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Dish and Dishonesty
Dish and Dishonesty
Blackadder the Third, Episode 1
Written by Richard Curtis & Ben Elton
Directed by Mandie Fletcher
Guest stars Vincent Hanna
Original airdate 17th September 1987
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"Dish and Dishonesty" was the first episode in Blackadder the Third, the show's third series. It introduced the new characters for the regulars. Because the plot involved an election, it has frequently been re-shown on election days.


The newly elected Prime Minister, Pitt the Younger, plans to bankrupt Prince Prince George by striking him from the Civil List. With Parliament deadlocked, Blackadder devises a plan to have Baldrick elected as an MP in the rotten borough of Dunny-on-the-Wold and thus ensure the bill will be defeated.


The newly appointed Prime Minister, Pitt the Younger (portrayed here as a petulant teenager), wants to declare war on Napoleon Bonaparte, give "tougher sentences" for his geography teacher "Banana Breath" Rickshanks, and, most of all, strike the idiotic Prince Regent from the Civil List. Hearing this, the Prince is nonetheless convinced that the general public adore him because yesterday, he heard them singing "We hail Prince George! We hail Prince George!", only to be corrected by his butler, Mr. Blackadder, as "We hate Prince George! We hate Prince George!" Since the House of Commons is evenly divided on the issue, Blackadder suggests to the Prince that they tip the scales in his favour by bribing a Member of Parliament (MP) named Sir Talbot Buxomly (Denis Lill) with the position of High Court judge. The Prince calls for Buxomly, who, after assuring the Prince that he will stand by him, promptly sits down in a chair and dies.

Moving quickly, Blackadder realizes that Buxomly represented the constituency of Dunny-on-the-Wold, a rotten borough consisting of a tiny plot of land with several farm animals - 3 mangy cows, a Dachshund named Colin, a small hen in its late forties - and only one voter. Blackadder chooses to instate Baldrick as the constituency's new MP to ensure that he votes in favor of the Prince.

Pitt hears about all this and comes down to visit the Prince, the latter not recognizing him at first. The PM reveals that he once suffered "alone in a cold schoolroom, a hot crumpet burning my cheeks with shame" under the Prince's sort before seeking and succeeding to become what he is today. Blackadder complements that Pitt wasn't "too busy to remove the crumpet." Pitt declares that he shall have his own brother, William Pitt the Even Younger, as a candidate on his side. When he leaves, Blackadder tells the Prince how they shall win the election: firstly, fight the campaign on "issues, not personalities"; secondly, be "the only fresh thing on the menu"; and thirdly, cheat. After an obviously rigged election when it is revealed that Blackadder is both the constituency's returning officer (whose predecessor died when he accidentally brutally stabbed himself in the stomach while shaving) and voter (whose predecessor accidentally brutally cut his head off while combing his hair), Baldrick is made an MP in a landslide victory.

Once Baldrick enters the House of Commons, Pitt manipulates him into voting the wrong way, and the issue proceeds to the House of Lords. Blackadder realises the lords will never let the bill through, and plans to get himself named to the House of Lords, where he will be able to vote against the bill, and he even purchases a ludicrously expensive catskin robe in preparation. However, his scheme is ruined by Prince George's stupidity and Baldrick is elevated instead. He is also given £400,000 to bribe a few Lords, which he spends on a giant turnip. Once he finds out, Blackadder smashes the turnip over Baldrick's head. Afterwards, Blackadder laments over spending " my last penny on a catskin windcheater," ruining a "priceless turnip," and upon hearing knocking at the door and yelling, realises that he's "about to be murdered by a naked Tunisian sock merchant," telling Baldrick that this is "the last time I dabble in politics!".



  • Early in the episode, Hugh Laurie's character complains that his socks keep disappearing. Blackadder, effectively his valet, implies to the audience that he has been stealing and reselling them. The writers may have pinched the idea from "Jeeves Takes Charge", a 1916 entry in the Jeeves and Wooster canon. In that short story, Wooster's first valet was fired for stealing socks. Because the moment later appeared in the 1990 Stephen Fry/Hugh Laurie version of Jeeves Takes Charge, fans have sometimes wrongly assumed that Hugh Laurie's second televised lamentation about missing socks is a nod to "Dish and Dishonesty". In fact, however, it's much more likely that Richard Curtis and Ben Elton, basing the relationship of The Prince Regent and Blackadder on Wooster and Jeeves, were paying homage to P. G. Wodehouse.
  • This is also the first ever episode of the entire Blackadder series to have Hugh Laurie credited as part of the main cast, as he had been previously credited as a guest star in the last two episodes of Blackadder II.
  • The Standing at the Back Dressed Stupidly and Looking Stupid Party is possibly a parody of the Official Monster Raving Loony Party, an actual UK political party whose candidates do campaign and appear at the returns in disguises.

Anachronisms and other errors[]

  • At the start of the episode, Blackadder mentions the current Prime Minister of Great Britain being William Pitt the Elder. Pitt the Elder was Prime Minister between 1766 and 1768 (dying in 1778). The episode then cuts to the House of Commons, where Pitt the Younger has just been elected Prime Minister (in the election mentioned by Blackadder). Pitt the Younger's first term as Prime Minister was 1783 to 1801 before returning between 1804 and his death in 1806 (four years before the start of the Regency), making this episode set in 1783, 15 years after Pitt the Elder left office (and five years after his death despite the script indicating both Pitts to be alive).
  • Pitt the Younger decrees his intent to go to war against the dictator Napoleon Bonaparte. This is set in 1783 (based on Pitt the Younger having just begun his first term as Prime Minister). Napoleon was born 1769 and would have been 14 in 1783. He did not become Emperor of France until 1804 (after the French Revolution, which started in 1789).
  • Pitt is also shown as an avowed enemy of the King, whereas the actual Pitt the Younger was a close ally of King George III.