Series 4, Episode 42: Trivialising the War
GENERAL Graham Chapman
CORPORAL Eric Idle
AGEING GENERAL Terry Gilliam
The sketch:Cut to a Whitehall war office conference room. A general is on the phone. Four other generals sit there.
General Five shillings a dozen? That’s ordinary cabbages, is it? And what about the bombs? Good Lord, they are expensive!
A corporal rushes in.
General Yes, what is it?
Corporal News from the Western Front, sir.
General Yes… ?
Corporal Big enemy attack at dawn, sir…
General Yes… ?
Corporal Well, the enemy were all wearing little silver halos, sir… and… they had fairy wands with big stars on the end… and…
General They what… ?
Corporal …and …they had spiders in matchboxes, sir.
General (in disbelief) Good God! How did our chaps react?
Corporal Well, they were jolly interested, sir. Some of them… I think it was the
4th Armoured Brigade, sir, they… well, they went and had a look at the
General Oh my God! All right, thank you, Shirley.
A girl emerges from under the table. She is a blonde WAAF.
General (to a sergeant) Get me the Prime Minister. (the sergeant opens the door, Churchill stands outside) Not that quickly! (the sergeant shuts the door) Gentlemen, it’s now quite apparent that the enemy are not only fighting this war on the cheap, but they’re also not taking it seriously.
Ageing General Bastards …
General First they drop cabbages instead of decent bombs…
Corporal The crates were probably quite expensive, sir.
General Quiet, critic! And now they’re doing very silly things in one of the most vital areas of the war!
Ageing General What are we going to do, Shirley?
General Well, we’ve got to act fast before it saps morale. We’re going to show these Chinese…
Captain Germans, sir.
General These Germans… we’re going to show them that no British soldier will descend to their level. Anyone found trivialising this war will face the supreme penalty that military law can provide. (he holds a heroic pose; there is a pause during we expect to cut; we don’t; suddenly he breaks out of the pose into informality) That was all right, I think?
Captain (getting out drinks) Seemed to go quite well.