Friday 12 May 2023

Royal Mail's cunning plan - Blackadder stamps and other products - 17 May 2023

Launched in 1983 by writer Richard Curtis and star Rowan Atkinson – with the vital assistance of BBC producer John Lloyd and co-author Ben Elton – the series is regularly named among the finest sitcoms of all time, while its scheming, amoral hero has become one of the UK's most adored TV characters.

From the mists of medieval England to the court of Queen Elizabeth I, from the glamour of the Georgian era to the grim trenches of the First World War.  As the superlative sitcom Blackadder celebrates its 40th anniversary, Royal Mail pay tribute to one of the pillars of British comedy, with a set of eight stamps showing iconic and memorable scenes.

The Blackadder stamp collection is completed with a minisheet celebrating the main character Edmund Blackadder, played by Rowan Atkinson, in all of his guises over each of the four series of the classic sitcom.

Set of 8 stamps.

Featuring some of the best-loved supporting characters played by familiar names including Stephen Fry, Hugh Laurie, Miranda Richardson and Brian Blessed. Four horizontal se-tenant pairs for, one for each of the four series.

Set of 8 Blackadder stamps illustrated by two stills from each series.

2nd Class - Blackadder The Third Episode 3 – Nob & Nobility: Hugh Laurie, Tony Robinson, Rowan Atkinson; Episode 6 – Duel & Duality: Rowan Atkinson, Stephen Fry.

1st Class - Blackadder Goes Forth Episode 6 – Goodbyeee: Tim Mcinnerny, Hugh Laurie, Rowan Atkinson, Tony Robinson;  Episode 6 – Goodbyeee: Stephen Fry, Rowan Atkinson, Tim Mcinnerny, Tony Robinson.

£2.00 - The Black Adder Episode 2 – Born To Be King: Rowan Atkinson, Brian Blessed; Episode 3 – The Archbishop: Hugh Laurie, Tony Robinson, Rowan Atkinson.

£2.20 - Blackadder II Episode 1 – Bells: Miranda Richardson, Patsy Byrne; Episode 4 – Money: Rowan Atkinson, Tim McInnerny, Tony Robinson.

Miniature Sheet

Miniature sheet showing 4 generations of Edmund Blackadder.

From left to right:

£2.20 - Meet Prince Edmund, aka the self-styled Black Adder: youngest son of the fictitious King Richard IV and accidental murderer of his predecessor, Richard III. Edmund is unpopular at court and constantly overlooked by his father, who barely knows his name. But Edmund is also driven by ambition, constantly dreaming up ways to plant himself upon the throne of England.

1st class - A favourite at the court of the capricious Queen Elizabeth I and owner of the sharpest tongue in all England, Lord Edmund Blackadder is a rakish nobleman with a finely sculpted beard and immaculate dress sense. But whether he’s scheming to have his rivals decapitated or planning a fake oceanic voyage, his crafty and ambitious nature does tend to land him in trouble.

£2.20 - Reduced to the status of a humble head butler in the extravagant 19th century palace of George, the Prince Regent, Mr E Blackadder is still possessed of a wicked wit, a Machiavellian mind and an enterprising nature. Along with his malodorous minion Baldrick, he’ll try everything from highway robbery to romance writing in his efforts to clamber back up the social ladder.

1st class - In the mud-swamped trenches of the First World War, world-weary professional soldier Captain Blackadder tries to keep his head while all those around him are losing theirs, sometimes literally. By now our hero’s only ambition is to stay alive, while that famous dry wit has turned to bitter black humour as with every passing day his chances of survival grow slimmer.

On his Commonwealth Stamps Opinion Blog, WhiteKnight observes that "In a single issue the actor Rowan Atkinson becomes featured on more British stamps than any other non-royal, non-fictional person than I can think of." - a good observation.

Technical details

The stamps and miniature sheet have been designed by True North and printed by Cartor Security Printers in lithography.  The sheet stamps are 41x30 mm printed in sheets of 60 on paper with ordinary gum, perforated 14½ x 14.  The miniature sheet stamps are 27 x 37 mm on self-adhesive paper, perforated 14. 


Blackadder featured with kind permission of Rowan Atkinson, Richard Curtis, Ben Elton and John Lloyd. Blackadder television stills © BBC, used with permission from BBC Motion Gallery/Getty Images.  Miniature sheet background image – gold and red decorative textile pattern © debela/Getty Images; linen fabric background © Katsumi Murouchi/ Getty Images; picture frames © Tomekbudujedomek/Getty Images and © Stockbyte/Getty Images. Stamp images – Blackadder photographs © BBC Photo Library.

