S01E02 Lesson 2 – Pass Examinations the Burkiss Way

The Burkiss Way to Dynamic Living, Radio’s Continuing Correspondence Course. No stamp needed. Just fill in your name here, switch on the radio, and hear Lesson 2: Pass Examinations the Burkiss Way, with dynamic instruction from Denise Coffey, Nigel Rees, Chris Emmett and Fred Harris, from dynamic scripts by Andrew Marshall, John Mason and David Renwick and dynamic production by Simon Brett.

First broadcast on 3 September 1976

F/X: clock ticking

Customer #1: I used to have trouble eating meat. Every time I had chicken, for instance, it never seemed to agree with me. I’d say I wanted to eat it, and the chicken would say it didn’t want me to. Then, the Burkiss Way introduced me to cheese. The effect was shattering. Cheese never argues, no matter what you do to it. Today, I live entirely on cheese; in fact, I wouldn’t make a cheese sandwich out of anything else. Thanks to the Burkiss Way.

Customer #2: I was fat, ugly, and repulsive. No matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t get to go out with men. Then a friend suggested I try Burkiss toothpaste. The effect was shattering. Now I go out with tubes of toothpaste and I get no… (audience reaction) and I get no complaints at all. What’s more, I don’t have to worry when I eat cheese, thanks to the Burkiss Way. (silently) Was that alright?

Customer #3: (slowly) I used.. to be.. thick. I was un-able to do simple things, like write and… and what’s that say?

Man: (silently) Read.

Customer #3: (silently) Re.. Read. (normal) … read! Then one day, a fiend introdunced me to, the Burgess Wag. And so, I am right, and redistribute…?

Man: (silently) Read.

Customer #3: Read. I, I am read all the choice lapels I want, …

Man: (silently) Cheese labels.

Customer #3: All the cheese labels I want. [(NB: The next sentence has been cut from recent repeats.) Thanks to the Burgess Wog.]

Burkiss Way Announcer: Yes, these testimonials prove it: The Burkiss Way to Dynamic Living will change your live. If you’re weak, we’ll make you strong. If you’re poor, we’ll make you rich. If you’re a man, we’ll make you a woman. If you have any trouble whatever over cheese, we’ll sort it out for you. In this now, in the BBC’s first ever, all-radio correspondence course, the Burkiss Way.

Voice-over: NB: This week’s course in the Burkiss Way is being sponsored by the Whizzo Cheese Company of Croydon. This is the only point at which we shall mention the name of Whizzo, the pure, sumptuous cheese, that arouses the taste buds, stimulates the stomach, and excites the intestines. And it is not our aim, to, in any way, interfere with the direction and scope of this otherwise completely un-cheese-orientated programme. (whispering) Thank you.

Music: Burkiss Way opening signature tune

Burkiss Way Announcer: The Burkiss Way, or, you too can have a cheese like mine. Yes, get ready students, out with your notebooks, put that Stilton away, because it’s time to learn more incredible secrets about the Burkiss Way to Dynamic Living. This week, we present another lesson in our series, Pass Examinations The Burkiss Way. Instruction is given by Denise Coffey, Chris Emmett, Fred Harris and Nigel Rees.

Music: out

Male Presenter: Mmmmm, (eating, presumably cheese), ah yes, it’s, it’s quite nice with a cream cracker, isn’t it? Ahem, I’m sorry. Good evening, ha. And welcome to Programme Two in our series, The Burkiss Way to Dynamic Living.

Female Presenter: The principles formulated by Professor Emil Burkiss will allow you to harness hidden talents. If you’d like to enlist in our course, don’t delay, just fill in the following form.

F/X: beep

Man (Eric Pode-like voice): I am a weedy and thoroughly pathetic poltroon. Please send me details of how I can be conned out of money, through your course. My name is dot dot dot dot dot dot dot, my address is dot dot dot dot dot, town dot dot dot dot, postcode dot dot dot dot, dot dot. Signature of parent or guardian, dot dot dot dot dot dot. I agree to be bound by the articles, and also by the hands and feet. I am completely dotty.

