Tuesday, 31 December 2013

Chock-a-Block

Genre: Childrens
Channel: BBC1
Transmission: 21/05/1981 - 13/08/1981



Computers were a source of complete and utter wonder to us as young children. They promised great, exciting things such as blocky graphics, bleeping soundcards and BASIC programming.

It doesn't sound much now, but it was a real escape from the tedium of life in the mid 80s. Our early memories of computers involve being in Dixons and setting off alarms as we flapped out tiny hands at the machines.

A much less frantic time with computers was spent lazing out on the sofa watching Chock-a-Block.


The series concerns itself with the less than sentient supercomputer, Chock-a-Block. Operating the machine are Chockabloke (Fred Harris) and Chockagirl (Carol Leader).

Each episode sees one of these Chockafolk arriving by way of their electric Chockatruck. Greeting the audience, they grab a 'block' which they awkwardly force into Chock-a-Block.

A small screen whirrs into life and displays a series of computer generated pictures - we're talking 8-bit not Pixar - which the Chockaperson has to identify. If they guess correctly, then a positive chime sounds! Guess incorrectly and they receive a rather flatulent response!

A rhyming theme runs through all the pictures e.g. crow, snow, toe and this leads to a song involving one of the pictures. The chockaperson then moves over to the Rockablock where they try and match up two pictures with similar rhyming sounds.

Finally, the chockaperson announces it's time for a song which results in a short animation commencing. Job done, the Chockaperson bids goodbye and jumps on their Chockatruck to, no doubt, get down the Chockapub.


Chock-a-Block was a thirteen part series which first aired in 1981 as part of the newly titled See-Saw slot on BBC1.

The series was created by children's TV supremo, Michael Cole who was also behind Fingerbobs, Bod, Pigeon Street, Bric-a-Brac and Gran. Writing the series alongside Cole was Nick Wilson who also directed the show. The marvelously modulated theme tune which SOUNDED LIKE A COMPUTER WAS TALKING!!! was composed by Peter Gosling.

Chock-a-Block was repeated fairly regularly up until 1989 where, we suspect, it began to look rather dated.


Chock-a-Block, unfortunately, seems to have been a late victim of BBC junking. Episodes were still being shown in 1989, so the wiping of these videotapes is distressingly late.

Kaleidoscope list 8 missing episode in their Lost Shows database, so that's over HALF the series. Out of the missing shows, a number of these have surfaced on YouTube and various torrent sites.

A poster on the Missing Episodes forum has noted that although the BBC have 'lost' the original 1" videotapes for a number of episodes, they do hold off air copies of all episodes[1]. This leaves us with a slim chance of there being a DVD remastered boxset one day complete with free block toy. Or perhaps not...


Curious British Telly's favourite part of the show is the electronictastic theme tune. It's a chirpy explosion of electronic drums, synths and 'computerised' speech which promises the future.

Most children of the early 80s probably weren't aware of the building synthpop movement, so Chock-a-Block no doubt acted as their introduction to electronic music.


Carol Leader and Fred Harris are both cheery, likable presenters forged in the primordial soup of children's television. Their roles in Chock-a-Block aren't complex, so all they're required to portray is a beaming smile and a slightly curious nature. Not testing, then, but they both give warm performances.

Mary Penley-Edwards has done a great job of designing Chockablock. It's a great, big colourful machine covered in flashing lights and movements. The reel-to-reel based face helps gives the machine a smidgeon of humanity and something to relate to. Perfect for arresting a child's errant attention. Kids today, of course, would scoff at its lack of HDMI sockets, but back in the 80s it felt like a thing of wonder.


The rhyming theme gives the show an educational feel and the picture sections allow the kiddywinks at home to interact. The pictures are ridiculously easy to guess and we found ourselves shouting "IT'S A HAT FOR CHRIST'S SAKE!" at the screen. We doubt even kids would struggle with this.

The rapport between the presenter and Chock-a-Block is rather limited. This leaves the presenter rather isolated and having to keep up spirits with a stream of consciousness. If the machine had been given more of a personality then it would have been a snappier affair.

The rockablock section is interminably dull and fails to advance the rhyming theme. Being a manually controlled affair, rockablock seems rather out of place with the computerised leanings of the show. Seemingly, it's been bolted on to fill up the running time.

We were more keen on the songs and animated sections of Chock-a-Block. The songs are dreamy little pieces which seem to have drifted in from a different age. These fuzzy little bursts of nostalgia make children's tv such emotional affairs and send our amygdala into overdrive.

Disturbingly, though, one song features a puppet cat which appears to have a cleft lip. It's the thing of nightmares and we're having trouble erasing it from our memory. Hopefully, the little horror was burnt to a cinder so it could do no more harm. Its possible, though, that it rose, phoenix like, from the ashes to become Scragtag.


Rewatching Chock-a-Block brought back some nice memories for Curious British Telly. There's a good show bursting to get out, but it doesn't quite happen on this occasion. Despite having some nice interactivity and animated sections, the rest of the show feels static and it fails to fully charm. However, we would still watch other episodes if they become available and certainly don't think the show was worth junking.

INTERVIEW

Carol Leader was gracious enough to spare some time to answer a few questions about the show.

CBT: You started appearing on our screens during the late 70s, notably with Play School, but how exactly did you get into the acting game?

Carol: I had acted in drama groups since being a teenager and continued when I went to University. After uni, I did a graduate one-year course at Bretton College in teaching drama. There I helped to form and became a founder member of a theatre company called Perspectives that became a professional group where I finished the course. The company is still going today under the name of New Perspectives. They are based in Nottinghamshire and recently celebrated their 40 year birthday.

It’s been over 30 years since Chock-a-Block first aired, but what can you recall about getting involved with the show?

I was doing Play School at the time and also doing a lot of acting parts in theatre and for TV. The producer asked me if I would like to take the female presenter part in a new series he was devising to get young children interested in simple computers. (How times have changed!)

Do you have any particular memories from recording Chock-a-Block that stand out?

Mostly crashing the car and having to go for re-takes. Also working with the directors and learning to relate to Chock-A- Block as another character.

Unfortunately, the BBC appear to have wiped a number of the original videotapes for Chock-a-Block. Were you aware of this and what are your feelings towards the loss? 

It’s a great shame that this was all before the digital age. Nowadays it would have been much easier to save things. Many important BBC drama productions and programmes have ended in the same way. It’s a shame they have not been archived.

You left the acting world to pursue a career in psychotherapy, but what prompted this change? And how do the two professions compare?

In some surface ways they are very different: one is very visible and the other has very strict boundaries of privacy – but at the heart of both is I feel an interest in the human psyche – what makes us all tick – especially in drama. But also Play School and Chockablock were made with strong developmental considerations that link in well with our understanding of what children need to develop – and that drama, narrative and story telling are strong features of this.  Many actors – as well as others- find themselves in therapy, as I did and then found my interest moving to a more specific exploration of the inner world and how having an inner emotional world that is very different from the external world impacts on human beings in helpful and unhelpful ways.

Thanks a lot for your time and insightful answers, Carol.

Saturday, 28 December 2013

In Bed with Medinner

Genre: Comedy
Channel: ITV
Transmission: 1992 - 1999



ITV hit a real winner with Harry Hill's TV Burp throughout the early part of the 21st century. Running for 11 years, it clocked up 166 episodes, numerous awards and guaranteed ratings. Cleverly, the producers also decided that it should contain a constant barrage of laughs. However, ITV had been running for 46 years when TV Burp first aired, so why did it take them so long to come up with the concept? After all, pairing a presenter with TV footage to commentate on isn't going to break the bank. What's that you cry? It actually only took them 37 years to come up with the idea? Well, lets take a look at the curious 90s beast that is In Bed with Medinner.

In Bed with Medinner stars Bob Mills as the sarcastic everyman chatting to the audience from the comfort of his flat. It's not his flat of course, it's in a studio. Furthermore, the studio set isn't even based on his flat. Initially it's a mock up of  Number 6's flat from The Prisoner and, later on, John Steed's flat from The Avengers. Nonetheless, Mills is there and the show starts with him rummaging about and finding various objects to tell a story. Series 2 also has a featured band each week such as Gary Numan or The Buzzcocks. Eventually, Mills grabs hold of a videotape featuring ITV archive footage and provides commentary to it.


London Weekend Television produced the series which ran for four series between 1992 - 1999. The first series comprised two 30 minute episodes which aired in November 1992. The remaining three series were transmitted in 1994, 1997 and 1998/99. The final series was renamed Still in Bed with Medinner. All episodes were 30 minutes long apart from series two which featured 60 minute episodes. A VHS release entitled 'Wot a Palaver' was released in 1994 and featured excerpts from series 1 and 2. Bob Mills also hosted a vague relation to the show for Comic Relief 1995. Episodes went out very late at night, usually after midnight.

Curious British Telly, as precious youths, were always intrigued by In Bed with Medinner. The title contained the word 'bed', an allusion to Madonna and was on very late at night. Rumours soon began to circulate, in the playground, that it was a show featuring non-stop, hardcore pornography. We were all too late to stay up and watch it, so it retained an air of mystery. At some point in the late 90s, the Paramount Channel began showing repeats of the earlier series. It was still on late, but we were that bit older and could stay up now. It became clear, early on, that there was to be no hardcore pornography. We nearly turned off instantly, but persisted and watched a few episodes. We recall enjoying it, but can't remember much apart from it featuring Bob Mills doing his Bob Mills thing.


Due to 60 episodes being transmitted, a number of these were recorded off air by late night telly aficionados. Many of these have found their way onto the internet. The majority of them are hosted at www.medinner.co.uk, but sadly we have not been able to get any of these to play. There are, however, several episodes and the 'Wot a Palaver' compilation to be found on YouTube. Setting up camp in our bed with nothing but an internet connection and eager eyes, we reacquainted ourselves with a couple of episodes.

The two different intros - parodying either The Prisoner or The Avengers - are nice little nuggets of pop culture knowingly spoofed by Mills. The sets too are dedicated nods to the past of British TV and indicate a decent budget for the series. However, after a while, you begin to realise that the intros and the sets bear very little relation to the show's core concept. The disjointed air starts here and pervades throughout unfortunately.

