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Nob and Nobility
Nob and Nobility
Title card, illustrating the French Revolution theme of the episode.
Blackadder the Third, Episode 3
Written by Ben Elton & Richard Curtis
Directed by Mandie Fletcher
Guest stars Tim McInnerny, Nigel Planer, Chris Barrie
Original airdate 1 October 1987
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"Nob and Nobility" is the third episode of the Blackadder the Third series of the BBC sitcom Blackadder.


Edmund is disgusted with the English obsession with the Scarlet Pimpernel, the masked vigilante who has saved so many French aristocrats from the French Revolution. After Edmund disparages the Pimpernel, two effete noblemen, Lord Topper (Tim McInnerny) and Lord Smedley (Nigel Planer), bet him a thousand guineas that he can't go to France, rescue an aristocrat and present him at the French Embassy Ball. He accepts, but instead of actually going to France takes the far safer course of going to Mrs. Miggins' coffee house to find a French aristocrat willing to pretend he's been rescued. Le Comte de Frou Frou (also Tim McInnerny) agrees to pretend he was rescued.

When they arrive at the embassy, however, they are arrested by a revolutionary (Chris Barrie) who has assassinated the ambassador. Blackadder, Frou Frou and Baldrick are put in a dungeon, but Frou Frou is later taken away by the revolutionary to be tortured. They are rescued by Smedley, claiming to be the real Scarlet Pimpernel, whom Blackadder accidentally poisons with a glass of wine and suicide pills that Frou Frou had given them earlier. Frou Frou also manages to escape, and they all manage to make it home. Frou Frou then reveals himself to be Topper in disguise, and that he and the "mysteriously missing" Smedley are together the Scarlet Pimpernel. Moments away from exposing Edmund's treachery, he accept Edmund's offer of a glass of wine — and, of course, dies, Blackadder having slipped another suicide pill into the glass. Edmund convinces the Prince that he is The Scarlet Pimpernel, and collects an "enormous postal order" intended for the hero.


  • This episode was not aired in the U.S. due to a dispute over the rights to the use of the "Scarlet Pimpernel" title, though it is available on the video and DVD versions.
  • The Scarlet Pimpernel was not a term used in reality until the novel of that title by Baroness Emma Orczy, set during the French Revolution, was published in 1905. The novel was also where the poem here recited by Baldrick and parodied by Blackadder originated.
  • Tim McInnerny had played the part of Lord Percy Percy in the two previous series of Blackadder but refused to do it again because he did not want to be typecast as a buffoon. This episode was the only time in the series that he made an appearance other than as a regular character, and it was as a fop who turns out to be a lot braver than Blackadder ever suspected.
    • In the novels, the Pimpernel's real name is Sir Percy Blakeney.
  • There is a line cut from the initial video and DVD releases, and often from television repeats, apparently over "contractual issues". Baldrick talks about the Scarlet Pimpernel, saying
"They seek him here,
They seek him there,
Those Frenchies seek him everywhere.
Is he in Heaven or is he in Hell?..."

and Blackadder chips in with

"...And what's that revolting garlic smell?"

The line is intact on the BBC Radio version, which rebroadcast the audio portions of the episodes, and which has been released on CD. The scene is also intact on the 2009 'Blackadder Remastered - The Ultimate Edition' DVD release.


  • The French Revolution had already taken place at this point, but is here shown to be still taking place (including the appearance of the Scarlet Pimpernel).