F/X: beep

Female Presenter: That’s it. Now, once you’ve filled that in, tear it out of the programme, …

F/X: paper being torn

Man: (recording of previous line) I am a weedy and thoroughly pathetic (voice speeds up) poltroon. Please send me details of how I can be conned out of money, through your course. (speeding up even further) My name is dot dot dot dot dot dot dot, my address is …

Female Presenter: … and send it, with your bank manager, to the Burkiss Way, Stepney, callers welcome. No stamp is needed, simply catch a train to Stepney, and pop it through our letter box. Now you, too, are ready to take part in this week’s course, How To Pass Examinations The Burkiss Way.

Male Presenter: Yes, by the end of this course, you could have an intelligence quotient equal to none. You’ll amaze people with your extensive knowledge of IQ test answers. You’ll know the things that most people only dream of knowing.

Female Presenter: Floor people by telling them that Martha Thraegcret is an anagram of Margaret Thatcher.

Male Presenter: Pull the birds as never before by announcing that the next number in the series seventy-two, two eight eight and one thousand one hundred and fifty-two is, four thousand six hundred and eight.

Female Presenter: Yes, you’ll learn all this, and more in the Burkiss Way To Dynamic Living. In fact in no time at all, you’ll be able to appear on TV and radio quiz games, just like this one:

Music: some sort of jolly signature tune

Quizmaster: Good evening, and welcome to another edition of The Aunty Game. A brand new radio quiz, which is all about aunties. So, let’s get straight on, and meet tonight’s panel, who are: Isobel Barnett’s aunty, Mrs Gladys Barnett.

Gladys Barnett: Good evening.

Quizmaster: William Rushton’s aunty, Mrs Elsie Rushton.

Elsie Rushton: Hullo.

Quizmaster: And Danny La Rue’s aunty, Mrs Angela La Rue.

Angela La Rue (male voice): Good evening.

Quizmaster: Well, (audience reaction), well those are the aunties who are going to play The Aunty Game tonight, so here we go now with our first question on aunties. Whose aunty, whose aunty was known as ‘the Lady with the lamp’? Yes, and Isobel Barnett’s aunty has got her light on.

Gladys Barnett: Edwin James Nightingale.

Quizmaster: … is the right answer. And of course, his aunty was…?

Gladys Barnett: Er, erm er, I’m sorry, I don’t know that.

Quizmaster: It doesn’t matter, Edwin James Nightingale was what we wanted. Now, on to you, William Rushton’s aunty. Which is the odd one out here? Elizabeth I, George VI, Queen Victoria, and Doris Clackett of 4 The Gasworks, Grimsby.

Elsie Rushton: Errm, George VI?

Quizmaster: Correct. All the rest are of course aunties. Now, on to Danny La Rue’s auntie’s question. What relation was Cleopatra to Prince Namrod Xerxes of Egypt?

Angela La Rue: Was she his stepmother?

Quizmaster: No, I’m afraid she was in fact his aunty. I don’t think you’ve quite got the hang of this game here. See if you have any better luck with this one. Tell me the next letter in the following series: A, U, N, T.

Angela La Rue: Y!

Quizmaster: Oh well, if you gonna argue about it, forget it. Back to, (audience reaction), back to Isobel Barnett’s aunty. If you had an aunty, an aunty, would you: Hang it up in the launderette to kill the flies, wear it on bank holidays to make your dinner taste better, or, send it a card on its birthday?

Gladys Barnett: Erm, I’d er, I’d wear it on bank holidays to make my dinner taste better.

Quizmaster: Correct, and why would you do that?

Gladys Barnett: Erm, because I’m mad.

Quizmaster: Correct again. Now for the free for all. Which cheese were Mrs Mabel Picasso and Mrs Maisie Dali talking about, when they said that the best…

F/X: gong being hit, elderly woman screams

Quizmaster: Oh and Mrs Gertrude Messiter being hit over the head with a gong tells us our time’s up. And I see that Isobel Barnett’s aunty is the winner, so she gets our star prize, a year’s supply of Christmas after shave packs from the aunty of her choice.

