Baldrick hits back at Michael Gove’s ‘silly’ Blackadder attack
World War One rumpus rumbles on as Sir Tony Robinson accuses Gove of ‘slagging off teachers’
SIR TONY ROBINSON has accused Michael Gove of “slagging off teachers” after the education secretary suggested Blackadder was being used by "left-wing academics" to “feed myths” about World War One.
The actor, who starred as Baldrick in the BBC hit series, said Gove’s comments were “silly” and “unhelpful”.
Writing in the Daily Mail, Gove last week claimed dramas such as Oh! What a Lovely War and Blackadder portrayed the First World War as a “misbegotten shambles – a series of catastrophic mistakes perpetrated by an out of touch elite”. He said that “even to this day there are left-wing academics all too happy to feed those myths”. By contrast, he insisted, the 1914-1918 conflict was a “just war”.
His article has drawn both criticism and support from various historians – a row described by the Mail as "the Great War rumpus". Speaking to Sky News yesterday, Robinson said Gove had “just made a very silly mistake”. Blackadder Goes Forth, the final series set in the trenches of the Western front in 1917, is simply another teaching tool used by imaginative teachers, he said.
"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 particularly unhelpful and irresponsible from a minister of education. It’s just another example of slagging off teachers,” he said.
Yesterday Labour’s education spokesman and historian Tristram Hunt described Gove’s article as "shocking stuff". Writing in The Observer, Hunt said the conflict was far more complex than Gove claimed. “Whether you agree or disagree, given the deaths of 15 million people during the war, attempting to position 1918 as a simplistic, nationalistic triumph seems equally foolhardy, not least because the very same tensions re-emerged to such deadly effect in 1939,” he said.
Hunt also accused Gove of hijacking the upcoming World War One centenary to forward his own Tory agenda. A spokesman for Gove has insisted he “was not attacking teachers” but attacking the myths perpetuated in Blackadder and elsewhere.