Tag Archives: Goes Forth

Elton has last laugh over Gove’s Great War gaff

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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Michael Gove highlights his own lies; Tony Robinson is right

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

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

A new development has occurred in the story of Michael Gove’s attempt to rewrite the history of World War One as a glorious display of “patriotism, honour and courage”.

This blog took Gove to task after he attacked one of Britain’s best TV comedies, Blackadder Goes Forth, for perpetuating “myths” about the conflict.

Now Sir Tony Robinson, who played Baldrick in the much-loved series, has weighed in to warn Gove against attacking teachers.

He told Sky News: “It’s not that Blackadder teaches children the First World War.

“When imaginative teachers bring it in, it’s simply another teaching tool; 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.

“And I think 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 I think it’s particularly unhelpful and irresponsible for a minister in charge of education.”

Sir Tony added that it was “just another example of slagging off teachers.” He said, “I don’t think that’s professional or appropriate.”

Gove appears not to have the wit to answer on his own behalf. Instead a spokesman plunged him even further in the mire with the following: “Tony Robinson is wrong. Michael wasn’t attacking teachers, he was attacking the myths perpetuated in Blackadder and elsewhere.

“Michael thinks it is important not to denigrate the patriotism, honour and courage demonstrated by ordinary British soldiers in the First World War.”

Oh really? It’s fortunate Gove’s own words are available to be examined then, isn’t it?

In his Daily Mail article on Thursday, he wrote the following: “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.

Here’s the juicy bit: “Even to this day there are left-wing academics” – in other words, teachers – “all too happy to feed those myths.”

Case proven. Gove is a liar, and he is trying to promote the teaching of lies to children.

Still, he has a vested interest in replacing history with propaganda. Imagine what his own entry in the history books will be. Something like: “In the wake of the financial crisis, the Conservative Party tried to win electoral victory by blaming the disaster on financial mismanagement by the then-ruling Labour Party. When this, and a pledge not to interfere with the National Health Service, failed to inspire the electorate, Tory leader David Cameron seized power in a backdoor deal with the Liberal Democrats, led by Nick Clegg – a man who was to become little more than a puppet in Cameron’s hands. Once installed in Number 10, the tyrant set his lieutenants to work: Andrew Lansley and Jeremy Hunt turned the health service over to private hands. Iain Duncan Smith made benefit claims impossible to sustain, driving thousands of claimants to destitution and death. And Michael Gove reduced the education system to a means of indoctrinating the nation’s young with pre-approved disinformation designed to make them compliant fodder for the new corporatist state.”

… and that doesn’t even begin to describe the Betrayal of Britain that started in 2010!

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