Gladys Barnett: Thank you.

Quizmaster: Join us once again next week, when it’ll be time to play another edition of The Aunty Game. Till then, this is Joan Bakewell’s nephew saying bye for now.

Music: closing fanfare

Male Presenter: Well, so much for the panel game. Let’s take a closer look at the whole question of intelligence. Most of your formal education of course comes at school, and one of the most useful subjects to study is languages.

F/X: door bell

Salesman: Are you a one-language man? Can you only speak English? The Burkiss Language Centre can have you speaking a fluent foreign language in only twenty-four hours, callers welcome.

F/X: door handle

Customer: Here we are, my twenty thousand quid.

Salesman: Thank you.

Customer: I only know English and would like to speak a fluent foreign language.

F/X: cash register operating

Salesman: Thank you, and here’s an airline ticket, now all you have to do is go and live in Germany, next.

F/X: door bell

Female Presenter: Eventually, of course, comes the question: What should you do after you leave school? Well, why not go home and have some tea? Anything will do, toasted cheese, cheese rolls, maccaroni cheese, and then try and get down to some serious studying.

Male Presenter: Not every university student wants to take arts, of course. If you got an A in physics, and a B in chemistry, it’s fairly obvious you can’t spell.

Female Presenter: If you study long enough, though, you can become a man of letters, or postgraduate, as it is sometimes known; but, how do you pass these all important exams? What is university really like? Listen carefully to the following item.

F/X: sheep baah-ing

F/X: door handle opening, baah-ing continues

F/X: door handle closing

Dr Straightman: Good morning, erm, I’m Doctor Straightman.

Dean: Ahh, ah good morning. So you’ll be joining us here at the University of Barnsley, will you? I’m the Dean.

Dr Straightman: I’m, I’m sorry I’m late, but every time I tried to get into the lift, it seemed to be full of sheep.

Dean: Ah, that’ll be the students, it’s rag week, you know.

Dr Straightman: Aha, I see, er the students fill the lifts with sheep, do they? (nervous laugh)

Dean: No, no, no, those are the students.

Dr Straightman: Erm, what do you mean?

Dean: Er, well er, you see, a couple of years ago, quite by chance, we had a sheep apply to the university, you see, it had quite good A levels, so we invited it along, and before we knew where we were, hundreds of other sheep had come with it.

Dr Straightman: Hundreds?

Dean: Yes, yes, there must be, er, let me see now, erm, one, two, three, hmm… (snores)

Dr Straightman: Dean? Dean!

Dean: (wakes up startledly) Oh, what is it? Oh, yes, ye.., ah yes, we must have at least six thousand of them here, and another two thousand also over there in the medical school.

Dr Straightman: But erm, haven’t you any proper students at all?

Dean: Erm, erm (silently) proper students, I don’t know any… (normal) No!

Dr Straightman: Why not?

Dean: I suppose our entrance standards are just too high.

Dr Straightman: But er, I, I don’t understand. What do they study?

Dean: Well, we run lectures in Pastures, Higher Pastures, and Even Higher Pastures, and of course Advanced Transfinite Mathematics.

Dr Straightman: Advanced Transfinite Mathematics?

Dean: Yes, but we don’t really get many sheep doing that.

Dr Straightman: No?

Dean: No, no, they much prefer Mid-European Cheeses of the Fifteen-Hundreds, which is on at the same point.

Dr Straightman: Really?

Dean: No, not really.

Dr Straightman: I see, I see. Er er, and all these sheep, they er, they come out with a BA, I suppose, do they?

Dean: No no, all most of them come out with is a BAA. (laughs)

Dr Straightman: Ha ha ha, oh yes, ha ha ha, I see, ha, I see.

Dean: Anyway, don’t let any of this put you off. Let’s get down to your qualifications, shall we?