For now, though, we'll take a quick look at the man hosting the whole shebang, it's Bob Mills. He brings a laid back, everyman approach to the show with a healthy dose of sarcasm. One sketch sees him chatting to a woman who is complaining that her mother has "All damp in her passage.". It captures Mill's persona perfectly. This teasing sarcasm is put to good effect when he's viewing the archived footage and can bang out the tongue in cheek barbs. These sections are easily the best and we wish more had been made of this.

Our main problem with In Bed with Medinner is that it feels rather jumbled. Large sections of the show are given over to Mills wandering round his flat examining random objects. Mills always has a story to tell about them, but most of the time they're painfully contrived gags. We suspect they're being told with a knowing wink (at least, we hope they are), but they add little and feel like filler. Some lead on to brief little sketches, but again, these feel rather redundant and hold up the archived footage sections. The inclusion of live bands in series 2 highlights how the production team really didn't know what type of show they wanted to make - was it chat show, clip show or variety show? We had difficulty clarifying what it is and just settled at 'comedy'.

In Bed with Medinner is... ok. It's not brilliant, but neither does it give us a stitch. The show dithers a bit and this leads to the viewer's brain entering sluggish territory. The production team should have done more to sharpen the focus of the show - they had four series to do this, but it barely evolved. Reviewing TV footage would be perfected by TV Burp a few years later and it outclassed In Bed with Medinner in every way. It's not a show that's without charm and it does contain a few gems, such as the Northern boxer turned actor stalking car showrooms in search of a sponsored car. We would recommend watching it, but be prepared to hover your finger above the fast forward button.

Wednesday, 18 December 2013

The House of Windsor

Genre: Sitcom
Channel: ITV
Transmission: 15/05/1994 - 26/06/1994


Here at Curious British Telly we've encountered a  fair bit of scandal over the years. Only last week we were caught eating a grape in Tesco without paying for it. Luckily, our fame doesn't spread too far, so the news barely made the tabloids. What if we were more famous though? And we're not talking Brian Cant famous, we're talking 'head on a 10p piece' famous. We've all cupped our ears towards a royal scandal, but what about the people trying to suppress this attention? To meet them, take your shoes off and enter The House of Windsor.


The Royal Family's affairs are managed by the steady hands of Lord Montague Bermondsey (Leslie Phillips) and Sir Nicholas Foulsham (Neil Stacy). They head up a loyal team at Buckingham Palace who fawn to their wealthy employers and maintain damage limitation to their good name. Prince Charles, however, is rather fed up with the pasting his family keeps receiving from the tabloids. Taking matters into his own hands, he employs Max Kelvin (Warren Clarke) aka "the spitting cobra of Fleet Street" to protect, and therefore improve, the Royal Family's image.


The House of Windsor was a Granada production which aired in 1994 and was six episodes long. To give the show a topical edge, episodes were recorded 48 hours before transmission. The series was directed by Graeme Harper who has also directed episodes for shows such as Doctor Who, EastEnders and Grange Hill to name but a few. Episodes were written by a number of different writers, the most famous being a young Russell T Davies. The series has never received a commercial release.

Curious British Telly can't remember the show airing at all. Back in 1994 we were probably more concerned with the upcoming World Cup and our school trip to France. Fast forward 19 years and we were still none the wiser about the show. Then, fortuitously, we received a DVD housing several rare ITV sitcoms. The House of Windsor was one of them, so we put on our ermine robe (Monster Munch t-shirt) and sat down upon our throne (bed) to give it the once over.


The House of Windsor is packed full of sublime performances. Leslie Phillips brings his usual suave charm to the role of Lord Montague and Neil Stacy has an impressively stiff upper lip on show too. Warren Clarke's gregarious, wideboy charm is the perfect contrast to the two toffs and creates a healthy level of conflict. Sean Gallagher who plays Ray Barker (part of the lowly house staff) injects the character with a level of 'jack the lad' brio last seen in a 70s sitcom. It was his first recurring role and he's been working steadily ever since. The rest of the cast give admirable performances including one of the final hurrahs for Preston Lockwood.

Taking aim directly at the Royal Family through a sitcom would be a risky prospect. There's enough royalists out there to destroy ITV with bricks if offended. Therefore, choosing to look at the people around them allows more subtle digs. Recording the show 48 hours before transmission gives the writers more license to be biting - an approach which helped give Drop the Dead Donkey a real edge. Had The House of Windsor been recorded during the Royal's 'annus horribilis' of 1992, it would have really given the beast teeth. Sadly (for us, not them), 1994 was a rather quiet year for the Royal Family. We can't blame the writers for this, though, it's just the luck of the draw.


We guffawed a few times throughout the episode as there's some decent, if not sparkling, writing on show. Some of the jokes do sink into predictable territory, though, which is disappointing - Prince Edward is frequently ribbed for his 'ambiguous' sexuality, The Queen Mum likes a drink and Prince Charles is planning secret liasons with Camilla. Even in 1994 these jokes were scraping the barrel, so today they seem very amateurish indeed. There's enough decent jokes present, though, to keep us entertained rather than groanin.

Despite the ensemble cast all being very talented, there's just too many of them. Lord Montague and Sir Nicholas are essentially the same character. They're both acting as a foil to Max Kelvin, so one of them could easily have been disposed of. The same could be said of Caroline Finch (Serena Gordon) and Giles Huntingdon (Jeremy Sinden) who are both delegated various tasks by Lord Montague and Sir Nicholas. A bit of streamlining to the cast could have led to sharper, more direct episodes.


Overall, we found The House of Windsor to be a decent enough sitcom. It's not spectacular, it's not depressingly bad. Our main issue with it is that it never fulfils its main aim of skewering the Royal Family and their staff. Yes, Minister, of course, wrote the rulebook on how to satirise the Establishment, but here it's sadly lacking. The humour on show isn't too bad and, thanks to the great performances, we would be interested in viewing more episodes. If anyone can help, then get in touch!

Saturday, 14 December 2013

Elidor

Genre: Childrens
Channel: BBC1
Transmission: 04/01/1995 - 08/02/1995



Many moons ago, we were in the grounds of our local church collecting conkers from their Horse Chestnut trees. One of our friends suddenly called for silence and we stopped throwing sticks up at the branches. There was the faint sound of music coming from the church. Eerily, this was not during Sunday Mass and the church doors were firmly shut. The music soon stopped and we returned to the more pressing task of stockpiling conkers. Perhaps we were imagining things. Perhaps there was a perfectly reasonable explanation. Or maybe, a world in distress was calling to us as in Elidor.


Whilst their parents prepare for their upcoming move, Roland (Damian Zuk), Helen (Suzanne Crowshaw), David (Alexander Trippier) and Nick (Gavin J Morris) take a trip into Manchester. After visiting a mysterious video games store, they wander through some desolate streets and discover an abandoned church. All the while, Roland has been catching glimpses of a mysterious monk. Venturing into the church, to retrieve a lost football, Roland's siblings disappear into thin air. Whilst searching for them, Roland comes face to face with Malebron (Stevan Rimkus) - exiled king of Elidor masquerading as a violin playing monk. Taking him back to the monochrome landscapes of Elidor, Malebron reunites the children. He tasks them with fulfilling a prophecy that they will bring light to Elidor. This involves them protecting the treasures of Elidor from the evil forces trying to extinguish Elidor. These evil forces are represented by the curiously named couple Lead Warrior (Renny Krupinski) and Sniffer (Abi Eniola). Malebron sends the children back to their own land, but the evil forces are intent on retrieving the treasures and give chase.


Elidor was a 6 episode series produced by Screen First for BBC1 and made up part of the 1995 Winter schedule for CBBC. The series was based upon the 1965 novel 'Elidor' written by Alan Garner and was adapted for TV by Don Webb and directed by John Reardon. Composing the orchestral soundtrack was perennial Curious British Telly favourite, Ilona Sekacz. This was not the first adaptation of Elidor for the small screen as Jackanory was first to have a stab in 1968, but was purely a narrative affair. The possibility of filming the series had been proposed previously, but apparently the limits of special effects put paid to this until the 90s. Elidor is fairly unique - for it's time - in it's use of CGI mixed in with the live action, although it is used sparingly.


We vaguely recall Elidor from our youth, but truth be told, we kept getting it mixed up with Earthfasts. No footage of Elidor was available online, so we had resigned ourselves to the fact that we were going to have to shell out a tenner - yes, a WHOLE ten pounds - on a black market DVD of the series. Luckily, the whole series has recently been uploaded to YouTube which meant we could afford that haircut we were in dire need of.


Elidor starts off promisingly with the typical mystery and intrigue that children's telefantasy throws up. It's an oft used idea to have children charged with saving some otherworldly kingdom, but frankly you've got to get the kids involved, so we'll ignore that. The early scene's with Malebron hint that there will be a mammoth struggle in saving the day, so we began to get excited. Before we knew it, we were meeting the enigmatic owner of the creepy video games store. Our heart began to soar at this point. We were in for a treat. And that was before we realised the mysterious mask outside the store had a passing resemblance to Sutekh in Pyramids of Mars.


Then we meet Lead Warrior and Sniffer and the wheels begin to come off. Disappointingly, they  barely say a word throughout the entire series. Most of their dialogue involves snarls and, predictably, sniffing. There's very little background on them or the forces destroying Elidor and the scenes set there are vague. The pacing of the plot is very frustrating too. The children get back to Earth and there's a couple of episodes where virtually nothing happens. There were moments where it looked as though Lead Warrior and Sniffer were about to break through from Elidor, but then they bugger off back there. We actually fell asleep during episode four as it was dragging so much, so we were rather irritated at having to go back and rewatch it. Action wise, things finally begin to pick up in episode six, but it's too late by then. Six episodes was definitely too long for the series. Earthfast, which had gone out in the same slot a year previously, settled at five episodes and this would have suited Elidor much better.


