Series 1, Episode 8: Army Protection Racket
VOICE OVER John Cleese
COLONEL Graham Chapman
WATKINS Eric Idle
DINO Terry Jones
LUIGI Michael Palin
(Stock film of the amy. Tanks rolling, troops moving forward etc. Stirring military music.)
Voice Over: In 1943, a group of British Army Officers working deep behind enemy lines, carried out one of the most dangerous and heroic raids in the history of warfare. But that’s as maybe. And now…
(Superimposed Caption on Screen : ‘AND NOW . . . UNOCCUPIED BRITAIN I970’
Cut to colond’s office. Colond is seated at desk.)
Colonel: Come in, what do you want?
(Private Watkins enters and salutes.)
Watkins: I’d like to leave the army please, sir.
Colonel: Good heavens man, why?
Watkins: It’s dangerous.
Watkins: There are people with guns out there, sir.
Watkins: Real guns, sir. Not toy ones, sir. Proper ones, sir. They’ve all got ’em. All of ’em, sir. And some of ’em have got tanks.
Colonel: Watkins, they are on our side.
Watkins: And grenades, sir. And machine guns, sir. So I’d like to leave, sir, before I get killed, please.
Colonel: Watkins, you’ve only been in the army a day.
Watkins: I know sir but people get killed, properly dead, sir, no barley cross fingers, sir. A bloke was telling me, if you’re in the army and there’s a war you have to go and fight.
Colonel: That’s true.
Watkins: Well I mean, blimey, I mean if it was a big war somebody could be hurt.
Colonel: Watkins why did you join the army?
Watkins: For the water-skiing and for the travel, sir. And not for the killing, sir. I asked them to put it on my form, sir – no killing.
Colonel: Watkins are you a pacifist?
Watkins: No sir, l’m not a pacifist, sir. I’m a coward.
Colonel: That’s a very silly line. Sit down.
Watkins: Yes sir. Silly, sir. (sits in corner)
Colonel: Awfully bad.
(Knock at the door, sergeant enters, and salutes.)
Sergeant: Two civilian gentlemen to see you … sir!
Colonel: Show them in please, sergeant.
Sergeant: Mr Dino Vercotti and Mr Luigi Vercotti.
(The Vercotti brothers enter. They wear Mafia suits and dark glasses.)
Dino: Good morning, Colonel.
Colonel: Good morning gentlemen. Now what can I do for you.
Luigi: (looking round office casually) You’ve … you’ve got a nice army
base here, Colonel.
Luigi: We wouldn’t want anyfing to happen to it.
Dino: No, what my brother means is it would be a shame if… (he knocks something
Dino: Oh sorry, Colonel.
Colonel: Well don’t worry about that. But please do sit down.
Luigi: No, we prefer to stand, thank you, Colonel.
Colonel: All right. All right. But what do you want?
Dino: What do we want, ha ha ha.
Luigi: Ha ha ha, very good, Colonel.
Dino: The Colonel’s a joker, Luigi.
Luigi: Explain it to the Colonel, Dino.
Dino: How many tanks you got, Colonel?
Colonel: About five hundred altogether.
Luigi: Five hundred! Hey!
Dino: You ought to be careful, co1onel.
Colonel: We are careful, extremely careful.
Dino: ‘Cos fings break, don’t they?
Luigi: Well everyfing breaks, don’t it colonel? (he breaks something on desk) Oh dear.
Dino: Oh see my brother’s clumsy Colonel, and when he gets unhappy he breaks fings. Like say, he don’t feel the army’s playing fair by him, he may start breaking fings, Colonel.
Colonel: What is all this about?
Luigi: How many men you got here, Colonel?
Colonel: Oh, er … seven thousand infantry, six hundred artillery, and er, two divisions
Luigi: Paratroops, Dino.
Dino: Be a shame if someone was to set fire to them.
Colonel: Set fire to them?
Luigi: Fires happen, Colonel.
Dino: ‘fings burn.
Colonel: Look, what is all this about?
Dino: My brother and I have got a little proposition for you Colonel.
Luigi: Could save you a lot of bother.
Dino: I mean you’re doing all right here aren’t you, Colonel.
Luigi: Well suppose some of your tanks was to get broken and troops started getting lost, er, fights started breaking out during general inspection, like.
Dino: It wouldn’t be good for business would it, Colonel?
Colonel: Are you threatening me?
Dino: Oh, no, no, no.
Luigi: Whatever made you think that, Colonel?
Dino: The Colonel doesn’t think we’re nice people, Luigi.
Luigi: We’re your buddies, Colonel.
Dino: We want to look after you.
Colonel: Look after me?
Luigi: We can guarantee you that not a single armoured division will get done over for fifteen bob a week.
Colonel: No, no, no.
Luigi: Twelve and six.
Colonel: No, no, no.
Luigi: Eight and six … five bob…
Colonel: No, no this is silly.
Dino: What’s silly?
Colonel: No, the whole premise is silly and it’s very badly written. I’m the senior officer
here and I haven’t had a funny line yet. So I’m stopping it.
Dino: You can’t do that!
Colonel: I’ve done it. The sketch is over.
Watkins: I want to leave the army please sir, it’s dangerous.
Colonel: Look, I stopped your sketch five minutes ago. So get out of shot. Right director!
Close up. Zoom in on me. (camera zooms in) That’s better.
Luigi: (off screen) It’s only ‘cos you couldn’t think of a punch line.
Colonel: Not true, not true. It’s time for the cartoon. Cue telecine, ten, nine, eight…
(Cut to telecine countdown.)
Dino: (off screen) The general public’s not going to understand this, are they?
Colonel: (off screen) Shut up you eyeties!