Dr Straightman: Oh, ye.. yes of course.

Dean: Now erm, we just forget all this nonsense about sheep—

Dr Straightman: (silently) Right.

Dean: —and get down to the real business in hand, teaching.

Dr Straightman: Quite, quite.

Dean: Now then. How many sheep have you taught before?

Dr Straightman: Pardon?

Dean: How many sheep ha.. at your last university?

Dr Straightman: Well er, none.

Dean: None?

Dr Straightman: No!

Dean: Oh dear! Erm, what about the goats?

Dr Straightman: Goats?

Dean: They’re very similar.

Dr Straightman: Er er no, I’m, I’m afraid I haven’t taught any goats, either.

Dean: No previous experience in lecturing to rumens and ungulates at all… hmmm hmm, dear…

Dr Straightman: Er, er well no…

Dean: No, no, no, no, not to worry, not to worry, just see that they don’t run out of pens, and if they er, start throwing their weight around, you know, just wave a jar of mint sauce about, that usually helps. Now, any questions?

Dr Straightman: Yes!

Dean: Good. Well, in that case, you might as well start straight away. I expect you’d like me to introduce you to the rest of the staff.

Dr Straightman: Oh yes, please!

Dean: Yes? Right, well I’ll just ask them in over the intercom. (whistles and makes some strange noises)

F/X: door handle

F/X: lots of dogs barking

Female Presenter: Well, let’s assume that you now left university, you’ve become a mature young man, and you’ve had several successes under your belt. You’re now ready for a little IQ test. With us, to talk about the test, is one of the top men of Mensa: Sir Edwin Burkiss, MA, MSc, PhD, and whatever other letter completes the series.

Sir Edwin Burkiss: Good evening. Well, I want first of all to start with a very simple ‘Ick’ test, that is of course IQ test for the more advanced students. Question one: A, B, C, D, E. What comes next? Time’s up. Yes, the answer is of course ‘Question two’. Question three: I have…, I have a collection of pet Corgis, I live at Windsor, and I go to ostentatious functions in long, expensive dresses and diamond tiaras. Who am I? Time’s up. Yes, that’s right, Sir Edwin Burkiss. And question four. Question four: Sperm whales. Sperm whales are found in, a) the Atlantic, b) the Pacific, or c) the Antarctic? Time’s up. And the answer is of course c). All sperm whales are found in the sea. Well, how did you do on that? That was a very simple test, devised by our sister organisation for people with the lowest IQ, Densa.

Male Presenter: Well, thank you very much, Professor Edwin Burkiss, MA, MSc, PhD, and T.

Female Presenter: Where did you get the T from?

Male Presenter: From the machine downstairs, come on…

Female Presenter: Mmmm....

Male Presenter: …you just got time to get some during the intermission.

F/X: door bell

Announcer: There will now be a short intermission.

Music: Theme from A Summer Place, then The Devil’s Galop (Dick Barton Theme)

Voice-over: Coming soon to this intermission: You laughed at ‘Carry On Up The Khyber’, you screamed at ‘Jaws’, you choked out loud at ‘Lovestory’, you cried out at ‘The Towering Inferno’, well now:

Music: out

Cinemagoer: Why don’t you just shut up and let the rest of us watch the films in peace!

Male Presenter: Well, now it’s time to end our programme on examinations with a look at The Burkiss Way in Action.

Female Presenter: In the next piece of film, we see how ‘The Burkiss Way To Becoming One Of The Biggest Heroes Of The Second World War’ helped Reggie Braithwaite to become one of the biggest heroes of the Second World War.

Music: Dam Busters March

Narrator: Group Captain Reggie Braithwaite was a man who didn’t know the meaning of the word ‘fear’, a man who spelled ‘surrender’ N O. In short, he was an idiot. Yet his record in World War 2 dog fights was unequaled. During his spell as a fighter pilot, he shot down a total of one hundred and ninety-seven planes, at least half of which were German. As each bullet found its target, so another notch would be carved on the side of his plane.

