Entertainment News

  • 6 January 2014, 12:14

Baldrick Calls Gove's Blackadder Remarks 'Silly'

Blackadder star Sir Tony Robinson has defended the comedy's portrayal of World War One after the Education Secretary accused it of belittling Britain.

Michael Gove criticised the manner in which historians and TV programmes have depicted the conflict, saying he believed it was a "just war" against the German elite.

"The conflict has, for many, been seen through the fictional prism of dramas such as Oh! What A Lovely War, The Monocled Mutineer and Blackadder, as a misbegotten shambles - a series of catastrophic mistakes perpetrated by an out-of-touch elite," he wrote in the Daily Mail.

He added he had little time for the view of the Department for Culture and the Foreign Office that the commemorations should not lay fault at Germany's door.

He said the 1914 centenary should be about "battling left-wing myths that belittle Britain" rather than denigrating patriotism.

"Our understanding of the war has been overlaid by misunderstandings and misrepresentations which reflect an, at best, ambiguous attitude to this country and, at worst, an unhappy compulsion on the part of some to denigrate virtues such as patriotism, honour and courage," he wrote.

Sir Tony, who played Private Baldrick in Blackadder Goes Forth, told Sky News Mr Gove's criticism was a "very, very silly mistake".

"When imaginative teachers bring it in, it's simply another teaching tool," he said.

"They probably take them over to Flanders to have a look at the sights out there, have them marching around the playground, read the poems of Wilfred Owen to them. And one of the things that they'll do is show them Blackadder."

Speaking on the Murnaghan programme, the actor and Labour Party member also said the politician's comments "slagging off" teachers were unprofessional.

"To make this mistake, to categorise teachers who would introduce something like Blackadder as left-wing and introducing left-wing propaganda, is very, very unhelpful - and particularly unhelpful and irresponsible from a minister of education.

"This idea that somehow World War One ought to be an essay on how things were in Britain, the noble officer class in Britain, is a very old-fashioned fantasy."

Shadow education secretary Tristram Hunt called Mr Gove's article "shocking stuff".

In a piece for The Observer, he accused the Government of using the centenary as an excuse to "rewrite the historical record and sow political division".

The Government is using a 50m commemorations fund to mark the centenary this year.

Mr Hunt said: "This year's anniversary events need to reflect and embrace the multiple histories that the war evinces - from the Royal British Legion to the National Union of Railwaymen to the Indian, Ethiopian and Australian servicemen fighting for the empire."

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