Series 3, Episode 30: Pantomime Horse
CITY GENT John Cleese
VOICE OVER John Cleese
(The door opens and two pantomime horses run in. Pantomime music. They do a routine including running round the room and bumping into each other. They then stand in front of the city gent crossing their legs and putting their heads on one side.)
City Gent: Now I’ve asked you to …
(they repeat the routine)
City Gent: Now I’ve asked you …
(they start again)
City Gent: Shut up!
City Gent: Now I’ve asked you in here to see me this morning because I’m afraid we’re going to have to let one of you go.
(the pantomime horses heads go up, their ears waggle and their eyes go round)
City Gent: I’m very sorry but the present rationalization of this firm makes it inevitable that we hive one of you off.
(water spurts out of their eyes in a stream)
City Gent: Now you may think that this is very harsh behaviour but let me tell you that our management consultants actually queried the necessity for us to employ- a pantomime horse at all.
(the horses register surprise and generally behave ostentatiously)
City Gent: And so the decision has to be made which one of you is to go. Champion… how many years have you been with this firm?
(Champion stamps his foot three times)
City Gent: Trigger?
(Trigger stamps his front foot twice and rear foot once)
City Gent: I see. Well, it’s a difficult decision. But in accordance with our traditional principles of free enterprise and healthy competition I’m going to ask the two of you to fight to the death for it.
(one of the horses runs up to him and puts his head by the city gent’s ear)
City Gent: No, I’m afraid there’s no redundancy scheme.
(The hones turn and start kicking each other on the shins. After a few blows)
Voice Over: (German accent) In the hard and unrelenting world of nature the ceaseless struggle for survival continues. (one of the pantomime horses turns tail and runs out) This time one of the pantomime horses concedes defeat and so lives to fight another day.
(cut to stock film of sea lions fighting)
Voice Over: Here, in a colony of sea lions, we see a huge bull sea lion seeing off an intruding bull who is attempting to intrude on his harem. This pattern of aggressive behaviour is typical of these documentaries.
(cut to shot of two almost stationary limpets)
Voice Over: Here we see two limpets locked in a life or death struggle for territory. The huge bull limpet, enraged by the rock, endeavours to encircle its sprightly opponent.
(shot of wolf standing still)
Voice Over: Here we see an ant. This ant is engaged in a life or death struggle with the wolf. You can see the ant creeping up on the wolf on all sixes.
(a moving arrow is superimposed)
Now he stops to observe. Satisfied that the wolf has not heard him, he approaches nearer. With great skill he chooses his moment and then, quick as a limpet, with one mighty bound
(the arrow moves to the wolf’s throat; the wolf does not move)
buries his fangs in the wolf’s neck. The wolf struggles to no avail. A battle of this kind can take anything up to fifteen years because the timber ant has such a tiny mouth.
(distant shot of two men fighting violently)
Voice Over: Here we see Heinz Sielmann engaged in a life or death struggle with Peter Scott. They are engaged in a bitter punch-up over repeat fees on the overseas sales of their nature documentaries.
(another man joins in)
Now they have been joined by an enraged Jacques Cousteau. This is typical of the harsh and bitchy world of television features.
(shot of honey bear sitting about aimlessly) Here we see a honey bear not engaged in a life or death struggle about anything. These honey bears are placid and peaceful creatures and consequently bad television.
(shot of pantomime horse running along in a wood)
Voice Over: Here we see a pantomime horse. It is engaged in a life or death struggle for a job with a merchant bank. However, his rival employee, the huge bull pantomime horse, is lying in wait for him.
(pantomime horse behind tree drops sixteen-ton weight on the horse running under the tree)
Poor pantomime horse.
(shot of pantomime goose behind a small tree with a bow and arrow)
Voice Over: Here we see a pantomime goose engaged in a life or death struggle with Terence Rattigan. (we see Terence walking along) The enraged goose fires.
(the goose fires and hits Terence in the neck; Terence looks amazed and dies)
Poor Terence. Another victim of this silly film.
(shot of an amazing-looking large woman with a crown waiting in the undergrowth by the side of a path)
Voice Over: Here we see an enraged pantomime Princess Margaret, she is lying in wait for her breakfast.
(a breakfast tray appears being pulled along the path by a length of wire)
The unsuspecting breakfast glides over closer to its doom. The enraged pantomime royal person is poised for the kill. She raises her harpoon and fires.
(the pantomime Princess Margaret does so, hurling the harpoon at the moving tray)
Pang! Right in the toast. A brief struggle and all is over. Poor breakfast! Another victim of the…. aargh!
(ANIMATION: which begins by showing the sudden demise of the previous voice over and continues with the story of a carnivorous house.)