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"Mortuary Hour"

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The cast:

First Radio Voice
John Cleese
D.j. Voice
Eric Idle
Terry Jones
Second Radio Voice
Graham Chapman
John Cleese
Graham Chapman
Michael Palin
Carol Cleveland


(Cut to a mortuary. Various trolleys lie about with corpses covered by sheets. Two workers are sitting at a low make-shift table with cups of tea and a transistor radio, shelling eggs and dropping them in a pickling jar.)

1st Radio Voice: … and Premier Chou En Lai, who called it 'a major breakthrough'. Twelve men were accidentally hanged at Whitby Assizes this afternoon whilst considering their verdict. This is one of the worst miscarriages of justice in Britain since Tuesday. (music)

DJ Voice: Well it's thirteen minutes to the hour of nine-nine-nine, here on wonderful Radio One-One-One! So if you're still lying in your big, big bed, now is the time to get up out of it! We've got another thirteen hours of tip-top sounds here on Wonderful Radio One! (brief funny noises) Sorry about that … So unless you have brain cells, or have completed the process of evolution, there's a wonderful day ahead!

Batterdby: (switching the radio off) It must be on Radio Four. ('he gets another radio out from underneath the table) Radio Two. (he gets another radio out) … Three … (he opens the top of the third radio and gets out a fourth; he switches it on)

2nd Radio Voice: It's 9 o'clock and time for 'Mortuary Hour'. An hour of talks, tunes and downright tomfoolery for all those who work in mortuaries, introduced as usual by Shirley Bassey. (sinister chords).

Shirley: Well, we're going to kick straight off this week with our Mortuary Quiz, so have your pens and pencils ready.

(A door at the back of the mortuary opens and Mr Wang, an official of the Department of Stiffs, enters. He wears an undertaker's suit and top hat plus a long blond wig.)

Wang: Turn that radio off and look lively!

Battersby: Oh, it's 'Mortuary Quiz', Mr Wang…

Wang: Don't argue, Battersby.

(We hear voices off. Officials at the door spring to attention. Enter a mayor with a chain round his neck, and an elderly peer of the realm who is standing on a small platform, pushed by an attendant.)

Mayor: … This is our mortuary in here, Your Grace …

Peer: I say, I say, I … er … I … er … I … er … I … I can't think of anything to say about it.

Mayor: Well, we're very proud of it here, sir. It's one of the most up to date in the country.

Peer: I see… yes… yes … now… um… what… what… ah… ah… what is it? …. it a power station?

Mayor: No, Your Grace, it's a mortuary.

Peer: I see … I see … good … good … good, good, good…

Mayor: But it has one of the most advanced thermostat control systems in the country, and it has computer-controlled storage facilities.

Peer: I see, I see … I … er… er… er… er … I … er … I'm a good little doggie.

Mayor: I'm sorry, Your Grace?

Peer: I'm a good little dog.

Attendant: Oh dear…

Mayor: Perhaps we should postpone the visit?

Attendant: No, no, no - you see it's just that his brain is so tiny that the slightest movement can dislodge it (starts to slap the duke's head from side to side gently but firmly) Your Grace … Oh dear… it's rather like one of those games you play where you have to get the ball into the hole … That's it.

Peer: Ah! Now then, excellent, excellent, excellent, excellent. Now then … ah … what happens when the steel is poured into the ingots?

Mayor: (ushering everyone out) Perhaps we should go and have a look at the new showers?

Peer: Yes… yes … yes … yes… yes rather jolly good… jolly good .. jolly good … jolly good … no fear…

(They leave. Battenby turns the radio on again.)

Radio Voice: Well the answers were as follows: 1) the left hand, 2) no, 3) normal, 4) yes it has, in I963 when a bird got caught in the mechanism. How did you get on?

(Two men behind him push in a trolley with sheet-covered corpses on it.)

Wang: Turn that thing off!

Battersby: Oh! It's 'Mortuary Dance Time', Mr Wang!

Wang: Never mind that, Battersby, this is the big one. I've just had Whitby Police on the phone …

Battersby: Oh yes, I just heard about that on the radios …

Wang: No, these are twelve different ones … so shtoom.

(Battersby and friend gather round the body. Wang joins them. They start to work away busily and efficiently on the corpse. We suddenly become aware that Badger is standing with them around the body.)

Badger: I'll not interrupt this sketch for a pound.

Wang: What?

Badger: For one pound I'll leave this sketch totally uninterrupted.

Wang: What?

Badger: Fifty pence … I'm prepared to negotiate a forty-pence deal. (an eye peers out from under the sheet on the corpse they are working on) For 35P I won't interrupt any of the next three items.

(The corpse is now sitting up waiting to see what happens. Another corpse sits up as they continue arguing. The sheet is pushed back on another trolley revealing a boy and girl on the same stretcher. They light cigarettes.)

Wang: No, no, it's no good…

Badger: 25p.

Wang: No.

Badger: 10p and a kiss.

(ANIMATION: with Gilliam's hands in shot.)

Terry Gilliam: (voice over) You see, it's very simple - I just take these cut-out figures and by putting them together… oh, you mean we're on?… (Gilliam's head appears briefly) Sorry.