LIVING ROOM ON PAVEMENT/ POETS/ A CHOICE OF VIEWING

 

The front of a cinema. A working-class lounge is arranged on the pavement. There are no walls, just the furnishings: settee, two armchairs, sideboard, table, standard lamp, a tiled fireplace with ornaments on it. There is also a free-standing inside door. Mr. and Mrs. Potter come out of the cinema and go straight to their chairs and sit down. Passers-by have to skirt the living-room furniture.

 

Mrs. Potter: (G.C.) (settling into her chair) Oh, it's nice to be home.

 

Mr. Potter: (M.P.) (looking round) Builders haven't been then.

 

Mrs. Potter: No.

 

A trendy interviewer with hand mike comes into shot.

 

Interviewer: (E.I.) These two old people are typical of the housing problem facing Britain's aged.

 

Mrs. Potter: Here! Don't you start doing a documentary on us, young man.

 

Interviewer: Oh please ...

 

Mrs. Potter: No, you leave us alone!

 

Interviewer: Oh, just a little one about the appalling conditions under which you live.

 

Mrs. Potter: No! Get out of our house! Go on!

 

Interviewer turns, motions to his cameraman and soundman and they all trail off miserably.

 

Mrs. Potter: Why don't you do a documentary about the drug problem round in Walton Street?

 

Cut to the camera crew. They brighten up and dash off.

 

Mrs. Potter: Oh, I'll go and have a bath.

 

She goes to the free-standing door and opens it. Beyond it we see the furnishings of a bathroom. In the bath is Alfred Lord Tennyson, fully clad. As she opens the door we hear him reciting:

 

Tennyson: (T.J.) The splendour fans on castle walls

And snowy summits old in story...

 

She slams the door.

 

Mrs. Potter: 'Ere, there's Alfred Lord Tennyson in the bathroom.

 

Mr. Potter: Well, at least the poet's been installed, then.

 

Cut to an officious-looking man in Gas Board type uniform and peaked cap. 

Caption: 'SALES MANAGER EAST MIDLANDS POET BOARD'

 

Sales Manager: (J.C.) Yes, a poet is essential for complete home comfort, and all-year round reliability at low cost. We in the East Midlands Poet Board hope to have a poet in every home by the end of next year.

 

Animation: an advertisement.

 

Voices: (singing) Poets are both clean and warm

And most are far above the norm

Whether here, or on the roam

Have a poet in every home.

 

Cut to middle-class hall. The front doorbell rings. Housewife opens door to Gas Board type inspector with bicycle clips, rubber mac and cap and notebook. In the background we can hear muffled Wordsworth.

 

Voice: I wandered lonely as a cloud

That floats on high...

 

Inspector: (M.P.) Morning, madam, I've come to read your poet.

 

She: (T.J.) Oh yes, he's in the cupboard under the stairs.

 

Inspector: What is it, a Swinburne? Shelley?

 

She: No, it's a Wordsworth.

 

Inspector: Oh, bloody daffodils.

 

He opens the door of the cupboard under the stairs. Inside is Wordsworth crouching and reciting.

 

Wordsworth: (E.I.) A host of golden daffodils

Beside the lake, beneath the trees

Fluttering and dancing in the breeze

 

All this while the inspector is shining his torch over him and noting things on his clip board.

 

Wordsworth: Continuous as the stars that shine

And twinkle in the Milky Way

They stretch in...

 

The inspector shuts the door in the middle of this and we hear Wordsworth reading on, though muffled, throughout the remainder of the sketch.

 

Inspector: Right. Thank you, madam.

 

He makes as if to go, but she seems anxious to detain him and bars his way.

 

She: Oh, not at all. Thank you... It's a nice day, isn't it?

 

Inspector: Yes, yes, the weather situation is generally favourable. There's a ridge of high pressure centred over Ireland which is moving steadily eastward bringing cloudy weather to parts of the West Country, Wales and areas west of the Pennines. On tomorrow's chart ... (he reaches up and pulls down a big weather chart from the wall) the picture is much the same. With this occluded front bringing drier, warmer weather. Temperatures about average for the time of year. That's three degrees centigrade, forty-four degrees Fahrenheit, so don't forget to wrap up well. That's all from me. Goodnight.

 

Cut to BBC world symbol. 

 

Continuity Voice: (E.I.) Now on BBC television a choice of viewing. On BBC 2 - a discussion on censorship between Derek Hart, The Bishop of Woolwich and a nude man. And on BBC 1 - me telling you this. And now...

 

Sound of TV set bring switched off. The picture reduces to a spot and we pull out to see that it was actually on a TV set which has just been switched off by the housewife. She and the gas man are now sitting in her living room. He is perched awkwardly on the edge of the sofa. He holds a cup of tea with a cherry on a stick in it.

 

She: We don't want that, do we. Do you really want that cherry in your tea? Do you like doing this job?

 

Inspector: Well, it's a living, isn't it?

 

She: I mean, don't you get bored reading people's poets all day?

 

Inspector: Well, you know, sometimes ... yeah. Anyway, I think I'd better be going.

 

As he gets up she comes quickly to his side.

 

She: (seductively) You've got a nice torch, haven't you?

 

Inspector: (looking at it rather baffled) Er, yeah, yeah, it er... it er ... it goes on and off.

 

He demonstrates.

 

She: (drawing closer becoming breathy) How many volts is it?

 

Inspector: Er ... um... well, I'll have a look at the batteries. (he starts unscrewing the end)

 

She: Oh yes, yes.

 

Inspector: It's four and a half volts.

 

She: (rubbing up against him) Mmmm. That's wonderful. Do you want another look at the poet?

 

Inspector: No, no, I must be off, really.

 

She: I've got Thomas Hardy in the bedroom. I'd like you to look at him.

 

Inspector: Ah well, I can't touch him. He's a novelist.

 

She: Oh, he keeps mumbling all night.

 

Inspector: Oh well, novelists do, you see.

 

She: (dragging him on to the sofa) Oh forget him! What's your name, deary?

 

Inspector: Harness.

 

She: No, no! Your first name, silly!

 

Inspector: Wombat.

 

She: Oh, Wombat. Wombat Harness! Take me to the place where eternity knows no bounds, where the garden of love encloses us round. Oh Harness!

 

Inspector: All right, I'll have a quick look at yer Thomas Hardy.

 

Cut to studio discussion.

 

Caption: 'DEREK HART'

 

Derek: (J.C.) Nude man, what did you make of that?

 

Nude Man: (G.C.) Well, don't you see, that was exactly the kind of explicit sexual reference I'm objecting to. It's titillation for the sake of it. A deliberate attempt at cheap sensationalism. I don't care what the so-called avant-garde, left-wing, intellectual namby-pambies say... It is filth!

 

Derek: Bishop.

 

Cut to crook hitting desk in Devious's office. 

 

Bishop: Okay, don't anybody move!

 

Titles for 'The Bishop' start and then stop abruptly.

 

Caption: 'AN APOLOGY'

 

Voice Over: The BBC would like to apologize for the constant repetition in this show.

 

Different caption: 'AN APOLOGY'

 

Voice Over: The BBC would like to apologize for the constant repetition in this show.

 

Animation: the 'five frog curse'.

 

 

Back to Season 2 index