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Poets / Choice of Viewing

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The cast:

Mr. Potter
Michael Palin
Mrs. Potter
Graham Chapman
Sales Manager
John Cleese
Eric Idle
Michael Palin
Terry Jones
Eric Idle
Continuity Voice
Eric Idle
John Cleese
Nude Man
Graham Chapman


(In the bath is Alfred Lord Tennyson, fully clad As she opens the door we hear him reading:)

Tennyson: The splendour fans on castle walls And snowy summits old in story…

(She slams the door.)

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

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

(Cut to an officious-looking man in Gas Board type uniform and peaked cap. Caption on screen: 'SALES MANAGER EAST MIDLANDS POET BOARD')

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

(ANIMATION: an advertisement.)

Voices: (singing) Poets are both clean and warm And most are far above the norm Whether here, or on the roam Have a poet in every home.

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

Voice: I wandered lonely as a cloud That floats on high…

Inspector: Morning, madam, I've come to read your poet.

She: Oh yes, he's in the cupboard under the stairs.

Inspector: What is it, a Swinburne? Shelley?

She: No, it's a Wordsworth.

Inspector: Oh, bloody daffodils.

(He opens the door of the cupboard under the stairs. Inside is Wordsworth crouching and retiring.)

Wordsworth: A host of golden daffodils Beside the lake, beneath the' trees Fluttering and dancing in the breeze

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

Wordsworth: Continuous as the stars that shine And twinkle in the Milky Way They stretch in…

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

Inspector: Right. Thank you, madam.

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

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

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

(Cut to BBC world symbol.)

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

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

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

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

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

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

(As he gets up she comes quickly to his side.)

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

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

(He demonstrates.)

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

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

She: Oh yes, yes.

Inspector: It's four and a half volts.

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

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

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

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

She: Oh, he keeps mumbling all night.

Inspector: Oh well, novelists do, you see.

She: (dragging him onto the sofa) Oh forget himI What's your name, deary?

Inspector: Harness.

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

Inspector: Wombat.

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

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

(Cut to studio discussion. Caption on screen: 'DEREK HART')

Derek: Nude man, what did you make of that?

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

Derek: Bishop.

(Cut to crook hitting desk in previous office)

Bishop: Okay, don't anybody move!

(Titles for 'The Bishop' start and then stop abruptly. Caption on the screen: 'AN APOLOGY')

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

(A different caption on the screen: 'AN APOLOGY')

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