Another issue that bugged was the amount of plot beats which are never resolved or explained. The video games shop feels like a plot strand which was cut very early on - the kids go in and buy a game before the owner waffles some nonsense at them. He never reappears and his words have no resonance throughout the series. The lady who instructs Malebron to search out the children is never explained and promptly disappears. Talking of Malebron, why and how does he manage to drown himself in the sea before being resurrected? It just boggles the mind what the producer and script editors were drinking. Judging by the haphazard storyline, we reckon it was pints of Creosote. Finally, Findhorn the unicorn must be killed by Roland at the end, but why? So it can sing it's dying song? That's a pretty cruel way to insist a kingdom is restored if you ask us.

The acting is of the typically poor standard on show in most British children's programming. Out of the kids, Damian Zuk is the only one who stands out, but even he only managed a few more years in the acting world. He never managed to make his way to Coronation Street where we feel he could have played a good meaning paperboy at The Kabin. To be fair on the kids, apart from Roland, the quality of the dialogue they're given is abysmal, so we doubt anyone could squeeze much out of it. Stevan Rimkus isn't too bad and perhaps our favourite performance of the series along with David Beckett as Frank Watson the father. Overall, though, the acting falls short. The casting director was Nic Horsey who appears to have had a fairly short career in this role and we thank the Lord he moved on to pastures new. There are, however, two notable debut performances in Elidor. Ralf Little pops up as a morris dancer's son and Suzanne Crowshaw went on to become Suzanne Shaw in Popstars disaster Hear'Say.


As ever, there are some aspects of Elidor we liked. There's a scene in episode 3 where all the household appliances come alive and everything goes a bit Poltergeist. Sadly, this chilling moment is rather deflated by the parent's suggesting everyone just go to bed. The music, as touched upon already, is magnificent stuff and Ilona Sekacz has, again, come up with a cracking soundtrack which encapsulates the mourning, tension and horror that the script fails to convey. Finally, we rather enjoyed all the dating references sprinkled throughout the show. Sonic the Hedgehog, Mortal Kombat, Our Price, Half Man Half Biscuit and "Oooh Ahhh! Cantona!" all get mentions and reminded us of a simpler time. There's even time for a quick bit of TV footage of one of our favourite footballers, Andrei Kanchelskis.

As I'm sure you can tell, Curious British Telly was not impressed with Elidor. There's potential for a great adaptation, but sadly the BBC have fallen flat on their face with this attempt. A couple of nice set pieces mingle with some nice production, but the pacing of the plot is its downfall. This coupled with the endless questions being raised results in nothing but a yawnfest. It's worth a watch if you remember it from your youth, but you'd be better off recapturing those days with a game of conkers.

Tuesday, 10 December 2013

Get Stuffed

Genre: Cookery
Channel: ITV
Transmission: 1991 - 94



It's a common complaint that there's too many cookery programmes on television these days. As we watch nothing but archived television 24/7, we're not too bothered about contemporary TV schedule monotony. Also, we love cooking so ain't never complain of new and mouthwatering ways to manipulate a humble rump steak. The people who do complain are the same people who make tuna pasta bake with crisps crumbled on top i.e. culinary peasants. Perhaps a TV show is needed for these people. Perhaps their saviour lies way back in the early 90s with Get Stuffed.

Set the Table

Get Stuffed is as bonkers as a French chef who's hit the cooking sherry rather hard and tried to commandeer a set of traffic lights. But don't worry, this ain't exactly some exercise in avant-garde cookery, the central premise is ridiculously simple: students - aka 'them young people' - are given five minutes of fame to cook up a meal which not only tantalises the tastebuds, but also minimises the damage on their student load - which is obviously reserved for booze.

Episodes usually start with the manically cheerful students out on the street introducing their recipes with a level of enthusiasm that even children's TV presenters would struggle to match. Bounding off to the shops they bamboozle petrified shop owners who just wanna get them off their promises sharpish. Pogoing back to their grubby and potential E.coli holiday camp kitchens, they proceed to cook up a cheap, quick and so called 'tasty' meal.

The recipes are accompanied by ditties and interstitial cartoons relating to the cooking process. Occasionally, the Mystery Chefs appear with cooking tips, but make sure you have your ear plugs at the ready to deal with them and their insane screeching.

Recipe for Success

Get Stuffed originally started life as short segments on the now defunct Lifestyle Channel which was one of the early Astra satellite channels. Honing the idea, Last Ditch TV took the format to ITV who aired the series between 1991 - 94. The show usually aired in the graveyard slot, often after midnight.

Episodes were generally between 5 and 10 minutes long and this allowed the series to amass 284 episodes of culinary madness. There was at least one Christmas special which ran to 30 minutes and a recipe book published under the title 'Banquets for Bankrupts'. The series was off air for several years, but 108 of the episodes were repeated on ITV between 2001 - 2005.


There's very little details online about the people behind the show; quite who devised the show is a mysterious affair. Andy Murrow founded Last Ditch TV and also authored the 'Banquets for Bankrupts' book, but we can only speculate that it was his brainchild. Andy Barber presented and produced the show as well as providing the music, but at no point does he lay claim to coming up with the idea. It's something we're keen to discover and shall continue to investigate in the future.

Getting Stuck In

Curious British Telly was only aware of Get Stuffed thanks to our childhood love of American wrestling. We didn't have satellite television at home, so couldn't watch our beloved WWF wrestling. Instead, we had to settle for WCW wrestling which ITV would air in the graveyard slot on Saturday evenings. Our father would set the video to record the wrestling and, quite often, it would also capture an episode of Get Stuffed which preceded WCW.

We were always a bit bemused by the show as we weren't interested in cooking and we didn't really get what was going on. Sometimes we'd watch it, but at other times we'd fast forward through it to see who Sting was fighting that week. The memory, though, of anarchic energy and lo-fi production loitered in our memory and reminded us of a simpler time.

The only footage online of Get Stuffed is over at the official website (http://www.getstuffed.info), so we duly investigated the clips.


The opening titles feature an oven exploding which - apart from setting the tone for the show - triggered some long forgotten memory. We were taken back to early Sunday mornings in the 90s for a brief second. It's moments like this which remind us why we blog. The students featured in the show are high energy and a bit wacky. One recipe sees a couple of chaps wearing the headpieces from the board game 'Bizzy Buzzy Bumble Bees' for no particular reason. Yeah, they're irritating and sum up why the rest of the population despises students, but if you want straitlaced cookery programmes, seek out Delia, mate.

The DIY ethic is strong throughout and we imagine the show was made for next to nothing. In this time of economic hardship, we would have expected a return of shows like this to our screens. Sadly, production values seem high up on the list for television these days. The internet, thankfully, retains this lo-fi ethic as YouTube shows.

The actual recipes featured on Get Stuffed seem to be post-pub food, but do involve a lot of frying, so be careful kids. They're cheap and cheerful affairs, so perhaps they were of use to the type of people up late enough to watch. Personally, we'll be sticking to our beef wellington stuffed full of truffles.


Our favourite bit of the show is probably Andy Barber's songs. They're witty little thrashes reminiscent of an Oi! busker which act as a wonderful side dish to the show's anarchic edge. Students gurning and waving their arms about ain't exactly enough to engage viewers, but chuck in some three chord madness and it makes everything a bit more palatable.

Michelin Star?

Get Stuffed is indicative of the 90s obsession with lo-fi 'yoof tv' which included The Adam and Joe Show, Fist of Fun and also bears a passing resemblance to Vids and Bits. The episodes are frenzied affairs which have a ramshackle charm and, at such a short length, just avoid grating at your nerves. And, dare we say it, they're more fun than going back to early 90s WCW.

Saturday, 7 December 2013

The Mad Death

Genre: Drama
Channel: BBC1
Transmission: 16/07/1983 - 30/07/1983




Curious British Telly stumbled home the other night after several hours involving much curry and much alcohol. Fumbling about in the darkness of the kitchen, we saw our lovable West Highland Terrier asleep in her basket. Staggering over to her, we preceded to stroke, hug and make ridiculous noises at her before we bumbled off to bed. Luckily, she's a genial girl and took it all on her furry chin. Not all dogs are this accommodating, though, and we'll be taking a look at some of the more highly strung canines in The Mad Death.


Beloved sparring partners of the English, the French, kick start The Mad Death when Bibi (Marianne Lawrence) can't bear to be separated from her cat, so smuggles it into the UK. In her fur coat. They were simpler times of course, so we'd rather not think about where you'd have to conceal a cat these days. Anyway, unbeknownst to the sappy Bibi, her little siamese is infected with rabies after a scrap with a rabid fox. After being run over, the cat is promptly devoured by a fox who becomes infected with the virus. It's not til the Americans get involved, however, that things really start happening. Tom Siegler (Ed Bishop) foolishly takes the poorly fox home where he thinks he can keep it as a pet.


Whilst whipping up a gin and tonic, Siegler cuts his finger and provides the perfect entry point for some fox saliva. Tom is soon in hospital hallucinating and knocking glasses of water everywhere. Next thing you know, he's stone cold dead. The government get involved and call in veterinary genius Michael Hilliard (Richard Heffer) to contain the spread of the virus. At Hilliard's side is the rather beautiful Anne Maitland (Barbara Kellerman) who lives with her jealous partner Johnny Dalry (Richard Morant). The final element of series revolves around the troubled mental state of quintessential 'crazy old cat lady', Miss Stonecroft (Brenda Bruce).


The Mad Death was produced by BBC Scotland and adapted from the Nigel Slater book of the same name. The series consisted of three 55 minute episodes which were transmitted on BBC1 during July 1983. The keen eyes of director Robert Young were behind the camera whilst Sean Hignett adapted Nigel Slater's novel for the small screen. Numerous Scottish locations were utilised for the action, most notably the East Kilbride Shopping Centre - packed full of now defunct shops such as John Menzies and Saxone. Only two repeats of The Mad Death followed, one in 1985 on the BBC and the final one in 1994 on UK Gold. An edited VHS release was available at some point in the mid 80s, but is now very scarce and very expensive.


We can't remember where we first heard about The Mad Death, but comments such as "The Threads of the rabies world" and "the most bleak television show ever" caught our attention. We love depressing ourselves and vintage TV is fantastic for exploring that particular state of mind. The 70s/80s forever saw the British public being whipped up into a paranoid frenzy over nuclear war, disease and Neil Kinnock. The televisual depiction of these events never failed to pull any punches. They were bleak, gritty pieces and featured little comic relief - these days, production companies seem obliged to chuck in James Corden or David Walliams.

