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Tony Robinson reckons his acting career will never top being Baldrick… so he’ll stick to documentaries for now

Tony Robinson (Jeff Spicer/Getty Images)
Tony Robinson (Jeff Spicer/Getty Images)

TONY ROBINSON says he’d love to do more acting – except that being Baldrick in Blackadder has set almost impossibly high standards.

“I normally do one or two bits of telly each year to keep my hand in,” Tony, who is currently presenting a documentary series on Channel 5, told iN10.

“But I would like to do more, to be frank.

“When it comes along, I will. But it’s got to be the right sort of thing.

“I’ve been lucky enough to be associated with so many high-quality programmes that I think it would stand out like a sore thumb if I did any stinkers.

“I really wouldn’t enjoy that.”

Tony says he had “an absolute ball” when he was involved in the Greg Davies series Man Down in the past couple of years.

But he concedes that making the right choices can be difficult.

“You never know what will turn out to be good,” he explains.

“TV and film are such cooperative enterprises that they can be completely transformed from what you saw originally.

“That is absolutely true of Blackadder. Everyone who was involved will tell you that, at the start, it really wasn’t up to much.

“It was the work of everyone that transformed it, so sometimes you just have to go on a hunch.

“Sometimes the hunch is wrong, and people ask, ‘Why on earth did you ever do that?’ and you just have to hold your hand up and say you thought it was going to be good.”

Tony has been back on presenting duties with Britain’s Great Cathedrals which continues its run this week.

It sees him investigate some of the finest – York, Canterbury, Salisbury, Durham, Liverpool and Winchester.

“I think cathedrals are rather odd we hardly notice them until we’re right up against them and are then wowed by them,” says Tony.

“They are bigger than anything other than 20th Century high-rises and yet have managed to survive for hundreds of years.

“When I first started to do it I was a little nervous that they would all me much the same. But that simply isn’t true.

“Liverpool, for instance, blew me away because it’s such a modern cathedral and not a multi-period jigsaw puzzle like all the others. ”

The first programme, on York, revealed items found during structural work 50 never years ago but never examined.

And he says he found his former Time Team experience came unexpectedly to the fore.

“The architects didn’t have time to look at the finds properly and there are loads of shoeboxes full of little bits and pieces.

“Just in the short time I was there, we found three Anglo Saxon pieces – well I say that confidently as someone who presented an archaeological programme for 20 years.

“Someone else might say differently!”

With dozens of grand cathedrals to choose from, he says one omission caused a massive fuss.

“I tweeted the six names and the people of Lincoln were outraged,” adds Tony.

“A small civil war seemed to break out for about three or four days.

“There was an orchestrated uprising to try and get Lincoln included. That wasn’t possible but hopefully we’ll get a second series.

“In that case I’ll definitely insist we include it. So if the people of Lincoln want their cathedral on screen they’ll have to watch all of this one and boost the viewing figures!”

Tony hasn’t been resting on his laurels since filming finished.

He’s hard at work on a four-part series, walking the length of the River Thames from its source to the sea.

Before that he undertook a mini theatre tour then headed off to Egypt for a two-part series on mummies.

“We’re going to open them up so, unless tomb raiders have got there before us, that could be really interesting,” he adds.

“I like the variety of things I get to do.

“I’ve always had a bit of a butterfly-like mind, moving from one thing to another.”

Britain’s Great Cathedrals, With Tony Robinson, Channel 5 Friday, 8pm.