Series 3, Episode 31: Fire Brigade
MRS. LITTLE Terry Jones
FIRST FIREMAN Michael Palin
SECOND FIREMAN Eric Idle
MERVYN John Cleese
EAMONN Graham Chapman
ANNOUNCER Michael Palin
(We see little old Mrs Little on the phone in her hall. She is a dear little old lady and lives in a rather fussy ducks-on-wall house.)
Mrs Little: Hello, is that the fire brigade?
(Cut to the fire station.)
First Fireman: No, sorry, wrong number.
(He puts the phone back. Pull out to reveal four or five firemen in full gear, surrounded by fire-fighting equipment and a gleaming fire engine. The firemen are engaged in a variety of homely pursuits: one is soldering a crystal set, another is cooking at a workbench, another is doing embroidery, another is at a sewing machine. The first fireman is at the phone on the wall. He goes back to clearing up a budgie’s cage.)
Second Fireman: That phone’s not stopped ringing all day.
Third Fireman: What happens when you’ve mixed the batter, do you dice the ham with the coriander?
First Fireman: No, no, you put them in separately when the vine leaves are ready.
(The phone rings.)
Second Fireman: Oh, no, not again.
Third Fireman: Take it off the hook.
(The first fireman takes the phone off the hook. Cut back to Mrs Little on phone. She looks at the receiver then listens again.)
Mrs Little: I can’t get the fire brigade Mervyn.
(Mervyn, her 38-year-old, 6′ 8″ son appears.)
Mervyn: Here, let me try, dear. You go and play the cello.
Mrs Little: Oh it doesn’t do any good, dear.
Mervyn: Look. Do you want the little hamster to live or not?
Mrs Little: Yes I do, Mervyn.
Mervyn: Well go and play the cello!
(She looks helplessly at him, then goes into the sitting room, Mervyn dials.)
Mervyn: Hello, hello, operator? Yes we’re trying to get the fire brigade… No, the fire brigade. Yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, what? …
(he takes one of his shoes off and looks in it)
Size eight. Yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, no of course not, Yes…
(Mrs Little appears, dabbing at her eyes with a handkerchief.)
Mrs Little: (touching Mervyn gently on the arm) He’s gone, dear.
Mrs Little: He’s slipped away.
Mrs Little: The soing hamster’s dead!
Mervyn: (broken) Oh no!! What were you playing?
Mrs Little: Some Mozart concertos, dear.
Mervyn: What… How did he… ?
Mrs Little: His eyes just closed, and he fell into the wastepaper basket. I’ve covered him with a copy of the ‘Charlie George Football Book’.
Mervyn: (handing her the phone) Right, you hang on. I must go and see him.
Mrs Little: There was nothing we could do, Mervyn. If we’d have had the whole Philharmonic Orchestra in there, he’d still have gone.
Mervyn: I’m going upstairs, I can’t bear it.
Mrs Little: (restraining him) There isn’t an upstairs dear, it’s a bungalow.
Mervyn: Damn. (he storms off)
Mrs Little: (into the phone)
Hello, I’m sorry to keep you waiting, It’s just that…
(she takes her shoe off and looks inside)
size three, yes it’s just- we’ve lost a dear one and my son was… yes, that’s right, size eight, yes and… Oh I see… yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, I see, yes, yes, I, I … Yes, yes. No … no… yes, I see. Can’t get the fire brigade Mervyn – will the Boys’ Brigade do?
Mervyn: (off) No! They’d be useless!
Mrs Little: No, he doesn’t want anyone at the moment, thank you. No, yes, yes, no thank you for trying, yes, yes… no, Saxones, yes, yes thank you, bye, bye.
As she puts the phone down the front door beside her opens and there stands a huge African warrior in war paint and with a spear and shield. At his feet are several smart suitcases.)
Mrs Little: Eamonn. (he brings in the cases and doses the front door) Mervyn! Look it’s our Eamonn- oh let me look at you, tell me how… how is it in Dublin?
Eamonn: Well, things is pretty bad there at the moment but there does seem some hope of a constitutional settlement.
Mrs Little: Oh don’t talk. Let me just look at you,
Eamonn: Great to be home, mummy. How are you?
Mrs Little: Oh, I’m fine. I must just go upstairs and get your room ready.
Eamonn: It’s a bungalow, mummy.
Mrs Little: Oh dam, yes. Mervyn, Mervyn – look who’s here, it’s our Eamonn come back to see us.
(Mervyn appears. He still looks shattered by the death of the hamster.)
Mervyn: Hello, Eamonn.
Eamonn: Hello, Merv.
Mervyn: How was Dublin?
Eamonn: Well as I was telling mummy here, things is pretty bad there at the moment but there does seem some hope of a constitutional settlement.
(The phone rings)
Mervyn: (answering phone) Hello, yes, yes, yes, yes, yes – what? what? …(looking at Eamonn bare foot) Size seven. Yes, yes, yes, yes, yes… it’s the fire brigade, they want to know if they can come round Thursday evening.
Mrs Little: Oh no, Thursday’s the Industrial Relations Bill Dinner Dance. Can’t they make it another day?
Mervyn: (into the phone) Hello, no Thursday’s right out. Yes, yes, yes, yes… (fade out)
(Fade up on a dinner-jacketed announcer sitting at a table with a bowl of flowers on it. A hand waves by inside the bowl of flowers.)
Announcer: And so it was the fire brigade eventually came round on Friday night.
(Cut to fire engines skiing out of the fire station and roaring away- speeded up. They skid to a halt outside the Littles’ suburban house. Fireman pour out of the fire engine and start to swarm in through the windows. Cut to interior of Littles’ sitting room. It is laid out for a cocktail party. Mervyn is in evening dress and is sitting on the sofa looking very depressed Mrs Little in a faded cocktail dress. Eamonn still in warpaint with spear and shield~ The fireman appear.)
Mrs Little: Oh, so glad you could come. What would you like to drink? Gin and tonic? Sherry?
Fireman: (in unison) A drop of sherry would be lovely. (as she starts to pour drinks the firemen confide in unison) We do like being called out to these little parties, they’re much better than fires.
The phone rings. Half the fireman go to answer it.
Fireman #2 (off) Yes, yes yes.
Fireman: Well, how was Dublin, Eamonn?
Eamonn: Well, as I was telling mummy and Mervyn earlier, things is pretty bad there at the moment but there does seem some hope of a constitutional…
Mrs Little: (to camera) Look at them enjoying themselves.
(shot of party in the hall; we can just see the fireman on phone; they keep looking at their shoe sizes)
You know I used to dread parties until I watched ‘Party Hints by Veronica’. I think it’s on now…
(Panning shot across mountains in CinemaScope format.)
SUPERIMPOSED ROLLER CAPTION:
THE BRITISH BROADCASTING CORPORATION
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