Music: out

F/X: propeller plane and sawing noises, then a wing falling off

Reggie: Algy, what the deuce? I told you, you are carving those notches too deep, man.

Algy: Sorry, Captain.

F/X: motor goes out, plane descending very rapidly

Reggie: We’re diving now. Our only hope is to jump and float down as slowly as we can. That means getting rid of all heavy weights. Come on, off with the parachutes.

Algy: Right ho, Sir. Right, come on, …

Reggie: Here we go.

Algy: I follow you, Sir.

Narrator: And so, Reggie and his batman Algy floated down to safety. And landed inside the Stalag Ten prison camp. Where they spent the next three years trying to escape.

F/X: three knocks

Reggie: Alright now, chaps, I, I call this meeting of the Escape Committee to order. I have apologies for absence from Spotty White and Stinker Harris, who unfortunately can’t be with us, as they’ve escaped. Bit of a pity that, they’ll never learn anything if they don’t turn up for the meetings. Now, on to our annual report. Smelly Smith?

Smelly Smith: Yes, er well, the committee’s accounts for the year ended April the Sixth show a disappointingly low rate of escapes.

Reggie: Oh.

Smelly Smith: In fact, our escape attempts have been so bad, we’ve got ten more prisoners now than when we started.

Reggie: Why is this, Smelly?

Smelly Smith: Well, of course one of the big problems at the moment is knowing which direction to start digging the tunnels.

Reggie: I thought we worked all that out one, Smelly?

F/X: paper rustling

Reggie: Yes, yes, here we are. Look. Downwards.

Smelly Smith: Yes, I’m afraid the rest of the report is not much better, Captain. As you know, our first plan to escape was an abysmal failure.

Reggie: Which one was that?

Smelly Smith: Er, the one where three man went up to the main gates, and asked if they could go home.

Reggie: Yees… Yes, it was a bit of a blunder that one, wasn’t it? If only they hadn’t gone and caught the wrong train here. Of course, once they landed up in Japan, the cheese gave them away immediately. Still, it almost worked.

Smelly Smith: And, and and now, I have to report that the Germans have just found our Number One escape tunnel.

Reggie: Oh no, that’s a bit of luck. I thought we’d lost that one for good. The trouble is, you see chaps, the goons always seem to be on to us. I wonder if there’s an informer in this hut. What do you think, Snotty Potter?

Snotty Potter (German accent): Nein, nein. I, I sink this is just erm, what do you call ze Old Frau’s tale, ja.

Reggie: Are you sure, Snotty?

Snotty Potter: Oh, absolutely, Herr Kapitän. Eizer dat, or I am a German, ahem, erm er, Italian. No, er, Dutchman. Yes, eizer that, or I am a Dutchman. Ja.

Reggie: Well, I say one thing, lads, at least we’ve got one success to our credit. That dummy model of Johnny Mills we made three years ago, they never did recapture that, did they?

Ed: No, and I hear it’s still making films over in Britain, and no one’s noticed the difference.

Reggie: Good Ed. Well, to business. I call this special meeting because I’ve got a new plan up my sleeve. As you know, last week I ordered you to make my former Batman Algy up as a woman. How’s it coming along, Algy?

Algy: It’s all finished now, Captain.

Reggie: That’s amazing, Algy, absolutely amazing. How you’ve changed. The bulging chest, the coiffured hair, the flashy sequin dress, you got rid of them all! How did the men get you to look so realistic?

Algy: Well, what they.. did was er…

Reggie: Yes, yes?

Algy: (whispering)

Reggie: Oh dear.

Algy: (whispering)

Reggie: Oh, really? Well, Algy, we all have to make sacrifices in the war time.

Algy: All the same, it was a pretty big sacrifice, Captain.

Ed: Er, don’t listen to him, it wasn’t that big.

Algy: (protesting)

Reggie: No no, no no, no no, no no, no squabbling, chaps, no squabbling at all. The reason I had Algy dress up like this is so that when we escape, we two can pose as husband and wife.

