S01E01 Lesson 1 – Peel Bananas the Burkiss Way

The Burkiss Way to Dynamic Living, Radio’s First Correspondence Course. Send no money. Just fill in your name here...................... and you will receive Lesson 1: Peel Bananas the Burkiss Way, with instruction from Denise Coffey, Nigel Rees, Chris Emmett and Fred Harris. Then you too can write a script like Andrew Marshall, John Mason and David Renwick, and produce a programme like Simon Brett.

First broadcast on 27 August 1976

F/X: clock ticking

Customer #1: I used to be a weedy, gutless and insignificant apology for a human being. Men would push me aside in the street and punch me on the nose, and knock my head off and saw my stomach up. And it started to get me down. Then a friend introduced me to the Burkiss Way; and immediately it changed my life! After just two weeks of the Burkiss course in sadomasochism, I now, I now enjoy having my head knocked off and my stomach sawn up. I owe it all to the Burkiss Way.

F/X: sound of his stomach being sawn up etc.

Customer #1: Ah, goodness, ah, lovely, more, more…

Customer #2: I used to feel awful. For years and years I always tended to get run down very easily. Then Professor Burkiss advised me to stop lying on my back in the middle of the M1 and the effect was amazing. Now I don’t get run down at all, and I owe it all to the Burkiss Way.

Customer #3: Mention the name Fiona Smoth in Shepherd’s Bush and people just laugh. She’s stupid, they say, she’s ugly, untalented and a complete social failure. But do I care? No. Because as you look at me today, I am a different woman. I am Doris Spedding of Bayswater, and one of the people who laugh at Fiona Smoth. And I owe it all to the Burkiss Way.

Burkiss Way Announcer: Yes, testimonials from people like those you’ve just heard prove it: The Burkiss Way to Dynamic Living can completely change your life. Beginning today for the next six weeks, the BBC is broadcasting the first ever, all-radio correspondence course: The Burkiss Way.

Music: Burkiss Way opening signature tune (sped up version of Brass Band Boogie)

Burkiss Way Announcer: The Burkiss Way, or, you too can have one like mine. This week in our new series of radio correspondence courses in Dynamic Living we learn to: Peel Bananas The Burkiss Way. Instruction is given by Denise Coffey, Chris Emmett, Fred Harris and Nigel Rees.

Male Presenter: Good evening, erm, are you gullible, easily taken in, a sucker for other people to con money out of? Then you’re just the sort of man we’re looking for. During next six weeks, you learn how to live a life that’s full, to travel each and every highway, but more, much more than this, you’ll do it the Burkiss Way.

Female Presenter: Professor Emil Burkiss’s method for Dynamic Living will reveal to you faculties you never knew you possessed. Just look at our list of satisfied customers.

Les Sprode of Croydon: (doing a Churchill impression) Never in the field of human conflict, was so much owed, by so many, to so few.

Female Presenter: Les Sprode of Croydon, after his twelve week Burkiss course on how to impersonate Winston Churchill.

Monsieur Giscard d’Estaing of Paris: (doing an impression of Les Sprode of Croydon) Never in the field of human conflict, was so much owed, by so many, to so few.

Female Presenter: Monsieur Giscard d’Estaing of Paris, after his fifteen weeks Burkiss course on how to impersonate Les Sprode of Croydon.

Male Presenter: Well, the principles of Professor Burkiss’s course are quite involved and so this week we start with stage one, very simple and fundamental exercise, peeling bananas the Burkiss Way. First of all, let’s have a look at a man peeling a banana the conventional way:

F/X: banana being peeled quite vigorously

Male Presenter: Now, lets see that same banana peeled the Burkiss Way:

F/X: banana being peeled same as above

Male Presenter: Well, you won’t be able to do it like that straight away, of course, it’ll take time. First, you must make sure that you’re totally relaxed physically. Let your body go completely limp, …

Female Presenter: …starting with your wrists. To do this, we recommend the ancient oriental art of Pooftah.

Male Presenter: If you want to know more about this, we’d like to recommend the special Burkiss book ‘Wake up to Pooftah’, which gives (corpses, then audience reaction), which, which gives full diagrams and pictures of the Pooftah positions. Unfortunately we can’t recommend it, as we’ve just heard the jury have returned a verdict of guilty.