Other products

Set of 8, miniature sheet, first day covers (2), postcards, presentation pack, collector sheet, press sheet of 18 ms, platinum miniature sheet*, framed set, miniature sheet or collectors sheet (£34.99 each).

* "A highly collectible edition of the Edmund Blackadder Miniature Sheet finished in platinum. Limited to just 1,000 platinum stamp sheets and presented in a bespoke presentation case with a numbered certificate of authenticity - price £149.99.

Blackadder Platinum Miniature Sheet

Collector Sheet

Blackadder Collector Sheet - 10 stamps with labels showing a memorable
quote or still from the televsion series.


The £2.00 is a new value for special issues and is equivalent to the basic worldwide surface or 'economy' letter rate.

Royal Mail have said, "We have chosen to add the other values to ensure variety and also provide the option for more flexible use of special stamps for parcels.

Time will tell whether this is useful or not, especially on parcels.  I would think they would be more likely to be used on airmail letters supplemented with 20p in definitive stamps.


  1. On the second £2.00 stamp the caption is "Episode 3 – The Archbishop: Hugh Laurie, Tony Robinson, Rowan Atkinson." Nope - it's Atkinson, McInnerny, Robinson.

    I was expecting this to follow the same pattern as Dad's Army and Only Fools and Horses with the quotes/catchphrases superimposed. The Collector's Sheet seems to have half-heartedly done this.

    Disappointed they couldn't squeeze in the late Rik Mayall as Flashheart (either in II or Goes Forth)...

  2. Re the £2 value. I agree with Ian. I can't think of any circumstance in which I would send a letter surface rate rather than pay another 20p. Maybe for business use but they wouldn't use stamps anyway (expect for actual stamp dealers).

    As for parcels - the casual user just gets a Horizon label. If Small Parcel goes up to £4 then just maybe some might ask for 2x £2 stamps to make it attractive to the recipient. But when we read that many Post Offices no longer order special issues - that's hit and miss.

    1. Does anyone have practical experience of using the £2 rate internationally? I am keen to try it, but not if delivery takes weeks.

  3. I really like the mini sheet; it is full of good design. The rest of the stamps, as with all the recent TV series stamps, are a bit 'bleh'. Loved Blackadder though.

  4. A little pedantic perhaps but why not put them in the order they were made? ie 2nd class = The Blackadder, 1st class = Blackadder II etc etc £2.20 Blackadder goes Forth.

  5. I think the miniature sheet is absolutely fabulous. These all would've been great single stamps as well. By the way: doesn't The Black Adder look exactly like Sheldon Cooper?!!!

  6. Actually these stamps are not that bad shame they are not in chronology in season order, the miniature sheet is pretty awesome.

  7. Glad we have another trivial issue-only 12 stamps in all- lithographed abroad very few seen on postal use apart from from collectors to collectors.Dont we have anything more important to commemmorate and donr we have any printers in UK apart from the one for the machins and xmas

    1. Michael I think RM enjoy trivial issues, for example in 2020 rather than commemorate the sailing of the Mayflower 400 yrs ago to USA we got Star Trek & Coronation St.

  8. Royal Mail have added Paddington for the 5th September release to the list not sure if its to do with Paddington the Bear or Paddington Station, more likely the former been its 65th Anniversary.

  9. White Knight comment. Martin notes that the TBA issue is on the subject of Paddington. Is this going to be something really apt and clever given that it’s to be issued just 3 days before the 1st anniversary of the death of Queen Elizabeth and she of course appeared in an instantly famous film sequence with Paddington the Bear? Surely the date of issue is not a coincidence.

  10. Rowan Atkinson has 11, Elton John has one more at 12. The leader must surely be Paul McCartney with 17 (8 solo and 9 with The Beatles)

  11. I have never understood why Royal Mail has not done Domestic 1st Class Large Letter commemoratives. Much more use potential then the £2

  12. Has anyone else tried to use one of the MS on an envelope? I found the selvedge was not self adhesive, and automatically detached. This is different to others in the past. Is this right, or was I just particularly incompetent?

  13. This happens with some of the self- adhesive MS's , the selvage is self adhesive - it just seperates very easily from the MS - you can if careful line it up properly to the MS on the envelope.

    1. I think RM are specifying thinner and thinner paper for stamps and MS. The Warhammer MS seems wafer thin.

  14. That's useful. In the end I used another sheet and glued it on to the envelope with Pritt Stick. It worked quite well and was postmarked nicely by my local post office (and arrived by Special Delivery today). So result achieved! What a performance - I suspect that fewer and fewer of us will be bothering to get these sheets used in the future.


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