Series 3, Episode 35: Prices on the Planet Algon
VOICE OVER John Cleese
JAMES M’BURKE Michael Palin
HARRY Terry Jones
PROFESSOR HERMAN KHAN Eric Idle
(An animated sketch, and then to a strange moonlike landscape. Eerie science-fiction music plays in the background.)
Voice Over: This is the planet Algon, fifth world in the system of Aldebaran, the Red Giant in the constellation of Sagittarius. Here an ordinary cup of drinking chocolate costs four million pounds, an immersion heater for the hot-water tank costs over six billion pounds. and a pair of split-crotch panties would be almost unobtainable.
(cut to a budget-day-type graphic, with a picture of the product and the price alongside) A simple rear window de-misting device for an 1100 costs eight thousand million billion pounds and a new element for an electric kettle like this
(picture of electric kettle) would cost as much as the entire gross national product of the United States of America from 1770 to the year 2000,
(graphic of American GNP) and even then they wouldn’t be able to afford the small fixing ring which attaches it to the kettle.
(graphic of an electric kettle showing all the separate pieces detatched from each other, arrow points to the fixing ring)
(Cut to James M’Burke sitting at a desk. ‘Algon I’ motifs everywhere. Another expert stands by a model of the planet, and there is a panel of experts at a long desk who are all obviously dummies. Everyone has one of those single earphones.)
M’Burke: Well, our computers have been working all day to analyse the dramatic information that’s come in from this first ever intergalactic probe, Algon… I…
(suddenly very excited as he hears something over his earphone) …and we’re just getting an interesting development now, which is that attachments for rotary mowers- that is mowers that have a central circular blade- are… relatively inexpensive! Stir in the region ‘of nine or ten million pounds, but it does seem to indicate that Algon might be a very good planet for those with larger gardens… or perhaps even an orchard that’s been left for two years, needs some heavy work, some weeding…
(very, indistinct piaures start to come through on the screen behind him) But we’re now getting some live pictures through from Algon! Harry – Perhaps you could talk us through them.
(Cut into pictures from Algon.)
SUPERIMPOSED CAPTION: ‘LIVE FROM ALGON’
(Very fuzzy pictures of the Algon landscape. Panning and tracking shots hand held.)
Harry: (voice over) Very little evidence of shopping facilities here… there don’t seem to be any large supermarkets. There may be some on-the-comer grocery stores behind those rocks, but it’s difficult m tell from this angle. It does seem to suggest that most of the shopping here is by direct mail.
SUPERIMPOSED TELEPRINTER CAPTION: DIGESTIVE BISCUITS; £8,OOO,OOO PER PACKET’
(Cut to James M ‘Burke.)
M’Burke: Of course the big question that everyone’s asking here is, what about those split-crotch parities? Are they going to be unobtainable throughout the Universe or merely on Algon itself?. Professor?
(Cut to a professor sitting beside a contour model of an area of Algon. It has a little model of the probe marb’ng where it has landed)
SUPERIMPOSED CAPTION: ‘PROFESSOR HERMAN KHAN, DIRECTOR OF THE INSTITUTE OF SPLIT-CROTCH PANTIES’
Professor: We must remember that Algon is over 75,000 miles wide. The probes come down to this area here and we’re really only getting signals from a radius of only thirty or forty miles around the probe. Split-crotch panties, or indeed any items of what we scientists call, ‘Sexy Underwear’ or ‘Erotic Lingerie’ may be much more plentiful on other parts of the planet.
(Camera pans to include M’Burke.)
M’Burke: Professor, you were responsible for finding Scanty-Panties and Golden Goddess High-Lift Bras on planets which were never thought able to sustain life, and now that man has discovered a new galaxy do you think we’re going to see underwear become even naughtier?
Professor: Oh naughtier and naughtier.
SUPERIMPOSED TELEPRINTER CAPTION: ‘NO BANANAS ON ALGON’
M’Burke: Well so much for that… But of course, the probe itself has excited a great deal of interest… for it contains uranium-based dual transmission cells entirely re-charged by solar radiation, which can take off a bra and panties in less than fifteen seconds. It is, of course, the first piece of space hardware to be specially designed to undress ladies, and so there are bound to be some teething troubles… such as how to cope with the combination of elastic-sided boots and tights.
(He produces the bottom half of a tailor’s dummy wearing boots and tights with panties over the tights halfway down. On the screen behind, more dim indecipherable TV pictures from Algon.)
M’Burke: But I think we’re getting some pictures now from Algon itself, and it looks as though … yes! The satellite has found a bird! The probe has struck crumpet and she looks pretty good too! Professor?
Professor: Ja- she’s a real honey!
(All we see on the screen is a blurred female figure.)
M’Burke: Well the pictures are a bit sporadic… I think probably… the solar radiation during the long journey to Algon…
(the screen goes blank) Hoy! Look! Oh dear, I’m sorry we’ve lost contact. We’ll try and re-establish contact with Algon…
(Cut to presenter’s-type chair. Mr Badger appears at side of screen.)
Badger: Hello… The BBC have offered me the sum of forty pence to read the credits of this show.
(sits) Personally I thought they should have held out for the full seventy-five, but the BBC have explained to me about their financial difficulties and… er… I decided to accept the reduced offer… so … the show was conceived, written and performed by… the usual lot…
(the signature tune is heard) Also appearing were Carol Cleveland, Marie Anderson, Mrs Idle, Make-up – Madelaine Gaffney, Costume – Hazel Pethig, Animations by Terry Gilliam, Visual Effects Designer – Bernard Wilkie, Graphics – Bob Blagden, Film Cameraman – Alan Featherstone, Film Editor – Ray Millichope, Sound – Richard Chubb, Lighting – Bill Bailey, Designer – Bob Berk, Produced by Ian MacNaughton for 92p and a bottle of Bells whisky … it was a BBC colour production. That’s just it. I’d like to say if there are any BBC producers looking in who need people to read the credits for them, I would personally…
(The camera pulls out to reveal the sixteen-ton weight poised above him. As the picture fades the weight falls on him.)