Series 2, Episode 23: Scott of the Antarctic
PHIL Eric Idle
CONGER Graham Chapman
SCHLICK Eric Idle
McRETTIN John Cleese
OATES Terry Jones
SCOTT Michael Palin
EVANS Carol Cleveland
Phil: Pretty strong meat there from Longueur who is saying, of course, that ultimately materialism, in this case the Webb’s Wonder lettuce, must destroy us all. That was for O. Simon, K. Simon, P. Simon and R. Sparrow of Leicester. Later on, we’re going to take a look at John Wayne’s latest movie, ‘Buckets of Blood Pouring Out of People’s Heads’ but now we look ahead. On Tuesday Chris Conger took a BBC film unit to the location where 20th Century Vole are shooting their latest epic ‘Scott of the Antarctic’.
(Chris Conger standing with back to pier and a few holidaymakers behind him.)
Conger: Sea, sand and sunshine make Paignton the queen of the English Riviera. But for the next six months this sleepy Devonshire resort will be transformed into the blizzard-swept wastes of the South Pole. For today shooting starts on the epic ‘Scott of the Antarctic’, produced by Gerry Schlick. (walks over to Schlick)
Schlick: (American accent) Hello.
Conger: Gerry, you chose Paignton as the location for Scott.
Schlick: Right, right.
Conger: Isn’t it a bit of a drawback that there’s no snow here?
Schlick: Well, we have 28,000 cubic feet of Wintrex, which is a new white foam rubber which actually on screen looks more like snow than snow…
(Cut to shot of people nailing and sticking white foam rubber over things. It looks terrible. Others are painting the sand with white paint.)
Schlick: … and 1,600 cubic US furlongs of white paint, with a special snow finish.
Conger: And I believe Kirk Vilb is playing the title role.
Schlick: That is correct. We were very thrilled and honoured when Kirk agreed to play the part of Lieutenant Scott (cut to Kirk Vilb who is wearing fur open at the chest; he is having a chest wig stuck on and icing sugar squeezed on to his nose and eyebrows) because a star of his magnitude can pick and choose, but he read the title and just flipped. (cut back to Gerry Schlick and Chris Conger) And directing we have a very fine young British director, James Rettin, who’s been collaborating on the screenplay, of course Jimmy… (Rettin rushes into foreground. He is in no way like J. McGrath.)
Rettin: Oh, there you are. Hello. Hello. No problem. Have a drink. Have a drink. Great. Hello. Marvellous. Marvellous. Hello. Rewrite. Oh this is really great. I mean, it’s really saying something, don’t you think?
Conger: Have you started shooting yet?
McRettin: Yes, yes. Great. Perfect. No, no, we haven’t started yet. No. But great – great.
Conger: What is the first scene that you shoot this morning?
Rettin: Great. Terrific. Oh it’s great. No problem. We’ll sort it out on the floor. Sort it out on the floor. No problem. This film is basically pro-humanity and anti-bad things and it rips aside the hypocritical facade of our society’s gin and tonic and leaves a lot of sacred cows rolling around in agony, have a drink, have a drink.
Conger: But which scene are we shooting first, Jimmy?
Rettin: Yes, great. Oh, marvellous. (calls out) Which scene are we shooting first? What? (to Conger) it’s scene one. Scene one. It’s in the middle of the movie. Well, it is now. I rewrote it. (calls.) I thought we cut that? Didn’t we cut that?
Schlick: No, we didn’t.
MeRettin: We didn’t. Oh great. That’s even better. I’ll put it back in. Rewrite. (calling) Scene one’s back in everyone. Scene one’s back in. Great. Great. (to Conger) This is the scene- outside the tent- it’s all bloody marvenous. It makes you want to throw up.
(Cut to Schlick and Conger on the beach.)
Schlick: Now in this scene Lieutenant Scott returns to camp in the early morning after walking the huskies to have brunch with the rest of his team. (cut to shot of tent with Bowers, who is black, and Oates, sitting outside) Oates, played by your very own lovely Terence Lemming, who is an English cockney officer seconded to the US Navy, and Bowers played by Seymour Fortescue, the Olympic pole vaulter.
(Film: Scott comes up to them. He has tmo large boxes strapped to his feet to make him look tall.)
Oates: Hi, Lieutenant.
Scott: Hi, Oatesy. Sure is a beautiful day already.
Rettin: (rushing in) Great, great.
Scott: What? What are you saying?
Rettin: I was just saying great, great. Cue Evans.
(Sexy girl with long blond hair comes into shot with short pink fur coat. She walks up to Scott who towers four feet above her as she is walking in a trench.)
Schlick: And this is Vanilla Hoare as Miss Evans.
