Blackadder Facts by Zanaq

ZNQ Development, brings you a fact about the Black Adder series that can not be found - at least not before publishing of this publication - anywhere on the net - at least not anywhere Googlefied. Let's hope the next Googlization will enable anyone to refocus their beliefs and find enlightenment here.

In episode four of the third Blackadder series, aptly named Black Adder the Third: Sense and Senility, a little poem is recited every time someone says MacBeth. The words to this rhyme - that don't in fact rhyme - seem to be stored in the same secret archive as most facts about David Kelly. Not even the Blackadder FAQ produces the correct version of this chant, nor does it hint at the surrounding controversy.

The story

In this particular installment Prince George summons two actors to his court. They have to teach him to recite the brilliant speech written by Blackadder. Blackadder, resenting being called mr. thicky butler, torments the actors by saying "MacBeth". This causes the actors to scream out in panic (see photo) and recite a little poem and pinch/pull each others nose.
Even when they are dragged away to their torture & execution, tightly tied up, Blackadder still makes them perform their funny routine.

The problem

This chant, however funnily performed, is hardly intelligible. Especially if after the third time the running gag effect causes the audience to bellow lavishly and of course shrouding the important information that is divulged there. Zanaq has devoted considerable time to solving this incredible mystery. (And upcoming even more deeply into this - with eg. graphs & calculations)

The evidence

When looking in the google for "hot potato" "amends" blackadder some options come floating to the surface:

Hot potato, orchestra scores, Puck will make amends.
Hot potato, up the score, Puck will make amends.
Hot potato, orchestra stalls, but Puck will make amends.
Hot potato, orchestra stalls, but we'll make amends.

and importantly, the subtitles on the official releases say:
hot potato, off his drawers, pluck to make amends.

Someone at "the 20yr guide" claims to have read the official script (doubtful) and attributes the following words to the actors:
Hot potato, orchestra stalls, puck will make amends.

And most important - but not entirely relevant - is what I personally always have heard:
Hot potato, off his shorts, f*ck to make a man.

I have listened to the rhyme a lot of times. The first three occurences are the most useful. You can listen yourself:
occurence 1 (mp3),
occurence 2 (mp3),
occurence 2 - orchestra only (wav)
occurence 3 (mp3)

The reasoning

it's most definitely "hot potato, orchestra stalls", see occurence 2, where the three syllables of "orchestra" are heard most distinctly. (Orchestra scores is a possibility, but not enough sources confirm it, and besides: it doesn´t make any sense)
Only... this 256kbps mp3 encoding is not so clear. So be sure to examine the orchestra-only .wav file.

It's most definitely "Pluck". The L is very clear on all three recordings. If "Puck" is a reference to Shakespeare, they should learn to pronounce it better.

It's most definitely "make amends". Eventhough the "ds" isn't always discernable, it is once (the first occurence).

When you listen to the 3 recordings it seems clear that the text is "pluck will make amends. However, this makes no sense. When the word will/to is isolated an oo-like sound can be heard, indicating "pluck to make amends. I will try if I can make a clear recording of that in the future.

The conclusion

the correct answer seems to be, in heading 1 to pump up the relevance:

Hot potato, orchestra stalls, pluck to make amends

which on some level represents the sound, and on top of that makes some sense. I'd like to reserve a slim chance for the nonsensical "Hot potato, orchestra stalls, pluck will make amends", but I don't think that one'll hold up.

So the case is all but closed. Check regularly for updates here at ZNQ Development.

(c) 2003 ZNQ Development. All quotes, images & sounds (c) BBC tv, here reproduced without permission under the fair use doctrine.