The Mad Death isn't the easiest thing to track down. As mentioned previously, the VHS is very difficult to get hold of and YouTube yields little more than a few clips. Luckily, delve deep enough and you'll find websites specialising in 'rare TV on DVD'. Curious British Telly paid several pounds to a shadowy figure and, a few days later, received our DVD.


Exploiting humanity's fear of disease coupled with their love of furry little animals provides themes difficult to ignore. It's a compelling plot and one that would have acted as an education on rabies for many. These days, you could head online and be reading all about rabies within minutes. However, The Mad Death aired in the pre-internet age, so there would have been little information available. That's not to say the serial bombards viewers with facts. The science side of things is, if anything, kept to a minimum. The British public's tender brains could have handled a few more facts and would have dealt them a respectful nod.


The vague 'love triangle' subplot is perhaps the weakest part of the serial. The romance between Hilliard and Maitland is fleetingly explored, but it's difficult to invest any care in it. When it does come to fruition, we were more interested in getting back to the rabies side of things. Dalry's jealousy of Hilliard seems to escalate quickly and his response seems a bit drastic. After using Hilliard for a spot of '"target practise", all bitterness between the pair evaporates as they go to rescue Maitland. There's no real closure to this particular thread and we found it disappointing.


One area of The Mad Death that has had a few critical voices raised is the middle class bias of the piece. All the heroes are middle class professionals whereas the working class - such as the family featured in the shopping centre - are labelled as bumbling idiots. We find it a difficult area to criticise as a rabies outbreak would be dealt with by doctors, vets and scientists rather than builders and electricians. We're not saying there isn't room for a chilling rabies table about a builder and electrician stranded on a remote building site with an infected beagle, but The Mad Death is not the place for this.


Miss Stonecroft's role has also come in for some criticism. The character is described as painful viewing and over the top. On the contrary, Curious British Telly thought her role in the serial captured the obsessive love that owners shower on their pets. A rabies outbreak would absolutely devastate a nation of pet owners and Miss Stonecroft highlights the emotional effect of this. The scenes set in her house have a creepy, claustrophobic feel which ratchet up the tension.

The acting on display is a mixed bag. Richard Heffer - one of our favourites from Survivors - is in great form as the man charged with sorting out the crisis. He's a charismatic actor with a swashbuckling look. You just know he's capable of changing a horseshoe, bowling a googly and downing a pint of ale. British through and through and perfect for the role. Barbara Kellerman had a long career in acting, but we found her vision of Anne Maitland unspectacular. It's not a completely wooden performance - the scenes in Miss Stonecroft's house are good value for money - but she fails to match Richard Heffer in the lead role. Richard Morant, too, never seems to really get beneath the skin of the suspicious Dalry. The character calls out for more caddishness, but he's played with too much of a stiff upper lip which stunts the character's emotive output.

Ed Bishop brings some American glamour to the table and his confident, chatty persona is a joyful contrast to the more reserved English acting on show. It's a shame he departs fairly early on, but we couldn't have an American saving Britain, now could we?! Another highlight is Brenda Bruce as Miss Stonecroft. You can see the vengeful madness in the whites of her eyes and it's a terrifying perfomance based on the edge of insanity. The rest of the supporting cast provide middling performances which fail to linger in the mind.


We feel that the bleakness of The Mad Death has been mythologised over the years. It's certainly no Threads, a show which leaves us feeling moribund. Nonetheless, there's some disturbing action in the serial which lays down some strong synapses in your emotional memory. The opening titles are particularly haunting featuring shots of animals disturbed by a rippling effect. This is partnered by a haunting rendition of 'All Things Bright and Beautiful' which sent chills down our spines.

The fox attack on Siegler is a tension filled affair which leaves the pulse racing. Many people criticise the fox puppet, but luckily the camera doesn't linger on it too long. Alarming hallucinations are one of the rabies symptoms and poor Siegler is left 'drowning' in his hospital bed at one point. It's a strong scene which reminds us of the fragile nature of our health. One scene, which is rather graphic, sees a farmer forced to shoot his beloved sheepdog. This is a particularly upsetting scene which emphasises the emotional cost in halting the virus. Finally, Miss Stonecroft takes The Mad Death into horror territory with her psychotic solution concerning Maitland. They're dark scenes which threaten to jeopardise the containment program.

Overall we enjoyed The Mad Death very much. It's got a dark and sometimes shocking plot which is driven by some powerful performances. The emotional impact of certain scenes is enough to ensure you won't forget the serial any time soon. Sure, there are some dud performances on show and it needs more emphasis on the love triangle, but these are minor quibbles. The full three episodes can be hard going at times due to the lack of action, but we've found that the edited VHS version keeps a brisker pace. The picture quality of available copies isn't horrific, but it could be better. Therefore, we feel The Mad Death is a real candidate for an official DVD release. Or, at the very least, a BBC4 showing. It's a serial that we will definitely revisit in the future and recommend you seek out a copy. In the mean time, don't worry about coming home stinking of Jack Daniels and Dhansak. It's unlikely you'll have a rabid dog waiting for you.

ARTICLES:

Radio Times

A rich French lady, soppy about her cat, smuggles it into Scotland when she's invited there for an extended holiday. But the cat had previously tangled with a fox. And the fox is the great European carrier of that dreaded disease, rabies. Such is the ominous situation of The Mad Death, loosely based by Sean Hignett on a novel by Nigel Slater. When Sean wrote the script he was aware of the need to provide entertainment in the form of a thriller and to inform the public, which takes disease less seriously than it should. In realising this story on film there is more than just a touch of Hitchcockian horror in the way cuddly domestic animals are transformed by the demon seed into beasts touched by evil but the film-makers have gone to great lengths to ensure accuracy and naturalism. Both medical and veterinary advisors were at hand throughout the filming and in the research stage of scripting the writer had the full co-operation of the Ministry of Agriculture. Naturally there are many scenes involving what appear to be diseased and berserk animals, all filmed under strict vetinary supervision and with all animals under the control of their owners at all times. Working on this project for several months had had a lasting effect on Sean Hignett. He avoids stray dogs like the plague.

Sunday, 24 November 2013

Heil Honey I’m Home!


Curiously, Britain is not the only place to have a hidden past of curious television shows. The US actually produced a sitcom entitled My Mother the Car about a man who buys a car haunted by his dead mother. Complete madness, but we wouldn't have said no to a 1970s British remake starring Brian Murphy and a Morris Minor.

The US, then, are more than competent at coming up with quirky television ideas. What happens, though, when the UK attempt to spoof the US sitcom genre? Just how crazy can they get? One way to find out is to delve into the early days of satellite television and look at Heil Honey I'm Home.

Genre: Sitcom
Channel: Galaxy
Transmission: 30/09/1990

Adolf Hitler (Neil McCaul) lives in Berlin with Eva Braun (Denica Fairman). They live next door to Arny Goldenstein (Gareth Marks) and his wife Rosa (Caroline Gruber). Denica Fairman was replaced by Maria Friedman in the unaired episodes.


The Goldensteins, of course, are Jewish. So, the basic concept of Heil Honey I'm Home is that the world's foremost anti-Semite lives next door to a couple of Jews. In a way, it's the very essence of conflict in comedy. To take this conflict and put in an absurd context, the whole show is played out as a spoof of 1950s US sitcoms. The pilot episode starts with a brief caption explaining that the tapes of the show have recently been discovered after being lost for many decades.

Who Was behind the Controversy?

Heil Honey I'm Home aired on the long defunct Galaxy channel in September 1990. Galaxy was part of the British Satellite Broadcasting (BSB) corporation which went on to merge with Sky Television. A few shows from Galaxy were transferred to the newly created Sky 1 channel, but Galaxy shut down on 2 December 1990.


Writing the show was Geoff Atkinson who had a slew of credits from writing for Rory Bremner, The Two Ronnies, Spitting Image and even Bobby Davro. Noel Gay Television were the production company and the pilot episode was filmed at Pinewood Studios. Later episodes were filmed at Bray Film studios in Windsor.


The show aired as part of the Galaxy Comedy Weekend and was preceded by an episode of Dad's Army. Perhaps Galaxy had the next big war sitcom on their hands. Maybe, 40 years in the future, episodes of Heil Honey I'm Home would still be going out in primetime slots and be one of the nation's crown jewels.

When, though, did Curious British Telly start writing about the rip roaring successes of British TV?

Quite what the backlash against Heil Honey I'm Home consisted of is unclear. BSB only had around 175,000 subscribers at the time of the show's transmission. It stands to reason that only a small percentage of the nation actually caught the show.

However, it's been shown time and time again, that to be offended by a television show, you don't actually have to watch it. Busybodies would surely have thought all their Christmases had come at once when they heard that A COMEDY ABOUT HITLER had aired.

Mary Whitehouse probably suffered a prolapse. Whatever happened, Sky declined taking the programme off Galaxy's hands and it remained a one episode wonder.


Further episodes had, however, been filmed during Autumn 1990 by Noel Gay Television. The existence of these recording sessions had been a matter of debate for many years. In 2006, though, a video entitled Gareth Marks Comedy Showreel appeared on YouTube. This featured around four minutes worth of footage from the unaired episodes. The video appears to have been uploaded by Gareth's PA/Agent who claims that several TV companies have tried obtain the rights to screen the episodes. No other footage has surfaced since, but Geoff Atkinson has recently informed us he still holds the tapes.

In late 2013, we were alerted to the fact that there was information and unused scripts for Heil Honey I'm Home on the website of Vera Productions (http://www.vera.co.uk/2011/01/1-peace-in-our-time). Over 20 episode synopses reside there along with several short scripts. There's a brief bit of history on the show as well, but it appears to have been written as though the whole series was written in the 1950s. It's a curious happening and does actually have some weight behind it.

The MD of Vera Productions is, of course, one Geoff Atkinson. We've since spoken to Geoff and he has confirmed these were indeed original scripts and ideas for the show.

