Series 1, Episode 10: Jumping the Channel/Tunnelling to Java
VOICE OVER Eric Idle
INTERVIEWER John Cleese
RON Terry Jones
MR. VERCOTTI Michael Palin
(Cut to the sea. Pan to show Ran Obvious running along beach.)
Voice Over: There is an epic quality about the sea which has throughout history stirred the hearts and minds of Englishmen of all nations. Sir Francis Drake, Captain Webb, Nelson of Trafalgar and Scott of the Antartic – all rose to the challenge of the mighty ocean. And today another Englishman may add his name to the golden roll of history: Mr Ron Obvious of Neaps End. For today, Ron Obvious hopes to be the first man to jump the Channel.
(Ron runs up to group of cheering supporters. An interviewer addresses him.)
Interviewer: Ron, now let’s just get this quite clear – you’re intending to jump across the English Channel?
Ron: Oh yes, that is correct, yes.
Interviewer: And, er, just how far is that?
Ron: Oh, well it’s twenty-six miles from here to Calais.
Interviewer: Er, that’s to the beach at Calais?
Ron: Well, no, no, provided I get a good lift off and maybe a gust of breeze over the French coast, I shall be jumping into the centre of Calais itself.
(Brief shot of group of Frenchmen with banner. ‘Fin de Cross-Channel jump’.)
Interviewer: Ron are you using any special techniques to jump this great distance?
Ron: Oh no, no. I shall be using an ordinary two-footed jump, er, straight up in the air and across the Channel.
Interviewer: I see. Er, Ron, what is the furthest distance that you’ve jumped, er, so far?
Ron: Er, oh, eleven foot six inches at Motspur Park on July 22nd. Er, but I have done nearly twelve feet unofficially.
(Ron breaks off to make training-type movements.)
Interviewer: I see. Er, Ron, Ron, Ron, aren’t you worried Ron, aren’t you worried
jumping twenty-six miles across the sea?
Ron: Oh, well no, no, no, no. It is in fact easier to jump over sea than over dry land.
Interviewer: Well how is that?
Ron: Er, well my manager explained it to me. You see if you’re five miles out over the English Channel, with nothing but sea underneath you, er, there is a very great impetus to say in the air.
Interviewer: I see. Well, er, thank you very much Ron and the very best of luck.
Ron: Thank you. Thank you.
Interviewer: (to camera) The man behind Ron’s cross-Channel jump is his manager Mr Luigi Vercotti. (turns to speak to Vercotti, who has a Mafia suit and dark glasses) Mr Vercotti, er Mr Vercotti … Mr Vercotti…
Mr Vercotti: What? (mumbles protestations of innocence) I don’t know what you’re talking about.
Interviewer: Er, no, we’re from the BBC, Mr Vercotti.
Mr Vercotti: Who?
Interviewer: The BBC.
Mr Vercotti: Oh, oh. I see. I thought, I thought you were the er . .. I like the police a lot,
I’ve got a lot of time for them.
Interviewer: Mr, er, Mr Vercotti, what is your chief task as Ron’s manager?
Mr Vercotti: Well my main task is, er, to fix a sponsor for the big jump.
Interviewer: And who is the sponsor?
Mr Vercotti: The Chippenham Brick Company. Ah, they, er, pay all the bills, er, in return for which Ron will be carrying half a hundredweight of their bricks.
(We see a passport officer checking Ron’s passport.)
Interviewer: I see. Well, er, it looks as if Ron is ready now. He’s got the bricks. He’s had his passport checked and he’s all set to go. And he’s off on the first ever cross-Channel jump. (Ron runs down the beach and jumps; he lands about four feet into the water) Will Ron be trying the cross-Channel jump again soon?
Mr Vercotti: No. No. I’m taking him off the jumps, Er, because I’ve got something lined up for Ron next week that I think is very much more up his street.
Interviewer: Er, what’s that?
Mr Vercotti: Er, Ron is going to eat Chichester Cathedral.
(Cut to Chichester Cathedral. Ron walks up to it, cleaning his teeth.)
Interviewer: Well, there he goes, Ron Obvious of Neaps End, in an attempt which could
make him the first man ever to eat an entire Anglican Cathedral.
(Ron takes a hefty bite at a buttress, screams and clutches his mouth. Cut to countryside: a map, and a banner saying ‘Tunnelling to Java’. Interviewer and Vercotti walk up to map.)
Mr Vercotti: Well, er, I think, David, this is something which Ron and myself are really keen on. Ron is going to tunnel from Godalming here to Java here. (indicates inaccurately on map)
Mr Vercotti: Yeah, er, I, I personally think this is going to make Ron a household name overnight.
Interviewer: And how far has he got?
Mr Vercotti: Er, well, he’s quite far now, Dave, well on the way. Well on the way, yeah.
Interviewer: Well where is he exactly?
Mr Vercotti: Yeah.
Mr Vercotti: Oh, er, well, er, you know, it’s difficult to say exactly. He’s er, you know, in the area of er, Ron, how far have you got?
Ron: (emerging from hole) Oh about two foot six Mr Vercotri.
Mr Vercotti: Yeah well keep digging lad, keep digging.
Ron: Mr Vercotti are you sure there isn’t a spade?
(Cut to interviewer and Vercotti by railway track)
Interviewer: Er, Mr Vercc,tti, what do you say to people who accuse you of exploiting Ron for your own purposes?
Mr Vercotti: Well, it’s totally untrue, David. Ever since I left Sicily I’ve been trying to do the best for Ron. I know what Ron wants to do, I believe in him and l’m just trying to create the opportunities for Ron to do the kind of things he wants to do.
Interviewer: And what’s he going to do today?
Mr Vercotti: He’s going to split a railway carriage with his nose. (screams off)
(Cut to a hillside; Vercotti, interviewer, and in the background a banner: ‘Running to Mercury’.)
Mr Vercotti: The only difficult bit for Ron is getting out of the Earth’s atmosphere. Er, once he’s in orbit he’ll be able to run straight to Mercury.
(A heavily bandaged Ron leaps off starting platform: freeze frame. Scream. Cut to a tombstone: ‘Ron Obvious 1941- 1969 – very talented’, Pull back to show Vercotti.)
Mr Vercotti: I am now extremely hopeful that Ron will break the world record for remaining underground. He’s a wonderful boy this, he’s got this really enormous talent, this really huge talent.