Series 4, Episode 44: Mr. Neutron is Still Missing
VOICE OVER Michael Palin
PRIME MINISTER Eric Idle
SECRETARY OF STATE Michael Palin
GIUSEPPE Terry Jones
TRAPPER Terry Jones
CAPTAIN CARPENTER Eric Idle
DOG Michael Palin’s Voice
Cut to a picture of the
outside of l0 Downing Street. Zoom in on the door. Music: ‘Rule Britannia’ type theme. Cut to interior – a few circular tables, dim lighting. The decor of a rather exclusive restaurant. Subdued murmur of upper-class people stuffing their faces. A gypsy violinist is going from table to table playing and singing. In the middle of all this there is the prime minister at a big leather-topped desk, covered with official papers, three telephones, an intercom, tape recorder, a photo of Eisenhower with a very small bunch of flowers in front of it in a sort of self-contained shrine, an in/out tray, blotter, etc. The intercom buzzes.
Voice: The Secretary of State to see you, Prime Minister.
Prime Minister: Very well, show him in.
(The prime minister switches off. The secretary of state enters, wending his way through the tables. He sits at the desk. He is in a rather agitated condition.)
Secretary of State: Prime Minister.
Prime Minister: Do take a seat.
(He takes a seat from the next table; the lady sitting on it falls to the floor.)
Secretary of State: Prime Minister, we’ve just had the Supreme Commander US Forces on the phone. Apparently they want a full-scale Red Alert!
Prime Minister: They what?
(The gypsy violinist has come round to the desk. He is playing a sad, slow melody and smiling encouragingly at them. They glance at him. He flashes a white smile. The secretary of state drops his voice and huddles closer to the prime minister.)
Secretary of State: They want a full-scale Red Alert – every troop movement…
(As the secretary leans forward so does the gypsy, causing the secretary to break off in mid-sentence.)
Prime Minister: It’s all right – don’t worry about Giuseppe… (the secretary looks at the gypsy who smiles again toothily) He’s English really.
Secretary of State: Well apparently the whole structure of world peace may be threatened unless we immediately…
Giuseppe: (heavy accent, leaning forwards) Your anniversary, signore?
Prime Minister: No, no, Giuseppe – not now.
Giuseppe: (indicating the secretary of state) You mean zis isn’t ze lady?
Prime Minister: No.
Giuseppe: Oh, signora … my mistake! I play for you ‘My Mistake’.
(before the prime minister can stop him he goes into a strident Italian
‘My mistake, I have made my mistake! What a dreadful
mistake! Is this mistake that I make!
(strums violently and starts on the second verse)
‘Oh my mistake…’
Prime Minister: Giuseppe, do you mind playing over there.
Giuseppe: (flashing a winning smile) Very well, signor. But I play only for you… and your beautiful companion.
(He moves off mysteriously, singing the mistake song.)
Secretary of State: Well anyway, this Mr Neutron, is located somewhere in the London area. We must find and exterminate him. The Americans say if we don’t, they will.
Prime Minister: (straining to hear over noise of singing) What?
Secretary of State: The Americans say if we won’t they will!
Prime Minister: That he doesn’t know what?
Secretary of State: They’ll bomb the entire London area.
Prime Minister: (getting up) We’d better get out of here!… (he grabs the photo of Eisenhower)
Secretary of State: They won’t bomb here.
Prime Minister: Are you sure?
Secretary of State: Sure.
Prime Minister: (sitting down with great relief) Right. When are they going to start?
Secretary of State: Well apparendy they haven’t got Neutron yet… but when they do…
(The diners have by this time joined a conga led by the gypsy violinist playing My Mistake’. Awfully heartily they dance past the prime minister’s desk.
Cut to Artic wastes. The wind howls. The trapper is sitting beside a fire, picking his nose thoughtfully and tending a stewpan. The dog bounds back, Carpenter on the end of his lead, breathless from trying
to keep up.)
Trapper: Well. Did he tell you anything?
Carpenter: (worn out by the walk) No… we chased sticks… we chased a
Trapper: (patting the dog) You been chasing reindeer, have you? You’re a naughty boy… yes… ain’t you a naughty boy…
Carpenter: Look, we haven’t got much time… He hasn’t given me any information yet…
Trapper: OK. Tell you what, let’s eat. You give him one of your meatballs, he’ll tell you anything. OK?
(Suddenly the dog woofs, gets up on back legs and starts pawing the trapper.)
Trapper: Wait a minute – he’s trying to tell us something.
(A strangled, strained American voice comes from within the dog. Slightly muffled perhaps.)
Dog: Carpenter… er… ugh… ah… Carpenter…
Carpenter: (kneeling down and peering into the dog’s face) Yes, Mr Salad? Can you hear me?
Dog: Yes… yes… it’s just it’s so goddam painful in here… what’s the problem?
Carpenter: It’s Mr Neutron, sir … he’s gone missing. The Supreme Commander wants you to take charge.
Dog: I… oh God… I… I… I…
Carpenter: Yes, Mr Salad?
Dog: I gotta go walkies again.
(Cut to the office of the supreme commander. He is now nude behind his desk. A kidney bowl full of water is on desk; he is dabbing at himself with a sponge. The intercom buzzes. He switches it on.)
Voice: Still no sign of Captain Carpenter, sir… or Mr Neutron.
Commander: OK. We’ll bomb Neutron out. Get me Moscow! Peking! and Shanklin, Isle of Wight!
(Cut to stock film of B52s on a bombing raid.)
Voice Over: And so the Great Powers and the people of Shanklin, Isle of Wight, drew their net in ever-tightening circles around the most dangerous threat to peace the world has ever faced. They bombed Cairo, Bangkok, Cape Town, Buenos Aires, Harrow, Hammersmith, Stephey, Wandsworth and Enfield… But always it was the wrong place.
(Cut to an area of smoking rubble. A van with the words ‘US Air Force’ on the side trundles through the rubble. It has a loudspeaker on the top of it.)
Loudspeaker: Sorry Enfield!… We apologize for any inconvenience caused by our bombing… sorry…
Voice Over: But what of Mr Neutron, the most fearfully dangerous man in the world! The man who could destroy entire galaxies with his wrist, the man who could tear fruit machines apart with his eyeballs… He had not been idle!