Female Presenter: Now of course this wouldn’t have happened if the defence counsel had been using the Burkiss Method of getting people off likely. How is it done? Well, here is a recording of a very significant court hearing, which will help us in our studies.

F/X: judge’s gavel

Judge: Silence in the court.

F/X: gavel banging continues

Judge: Silence in court!

F/X: more gavel banging

Judge: For the last time, will whoever’s banging that hammer please stop it! Thank you. Court up for the accused.

F/X: chains rattling

Judge: Mmm, er… What is the charge?

Male Prosecutor: The defendant is accused of being Max Bygraves, milord.

Female spectator: Iiihhh, oh no!

Judge: Very well, proceed.

Male Prosecutor: The prisoner at the bar. It is alleged that on the night of April the 25th this year, you did willfully and maliciously commit Grievous Max Bygraves on the audience of the Victoria Palace. How do you plead, Mr Bygraves?

Defendant: I’m not Max Bygraves. It’s all a mistake.

Judge: Shut up! Remember, that under the laws of this country, you are considered Max Bygraves until proved an entertainer! Go on with the case.

Female Prosecutor: Milord, in this case, my learned friend is appearing for the defence and I am appearing in ‘Sex please, I’m Swedish’ of the Bijou Theatre, Soho.

Judge: Very well. Call your first witness.

Female Prosecutor: Call Inspector Wordsworth.

Various voices: Call Inspector Wordsworth. Call Inspector Wordsworth. Call Inspector Wordsworth. Call Inspector Wordsworth. Call Inspector Wordsworth. Inspector Wordsworth.

Female Prosecutor: You are Inspector Wordsworth?

Somebody else: No, did you want him?

Female Prosecutor: Well, yes.

Somebody else: Oh Inspector, they wanted you…

Female Prosecutor: Inspector Wordsworth, tell us what happened on the night of April the 25th.

Inspector Words­worth: Eh well. I was wandering lonely in a cloud-like manner, as might float on high, o’er dale and hill, when all at once I saw a crowd, m’lud.

Female Prosecutor: What sort of crowd?

Inspector Words­worth: I believe it was a host of golden daffodils, m’lud.

Female Prosecutor: And what where these daffodils doing?

Inspector Words­worth: Eh well. They were beside the lake, and I had reason to believe they were fluttering and dancing in the breeze, m’lud.

Defence Counsel: Objection, m’lud. This is totally irrelevant.

Female Prosecutor: I think not, milord. Inspector, tell the court what the defendant’s reaction was, to all this pastural harmonia.

Inspector Words­worth: He said, m’lud, and I quote, ‘When it’s spring again, I’ll bring again, tulips from Amsterdam.’

Female spectator: Ohh, [lovely ?].

Various spectators: (talking)

Judge: (banging his gavel) Eh, silence! Silence. Then, what happened?

Inspector Words­worth: I asked him to accompany me down to the sea again, to the lonely sea and the sky.

Female Prosecutor: Is that all you asked?

Inspector Words­worth: Er no. All I asked was a tall ship and a star to steer by.

Defence Counsel: Objection, m’lud, that’s Masefield. I must ask, does the Inspector have a poetic licence?

Inspector Words­worth: Yes.

Defence Counsel: Let me see. (short pause) Ah, as I thought, milord. It expired on the last day of March.

Inspector Words­worth: I can’t afford a new one.

Judge: Haven’t you any money?

Inspector Words­worth: Yes, but it’s owed to a nightingale.

Judge: Aha.

Female Prosecutor: Milord, I wish to call the defendant to the stand at this point. Call Max Bygraves.

Defendant: I tell you I’m not Max Bygraves.

Female Prosecutor: Repeat after me: I swear…

Defendant: I swear…

Female Prosecutor: … that I am Max Bygraves.

Defendant: … that I am Max B— I’m not Max Bygraves!

Female Prosecutor: Oh very well, it was worth a try. Erm, [da-dah]

Music: (ballroom dance-type music)

Female Prosecutor: Slow, slow, quick, quick, slow. Slow, slow, quick, quick, slow.