Is It as Shockingly Bad as Everyone Says?

We first heard of the show many years ago on one of those Channel 4 10,000 Worst Television Moments shows. It seemed such a ludicrous concept for a show, but it intrigued us. We're fairly open minded at Curious British Telly and believe comedy should be brave and never shy away from taboo. Despite airing to a limited audience, home recordings of the show were made and reside on YouTube, so we headed there to take a look.


The first reaction is "Really?! What the hell is this?! REALLY?!". However, once you get off your high horse, you realise it's not that shocking. The conflict between Hitler and the Goldensteins is no different to the neighbour conflicts seen in US sitcoms. Perhaps if there had been jokes such as Hitler leaving the oven on to gas the Goldensteins then it could be labelled as bad taste. The plot doesn't fare much better being a corny, screwball affair involving Neville Chamberlain (Patrick Cargill) paying a visit.

It's all very well to imitate a genre, but a true spoof requires that genre to be lampooned. And we're not sure that this lampooning is fully explored in Heil Honey. The acting on show is probably the main highlight. All the characters nail their American accents well with Neil McCaul giving Hitler the perfect Jackie Gleason accent. The cast also manage to capture the chirpy 50s sitcom vibe with energetic performances. Playing Hitler didn't do McCaul's career any harm as he's worked steadily ever since. The others haven't fared quite so well, but have maintained some presence on our screens since the early 90s.


In 2013, the show doesn't feel very controversial. It's been accused of trivialising Nazism, but Allo Allo managed to get away with it as did the long running musical The Producers. The problem is that Heil Honey I'm Home has a misguided concept where Hitler is painted as an anti-hero. As a recurring sketch, there's some potential for hilarity, but over 25 minutes the exciting, initial premise begins to go off track. The script probably needs another going over to wring out all the humour of the situation. In fact, the four minutes footage from the unaired episodes is probably funnier than anything in the pilot episode.

There's a chance, therefore, that things may have improved, but we'll never know. We'd be interested in seeing more of the unaired episodes just to see how the show progressed from the pilot episode. The show is - rather unfairly - regarded as one of the worst shows ever to grace British television, so any commercial interest is always going to be negligible.

Consequently, a DVD release or an airing of the unseen episodes is unlikely. Shows that are regarded as 'banned' such as Heil Honey I'm Home and Hardwicke House are always of interest to the connoisseur of British Telly. A certain mythology builds up around them, so it's always interesting to revisit the genesis of that myth.

Therefore, we advise you to head to YouTube to see what all the fuss is about. It can't be any worse than My Mother the Car.

INTERVIEW:

Fed up with sitting around on our behinds, we decided to lay to rest a few myths about Heil Honey and got in touch with Geoff Atkinson - who we must say is a remarkably helpful chap - for a quick chat about the show.


CBT: Hello, Geoff, and many thanks for taking the time to chat to us. We’d like to start by hearing about your life prior to Heil Honey I’m Home. You spent most of the 80s writing for British greats such as The Two Ronnies, Rory Bremner and Spitting Image to name but a few, but how did your writing career start?

GA: Simple, luck. I wrote a sketch with a friend arrogantly assuming it would be read and sent it to Ronnie Barker at BBC for consideration for the Ronnies. Not only did he read it and consider it he got back with words of encouragement and an offer for me to send more. For six months he guided, sent back feedback, and gave me the confidence to think it was possible. First thing they eventually commissioned was a RB monologue, after that I sent off cold to radio and Punch, latter took a comedy article, former invited me in to meet John Lloyd and Douglas Adams. I was very very lucky.

The Galaxy channel – which aired Heil Honey – was relatively small compared to the powerhouses of BBC and ITV, so what led to you working with them? Were any other channels approached?

At the time BSB was a fledgling channel but they had an output deal with Noel Gay that was well funded, brave and innovative. Paul Jackson who I knew from other shows was running it along with the nicest bunch of producers you could meet. I produced a series for Nick Hancock and talk turned to sitcom and it just grew from there. One of those ‘what if’ moments. I suspect other channels may have struggled.

Adolf Hitler and Eva Braun live next door to Jewish couple Arny and Rosa Goldenstein. They’re the very epitome of each others neighbour from hell. Comedy is borne from conflict, but why did you choose this particular scenario over, say, a family of cats living next door to a family of dogs?

Well cats living next door to dogs could well have worked so it’s not really a choice thing. One thing to remember about Heil Honey is it was set in 1938, before the war, but the west had a good idea what Hitler was up to. Yet we appeased him. Maybe the thought of another war was too much. This is about that moment, what do you do when the guy next door is a thug and a bully but you can hardly report him. Sometimes you can destroy bullies by laughing at them. Sometimes you may not win if you laugh but at least you have the satisfaction of seeing them for the fool they are. This isn’t about denying what happened – how could you, it was wicked and inhumane – it’s about being human in the face of inhumanity.

Our favourite aspect of the show is the acting. It’s absolutely top draw with feisty, energetic performances from all the cast. Neil McCaul’s take on Adolf Hitler via Jackie Gleason, in particular, was a real highlight. What were you most pleased with regarding the show?

Yes like all shows you make you learn a lot from the first series that you can build from. The cast were great, Maria Freidman was a great Eva and Gareth Marks (his father Alfred was the first person I wrote for on radio) a very good Arny having just finished in the West End playing the Big Bopper. I’d always wanted it to be in B/w, shot three cameras, with canned laughter, a faithful pastiche of the 50’s show it was supposed to be. I think we could maybe have done that better. And the scripts again got slightly caught in 80’s pastiching the 50’s rather than true to era. I’d have allowed the satire on appeasement to come through more. Maybe another day.

Our initial reaction to the show’s concept was “WHAT?! REALLY?!”. However, after watching the pilot episode we didn’t find it that controversial. Sure, you’re putting a famous monster from history in the limelight, but the humour seems to lie in the ineptitude of those who could stop him. Nonetheless, there are a lot of reactionary types out there who live to be offended. Prior to the pilot screening, did you have any concerns there could be a backlash?

It was always going to be a controversial piece. That wasn’t the reason for making it but equally wasn’t a reason not to. The reaction when it came was interesting – there seemed to be two strong views. It was insensitive, or it was absolutely legitimate territory. The cast – three quarters Jewish – were in the latter camp and had no problem and a lot of others were in there too. My feeling is with time we could have won the doubters round, most of the reaction was to the idea without seeing it. It is a subtle mix, wrapped around a less subtle idea. Something you glimpse, react to, glimpse a bit more, and find yourself drawn to for a slew of reasons. It’s partly about setting out something an audience may not immediately think they’re going to like and watch them come round.

It seems that, over the years, every man and his dog has given an opinion on Heil Honey. The number of people subscribed to the Galaxy channel, however, was relatively small. What, therefore, was the public’s reaction to the show in 1990?

I’d say mixed, but again, as above, a lot was a reaction to a reaction rather than those viewing it. Vowed I’d never mention The Producers – best film ever – but what appealed so much was the slow turn around in the audience when the realised they could laugh their way through taste barrier. Maybe maybe-

Shortly after the pilot episode aired, the Galaxy channel’s parent company British Satellite Broadcasting was merged with Sky. Galaxy continued on for a while, but eventually ceased transmitting in December 1990. Is this what led to the cancellation of Heil Honey or were other factors at play?

I suspect it was one reason. Not sure this was where their heart lay then. Now of course Sky have poured money and talent into comedy but back then giving airtime to the Nazis was probably less of a priority than building up Andy Grey and Richard Keys. How times have changed. Premise was this was a show made thirty years ago which has remained on the shelf, twenty years later it’s odd how it’s playing out it’s own premise.

Do you feel that, in this post-Sachsgate era, it would still be possible to pitch a show such as Heil Honey and get it commissioned?

I’d hope so. Tastes do change – one of the reasons for setting Heil Honey as a fifties sitcom was to reflect on the way different periods accept or deny certain things. It’s curious how this sometimes throws up anomalies and occasionally the fear is that rather than open up, we shut down. I suspect Till Death Us Do Part would be a hard pitch today. Comedy isn’t always about creating role models, characters are often flawed, damaged, or unreconstructed. We laugh at them not because we share their views but because we see through them. But there are no rights in this, writers and producers just have to bang on the door, back their convictions, and hope those making the decisions haven’t got one eye on their pension.

There are several accounts online of people attending recording sessions for unaired
episodes of Heil Honey. Gareth Marks, also, has included a few clips from unaired episodes in his Comedy Showreel. This begs the question as to what happened to the unaired episodes. Were they burnt in a remote field by anxious executives? Or are they collecting dust on your shelf? If so, are they ever likely to see the light of day?

Well I do have a set of VHS’s gathering dust, yes. There’s a bit of me that would like them to play, the other bit feels with time to reflect on it all, and the inevitable holes you spot, the thing I’d like most was to return to the front line and do it again, a bit better, a bit sharper, a bit more audacious. In other words, the second series that never was.

Finally, is there anything else you would like to say regarding Heil Honey I’m Home?

Well there’s unbroadcast scripts for a series, we can make it on a tight budget, and 75 years after his death, what better way to deal with Hitler’s dark past than debunking all he stood for and laughing at him.  Paul Jackson recently told me that when he travels people always want to talk about it and where there was reluctance there’s now enthusiasm. Maybe twenty years on it’s time to try again. Any takers?

Geoff, it's been an absolute pleasure. Thank you for your time.

PRESS CUTTINGS:

Broadcast, 24/08/1990



UNAIRED SCRIPT: 

Geoff Atkinson was also kind enough to give us permission to put up the script for an unaired episode of Heil Honey. The episode is entitled 'Ziggy Hitler Comes to Stay'...

OPEN ON THE FRONT ROOM OF ADOLF AND EVA’S APARTMENT

ADOLF ENTERS

Q APPLAUSE

HE IS UNUSUALLY JAUNTY

ADOLF:
Heil honey I’m home

EVA EMERGES WITH A BURNT PLATE OF FOOD

Q APPLAUSE

ADOLF:
I’m not late am I?

EVA:
Is London a city?

