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 

CONVERSATION

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