S01E05 Lesson 5 – Keep Unfit the Burkiss Way

The Burkiss Way to Dynamic Living. It’s easy! Just fill in your name, cut out this coupon and give it to your grocer to receive Strange Looks and Lesson 5: Keep Unfit the Burkiss Way, with easy instruction from Denise Coffey, Nigel Rees, Chris Emmett and Fred Harris, easy scripts by Andrew Marshall, John Mason and David Renwick, easy production by Simon Brett.

First broadcast on 24 September 1976

F/X: clock ticking

Customer #1: I used to be rather, well, you know, i..inexperienced. I never seemed to be able to get on with members of the opposs..site sex. And then, a friend introduced me to the Burkiss Way. The Burkiss Way showed me how to become the ssort of man who’s made love to mmore women than he’s had hot dinners. All I have to do is eat regularly in British Rail buffets. Anyway, I owe it all to the Burkiss Way.

F/X: ticking stops

Customer #2 (Eric Pode-like voice): I used to be exactly like I am now. People used to treat me like dirt. Men would come up to me in the street and plant beetroots in me head. Then I tried the Burkiss Way’s body building course. And I didn’t even have to do any exercises. Simply by lifting all that ’eavy money up and sending it off to Professor Burkiss, I soon acquired bulging rippling muscles. And I owe it all to the Burkiss Way, mate.

Customer #3: I used to be extremely thin, and repellently ugly. When I waited at bus stops, the driver would go straight past because he couldn’t see me behind the sign. Then I tried the Burkiss Way. The effect was shattering. The Burkiss Way really helped me put on weight, so now I’m extremely fat and repellently ugly. Now, when I stand at bus stops, the driver still goes straight past – he sees my face and thinks there’s a bus already there. Thanks to the Burkiss Way!

Burkiss Way Announcer: Yes, the Burkiss Way to Dynamic Living does exactly what it says: It transforms mice into men. It’s true. Only a few years ago, many of today’s senior cabinet ministers were nibbling stale cheese and leaving droppings along the skirting board. Today, those same men dine in style at the House of Commons restaurant and leave hardly any droppings at all. So don’t delay, you know what they say, enroll today in the Burkiss Way.

Music: Burkiss Way opening signature tune

Burkiss Way Announcer: Weedy, pathetic, impoverished, unsure of yourself? Yes, you can become all these things with the help of Denise Coffey, Chris Emmett, Fred Harris and Nigel Rees, as we present programme five in our amazing series of radio correspondence courses in Dynamic Living, Keep Unfit The Burkiss Way.

Music: fades out

Male Presenter: Good evening. First of all, a message for all those people who haven’t switched on yet.


Male Presenter: And now, How To… How To Keep Unfit The Burkiss Way.

Female Presenter: Many people find that being healthy puts far too much strain on their everyday lives. It makes them ill. By being unfit and keeping yourself in a thoroughly degenerate condition though, you can get sick leave from work, laze about in hospitals and mortuaries, and, play cricket for England.

Male Presenter: So tonight we’re going to teach you how to stay unhealthy. Now, let’s look first of all at this skeleton hanging from the ceiling. His name’s Ron Pode of Hackney.

Ron Pode of Hackney: Good evening, mate.

Male Presenter: Good evening. Er, Mr Pode is living proof, well, almost living, that the Burkiss Keep-Unfit-course really does work. And I believe it’s helped you find a new career, Mr Pode?

Ron Pode of Hackney: That’s right, mate, yeah. I got a job in an orchestra.

Male Presenter: A.. as what, Mr Pode?

Ron Pode of Hackney: A xylophone, mate.

Male Presenter: Ha ha ha. The late Ron Pode of Hackney.

Female Presenter: Well, also with us in the studio tonight, we’re very pleased to have the vice-principal of the Burkiss Academy, Professor Hymie Shadrach-Meshach-and-Abednego-Burg, who’s going to show us some exercises to make us unfit.

Professor: Er, good evening already. Right. Er have they all paid?

Female Presenter: Er yes.

Professor: You sure?

Female Presenter: Certainly.

Professor: Taken all the mazuma?

