The format of the Blackadder series was changed substantially after the BBC was displeased with the first series, The Black Adder (1982). The new BBC One Controller Michael Grade agreed to make another series if it was made as a standard studio sitcom with an audience, the characters' roles were redefined and the budget was substantially trimmed.
Ben Elton proposed that Baldrick, who was the most intelligent of the main cast of the first The Black Adder (1982), become "the stupidest person in the history of human beings" to act as a foil to the now-smarter Blackadder.
The only location shooting for this season was the courting scene in Black-Adder II: Bells (1986) and the closing credit scenes; these scenes were shot over a couple of consecutive days in the gardens of Wilton House, Wiltshire. The rest of the season was shot on the filming stage, using a couple of standard sets (Blackadder's house and the Queen's court) and a couple of sets that would be built for each episode.
The borderline claustrophobic feeling set design in Blackadder II is a result, in part, of bringing the Production Design budget back to within the standard BBC limits after the extravagant first series. Its possibly there was over-compensating on series 2, as series 1 The Black Adder (1982) was so expensive. Considering each time period series was planned for a six episode run, new set builds were kept to a minimum. Compare that to a long-running series like 'Allo 'Allo! (1982) where the same few period sets would have been re-used for the entire long run, resulting in long-term set-build cost reductions.
Although Black-Adder II: Bells (1986) was shot second, it was considered a stronger opening than the original first episode, Black-Adder II: Head (1986). While it was common to shift episodes around between production and airing since most sitcoms of the era lacked any episode-to-episode interplay, it did introduce a small continuity error by doing so. Lord Percy shaves off his beard in Bells, but it reappears in Head before disappearing again for the rest of the series.