close menu


There are so many holiday TV specials made every year on top of the trove that already exists. Of course, there are the classic ones, usually animated, with the likes of Charlie Brown and Rudolph, etc. The film A Christmas Story is essentially a TV special, considering how many times TBS has played it on repeat on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day over the years. For many others, of course, there’s the indulging in Festivus from Seinfeld‘s George Costanza. Thus, many a holiday special can go unnoticed, especially if they’re original and a great twist on a Christmas classic and from the UK and made in the late 80’s…

Of course, I’m hinting at Blackadder’s Christmas Carol, a Christmas special for thecult history comedy series Blackadder on the BBC, starring Rowan Atkinson.

Blackadder’s Christmas Carol, as you might guess, takes a decidedly more satirical turn from Charles Dickens’ classic tale A Christmas Carol. Even though it aired in 1988 on the BBC, Blackadder’s Christmas Carol more than holds up, as opposed to many of these specials that definitely rely on nostalgia for one to get through them. If anything, it’s the antithesis of the source material, which provides for a chummy Christmas ghost, an annoying Tiny Tim, the silliest vision of the future, and, most importantly, the opposite of the moral takeaway you’re supposed to get from the original Carol. As far as I can recall, this might be the only Christmas TV special where the main character turns heel, which should make it even more notable.

Many of you reading this would be even more excited to know that Stephen Fry, Hugh Laurie, Miranda Richardson, Robbie Coltrane, and more of your favorite British comedic actors all are in this, in a prime time when they were rising to their current comedy fame. This might be one of the first instances of Laurie trying an American-ish type accent way before he took on being Dr. House, and the eloquent, highly regarded Stephen Fry is dressed in a goofy futuristic high priest robe commenting on futuristic semi-nonsense.

Unfortunately, most don’t know of Blackadder (though that may be changing as the whole series is now on Netflix), much less Blackadder’s Christmas Carol, especially with everyone likely going to catch up on other series that they’ve been guilted into watching by friends over the last year.  I’d say, at the very least, it makes having read/rereading (especially as an adult with no kids) Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol worth it.


  1. Ross says:

    Being the old fart(& history nerd) in the room, I fell in love with “Blackadder” when PBS ran it back in the ’80s, and have been proselytizing for it ever since. The drawback for most Americans? To get some of the jokes, one has to have a basic grasp of the historical periods lampooned(although it also plays well just as good, British anarchic fun), which is why it could only have come from the UK. Example: if you grow up with the image of a powerful, charismatic and autocratic Elizabeth I as part of your national identity, a writer can assume the audience’s basic familiarity and skewer the legend by making her a spoiled, childish deb(and then–SPOILER ALERT–wrench the series back into history by having that season end with a power-mad master of disguise replace her and the court of morons around her).

  2. Jason G says:

    LOVE this – watched it this season already. Shame on any Nerdist fans who aren’t yet aware of Blackadder, if such truly exist.

  3. GuanoLad says:

    Have a merry messy kweznuz!