Defence Counsel: Objection, milord. (music fades out) My learned friend is leading the witness.

Female Prosecutor: You leave me no choice. Milord, may I conduct an unusual experiment?

Judge: Oh dear, what is it?

Female Prosecutor: Milord, I wish to instigate…

Judge: Oh yeah?

Female Prosecutor: It’s the hot weather, you know.

Judge: Again.

Female Prosecutor: I wish to instigate trial by ordeal. Put the prisoner in with The Black & White Minstrels.

F/X: [presumably an extract from that show?]

Defendant: No! Oh no! No! Anything, but that, no! No! I mean it’s…, I’ll tell you, no… (fades out)

F/X: heavy door being closed and locked

Male Prosecutor: They’re all dead, milord.

Judge: All of them?

Male Prosecutor: All, except for…

Music: (actual recording of Max Bygraves) You need hands, to hold someone you care for…

Judge: Please now erect the bar. I find you guilty of being Max Bygraves. Normally, I would have no choice but to send you to prison. But under the circumstances, I am going to have your sentence commuted. You will be hanged on the 08:17 from Surbiton. Take him away. Next case!

F/X: gavel

Male Presenter: And now a word for all those people on the course who actually are Max Bygraves: Go home, get straight into bed and call in the doctor.

Female Presenter: If the doctor refuses to get into the bed with you, he probably doesn’t like Max Bygraves. In the meantime, try and keep as cool as you can, if possible turn on a fan! Er, preferably a little old lady from Brighton, who’s going deaf in one ear. If you can’t turn her on anymore, you might as well benefit from the following announcement:

F/X: door bell

Voice-over: Another brilliant technological break-through from Burkiss Laboratories. Do you suffer from nervous exhaustion, backache, gout, measles, bubonic plague, yellow jack? Then send now for Professor Burkiss’s new, universal remedy, Doctors! New, improved Doctors are safe, easy to use and fit snugly behind a surgery desk. They’re quick-acting and effective, the sort used in hospitals. A word of warning: Doctors are not to be taken internally! If symptoms persist, consult an aspirin. Send no money, VAT only, to Burkiss Contrix Ltd, Stepney. Callers welcome.

F/X: door bell

Female Presenter: As we stressed earlier, complete physical fitness is essential as a prerequisite to Burkiss banana peeling.

Male Presenter: So remember, before reaching for that fruit dish, always go to the doctor first and have a check. As we shall see from the next example, you can never tell what effects will suddenly come to light.

F/X: door opening and closing

Receptionist: Ah, good morning Mr Victim. What seems to be the trouble?

Mr Victim: Well, I’m not very well.

Receptionist: I see. Will you take your clothes off, please? Right, aha, aha, yes, oh dear, dear. Er come here and look at this, everybody.

F/X: wild laughter from everybody

Receptionist: I think you better go in to the doctor immediately.

Mr Victim: Thank you.

Doctor: Ah, good morning, Mr Victim. Take your clothes off, please.

Mr Victim: They are off.

Doctor: Oh, yes, er. I thought the crease in your trousers went the wrong way. Now, what exactly is the matter?

Mr Victim: Well, I’m so tired, I can hardly move. I’m in bed most of the time, all stiff.

Doctor: Stiff?

Mr Victim: Yeah, look at my legs.

Doctor: Oh yes. Well, then let’s see what we can do. Say ‘Ahh’.

Mr Victim: Ahhhh.

Doctor: Again.

Mr Victim: Ahhhhhh.

Doctor: Do it again.

Mr Victim: Arrhhhhhhhh.

Doctor: Splendid. We were looking for someone to play a farmer in the hospital dramatic society. Now, the examination. Does it hurt when I do this? (short pause)

Mr Victim: No.

Doctor: Oh er, right. Then does it hurt when I do this?

F/X: Doctor hits something

Mr Victim: No.

Doctor: Alright, then what about when I do this?

F/X: motorised saw, then like hitting some metal with it and getting stuck, followed by a dentist’s drill and finally something burning

Mr Victim: No.