ADOLF:
Not after I’ve finished with it

EVA:
Adolf this is important

ADOLF:
You thinking bombing London isn’t?

EVA:
Adolf quit fooling, every night this week you’ve been home late from work

ADOLF:
Eva honey babe, I got plans to make, wars to declare. The Fatherland is going places. Literally.

EVA:
Sometimes I think you care more about your silly little invasion plans than you care about me

ADOLF:
Honey please. I had to work late. I’m a busy man. People see Adolf Hitler out on the street at five o’clock they think, what’s wrong, aren’t we eulogising the guy enough. What time d’you think Stain and Roosevelt and those other big guys finish?

EVA:
So what was so important this time?

ADOLF:
Nothing Eva, just work

EVA:
Adolf have you been staying late so you can steal some more paintings?

ADOLF:
Me steal paintings? Come on, I got my reputation to think of

EVA:
I knew it, you have!

SHE REACHES INSIDE HIS COAT AND PULLS OUT A FRAMED LANDSCAPE

ADOLF:
Eva honey please. What does the good book say? Seek and you shall find

EVA:
Exactly. It don’t stay sneak into private museums after you’ve closed them down and you shall make off with 200 rare masterpieces

ADOLF:
Two hundred? Are you kidding? I got two thousand of them!

EVA:
Oh Adolf! Now you take them back at once d’you hear

ADOLF:
But honey I like paintings. Paintings make me happy

EVA:
So does invading Poland. And bombing France

ADOLF:
So I’m a lucky guy. I got lots of hobbies I enjoy

EVA:
I don’t approve. And neither will Ziggy when he finds out

ADOLF:
Ziggy? Why bring my brother Ziggy into this?

EVA:
Because he’s coming here and you know how he finds things out.

ADOLF:
Boy that’s all I need. Ziggy Hitler in my apartment. You saw what happened the last time that bonehead was here. He swindled me out of a fortune Eva. He’s a cheat and a crook and I hate that in a person

EVA:
Why must you always see bad in other people?

ADOLF:
Because it’s my job. I’m very very good at it

EVA:
He phoned twenty minutes ago from the bus station. Collect. He’ll be here any…

SFX: DOOR GOES, IT PLAYS THE UBER ALIS

ADOLF:
(TO CAMERA) Here we go again

EVA:
Wait, your hair

ADOLF:
Eva, please, not the moustache. No-one touches the moustache.

ADOLF OPENS THE DOOR TO ZIGGY, WIDE LAPELS, SHARP TIE, SPATS. HE LOOKS VERY SIMILAR TO ADOLF – MOUSTACHE ETC. HE SMOKES A SMART CHEROOT

ADOLF:
Ziggy!

ZIGGY:
Dolpho! How ya keeping? No don’t tell me I saw the rallies at the cinema, you were big potatoes

ADOLF:
You liked it?

ZIGGY:
My own kid brother up there making out with all them fancy folk in the crazy outfits. That’s powerful stuff

ADOLF:
(HARDLY HIDING HIS PRIDE) It is?

ZIGGY:
Sure

ADOLF:
You mean [GOES FOR IT] Today we The German people are at a crossroads. The Arian race has never before been under such threat. We must fight, we must oppose, we must crush, all those who would stand against us.

HITS FIST OF TABLE NEARLY BREAKING IT

ZIGGY:
So what does that mean all that Arian Schick?

ADOLF:
It means that all other races are naturally inferior to we, the German people, and we must make sure these other races are not allowed to poison this purity

ZIGGY:
Yeh? So how does that work? I mean you got that funny walk, and the squinty eye, and the hair, I mean no offence Dolpho but you ain’t exactly encouraging folk to get behind the product

ADOLF:
Get up against the wall you schwinehund or I will have you shot

ZIGGY:
Hey what’s got into you Shortie?

ADOLF:
You have. Why must you always ruin everything I get involved in? I invade Austria who do I find on the steps of the Chancellery to greet me? The Austrian Prime Minister? No. My own brother, Ziggy Hitler, selling counterfeit tickets for the victory rally

ZIGGY:
Aw that was yesterday. I’ve changed. This is the new Ziggy you’re looking at

ADOLF:
He don’t look any different from the old one

ZIGGY:
No, but inside things are new. I’m on the level. No cheating. No lying.

ADOLF:
You are on the level? A Hitler on the level? It’s genetically impossible

ZIGGY:
I took a leaf out of your book. You got something to say, say it! Why be afraid, what good has deceiving ever done anyone?

ADOLF:
Yeh listen I feel kinda uncomfortable with some of the things we’re getting into here. I mean I got no problems with the principal of what you’re saying, but sometimes, when you got tanks and submarines and all that stuff hidden away you have to act a little sneaky, not cos you want to, I mean it’s just the way things is.

ZIGGY:
You got tanks and submarines hidden away?

ADOLF:
Shhhh

EVA POPS OPEN CHAMPAGNE. SHE STARTS TO POUR, AS SHE DOES THE GOLDENSTEINS ENTER THROUGH KITCHEN

ROSA:
Hiya Adolf

ADOLF:
The Goldensteins

ARNY:
Hey, did you say you got tanks and submarines bub?

ADOLF:
Nein

ROSA:
Listen, it’s good, don’t apologise, you’re obviously going up in the world

ARNY:
Hey,  who’s the new kid in town?

ADOLF:
This is my brother Ziggy. Ziggy meet the Goldensteins

ZIGGY:
You two are married? Surely not they’re much too young

ROSA:
Oh I like this one Adolf

ZIGGY:
Goldenstein, say I know that name

ARNY:
I run a catering business

ZIGGY:
Goldensteins cakes? I hear they’re the talk of Berlin

ROSA:
They are? I never knew that!

ARNY:
See what all this negative propaganda you guys keep pouring out is doing Shorty. All that daubing paint on shop windows. It ain’t helping no-one


HE JABS ADOLF IN THE RIBS

ROSA:
How long are you here for Ziggy?

EVA:
As long as he likes. Ziggy is our guest

ARNY:
You in business Ziggy?

ZIGGY:
Oh yeh… I’m er… you know, that thing people do with land?

ARNY:
Steal it?

ZIGGY:
Invest!

ROSA:
You’re in real estate?

ZIGGY:
Yeh yeh real estate

ROSA:
Hey I have lots of friends in real estate, funny thing is most of them seem to be getting out, can’t figure out why

ARNY:
Oh I think I know why, don’t you Ade

EVA:
Stay calm. Relax. Remember your bloody pressure honey.  (QUICKLY, OPENING FRENCH WINDOWS) —would you look at that view. Berlin. A city of a thousand dreams.

ZIGGY:
(SEES ROSA) Make that a thousand and one

ROSA:
Oh he’s cute

ARNY:
Listen we gotta run… we’re late for the ball game, say thanks for the cream soda

ADOLF:
It was champagne

ARNY:
Listen don’t apologise, it tasted just as good as cream soda

ROSA:
Bye Ziggy

ZIGGY:
Let’s not say goodbye, let’s just say adieu

ROSA:
A Jew? Oh he knew my religion already

ARNY:
Listen I think you’ll find the Hitler’s know more about your religion than you think honey

ADOLF FORCES A SMILE. ROSA AND ARNY LEAVE, EVA RETREATS TO THE KITCHEN

ZIGGY:
Hey what’s this?

HE PICKS UP PICTURE ADOLF HAS PUT DOWN

ADOLF:
That? Oh that’s just something I picked up, it’s nothing

ZIGGY:
It looks valuable

ADOLF:
Valuable?? Nein! It’s worthless

ZIGGY:
It’s got a signature, Rembrandt!

ADOLF:
How many times must I tell Joe Goebbels to quit fooling around like that. Faking signatures to wind me up. Boy the fun we nazi’s have

ZIGGY:
Say, you’ve got quite a few pictures round here

ADOLF:
All fakes. Every time I go to an auction I catch a cold. It’s the arm

HE SALUTES

ADOLF:
Everytime. I can’t stop it. Whumpppf! Someone says hello, up it goes again and before you know it I’ve bought myself another dud.

ZIGGY:
That’s awful

ADOLF:
You’re interested in pictures you should talk to the Goldensteins, their apartment is full of them. These people they hoard these things so others cannot enjoy them [HE IS STARTING UP ON ONE] they must be crushed and destroyed and…. hey, there I go again, bringing my work home

ZIGGY:
So all these masterpieces are fake?

ADOLF:
Course they’re fakes. I’m a socialist. For me wealth is for the people not the elite. Look I’m wearing plastic shoes. I live in a cheap apartment with cheap paintings on the wall; I’m a real man of the people. The car, you see the car. The Volks Wagon. You call that showy? Those victory rallies, you think I get anything out of them? That’s me putting something back into society

EVA RETURNS FROM THE KITCHEN

EVA:
Here you go Ziggy, I fixed you up a lap supper

SHE HANDS TRAY OVER TO ZIGGY

ZIGGY:
You are using a Gogan as a food tray?

ADOLF:
They come from the discount store

FADE DOWN

FADE UP ON

THE CORRIDOR OUTSIDE THE GOLDENSTEINS

ZIGGY WANDERS AROUND NERVOUSLY. HE HEARS FOOTSTEPS AND FEIGNS SURPRISE

ZIGGY:
Oh hi there…. er, Berny…. Barny

ARNY:
Arny

ZIGGY:
Whatever, and who is this? Arny you didn’t tell me you had a girlfriend as well as a wife, and so pretty, why she’s barely out of high school

ROSA:
Ziggy it’s me Rosa

ZIGGY:
Rosa? How beautiful can one woman get

ARNY:
Is anything wrong Ziggy, you look a little unsure

ZIGGY:
I seem to have mislaid my keys to Adolf’s apartment

ROSA:
No problem, come and wait with us till the little guy gets back

ZIGGY:
I can’t impose on your hospitality

ARNY:
Bud I’ve lived here ten years and believe me the way Rosa runs the joint it’s not hospitable

ROSA:
He don’t mean it

ARNY:
Yes I do

ROSA:
Yes he does. I just like fooling myself

ZIGGY:
I couldn’t intrude

ARNY:
You kidding I love intruders. Intruders make us feel like we’ve got something worth stealing. We’ll leave a note for Adolf. tell him you’re here

ZIGGY:
Hey, relax, I already wrote one

ARNY REACTS

ROSA:
(READS) “Am stopping with the Goldensteins, Ziggy” Hey that’s smart. You wrote that before we arrived. That’s clever

THEY ENTER APARTMENT

ZIGGY:
It’s a nice place you’ve got here

ARNY:
Hey let me show you round. Okay over there is a wall. Over there is a wall. Over there is a wall. And over there, wait I forgot this one…. oh yeh, it’s another wall. There you seen it, want me to run over it again

ROSA:
Ignore him Ziggy. After ten years you realise it’s the only way

ZIGGY:
You have so many nice things. These wonderful paintings

ROSA:
That’s Arny’s grandfather. All his family were called Arny. You ring his home, ask for Arny, four people come to the phone. “Is That Arny?” you ask. “No it’s Arny” they reply. “Well can I speak to Arny” you ask. “I’m sorry Arny ain’t here, will Arny do instead”. You had to be there. Even then it wasn’t that funny.

