History: The Sitcom, England: The Theme Park — Blackadder’s Retrovisions as Historiographic Meta-TV

  • Eckart Voigts-Virchow


In 2000, a survey conducted by military history publishers, Osprey, suggested that the 1980s television sitcom Blackadder has entered the collective memory of British schoolchildren to a great extent: many of them thought that the title character of the series was a historical person.1 This arch-misunderstanding of historiographical re-imagining speaks both for the cultural power of the TV sitcom and for the peculiar conditions under which the metahistorical series Blackadder operated in 1980s Britain. What a shock it must have been for historians to realize that the next generation’s historical knowledge is to some extent being shaped by a television sitcom, which has been largely neglected in accounts of how national history has been conceived of in audiovisual media. In this chapter, I shall outline how the serial narrative of the television sitcom has contributed to a postmodernist, metahistoric social construction of history.


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© Eckart Voigts-Virchow 2005

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  • Eckart Voigts-Virchow

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