Doctor: Funny, that one usually has them screaming for mercy. Are you sure?

Mr Victim: Yes.

Doctor: Oh well, I suppose I better test your reflexes. Er cross your legs, would you?

F/X: something popping out of its place, and falling to the floor

Doctor: Oh well, never mind Mr Victim, don’t worry. The nurse will clear them up. Now let’s me see: Tiredness, stiffness, lack of feeling, erm, er, sit down er Mr Victim.

Mr Victim: Oh, er, what is it, Mr Doctor, sir?

Doctor: Well… well, I’m afraid you’re suffering from what we doctors call death.

Mr Victim: Oh dear. Is it serious?

Doctor: Well, in some cases it can be fatal. But there’s no need to despair, Mr Victim. Scientists are making discoveries all the time. Death need no longer be the handicap it once was.

Mr Victim: Really?

Doctor: Noo..yes. Just because you’re dead, it doesn’t mean you can’t live a perfectly normal life.

Mr Victim: But, but but wh-what will I do?

Doctor: Oh, not a lot, er, but you’ll get, you’ll get used to it, once you’ve talked to some fellow sufferers. An increasing number of stone-dead people are now able to integrate freely with society. On Leyland assembly lines, on the BBC programme planning board, among Des O’Connor’s script writers, and of course the Civil Service. Some say, some say that it won’t be long before we have our first dead prime minister. Or is it our fifth? Now, exercise. Do you have any daisies at home?

Mr Victim: Yes.

Doctor: Well, just try pushing them up gently every day. Oh, and I should try to rest in peace every afternoon.

Mr Victim: Oh, tha..thank you, doctor.

Doctor: Right, well, off you go, I’ll see you in a month. Oh, and I shouldn’t get cremated until the X-ray has come through, just to be on the safe side.

Mr Victim: Yes, doctor.

Doctor: Er, you know the way out? Through death’s door, pass over, then the way of all flesh, until you cross the Stygian ferry. Oh, and Mr Victim…

Mr Victim: Yes, doctor?

Doctor: … better give that wallet to me. You can’t take it with you, no?

Male Presenter: Well, of course, that was an example of what can happen if you don’t peel your banana correctly. So, let’s just recap on everything we’ve learned so far.

Female Presenter: One: This course is costing you a fortune!

Male Presenter: Well, so much for the recap.

Female Presenter: How to make a banana split: Tell it you don’t want to see it any more.

Male Presenter: And remember: Take your banana in the left hand, that’s it, now with your right hand, peel it.

F/X: banana being peeled


Male Presenter: Congratulations. There you too have just peeled a banana the Burkiss Way.

F/X: phone ringing

Male Presenter: Er, hello?

Caller: Hello?

Male Presenter: Er, yes?

Caller: I just peeled a banana.

Male Presenter: Er, yes?

Caller: Yeah, just like you said.

Male Presenter: Oh yes.

Caller: Yeah, I’ve been listening to this programme for the last twenty minutes; it’s put my whole night out of joint.

Male Presenter: Oh…

Caller: I, I was due asleep at eight fifteen, but I stayed up special-like, so’s I could learn how to peel the banana the Burkiss Way, you see, and I just did it like you said.

Male Presenter: Ye..er yes, and was it not satisfactory?

Caller: Of course it was satisfactory, it was exactly the same bloody way I always peel it. You said we’d learn it the Burkiss Way. It’s just the same as any other way.

Male Presenter: Er, ha, erm, exactly, Sir.

Caller: But I paid over two thousand pounds to learn to peel bananas the Burkiss Way.

Male Presenter: Er yes, but that’s because you haven’t tried the Burkiss course on ‘How to stop being a Sucker’.

Caller: How much is that?

Male Presenter: Five thousand pounds.

Caller: I’ll take it.

F/X: cash register operating

Female Presenter: Well, that ends our course on banana peeling. Now it’s time to finish off today’s programme with a look at The Burkiss Way in Action:

Male Presenter: This week’s piece of film is about one of our American clients: 36-year old Harry Nelson. Harry was a very wealthy private detective, who just couldn’t seem to get on in life. Then, one day, he tried the Burkiss Way.