ZIGGY:
I like it. You know portraits like this can be very valuable. Especially if they’re in good condition

ARNY:
Well that ain’t worth nothing. He was in terrible condition. He died the week after that was painted

ZIGGY:
No no, I mean if the painting is in good condition. Hey, I’ve an idea, since you’ve been so kind and invited me in, maybe could I repay the favour – see this week I acquired the franchise for a new picture restoring fluid

ARNY:
You hear this Rosa? Ziggy reckons he can clean up gramps

ROSA:
It’s about time someone did. The language he used

ZIGGY:
You did me a favour, let me return it. It would make me a very happy person

ROSA:
You really got what it takes ain’tcha. You’re just one big-hearted guy. Give him the money honey

ARNY:
I only got a fifty

ZIGGY:
That’ll do. Oh wait, I think I hear Adolf next door. If I’m not there to keep an eye he’ll have annexed the bathroom and threatened to invade the sofa. Hey, I’m kidding, he doesn’t threaten, he just goes ahead and does it. Better fly. Bye

HE EXITS HURRIEDLY WITH PAINTING

FADE DOWN

FADE UP ON

HITLER’S KITCHEN, NEXT DAY

ROSA AND EVA ARE HAVING COFFEE

EVA:
So Ziggy took the painting of your grandfather and offered to clean it for you?

ROSA:
Imagine that. Him working for ten years in Dresden as an art restorer. Ziggy is a very talented guy. I bet there will be lots of people after him

EVA:
Oh I’m sure they already are

ROSA:
Listen I gotta run. I hear Arny. Thanks for the coffee and would you thank Ziggy too. We were really touched

EVA:
You definitely were that Rosa

AS ROSA LEAVES ADOLF ENTERS THROUGH MAIN DOOR, HE TAKES OFF HIS COAT AND STEPS ONTO BALCONY

ADOLF:
Heil Hitler

CROWDS SHOUT BACK

ADOLF:
Heil honey I’m home

EVA:
Honey please don’t get mad

ADOLF:
I ain’t mad. Do I look mad?

EVA:
It’s Ziggy

ADOLF:
Okay now I’m mad

EVA:
Honey please

ADOLF:
What did he do?

EVA:
I’m not sure

ADOLF:
You’re not sure? That’s the worst! Okay let’s see, he’s opened a pre owned stukka dealership? No No, I got it, he’s selling timeshare apartments in Poland

EVA:
It’s the Goldensteins, listen-

ADOLF:
What do I want to listen to the Goldensteins for? Why should I want to eavesdrop on my neighbours…. unless it’s to gain vital military information in readiness for all out war against them. Or whatever

EVA:
Ziggy has taken a painting from the Goldensteins and has promised to restore it

ADOLF:
I thought you said there was a problem?

EVA:
He told them he had this new picture restoring fluid but I’m sure it was just a lie

ADOLF:
What’s with you Eva, you joined the Gestapo? Not that I’d mind. Those leather uniforms, kinda slinky, especially on the women

EVA:
Adolf be reasonable

ADOLF:
And spoil the habit of a lifetime.

EVA:
Just ask him

ADOLF:
Okay okay, if it will stop you nagging

ADOLF KNOCKS ON BEDROOM DOOR

ADOLF:
Ziggy have you got a moment

ZIGGY EMERGES JOLLY

ZIGGY:
Sure Dolph, you want a new car? Listen I got a little red drop head coming in, don’t ask where I found her, tomorrow we go test drive her

ADOLF:
Ziggy we were just wondering if we could see that picture the Goldensteins lent you, Eva has some cocomany idea there might be a problem

ZIGGY:
You want to see it?

ADOLF:
See honey! I knew it! I’ve insulted my brother. Can you blame him for flying off the handle with me

EVA:
Can we please see the painting Ziggy

ZIGGY REACHES INSIDE ROOM RELUCTANTLY AND PULLS OUT PAINTING. IT IS A TERRIBLE MESS, ALL THE INK HAS RUN AND IT SEEMS TO BE ONE GREAT SMUDGE

ZIGGY:
Believe me, I was going to tell you,

ADOLF:
(BEAT) I don’t get it, what’s the problem?

LATER IN THE HITLER’S APARTMENT

EVA AND ZIGGY STARE AT THE PICTURE

ZIGGY:
Okay I got it, I dress up like Arny’s grandfather and Adolf paints me, they’ll never know the difference

EVA:
I’m not so sure this is going to work Ziggy

ZIGGY:
Adolf used to be a painter

EVA:
Sure but you should see the stuff he did. His sense of perspective

ZIGGY:
Hey, what’s new

ADOLF ENTERS

ZIGGY:
Maybe the Goldensteins won’t notice

ADOLF:
Ziggy, please, even the moose noticed

ZIGGY:
Adolf if I’m annoying you then go ahead and say it

ADOLF:
Okay Ziggy you’re annoying me. There, I said it. Now don’t say I never do anything for you

EVA:
Adolf how can you be rude to your own brother?

ADOLF:
Believe me, it wasn’t difficult

EVA:
But you said you couldn’t see a problem with the mess Ziggy caused

ADOLF:
I can’t. I’m just trying to see it from someone else’s point of view [BEAT] you know something about that sentence isn’t right. Boy every time Ziggy comes to stay this happens. I can’t take over the world with all this going on. I need peace. I need quiet. I’m a artist. You want me to attack the wrong country?

HE GLANCES AT GOLDENSTEINS PICTURE

ADOLF:
You know in a funny way, it does sort of grow on you

EVA:
So does a carbuncle but you don’t want to look at it all day

EVA:
I think I may have got a way out

ADOLF:
If it’s hypnotising the entire Goldenstein family to forget what their grandfather looked like forget it, I already thought of that

EVA:
You’ve been stealing all those valuable paintings for your private collection

ADOLF:
Eva honey as your Fuhrer I command you do not listen to this conversation

EVA:
Give Ziggy one of those old masters, he tells the Goldensteins that while cleaning it he found a more valuable one underneath. Who’s complaining

ADOLF:
Are you suggesting I just give away a priceless masterpiece to the Goldensteins?

EVA:
Can you think of another plan?

ADOLF:
Yeh. We go round there and tell them the truth; Ziggy is a crook and a cheat

EVA:
You want it to get out that Adolf Hitler’s brother has done something wrong and blow your whole master race routine? You know how much it means to you

ADOLF:
You’re right, you’re right. I hate you for it but you’re right. Okay okay we do it your way, but when this is over Ziggy I want you to know it’s no more Mr Nice Fuhrer

FADE DOWN

FADE UP A LITTLE WHILE LATER. ADOLF IS LOUNGING ON SOFA CONDUCTING ALONG TO WAGNER ON THE RECORD PLAYER

ADOLF:
This Wagner sure writes a snappy melody. Hey where’s Ziggy?

EVA:
I haven’t seen him since last night when he slipped by to say he’d given the Goldensteins the painting and they were delighted

ADOLF:
That pesky brother of mine won’t try another stunt like that

HE LEAPS ONTO BALCONY

ADOLF:
Good morning Berlin you’re looking good to me you airheads. Okay I’m outta here. The Second World War won’t start itself

AS HE LEAVES ROSA ENTERS THE KITCHEN

ROSA:
Hi honey

EVA:
Hi Rosa

ROSA:
Is Ziggy around?

EVA:
er no, is something wrong only Ziggy explained what had happened

ROSA:
Oh the Rembrandt. No that’s fine. Imagine that. All the time we owned a Rembrandt and never knew. Course Arny wasn’t so sure at first. So what’s wrong with my grandfather he keeps moaning. Look at the brushwork I reply. Look at the artistry. Look at the price. That did it

EVA:
So you didn’t want to see Ziggy to complain?

ROSA:
Complain? You kidding. He pushes all the right buttons for us. No I just wanted to thank him, and ask when the other one’s will be ready

EVA:
Other ones?

ROSA:
Well we thought, why not. Five paintings, five more Rembrandt’s, who knows. Hey is something wrong, you look kinda pasty?

EVA:
Oh no, I’m sure everything is just fine

ROSA:
Listen if you see Ziggy if he could manage a Van Gogh instead of one of the Rembrandt’s that would be great

EVA:
Van Gogh?

ROSA:
You know the one. Cut his own ear off. Great paintings but what a loser. Never could say that about you or me Eva

EVA:
Couldn’t we?

FADE DOWN

FADE UP ON HITLER’S MAIN ROOM. ADOLF ENTERS

ADOLF:
Heil honey babe

EVA:
Heil Adolf

ADOLF:
Boy what a day

EVA:
Oh now it can’t have been that bad

ADOLF:
It was worse than that. I got into work and one of the secretaries shows me this new machine they’ve been given. What’s that I say. It’s a dictating machine she replies. Well I flipped. There is only one dictator in this country I shouted and threw it out the window only then one of the guys explains what it is, so then I have to go out on the sidewalk on my hands and knees picking up the pieces and the people are going, I don’t get this one, jack booting, that I could understand, but crawling round, that will never catch on

EVA:
Yeh? Well I’ve got a problem too

ADOLF:
Don’t tell me, it’s those people next door

EVA:
Oh now stop jumping to conclusions

ADOLF:
So it’s not the Goldensteins

EVA:
Well yes it is

ADOLF:
No wait let me think. Ziggy sold them one of my secret tanks as a family runabout. No that’s too easy. He’s burnt down the Reichstag. Again.

