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Left-wing propaganda piece? Sir Tony Robinson (right) with Rowan Atkinson in Blackadder Goes Forth.

Respect: Why ruin your day with a picture of Michael Gove when we can all enjoy a shot of Rowan Atkinson and Sir Tony Robinson as Blackadder and Baldrick in Blackadder Goes Forth?

It seems some prominent people are finding that the metaphorical chickens they had thought long laid to rest are now coming home to roost. The BBC inadvertently invited comparisons with a scene from V for Vendetta during the Million Mask March, after failing to cover a similar event in June, and now Michael Gove is facing embarrassment for things he said even further back in history.

For indeed and yea verily, it was January when Mr Gove in his role as Education Secretary tried to prove that his mission really was to set the UK back 90 years – by claiming that one of Britain’s most revered TV comedies, Blackadder Goes Forth, peddled left-wing “myths” about the First World War, “designed to belittle Britain and its leaders”.

He was quoted as follows: “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.”

One of the show’s stars, Sir Tony Robinson, weighed in with a quick response in contradiction, but now one of the show’s writers has added his two-pennyworth – and sure enough, it seems he’s going to have the last laugh.

Now, immaculately timed to take place right before Remembrance Day for the best impact, Blackadder co-writer Ben Elton told the BBC his latest novel was inspired by Gove’s jingoistic rant. Yes – he’s going to profit from words that Gove clearly intended as a rebuke.

Entitled Time and Time Again, the book tells the story of a man who travels back in time to stop World War I.

“I had been toying with the idea of writing a novel about the causes of the First World War but I certainly got some lead in my pencil when myself, Richard and Rowan Atkinson were all being blamed for a lack of respect for WW1 because of Blackadder,” he said.

“I think what Michael Gove said is clearly idiocy. Blackadder is well researched, it’s a comedy, it’s a satire, it satirises history which is a long and honourable British tradition.

Blackadder was deeply respectful to the good things about WW1, which are, of course, that it showed the magnificent strength of the human spirit, the ability to love, loyalty and love of country.”

He was speaking to the BBC’s Front Row radio programme – and you can listen to the full interview by visiting the show’s mini-site and clicking the appropriate link.

Follow me on Twitter: @MidWalesMike

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