Off Topic Messages

New ‘Blackadder’ & ‘Fawlty Towers’ DVDs “announced”!

Thu Sep 22, 2005 12:42 am

Unfortunately I have yet to see a proper release notice about this from an official party, but it seems the BBC is re-releasing on DVD two of the best television shows ever made: Black Adder and Fawlty Towers.

I originally found this news on DVD Reviewer (here, to be specific):

Blackadder:The Complete Collection is an alternate history lesson. The four series feature Rowan Atkinson as the devious B’ladder who helped shape this great country by using every low-life trick in the book and the occasional cunning plan. Aided by the malodorous Baldrick(Tony Robinson) he sheds a unique perspective on the past.

Written by Richard Curtis and Ben Elton, additional cast members include Miranda Richardson, Stephen Fry and Hugh Laurie. This brand new limited edition boxset includes all four series with special extras, as well as Christmas Carol, The Cavalier Years and Blackadder Back and Forth, released for the first time ever all together in one boxed collection.

The Complete Fawlty Towers boxset features both series, and extras include interviews with John Cleese, Prunella Scales and Andrew Sachs; commentaries by Producer John Howard Davies and Director Bob Spiers; Torquay Tourist Guide – A mini-documentary on the Gleneagles Hotel which was the inspiration behind Fawlty Towers; Artist Profiles; Who’s Who Guide To The Characters; Illustrated Book With Photographs and out-takes.



It seems the Fawlty Towers set is simply the old set in a new package, but the news of a new Black Adder set is particularly exciting, since it is the first true complete set... Or so we’re lead to believe. For those who are not completely aware of the show’s history, the footage consists of the following:

Seasons One through Four
“Blackadder’s Christmas Carol” (43 mins.)
“The Cavalier Years” (16 mins.)
“Black Adder: Back & Forth” (55 mins.)

But this is where it gets complicated. A few years ago BBC America released the poorly titled Black Adder: The Complete Collector’s Set (note: the release date on that page is incorrect). This five-disc set included the first four seasons and all the specials – except one! It was missing the “Back & Forth” special! In the UK the BBC released a five-disc set by the same name, which included all four seasons, but only one of the specials: the “Back & Forth” special! Obviously, neither set was complete, and those who wanted it all were hard-pressed to make a decision between “Back & Forth” and the other two specials. (Who’s the brain behind these cunning plans, anyway – RCA/BMG?)

Now fast-forward to October 3, 2005, when the BBC is expected to release a new DVD set entitled Black Adder: The Complete Collection. Now this is a six-disc set, but the information given on the BBC site states that it now includes two of the specials, but not “The Cavalier Years” (contrary to the DVD Reviewer’s site, which states it includes all three specials)! This is madness! The question now becomes, why does the new set require six discs, if it holds roughly the same amount of content as the American five-disc set? Is the BBC Shop site information incomplete, or is DVD Reviewer’s report inaccurate? Can anyone shed any further light on this issue?

Thu Sep 22, 2005 9:05 am

Thanks for the info Peter. 8)

Here's what Amazon have to say about the Blackadder set:

For the first time every Blackadder episode is packaged together in a special boxset, including Blackadder's Christmas Carol, Back and Forth and The Cavalier Years. This six disc set has a running time of 763 minutes and is released for a limited period.

Looks like it's the complete set and the DVD Reveiwer review was correct. Looking at the running time there may also be extras. I hope so! Also, at Amazon you can get both the Blackadder and Fawlty Towers sets for £67. Can't be bad.

Also coming in October is the complete Only Fools and Horses collection. This contains all 7 series and all specials and the 'making of' show. I personally wouls like to see the 'Christmas Trees' short and Royal Variety Show sketch on the set but I think it's unlikely. Hopefully there will be extras as all the material is already available. Although, at £144 for the 27 DVD set it is a great buy for those fans who don't have the complete series yet.

Thu Sep 22, 2005 5:37 pm


The Amazon description sounded promising at first, but as it turns out, it only adds further confusion.

According to the British BBC Shop, the running times for each program are as follows (based on older DVDs):

Season One: 196 mins.
Season Two: 175 mins.
Season Three: 176 mins.
Season Four: 174 mins.
“Blackadder’s Christmas Carol”: 43 mins.
“The Cavalier Years”: 16 mins.
“Back & Forth: 55 mins.

This adds up to a total of 835 minutes. This is 72 minutes more than the reported 763 minutes on! This could be explained by an absence of “The Cavalier Years” and “Back & Forth” (together 71 mins.), but this seems unlikely. It should be noted also that the BBC Shop site lists the total running time for the new set to be 844 minutes. This seems like more accurate information, since DVD Reviewer also mentioned the inclusion of “special extras,” although 9 minutes of extras isn’t all that much.

What a mess!

Anyway, I predict (and desperately hope) that the DVD Reviewer’s information was correct, since it seems strange to have the same amount of content (or less) than the other sets but still require more discs. This would only be possible if they tried to present the material in higher quality (due to new mastering, for example), but surely they would announce such an effort? Hopefully they’ll update their site soon (Amazon as well as the BBC) so that I can gladly become ₤67 poorer!

Fri Sep 23, 2005 8:57 am

I've pre-ordered both from Amazon. Their offer looks a steal for what you're getting. Two of the greatest ever British comedies and extras in one set. Roll on October 3rd. :D