Series 3, Episode 28: World War I
CAPTAIN Terry Jones
FIRST OFFICER John Cleese
SECOND OFFICER Terry Gilliam
THIRD OFFICER Eric Idle
FOURTH OFFICER Graham Chapman
FIFTH OFFICER Michael Palin
POLICE CHIEF John Cleese
FIRST GUARD Terry Gilliam
SECOND GUARD Eric Idle
Captain: (over tannoy) This is your captain speaking. There is no need for panic. Woman and children first. I repeat that, women and children first.
(Cut to the ship’s bridge. The captain and two or three officers are seen scrambling into ladies’ clothing or young children’s short trousers and school satchels and caps. The ship pitches and rolls in the gale. The captain is still trying to speak into the PA.)
Captain: Do not rush for the lifeboats – remember, women and children first.
(A first officer is revealed in the comer of the bridge putting a head-dress on a Red Indian outfit.)
First Officer: And Red Indians!
Captain: (putting his hand over the PA) What did you have to get dressed up like that for?
First Officer: It was the only thing left.
Captain: Oh. All right. (into the PA) Women, children and Red Indians…
(Cut to another officer in astronaut’s kit.)
Second Officer: And spacemen!
Captain: Here is a revised list. Women, children, Red Indians and spacemen, (hand over PA) what’s that meant to be?
(Cut to third officer who is putting finishing touches to a medieval outfit.)
Third Officer: Well it’s a sort of impression of what a kind of Renaissance courtier artist might have looked like at the court of one of the great families like the Medicis or the Borgias…
Fourth Officer: No it’s not, it’s more Flemish than Italian.
Fifth Officer: Yes – that’s a Flemish merchant of the fifteenth or sixteenth centuries…
Third Officer: What! With these tassles…
Fourth Officer: Yes, yes. They had those lined doublets going tapering down into the full hose you know – exacdy like that.
Captain: (into the PA) One moment, please, don’t panic. (puts his hand over the PA) Now, what is it meant to be? I’ve got to tell them something. Is it a Flemish merchant?
Third Officer: No, it is not a Flemish merchant. It’s more a sort of idealized version of the complete Renaissance Man…
Captain: Oh, all right.
Fourth Officer: It’s not…
Captain: All right! All right! (into the PA) this is your captain speaking… do not rush for the lifeboats … women, children, Red Indians, spacemen (stock film of long shot of sinking vessel, the voice over fading) and a sort of idealized version of complete Renaissance Men first!
CAPTION: ‘A FEW DAYS LATER’
(Cut to a police chief’s office in an anonymous South American police state. The chief of police at his desk. From outside we hear footsteps approaching the office and voices.)
Third Officer’s Voice: Flemish merchants did not wear hand-embroidered chevrons. They did not!
(The door opens and two guards roughly, push in the captain in drag, another officer half in drag, half in naval uniform, two officers hastily dressed as children, a complete Renaissance Man, a Red Indian and a spaceman. They stand there for a moment. Then one of the guards pushes his way forward and hands the police chief a piece of paper.)
Police Chief: Yes, Gomez? (reads) Vee found zero valking on zee beach, my capitain. (the guard nods enthusiasticaly) Gomez, why can’t you say this? (the guard mouths something) What? Oh, I see, we can’t afford it. (to camera) You see the BBC has to pay an actor twenty guineas if he speaks and it makes a bit of a hole in the budget…
First Guard: Twenty-eight guineas, sir! Ooh, sorry.
Police Chief: You fool Gomez – that’s twenty-eight guineas …
Second Guard: What about me, sir?
Police Chief: Are you supposed to speak?
Second Guard: No, sir.
Police Chief: But you’ve just spoken!
Second Guard: Oh, sorry, sir.
Police Chief: You fool, that’s, that’s fifty-six guineas before we’ve even started; (a third guard suddenly rushes up to the window and flashes through it; scream and breaking glass) What did he do that for?
Second Guard: It’s a stunt, sir, an extra twenty guineas.
Police Chief: (banging the desk) Look! We can’t afford it! The BBC are short of money as it is.