Series 1, Episode 11: Battle of Trafalgar
GIRL Carol Cleveland
VOICE OVER John Cleese
PROFESSOR Michael Palin
MAN Terry Jones
CANNING Graham Chapman
FIRST GUMBY Michael Palin
SECOND GUMBY Eric Idle
THIRD GUMBY Graham Chapman
FOURTH GUMBY John Cleese
(Sketch starts with incredibly torchy music, after eight seconds of which a caption appears on the screen: ‘THE WORLD OF HISTORY’ followed by another caption: ‘SOCIAL LEGISLATION IN THE EIGHTEENTH CENTURY’)
(Cut to fantastically alluring boudoir: a plush four poster bed with silk drapes, silk sheets, a fur pillow etc. We look down on it from above. Stretched out on the bed is a girl oozing with sex… a real professional… black net stocking, suspenders, bra and panties or what have you. She moves as if in the throes of orgasm as she mimes to a very masculine voice off to a superimposed caption on the screen: ‘J. P. TAYLOR’)
Voice Over: (very masculine voice to which girl mimes) Good evening. Tonight I want to examine the whole question of eighteenth-century social legislation – its relevance to the hierarchical structure of post-Renaissance society, and its impact on the future of parochial organization in an expanding agrarian economy. But first a bit of fun.
Cut to film of eight-second striptease. Cut immediately back to the same set.)
Voice Over: To put England’s social legislation in a European context is Professor Gert Van Der Whoops of the Rijksmuseum in the Hague.
(Cut to another bed, equally seductive. A little bespecled professor is lying on it being caressed and undressed by an amorous siren.)
Professor: (German accent) In Holland in the early part of the fifteenth century there was three things important to social legislation. One … rise of merchant classes … two, urbanization of craft guilds… three, declining moral values in age of increasing social betterment. But first, a bit of fun … (grabs girl)
(A curtain and potted palms. Sound effects: angel choirs. A man in dinner jacket with angel’s wings on is lowered from above. As he touches the ground the angel choirs fade out. He gets a crumpled piece of paper out of his pocket.)
Man: And now Professor R.J. Canning.
(He holds up the paper and puts it away. The angel choirs start again and he slowly rises up and out of frame. Cut to Professor Canning in straight presentation-type set with BP screen behind him. Followed by a caption on the screen : ‘PROFESSOR R. J. CANNING AGAIN’)
Canning: The cat sat on the mat. And now the Battle of Trafalgar… (on the screen behind him a contemporary picture of the Battle of Trafalgar flashes up) Tonight we examine popular views of this great battle. Was the Battle of Trafalgar fought in the Atlantic off southern Spain? Or was it fought on dry land near Cudworth in Yorkshire? Here is one man who thinks it was…
Cut to a man – a Gumby – with gum boots on, rolled up trousers, knotted handkerchief etc., looking very thick and standing in the middle of a field.)
Canning: (voice over) And here is his friend.
(Camera pans lightly losing Gumby but revealing identically dressed thick man standing next to him. The camera pans back to original Gumby. This is followed by a caption on the screen: ‘PROFESSOR R. J. GUMBY’)
Canning: (voice over) What makes you think the Battle of Trafalgar was fought near Cudworth? (There is a long pause.)
First Gumby: Because … Drake … was … too … clever for… the German … fleet.
Canning: (voice over) I beg your pardon?
Gumby: … Oh I’ve forgotten what I said now.
Canning: (voice over) Mr Gumby’s remarkable views have sparked off a wave of controversy amongst his fellow historians.
(Cut to identical Gumby figure in book lined study. He stands followed by a caption on the screen: ‘F. H. GUMBY. REGIUS PROFESSOR OF HISTORY AT HIS MOTHER’S’)
Second Gumby: Well I rink … we … should … reappraise … our concept of the … Battle of Trafalgar.
(Cut to another Gumby, this time outside a university. A superimposed caption flashes on screen: ‘PROF. L. R. GUMBY’)
Third Gumby: Well… well… I agree with everything Mr Gumby says.
(Cut to yet another Gumby. This time standing in a pig-sty with pigs. We seen another caption : ‘PROF. ENID GUMBY’)
Fourth Gumby: Well, I think cement is more interesting than people think.
(Original sexy girl in seductive boudoir as she mimes to masculine voice over while a superimpoed caption appears on the screen as before: ‘A. J. P. TAYLOR’)
Voice Over: One subject… four different views … (brandishing egg-whisk) twelve and six… in a plain wrapper.