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Complaints Department

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The cast:

Chris Quinn
Eric Idle
Complaints Manager
Michael Palin
Carol Cleveland
Mr. Zyndersky
Terry Gilliam
Colonel Ewing
Graham Chapman


(Sketch continues from 'Poetry Reading (Ants)' Cut to the other side of the door. Chris turns and double takes. It is the manager's office. There is a long line of people sitting waiting to complain. The manager looks up.)

Complaints Manager: (irritably) All right. Take a seat.

(Chris shuts the door and takes a seat at the end of a line often people waiting to complain: the German clothes prop man; the Icelandic honey week man; a Greek with a motor tyre; a man with a lawn mower with a cat sticking out of it; a man with a bandaged nose holding a dog with a bandaged nose; a lady with a bandaged nose; a lady with a bandaged nose and a pram with a small column of smoke rising from it; a rather butch lady with her head through a tennis racket; a man with a cigar in his mouth that has obviously exploded - his face is blackened and his collar awry; a man in a terrible suit with one arm twice as long as a normal sleeve and trousers that finish at mid-thigh. A uniformed shop attendant is sitting next to a rather well dressed lady in twin set and pearls, and her equally distinguished looking husband. The attendant is occasionally touching the lady's 'cheek and peering into her eyes. The lady and the husband stare straight ahead. Next to them is Colonel Ewing. At the desk is the lady with the flame thrower. Part of the manager's desk and the entire comer of the office are blackened and smoking.)

Lady: You see! There ought to be a safety catch on it, I mean … ohhhh! (a spurt of flame shoots out) I mean, what if this fell into the wrong hands?

Complaints Manager: Yes, madam. I'll speak to the makers personally, all right.

Lady: Would you? It would put my mind at ease.

(She leaves closing the door. We hear the flame thrower.)

Lady's Voice: Sorry…

Complaints Manager: Next?

(The colonel gets up. As he does so Mr Zyndenky (the husband) indicates his wife and the attendant.)

Mr Zyndersky: He's still molesting her.

Complaints Manager: Yes, yes, I'll see to you in a moment, sir. (the colonel sits at the manager's desk)

Colonel Ewing: I've got a complaint to make.

Complaints Manager: Do take a seat. I'm sorry it's on fire.

Colonel Ewing: Oh, not at all. (he sits on it) I got used to this out east.

Complaints Manager: Where were you out east?

Colonel Ewing: Oh, Norway … Sweden … places like that… oh I'm awfully sorry, my suit seems to keep catching fire.

Complaints Manager: Extinguisher?

Colonel Ewing: Oh no, thank you, I think we'd better let it run its course. I was just thinking… Norway is not very east, is it? I should have said when I was out north. (he slaps at the flames)

Complaints Manager: Are there many fires in Norway?

Colonel Ewing: Good Lord yes. The place is a constant blaze. Wooden buildings, d'you know. I lost my wife in Norway.

Complaints Manager: I am sorry to hear that.

Colonel Ewing: Why, did you know her?

Complaints Manager: No, I meant…

Colonel Ewing: Oh I see. No, she wasn't a favourite of mine. We were out strolling across a fiord one day when one of the local matadors came out of his tree house and flung a lot of old scimitars and guillotines out that he'd got cluttering up his wine cellar and apparently rather a large proportion of them landed on my wife causing her to snuff it without much more ado.

Complaints Manager: Yes, yes - well look…

(Ding-dong of store PA. An announcer speaks.)

Announcer: Here is an important announcement about Michael Ellis. (Chris looks up at loudspeaker; everyone turns towards it) It is now the end of 'Michael Ellis' week. From now on it is 'Chris Quinn' week. (murmur of excitement)

Chris: What a rotten ending.