Music: Peter Gunn theme by Henri Mancini, continues playing in background while he’s narrating

Harry Nelson: (narrating) My name is Harry Nelson, private investigator. I operate on the East Side of Manhattan, where private eyes keep their eyes out for loose women and private dicks keep getting arrested. The story you’re about to hear is true, only the facts have been changed to make it sound better. It was a dismal, thick kind of evening in late November. I was in my office, thinking about no naked girl in particular. Outside, the darkened city was all quiet, just the occasional song and dance number from a jerk splashing about in rain puddles. The door opened and in walked a dame. She was a redhead, with blonde hair. She was the kind of girl that looks as if she be a handful. Or maybe two handfuls, it was hard to tell in that sort of dress, still, it was the only one I had.

Gloria Rickenhoffer: Mr Nelson?

Harry Nelson: (normal) Yeah? Who are you and what do you want?

Gloria Rickenhoffer: Does the name Eddie Rickenhoffer mean anything to you?

Harry Nelson: Sure, hi Eddie!

Gloria Rickenhoffer: No. Eddie Rickenhoffer is my father.

Harry Nelson: Then you must be—

Gloria Rickenhoffer: —that’s right.

Harry Nelson: Eddie Rickenhoffer’s daughter.

Gloria Rickenhoffer: Gloria Rickenhoffer. Mr Nelson, I need your help. My father is the very rich director of the Manhattan Philharmonic Orchestra. Last friday, there was a kidnapping.

Harry Nelson: Somebody kidnapped your father?

Gloria Rickenhoffer: No, the orchestra.

Harry Nelson: But that’s the most terrible thing I ever heard.

Gloria Rickenhoffer: I know, but people still pay to see them. Anyway, this morning, my father got this letter.

Harry Nelson: Let me see that. ‘If you want your ninety-eight-man orchestra back in one piece, place a million bucks in used suitcases and take them to Luigi Carlotti’s spaghetti house on Fifth Avenue.’ Hmmm. Whoever wrote this letter, made one little mistake.

Gloria Rickenhoffer: What do you mean?

Harry Nelson: He spelled orchestra wrong, apart from that, it’s quite well written.

Gloria Rickenhoffer: Stop playing games, Mr Nelson, my father means business. Look, here is half a grand.

Harry Nelson: (whistles)

Gloria Rickenhoffer: Find his orchestra for him and the rest of the piano is yours as well.

Music: Peter Gunn theme

Harry Nelson: (narrating) This dame was toying with me like an abacus: she was counting on me like hell. I decided to take the job. In an hour, I was at Luigi Carlotti’s spaghetti house. When I arrived it was empty, except for people. A lot of them had got so tired of waiting for their food to arrive, they had started without it. (normal) Mr Carlotti?

Luigi Carlotti (Italian accent): No spaghetti.

Harry Nelson: Sorry, Mr Spaghetti…

Luigi Carlotti: No no, no no not spaghetti, he’s off, and no spaghetti.

Harry Nelson: I didn’t came here for that, I came for the Manhattan Philharmonic Orchestra.

Luigi Carlotti: The Manhattan Philharmonic? Well, it may be a bit chewy, signore, but if that’s—

Harry Nelson: Quit stalling, quit stalling, brother! Where were you last friday?

Luigi Carlotti: Just er, bumming around, signore.

Harry Nelson: Your private life’s your own affair. Listen, if you didn’t steal the orchestra, why did the ransom note specify that the money should be brought here?

Luigi Carlotti: If I told you that, I could get killed, signore.

Harry Nelson: Rubbish. Tell me.

Luigi Carlotti: Very well. What happened was, —

F/X: gun shot

Luigi Carlotti: Arrrgaahhhuuuaaaa…

Music: Peter Gunn theme

Harry Nelson: (narrating) At that moment he got killed. I tried to revive him with a ten dollar bill, but suddenly I was hit on the head from behind. I started feeling that kind of swelling, mind-crashing sickness you get up at dentists; just after reading the third copy of ‘Woman’s Own’. Next minute, my eyes closed up. When they opened again, they saw what appeared to be two enormous bloodshot eyes, staring back. Turned out to be Gloria Rickenhoffer with no clothes on. (normal) Alright, what am I doing here? In your bed?!

