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Baldrick is a comical character

By ERIC SHACKLE, in Sydney, Australia

Baldrick cartoon

This whimsical cartoon character called Baldrick, drawn by the Rev. Rod Bower, minister of Gosford Anglican Church (80km north of Sydney), is evoking chuckles around the world. Baldrick's witty remarks are sermonettes for the 21st century.

My old mate Stewart McCrae, who won a Walkley award as Australia's Cartoonist of the Year a long time ago, is enthusiastic about them. "They're well drawn and very funny," he says.

A UK critic who saw the cartoons on the church's website commented: "They have a certain quirkiness about them, and occasionally a sharp barb. They made me laugh (especially the one about Windows XP). I hope their author will try his luck and make them available to a wider audience."

The editor of a Sussex (UK) parish magazine said: "I greatly enjoyed Baldrick. He's every bit as funny as the cartoons in the Church Times. The Catholic journal The Tablet is also very broadminded and would be worth a try."

The name Baldrick is rarely heard of in Australia, but in America St. Baldrick's Foundation (no connection with the cartoon character) is well and favourably known. By persuading thousands of good-natured citizens to have their heads shaved, it has raised more than $12 million in six years to aid the search for a cure for childhood cancer.

"St. Baldrick’s began with three people who wanted to make a difference, and chose to help children with cancer," says an article on its website. "Today, the St. Baldrick’s Foundation unites thousands of volunteers whose shared mission – to shave the way to a cure – has captured the enthusiasm and devotion of people around the world."

St Baldick's Celebration

Probably the best known Baldrick of all was a key character in a British TV comedy series, Blackadder, starring Rowan Atkinson. Here's how Gwen Brophy on the Blackadder Hall website describes the 24 episodes:

The series spans from the 15th century all the way up to World War I, with some stops in between, and one stop in the future.

One of the most notable things about the series is the acidic tongue, and quick wit, of Edmund Blackadder, and the uncanny way in which he seems to have a hand in important situations of Europe's history--and in the slick way he gets himself into and out of trouble.

He is accompanied through the series by one faithful bondsman, Baldrick, whose intelligence is comparable to that of a cabbage. Their families are intertwined in a centuries old relationship of servant and master. You can't help but wonder how the two families managed to reproduce.

Other familiar faces continually pop up over the centuries--such as Lord Flasheart, and Lord Percy Percy. One viewer noted that BlackAdder is to ordinary TV what being a millionaire aristocrat with the sexual capacity of a rutting rhino is to standing in the middle of a pond with a small painted wooden duck on your head.

I think that sums it up beautifully.


Story first posted August 2006

Copyright © 2006

Eric Shackle

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