Blackadder ‘myth’ row: Manchester backs Tony Robinson in World War One dispute with Michael Gove

By Tim Hyde

The people of Manchester have rallied behind Blackadder star Sir Tony Robinson after he became embroiled in a row with education secretary Michael Gove.

Mr Gove claimed that ‘left-wing academics’ were using Blackadder ‘to feed myths’ about World War One.

The row comes ahead of centenary commemorations for the outbreak of The Great War and has stirred up a debate in whether the BBC programme has changed people’s perception of the tragic event.

However, MM took to the streets and found that the majority of Mancunians thought Mr Gove was wrong. 

Do you think Michael Gove was right to attack shows like Blackadder over their portrayal of officers in World War One? 


Oliver Simpson, 27, an Architect from Manchester, said:  “Blackadder has always been a comedy show, which should immediately imply that it shouldn’t be taken too seriously.

“Gove is being a bit pretentious saying it’s disrespectful.” 

However Caitlyn Isherwood, 29, a physiotherapist, from Stockport, said: “Blackadder has disgraced the brave men and women who fought for our country.

“It is also appalling to think people actually believe that officers behaved in such a ridiculous manner.”

A 20-year-old student, from Leeds, Jess Lee, added: “I haven’t watched Blackadder but I know it’s meant to be funny. Why are people taking it so seriously?

“Michael Gove is just being over-sensitive.”

Sandy Baker, 18, a student, from Moss Side, said: “Blackadder is classic comedy, Gove is mad to think that they have influenced viewers as they are clearly joking.”

While a 51-year-old, Didsbury resident, Tom Sharper, a supermarket manager, added: “WW1 soldiers have been misrepresented, but it has been done in all sorts of films and other programmes.

“Starting a row is a ridiculous move by Gove, the man is clueless.”

Mr Gove voiced his opinions in a Daily Mail article which went on to criticise how Blackadder depicted Britain’s military leaders as cowards.

Sir Tony, now a presenter of Time Team, retaliated to the education secretaries comments by saying he was essentially ‘slagging off teachers’ who use the show to present the horrific conditions endured by those fighting in the war.

The row continued as Mr Gove told the actor that he was ‘wrong’ and he had not been attacking teachers, just the ‘myths’ created by the comedy show.

“Gove is being sensitive they may have influenced some people, but that wasn’t their intention to disrespect those fighting,” added Carlton Smith, 54, a teacher, from Oldham.

“But in fairness I am sure some ranking officers were like that in all honesty.”

Chantelle Court, 27, a waitress form Bury, said: “Blackadder is a favourite of mine, they definitely have influenced what I think about WW1, but I don’t think they have been disrespectful.

“Gove does have a point as the programme doesn’t exactly flatter officers, but what can they do.”

Mr Gove told the Daily Mail on Thursday, that people’s understanding of the war had been tarred by falsifications which showed officers in the forces as lacking patriotism, honour and courage.

Stanley Doyle, 26, a student from Manchester, said: “Blackadder is hilarious, I suppose I do think that WW1 officers were a little pompous because of their portrayal, but they have obviously exaggerated how pompous the officers were.”

Hannah Elliot, 36, a restaurant owner from Surrey, added: “Michael Gove has a point, it is a little disrespectful, but obviously it isn’t intentional.”

Correction: Originally we put the figures in the wrong poll boxes, this has been amended now. Thank you for alerting us to it.

Image courtesy of BBC via YouTube, with thanks

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