Gloria Rickenhoffer: Nothing yet, but there’s plenty of time.

Harry Nelson: Listen, listen! I gotta get back to Luigi’s spaghetti house fast.

Gloria Rickenhoffer: Why?

Harry Nelson: My soup will be getting cold. Call the police commissioner, and ask him to meet us there. I think I got this case sorted out at last.

Music: Peter Gunn theme

Harry Nelson: (narrating) Gloria and I moved like, like within an hour and a half we were out of bed. Then we went back to Luigi’s, were we met Commissioner Schulz.

Commissioner Schulz: Ah, Nelson, this is a very nasty and terribly tasteless piece of work.

Harry Nelson: (normal) I told you not to order the spaghetti, Commissioner. Listen, Commissioner, I think I know who’s kidnapped this orchestra.

Gloria Rickenhoffer: Who, Harry?

Harry Nelson: It was of course, Luigi Carlotti!

Commissioner Schulz: Luigi Carlotti’s dead.

Harry Nelson: He’s just playing for time.

Commissioner Schulz: We’ve searched his bedroom, there isn’t enough room here to hide an orchestra.

Harry Nelson: In that case it must be, Miss Rickenhoffer here. She did it.

Gloria Rickenhoffer: I did it?

Harry Nelson: See, she admits it. What tipped me off was the power cut. Your record player wasn’t working, so, you kidnapped the orchestra, nailed them inside your speaker cabinets, and—

Gloria Rickenhoffer: Mr Nelson…

Harry Nelson: Yeah…?

Gloria Rickenhoffer: … don’t be silly.

Harry Nelson: Ah. Very well. I’m afraid that points the finger of suspicion at, Commissioner Schulz!

Commissioner Schulz: No, no!

Harry Nelson: You’re sure?

Commissioner Schulz: Positive.

Harry Nelson: In that case, there’s only one other person it could be.

Commissioner Schulz & Gloria Rickenhoffer: (together) Who?

Harry Nelson: Me!

Commissioner Schulz: You?

Harry Nelson: Yeah! That’s if my theory is correct, Commissioner. Listen:

Music: Peter Gunn theme

Harry Nelson: (narrating) And so, I wound up the case there and then. I explained everything there was to explain to Gloria and the Commissioner. (normal) You see! Did you notice anything just then?

Gloria Rickenhoffer: You mean, the music coming in behind your speech?

Commissioner Schulz: Music being played by the Manhattan Philharmonic Orchestra.

Harry Nelson: Right. That’s why I kidnapped them, sent a ransom note, knocked myself unconscious and dumped myself in the gutter. It was all part of a plan to deflect suspicion. Just so I could use the orchestra’s music to do those dramatic speeches between scenes.

Commissioner Schulz: Ahhhhh…

Harry Nelson: I’m surprised I didn’t spot it before.

Gloria Rickenhoffer: But…

Commissioner Schulz: Well, I guess that winds it up then, Nelson. I’ll have to take you in.

Harry Nelson: That’s the way it goes, Commissioner. So long, Miss Rickenhoffer.

Gloria Rickenhoffer: So long Harry. So long…

Music: Peter Gunn theme

Commissioner Schulz: Nelson!

Harry Nelson: Yeah?

Commissioner Schulz: You can’t bring that orchestra with you, I’m afraid.

Harry Nelson: I understand, Commissioner.

Music: out

Harry Nelson: I’ll… I’ll come quietly.

Music: Burkiss Way closing signature tune

Burkiss Way Announcer: Well, that’s what happens if you don’t keep up your payments to the Burkiss correspondence course in Dynamic Living. Make sure you keep yours up: Send money today to Denise Coffey, Nigel Rees, Chris Emmett and Fred Harris; care of the Burkiss Way, Stepney. Remember, you too could write a script like Andrew Marshall, John Mason and David Renwick if you’re desperate enough for the cash. Accept no imitations, the Burkiss Way is produced only by Simon Brett of Stepney, callers welcome. See you next week, and happy dynamic living!