" A diplomatic Blackadder opts to record him as "S. Baldrick". The initial appears to have been adopted by his descendants.
This particular specimen of Baldrick can also be noted for his definition of "dog": "Not a cat" and "sea": "Big, blue wobbly thing that mermaids live in". His command with words is also demonstrated in his "magnificent octopus" (magnum opus), a semi-autobiographical work that goes so:
His heroes are the highwayman "The Shadow", and The Scarlet Pimpernel (or "Scarlet Pimple" as Baldrick believes his name to be). The former was executed as a result of Blackadder's informing, and the latter was poisoned by him.
This Baldrick grew up in a "haunted hovel", in which a vile, disgusting apparition would slowly make its way into his parents' bed at night. Curiously, this phantom vanished the very day Baldrick left home. In one cunning plan Baldrick tried to chop his mother's head off to solve the problem of her low ceiling.
Oddly enough, this Baldrick seems to have a bit of the idiot savant in him; Baldrick's explanation, although heard from someone else, of why George and Blackadder will be able to trade places is surprisingly smart and articulate, suggesting he might have an amazing memory with words, even if he doesn't understand what they mean.
First World War trench, serving under Captain Blackadder and Lieutenant George. His hero is Lord Flashheart.
The fourth Baldrick comes from the lowest of British late-Victorian and Edwardian society. Before the war he was scraping a living at the "Turnip Street Workhouse". Upon the outbreak of hostilities the workhouse formed its own pals regiment which Baldrick signed up to join. In the final episode he says that all his friends (and numerous pets) have died, suggesting that he is the last surviving member of the Turnip Street Workhouse Pals.
Equal in foulness to the third Baldrick, Private Baldrick also matches his immediate predecessor in terms of stupidity. His "cunning plans" verge on those of an insane person. Examples include carving his name on a bullet, in relation to the old saying "a bullet with your name on it", his explanation being that if he owns the bullet, it won't ever kill him as he won't ever shoot himself ('shame' comments Captain Blackadder), and the chances of there being two bullets with "Baldrick" on them are "very small indeed". and he has also been known to eat cigarettes as seen in the last episode of the series.
He also is the only Baldrick to confront Blackadder after being hit; he does so on one occasion, and is very conscious of class divisions. While this briefly attracts him to the ideals of the Russian Revolution, he is just as willing to marry General Melchett if it allows him to escape his lower-class status.
In the first episode, Captain Cook, he claims to be the first Baldrick in the entire family tree to have a brilliant plan (becoming cooks for HQ to escape the trenches), giving a speech saying, "Permission to write home immediately sir! This is the first brilliant plan a Baldrick's ever had. For centuries we've tried, and they've always turned out total pig swill! My mum will be pleased as punch." This mood was however, slightly dampened when Blackadder pointed out the minor flaw: Baldrick is "the worst cook in the entire world".
Private Baldrick's hobbies include cookery, his specialities include:
"Take the freshly shaved rat and you marinade it in a puddle for a while (till its drowned), then you stretch it out under a hot lightbulb, then get within dashing distance of a latrine and then you scoff it right down!"
This Baldrick is also a poet. His greatest poem is, without a doubt, 'The German Guns'. The words are:
Baldrick was particularly surprised when Captain Blackadder guessed the final line.
This may actually be a reference to a genuine wartime song sung by soldiers in the trenches, sung to the tune of Auld Lang Syne;
During his time in the trenches, Baldrick also wrote a second poem; the words are as follows:
Blackadder commented that "it started badly, it tailed off a little in the middle and the less said about the end the better — but apart from that it was excellent."
Apart from during Blackadder's demonstration of slapstick comedy in the same episode, Baldrick generally does not get physically abused by Blackadder, although Blackadder frequently insults Baldrick and his family.
This version of Baldrick seems to have Communist tendencies. In episode Major Star he openly supports the Russian Revolution. However, his mutinious attitude is qualmed by Blackadder ordering him to clean out the latrines. His hatred of the aristocracy is referenced later in the same episode.
The opening sequence to each episode of series 4 features a ceremonial parade in which the company led by Captain Blackadder marches past General Melchett on a reviewing stand. Baldrick appears as part of the regimental band, splendid in scarlet and blue full dress, but not only walking out of line but also playing that most unmartial of instruments: a triangle.
Despite his stupidity, Private Baldrick (however inadvertently) delivers the most profound speech of the lot. In preparation for the "final push", tension is high, and Baldrick demands, "Why can't we just stop sir? Why can't we just say 'no more killing, let's all go home'? Why would it be stupid just to pack it in, sir? Why?" Neither Captain Blackadder nor Lieutenant George are able to come up with a good answer. In the fourth series of Blackadder, the character of Baldrick does take on something of a deeper meaning, as an innocent victim of the terrible slaughter of the first world war.
Private Baldrick never got to tell the audience his final "cunning plan" to escape the trenches, as he is sent over the top before he can reveal it to Captain Blackadder, Lieutenant George and Captain Darling (although it might have involved a terrible splinter he noticed on a trench ladder; he observed "a bloke could hurt himself on that".). However, Baldrick stated that Captain Blackadder was correct in the final plan being "as cunning as a fox who's just been appointed Professor of Cunning at Oxford University". Private S. Baldrick may have been killed going "over the top" in 1917.septic tank cleaner to the 20th century Lord Blackadder in Blackadder: Back and Forth. His first appearance is serving Blackadder's millennium dinner, which he does wearing nothing but an amusing apron, on a whim. His cooking is similar to Private Baldrick's; he prepared dinner by coughing over an avocado. His underpants may date from the 18th century, or in any case smell as though they do, and turn out to be the cause of the extinction of the dinosaurs. Rather surprisingly he builds a working time machine, making him "the greatest genius who ever lived." Or it would do, if he knew how it worked and hadn't just built it using a combination of the plans of Leonardo Da Vinci and an apparent skill at building Airfix models being able to make up for his inability to read the plans. Following his master's rewriting of history, he becomes Prime Minister of the United Kingdom - and possibly dictator, as the television commentator observes that elections have been abolished (although how much power he has with Edmund as king is questionable).
Also, Legionary Baldricus is a soldier under Centurion Blacaddicus in the Roman Britain section of Blackadder: Back & Forth. Part of the forces defending Hadrian's Wall. He is apparently bilingual (although it's possible he's a local conscript and doesn't really understand Latin). He wears his helmet back to front, and was presumably killed by the attacking "Scots".
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