Algy: That’s a brilliant idea, Captain.

Reggie: Thank you, Algy.

Algy: Which do you want to be?

Reggie: Erm, well, well never mind that now, Algy. We’re supposed to be arranging this new, (lowers voice) secret escape plan of mine.

Snotty Potter: (silently) Ja.


Reggie: Right, any questions?

Snotty Potter: But, you haven’t told us what ze plan is yet, Herr Kapitän.

Algy: If he did that, it wouldn’t be secret, would it?

Reggie: Exactly. It’s a bit of a shame it’s so secret, really, it means we’ll never be able to use it, still, fortunately I’ve got another one which isn’t quite so secret.

Algy: Oh…

Reggie: You know how the Germans here are masters of disguise?

Snotty Potter: Ja, ja?

Reggie: Well, patience, chaps, patience. Two can play at that game.

Algy: Surely only one can play at patience, Captain.

Reggie: Not if you.. cheat, Algy.

Algy: Ohh!

Reggie: Now, watch carefully. I have over here, a German greatcoat, see.

Everyone else: Ah.. / Ja. / Oh yes…

Reggie: I made it out of old corned beef tins.

F/X: cow mooh-ing

Algy: Ohhh!

Reggie: Pretty convincing, eh?

(general muttering)

Ed: I say, yes!

Reggie: I, I’ve got some more here, now look, come on chaps, all we do is put them on.

(general muttering continuing)

Reggie: And now, now we screw these monocles in; in your eyes, Scurvy Moldoon, in your eye; and dab this boot polish under your nose, right, right.

Algy: Oh yes. Spoils my make-up.

Reggie: That’s it. Now, now, when the Kommandant walks through that door, he’ll think we’re all Germans and release us. Smart, isn’t it?

Ed: Yeah, gosh, yeah.

Algy: Oh Captain, I don’t think it’ll work, I mean, I don’t think anyone would mistake us for Germans.

Snotty Potter: Nein, nein, we don’t look a bit like Germans.

Reggie: Quiet, all of you, quiet. Quiet

Algy: (whispering) Listen!

F/X: foot steps approaching

Reggie: I hear foot steps approaching. Now we’ll see whether it fools anybody, or not, just watch this.

F/X: door handle

American soldier (American accent, obviously): Okay, you limeys, you’re liberated. Oh. Oh Germans, eh? Take that!

F/X: machine gun fire

Algy and the rest: (screaming)

Reggie: (laughing crazily) Hahahahahahaha hahahahaha, you see, Algy? I told you it would fool anybody! Hahahahaha…

Music: Final notes of Dam Busters March

Male Presenter: Well, there we are. Reggie Braithwaite’s plan passed the final test. And if you’ve listened to today’s programme, you should have passed your academic test, IQ test, and your driving test. In fact, with all the knowledge you’ve accumulated tonight, you should by now be Prime Minister. Let’s ring up that weedy poltroon, who filled in the form at the beginning of the show, and see if it’s worked for him.

F/X: phone handset lifted off cradle, dialling, ringback tone

Secretary: Hello? Ten Downing Street here, can I help you?

Male Presenter: Er, er Mr Callaghan?

Secretary: Hang on a minute. Jim! Someone wants you on the phone!

Jim Callaghan: Hello, Jim Callaghan speaking, who’s that?

Male Presenter: Oh, never mind, it.. it wasn’t important.

Music: Burkiss Way closing signature tune

Burkiss Way Announcer: Do you feel things aren’t important anymore, are you tired of bullies laughing at you on the beach, then send six thousand pounds to Charles Burkiss Body Building, and let our experts Denise Coffey, Nigel Rees, Chris Emmett and Fred Harris come and laugh at you in the privacy of your own home. Andrew Marshall, John Mason and David Renwick will write humiliating scripts about you, and eventually, you, too, would be produced by Simon Brett of Stepney. See you next week, and remember the name now, Whizzo Cheeses of Croydon. Bye!