Female Presenter: You’re right.

Professor: Right good well. I’m not doing this for me health, you know. Right. Right, first exercise coming up, right. Now, lie down, right flat down on the floor.

Female Presenter: Thank you, Professor. Well, just practise that exercise for a few weeks every day, it should make you nice and unfit.

Male Presenter: Another way to become bone-idle and get your body out of condition, is to sit watching television. But you’ve got to practise hard at it. And who knows, you could eventually reach Olympic standard. This next recording shows how it’s done.

F/X: crowd atmosphere

Male Commentator: A very good afternoon to you from the TV Centre here at White City, where events are already well underway in the Nineteen Seventy-Six British Television Watching Olympics. Just a few results to catch up on first of all, so over to Judith.

Female Commentator: Er, thank you Mary. And er Ron Sproat, Ron Sproat who trains with the Bromley Gazers, has just set up a new time for crossing the channel: Ten forty on Friday nights from ITV to BBC to avoid the Russell Harty Show. Back to you, Mary.

Male Commentator: Thank you, Jimmy. And now on to the really big event of the day, the mens’ marathon Crossroads endurance test. As you remember, three contestants have already been disqualified for committing suicide rather than watch the programme. But the rest are now all lined up in front of the television sets, and…

F/X: starter pistol being fired

Music: Crossroads signature tune, then down

F/X: unintelligible and slightly squeaky voices as dialogue on the TV, continuing in the background

Male Commentator: And as the show starts they’re all neck-on-neck, Moore is just slipping back a bit in the armchair there, and Mouldune and Hargreaves are bringing up on the rear.

Music: fades out completely

F/X: dialogue continues unabated

Male Commentator: And as we come up to Amy Turtle’s seventeenth prompt, it’s… Pip Pipkin, Laithwaite and Simms out in the lead, oh and Laithwaite’s left eye seems to be giving him trouble, looks from here as though it’s closing up, yes, yes, they’re both closed up.

Laithwaite: Chrrrrr…

Male Commentator: And he’s asleep and so this is really exciting now [here ?], Simms seems to be slipping to the floor, looks as if he’s dangerously close to yawning, but now he’s guarding with his left hand, and as we come now to the twenty-third scene, featuring the fat boy who never shaves and only speaks in monosyllables, Pipkin, Pipkin is way out in front, how much more punishment can these boys take? And as three non-speaking part actors nod with gaping mouths to the motor receptionist, I see that Laithwaite’s shorts have dropped, yes they’re down, he’s completely had the pants bored off him!

Laithwaite: Ahhhhh! No more, no more! No more!

Male Commentator: And it’s all over, Laithwaite has now yielded, it’s a submission!

F/X: TV dialogue stops

F/X: crowd cheering

Male Commentator: So there we are, Pipkin wins with an amazing time of one minute thirty-two seconds. He’s watched over one-and-a-half minutes of Crossroads with a full stomach, and I make that a new British record, so he goes on now to meet Esther Rantzen in the final of the TV endurance championships, and if he can enjoy that, he can enjoy anything, good night!

Female Presenter: Well, that was pretty straightforward. Of course, if you’re fed up with your daily slog, you should try skipping exercises. And start by skipping all the exercises you would normally do.

Male Presenter: Which brings us to diets. It’s time now for a few more words from Professor Shadrach-Meshach-and-Abednego-Burg.

Professor: Good evening already again.

Female Presenter: Well, thank you very much again, Professor. Er more details of how to loose weight are available on our special Burkiss record ‘Loose a pound a day the Shylock way’, available from Spencers, Marks & Smiths, Timothy Wools, W. H. Debs, Bootham and Switworths, and also all good stores.

F/X: door bell

Music: Theme from A Summer Place

Announcer: There will now be a short intermission.

Music: [??, something dramatic]

Voice-over: And now, at last, the motion picture of a lifetime. From the book they said couldn’t be filmed. Cecil B. DeMille’s production of The Cambridge Logarithm Tables. Witness the horror of an enslaved people, doomed forever to dig twice as many ditches in three hours as five people can dig in nine hours. