The Black Adder s01e03 - The Archbishop.
In the epilogue, Sister Sara asked the Mother Superior,

So presumably you won't be needing the unicorn tonight?

followed by a laughing track. Is she talking about the mythical creature or the carriage and what does the context mean accordingly?

Brief synopsis of the story:

The series is a sitcom set in medieval England. Prince Edmund (Black Adder) is made Archbishop of Canterbury after the previous Archbishop is murdered by his father (the King). Almost immediately, some drunken Knights come to murder him too because of a misunderstanding of an overheard conversation.

Black Adder and his companions escape into the nunnery and dress up as nuns to evade them. The knights follow them into the nunnery and also dress up as nuns to be more subtle. The two groups encounter each other and fight. They are soon disturbed and stopped by the Mother Superior who discovers their identities.

Black Adder tells the Mother Superior it was all a sordid sexual role-play and gets excommunicated so that he never has to be the archbishop again (and thus won't get murdered - at least not for that reason). The epilogue is the Mother Superior talking to Sister Sara. It is as follows:

Mother Superior: Alas the corruption of the world
Sister Sara: Yes alas Mother Superior
Mother Superior: I am tired and weiry. You may leave me now.
Sister Sara: Very well
[turns to leave]
Mother Superior: Alas
Sister Sara: So presumably you won't be needing the unicorn tonight?
Mother Superior: No... No not tonight

  • 1
    Some information about the characters, who they are etc. would be helpful. But here's my guess: a Sister is another name for nun, and nuns are supposed to be "pure" in thought and deed, but they are still women who have... certain physical needs. I'm guessing that is the reason for the canned laughter.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Commented Jun 22, 2015 at 18:32
  • 1
    The Mother Superior had just removed Black Adder from his position as Archbishop of Canterbury for deviancy (much to his relief). She had just said "Alas, the corruption of the world. I am tired and weary. You may leave me now" and replied "No. No not tonight". I think I always heard it as "uniform", which makes more sense in the context of the final scene but it is either unicorn (or possibly eunuch horn)
    – Avon
    Commented Jun 22, 2015 at 18:48
  • Eunuchs dont have "horns", do they ?
    – Jimmy
    Commented Jun 22, 2015 at 18:59
  • Not normally :D I just give it as a remoter possibility as it sounds like unicorn. (there is definitely the U, N', K and OR(N) sounds and no others)
    – Avon
    Commented Jun 22, 2015 at 19:02
  • 1
    @Mari-Lou - I think "unicorn" is a delicate way of referring to the ol "shower wand", which just keeps showing up in various guises.
    – user98990
    Commented Jun 22, 2015 at 23:30

3 Answers 3


Wikipedia delicately says of the unicorn reference that its "true nature ... is not revealed." Imdb warns parents that it's a reference to a vibrator. Given the date the episode claims to portray, November 1487, they probably mean a dildo

  • Yeah, I'd guess a dildo.
    – Hot Licks
    Commented Jun 22, 2015 at 19:50

Having watched the episode carefully for any 'in' jokes and finding none referring to a unicorn, I think it must have meant to mean a dildo.

It doesn't really work as that (as a joke in my opinion) and I think the line was probably changed from an original more graphic 'item' to appease the censors.


I'll go with the dildo explanation, but it may help to keep in mind traditional European beliefs about the unicorn. For much of medieval Europe, the iconic story was that of the Physiologus, in which a unicorn is uncatchable by ordinary means. Instead, if it is presented with a virgin maiden, "As soon as the unicorn sees her, it lays its head on her lap". While the original story is entirely innocent, I hope I don't have to explain how those with dirty minds might interpret it. Hence the nickname.

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