EVA:
Oh Adolf

ADOLF:
So re-assure me, tell me everything is alright, tell me I’m still the Fuhrer and Ziggy hasn’t replaced me

EVA:
It’s just that Rosa and Arny were so pleased with the new picture Ziggy gave them that they gave him five more to clean

ADOLF:
Ziggy!

EVA:
Oh Adolf now don’t be so hard on him

ADOLF:
Eva please, I just want to talk to him. Then after I’ve talked to him, I just want to punch him in the face. Ziggy!!

ZIGGY POPS OUT OF HIS ROOM

ZIGGY:
It wasn’t my fault. They practically begged me to take them off their hands

ADOLF:
Ziggy, please, I’m the top guy, I don’t do stupid. Is it me or when they handed out the idiot chromosomes did you ask for extra?

ZIGGY:
Your own brother. Trying to help out. And this is how you treat me

ADOLF:
No this is how I treat you. Get out and stay out

EVE:
Adolf you apologise to Ziggy

ADOLF:
Apologise? Adolf Hitler say sorry? You want to slay me? Honey, I got feelings, remember that

ZIGGY:
Kicked in the teeth by his own brother

ADOLF:
Ziggy please

ZIGGY:
The brother he could never be

ADOLF:
No more Ziggy please, you got the part

ZIGGY:
It ain’t me you should be sticking the knife into it’s those Goldenstein guys

ADOLF:
You’re right, you’re right. They must have known what was happening all along. They knew it was a switch and now they’re trying to rob me some more of your priceless treasures

EVE:
Your artworks?

ADOLF:
Aw c’mon, I just borrowed them, I was going to give them back.

EVE:
Adolf where are you going?

ADOLF:
I’m having it out with them

EVE:
Wait, you have to have a reason

ADOLF:
You’re telling a dictator he can’t do what he likes? Get with the politics honey, this is 1938

ZIGGY:
No Adolf Eva’s right. At the moment we ain’t got any proof. We need to catch them red handed if the charges are to stick

ADOLF:
You’re right, he’s right. Two Hitler’s are better than one when it comes to figuring out how to beat these sneaky people. Okay listen this is what we do…. Eva honey please, can we have a little privacy, I can’t work my magic if people are watching

FADE DOWN UNDER MUSIC

FADE UP ON THE HITLER’S APARTMENT NEXT DAY

ADOLF ARRIVES WITH HALF A DOZEN MASTERPIECES UNDER HIS ARMS. ZIGGY IS ALONE IN THE ROOM

ADOLF:
Where’s Eva?

ZIGGY:
She’s in the bedroom

ADOLF:
Okay make sure she stays there. If she finds out what we’ve been scheming I’ll have black shirts crawling all over me, believe me she’s ruthless

ZIGGY:
What you got?

ADOLF:
The best. A Titian, a Monet, a couple of Dutch schools and look at this, a Botticelli

ZIGGY:
I like your style

ADOLF:
I’m a stylish guy. The hair, the boots, that high kicking march, that’s me, I’m a stylish sort of guy

ZIGGY:
Brown shirts was genius. Drab, yet effective. That’s genius

ADOLF:
Ziggy, to hear you, my own brother, talk like that

ZIGGY:
Adolf hang on in there buddy

ADOLF:
Sure sure, I got so much love to give and sometimes it ain’t easy. When I’m with the fellas marching on other countries I gotta hold it in or they start to ask questions but believe me inside I’m all waterworks

ZIGGY:
So the plan is I go next door, give the paintings to the Goldensteins, they accept them knowing full well they’re different from the ones I took, then you burst in, confront them, and hey presto, it’s goodnight Vienna

ADOLF:
Goodnight Vienna, ain’t I already done that one?

ZIGGY:
But remember, hold back a little, I need time if it’s to work

ADOLF:
I can hardly wait. It’s smart, it’s clever, it’s sneaky, It’s Hitler

ZIGGY:
Half an hour?

ADOLF:
Soon the Goldensteins will feel the full might of the Fuhrer upon them

ZIGGY:
Sure sure, careful there Dolpho, you’re starting to foam a little at the mouth

ZIGGY TURNS TO LEAVE WITH THE PICTURES

ADOLF:
Hey and listen Ziggy, don’t think I don’t appreciate all that you’ve done, I couldn’t have done this without you

ZIGGY:
And I couldn’t do what I’m about to do with you

THEY EMBRACE

ZIGGY:
I’m outta here

ADOLF:
Stay lucky

ZIGGY LEAVES WITH PAINTINGS, EVA ENTERS

EVA:
Who was that?

ADOLF:
Only Ziggy

EVA:
What did he want?

ADOLF:
Two brothers can’t have a moment with each other. Say what are you doing in about half an hour?

EVA:
Nothing, why?

ADOLF:
Oh I just thought you might like to come to a private view at a new art gallery round the corner

MUSIC STING

FADE DOWN

FADE UP ON CORRIDOR OUTSIDE GOLDENSTEINS 30 MINUTES LATER

EVA:
Adolf I’m not so sure this is a good idea

ADOLF:
Are you kidding, this is one of the best ideas I’ve ever had

EVA:
I know, that’s why I’m not so sure it’s a good idea, the Goldensteins may not want people to call by and look at their new artworks

ADOLF:
What? They love it. Okay times up, tomorrow Europe, today the Goldensteins

EVA:
What?

ADOLF:
Nothing

THEY KNOCK ON THE GOLDENSTEINS’ FRONT DOOR

EVA:
Adolf, I  know you’re mad cos they’ve stolen your paintings but remember they’re our neighbours, I have to live with them while you go off with your funny friends

ADOLF:
Eva c’mon, we’re just going to see the pictures, what could possibly go wrong

THEY KNOCK AGAIN

ARNY OOV:
Okay okay, what’s the hurry, I was in the shower

THE DOOR OPENS AND ADOLF BURSTS IN TO BE GREETED BY ARNY IN A TOWEL

ADOLF:
So Arny we finally caught you

ARNY:
(TO EVA) Say this is another of his routines, boy I like these

ADOLF:
This is no routine Arny. This is for real you swindling cheater

ARNY:
Hey honey you want to come and catch this. Adolf is doing some funny business out here

ROSA COMES IN

ROSA:
So? I’m watching

ADOLF:
I’ll tell you what it is, you two cheapsters have just stung me for five masterpieces that you know aren’t yours

ROSA:
I don’t get this routine Adolf

ARNY:
Me neither, it ain’t funny like the normal ones

EVA:
Adolf?

ADOLF:
Honey please not now

EVA:
Adolf!

ADOLF:
Eva babe not now, I’m going for it

EVA:
Adolf, the pictures

ADOLF LOOKS ROUND THE ROOM THEN REACTS WITH HORROR

ADOLF:
What are those doing there?

ARNY:
That’s what we’ve been saying?

ROSA:
We gave them to Ziggy to clean but when he returned them they were just the same as they always had been

ADOLF:
No Gogan….

ARNY:
No

ADOLF:
No Titian… No Botticelli???

ROSA:
And we paid good money to have them done

ADOLF:
Wait, wait…. if those are your old pictures, where are my priceless masterpieces??

ARNY:
What priceless masterpieces?

ADOLF:
Ziggy, when he called, he must have said something

ARNY:
Sure, he said here are you paintings back, took our money, then left. To tell you the truth he seemed in some sort of hurry, something about a plane…. to Switzerland? Where the nazi gold has been going

ADOLF:
My paintings!!!!

HE BREAKS DOWN CRYING

ROSA:
Oh wait, now this bit is funny

ARNY:
Listen Eva we hate to complain but we figure the money we paid, well he stole from us

EVA:
Adolf give the Goldensteins the money Ziggy took from them

ADOLF:
What?

EVA:
Look I’ll do it

SHE TAKES MONEY FROM ADOLF’S WALLET, ADOLF RAGES

ADOLF:
What are you doing? Give the Fuhrer back his purse

EVA:
How much

ARNY:
Fifty Marks

ROSA:
Honey I though Ziggy said forty

ARNY:
I know but have you seen inflation round here. Hey that’s something else I want to talk to you about Shorty

ADOLF:
Get out! Get out, get out

ARNY:
Oh boy, this is some routine

ADOLF:
Get out! Get out of my flat

THEY START TO LEAVE

ARENY:
Just a minute Bub, this is our flat

ROSA:
Wait I’ll get my camera, this one I want to keep. Say maybe we can take a few and get them framed. Replace those crummy paintings. Hey, you never know, maybe things haven’t turned out so bad after all, what d’you say Shorty?

ADOLF:
I’ll tell you what I say, I say if any of this ever gets out, that my brother stole from me, the Fuhrer, then you’re….

ARNY:
Yes?

ADOLF:
You’re….

ROSA:
We’re what, Adolf?

ADOLF:
Eva, come up with something

EVA:
It’s Poland. He’s been overworking.

ARNY:
Poland? Hey we know people there. I bet they’d love to hear about Ziggy and—

ADOLF:
Right, that’s it, I’m telling Borman

EVA:
Ignore him. He’s just a bit stressed.

ADOLF JACK BOOTS OUT OF THE APARTMENT

EVA:
Here we go again

SHE RUNS AFTER HIM

EVA:
Bye Arny, bye Rosa

ARNY:
Is it me or has Adolf got a bit of an attitude problem?

ROSA:
Did you see the veins on the side of his neck stick out

ARNY:
All that stomping’, and shouting… who rattled his cot

ROSA:
Still at least he bring a little colour into our lives

ARNY:
Yeh, that stuff he kept saying. How he’s racially superior to us

ROSA:
That’s what his book says

ARNY:
You know, it just makes me  kinda grateful that since we’re racially inferior we don’t need to compete

ROSA:
Yeh. Cos keeping up with the Hitler. Boy that would be nearly impossible.


ENDS