Series 1, Episode 12: How Far Can a Minister Fall?
VOICE OVER John Cleese
MINISTER Graham Chapman
MAN Eric Idle
FIRST ROBERT Terry Jones
SECOND ROBERT Eric Idle
THIRD ROBERT John Cleese
PRESENTER Michael Palin
(A girl in bra and pants goes over to television and switches it on.)
Voice Over: … whilst Mary, Roger’s half-sister, settles down to watch television…
(On the screen comes the start of a Party Political Broadcast, complete with caption: ‘A PARTY POLITICAL BROADCAST ON BEHALF OF THE WOOD PARTY’)
Voice Over: There now follows a Party Political Broadcast on behalf of the Wood Party.
(Cut to a traditional grey-suited man at desk looking straight into camera. Superimposed
caption: ‘THE RT. HON. LAMBERT WARBECK’)
Minister: Good evening. We in the Wood Party feel very strongly that the present weak drafting of the Local Government Bill leaves a lot to be desired, and we intend to fight.
(He thumps on the desk and he falls through the floor. As he falls he emits a long scream, fading away slowly. Another man comes and looks down into the pit.)
Man: Hello Helllllllllloooooooooo! (to camera) Er I, I’m afraid the minister’s fallen through the Earth’s crust. Er… excuse me a moment. (goes and looks at Pit) Helloooo.
Minister: (unseen, a long way down) Helloooooo.
Man:. Are you all right minister?
Minister: I appear to have landed on this kind of ledge thing.
Man: Shall we lower down one of the BBC ropes?
Minister: If you’d be so kind.
Man: What length of BBC rope will we be likely to need?
Minister: I should use the longest BBC rope. That would be a good idea I would imagine.
Man: Okey doke chief. Er, Tex get the longest BBC rope, and bring it here pronto.
Minister: (still a long way down) In the meantime, since I am on all channels, perhaps I’d better carry on with this broadcast by shouting about our housing plans from down here as best I can. Could someone throw me down a script. (man drops the script down and Tex appears with enormous coil of rope) The script would appear to have landed on a different ledge somewhat out of my grasp, don’t you know.
Man: Er, well perhaps when the rope reaches you minister you could kind of swing over to the ledge and grab it.
Minister: Good idea.
(Cut to minister swinging on rope. Caption on screen: ‘THE RT. HON. LAMBERT WARBECK’)
Minister: Well I’m going to carry on, if I can read the script. He swings over to a ledge opposite with a script on it. As he gets near he peers and starts reading.
Minister: Good evening. We in the Wood Party (he swings away and then back) feel very strongly about (swings away and back) the present weak drafting of the Local Government Bill and no, no – it’s no good, it’s not working.., I think I’ll have to try and make a grab for it. Ah. There we are.
(‘he swings over and grabs the script with one hand; he tn’es to turn to camera and continues) Good evening. We in the Wood Party feel very strongly about the present (he makes a vigorous gesture and in so doing lets go of rope and slips so that he is now hanging upside down) ugh, ugh. Oh dear. Hello!
Man: (out of vision) Hello.
Minister: Look, look, I must look a bit of a chump hanging upside down like this.
Man: (out of vision) Don’t worry minister. (cut to man looking off-camera) I think love if we turn the picture upside down we should help the minister, then.
Cut to minister. The picture is now the other way up. The minister now appears to be the might way up)
Minister: Oh good. Look, er, I’m sorry about this, but there seem to be a few gremlins about… I think I’d better start from the beginning. Er, good evening, we in the Wood Party feel very strongly about, oh … (he drops script) Bloody heck. Oh, oh dear, er terribly sorry about this, about saying bloody heck on all channels, but, er…
Man: (out of vision) There’s another script on the way down minister.
Minister: Oh good, good. Well … er… er… um… Good evening. Er … well… er… how are
you? Er… Oh yes look, I don’t want you to think of the Wood Party as a load of old men that like hanging around on ropes only I … er … oh … oh.
(Meanwhile a man, the right way up, has been lowered down to the minister. As the picture is reversed, he appears to be moving straight up towards him. The minister sees him.)
Minister: Ah. Thank you. (taking script; the man on the rope starts to climb back up)
Good evening, we in the Wood Party feel very strongly about the present weak drafting… (man falls past with a scream) Look. I think we’d better call it a day.
(Cut to two men at a desk in a discussion set.)
First Robert: Is this the furthest distance that a minister has fallen? Robert.
(Cut to Robert.)
Second Robert: Well surprisingly not. The Canadian Minister for External Affairs fell nearly seven miles during a Liberal Conference in Ottawa about six years ago, and then quite recently the Kenyan Minister for Agric. and Fish fell nearly twelve miles during a Nairobi debate in Parliament, although this hasn’t been ratified yet.
First Robert: Er, how far did the Filipino cabinet fall last March?
Second Robert: Er, well they fell nearly thirty-nine miles but it’s not really so remarkable as that was due to their combined weight, of course. Robert.
First Robert: Thank you, Robert. Well now what’s your reaction to all this, Robert?
(Cut to third Robert who is staring intently into camera. He is wearing a fright wig and has a left eyebrow four inches above his right one.)
Third Robert: Well, well Robert the main thing is that it’s terribly exciting. You see the minister is quite dearly lodged between rocks we know terribly little of. Terribly little. Of course the main thing is we’re getting colour pictures of an extraordinarily high quality. The important thing is, the really exciting thing is the minister will (as he gets more excited he starts to emit smoke) be bringing back samples of the Earth’s core which will give us a tremendous, really tremendous tremendous tremendous clue about the origins of the Earth and what God himself is made of. (he bursts into fire and someone has to throw a buckets of water over him) Oh, oh I needed that.
(Cut back to first Robert.)
First Robert: Thank you Robert. Well that seems to be about all we have time for tonight. Unless anyone has anything else to say. Has anyone anything else to say?
(Various ‘noes’ plus one ‘bloody fairy’ and more noes, from a very rapid montage of all the possible characters in this week’s show saying ‘no’. The last one we come to is the Spectrum presenter. He says more than no.)
Presenter: What do we mean by no, what do we mean by yes, what do we mean by no,
no, no. Tonight Spectrum looks at the whole question of what is no.
(The sixteen-ton weight falls on him.)