Conger: Miss Evans?
(Miss Evans is now beneath. Scott at knee height.)
Scott: Good morning, Miss Evans.
Evans: Oh, I’ve forgotten my line.
McRcttin: What’s her line? What’s her line?
(Girl runs in with script.)
Girl: lt’s ‘Good morning, Captain Scott’.
Evans: Oh, yeah. ‘Good morning, Captain.’ Sc’..; oh, I’m just not happy with that line. Could I just say Hi Scottie ?
Rettin: Great. Great. Rewrite. Cue.
Girl: Hi Scarrie Oh, sorry. Hi Stocky! Oh – I’m sorry again. Oh, Jim. I’m just unhappy with this line. Hey, can I do it all sort of kooky, (goes beserk waving hands) Hi Scottie!
Rettin: Great! We’ll shoot it.
Scott: Are you sure that’s right?
Rettin: Oh, it’s great.
(Gerry Schlick walks into the shot.)
Rettin: Jim! Jim! Oh, me!
Schlick: Jim, I feel we may be running into some problems here in the area of height.
Rettin: Great! Where are they?
Schlick: Where are who?
Rettin: I don’t know. I was getting confused.
Schlick: Jim, I feel here, that Scott may be too tall in the area of height with reference to Vanilla who is too near the ground in the area of being too short at this time.
Rettin: Great … Oh, I know. I’m going to dig a pit for Scott and put a box in Vanilla’s trench.
Scott: Say, why don’t I take the boxes off and Vanilla get up out of the trench.
Rettin: It wouldn’t work… It’s even better! Great. Rewrite!
Evans: What was that?
McRettin: Oh, it’s easy. I’ve worked it out. Scott takes his boxes off and you don’t stand in the trench.
Evans: I say my lines out of the trench?
Rettin: Even better. Great.
Evans: But I’ve never acted out of a trench. I might fall over. It’s dangerous.
Rettin: Oh well, could you just try it?
Evans: Look, you crumb bum, I’m a star. Star, star, star. I don’t get a million dollars to act out of a trench. I played Miss St. John the Baptist in a trench, (she walks along in the trench and we see that she has two boxes strapped to her feet) and I played Miss Napoleon Bonaparte in a trench, and I played Miss Alexander Fleming in a furrow so if you want this scene played out of a trench, well you just get yourself a goddamn stuntman. (walks off) I played Miss Galileo in a groove and I played Mrs. Jesus Christ in a geological syncline, so don’t…
McRettin: Great. Great everyone. Lunch now. Lunch. It’s all in the can. Good morning’s work.
Schlick: But you haven’t done a shot.
McRettin: Just keeping morale up. (tries to take a drink from his view finder)
(The same afternoon.)
Schlick: Now this afternoon we’re going to shoot the scene where Scott gets off the boat on to the ice floe and he sees the lion and he fights it and kills it and the blood goes pssssssssshhh in slow
Conger: But there aren’t any lions in the Antarctic.
Conger: There aren’t any lions in the Antarctic.
Schlick: You’re right. There are no lions in the Antarctic. That’s ridiculous; whoever heard of a lion in the Antarctic. Right. Lose the lion.
Rettin: Got to keep the lion. It’s great!
Schlick: Lose the lion.
Rettin: Great. We’re losing the lion. Rewrite. Lose the lion everyone. That’s fantastic,
Scott: What’s this about our losing the lion?
Schlick: Well, Kirk, we thought perhaps we might lose the fight with the lion a little bit, Kirk, angel.
Scott: (loudly) Why?
Schlick: Well, Kirkie, doll, there are no lions in the Antarctic, baby.
Scott: (shouts) I get to fight the lion.
Schlick: It’d be silly.
Scott: Listen, I gotta fight the lion. That’s what that guy Scott’s all about. I know. I’ve studied him already.
Schlick: But why couldn’t you fight a penguin?
Rettin: Great! (falls over)
Scott: Fight a rotten penguin?
Schlick: It needn’t be a little penguin. It can be the biggest penguin you’ve ever seen. An electric penguin, twenty feet high, with long green tentacles that sting people, and you can stab it in the wings and the blood can go spurting psssssshhhh in slow motion.
Scott: The lion is in the contract.
Schlick: He fights the lion.
Rettin: Even better. Great. Have a drink. Lose the penguin. Stand by to shoot. (falls over)
Schlick: Where do they have lions?
Schlick: That’s it. Scott’s in Africa. As many lions as we need.
Schlick: He’s looking for a pole no one else knows about. That ties in with the sand. Right. Paint the sand yellow again. Okay, let’s get this show on the road. ‘Scott of the Sahara.’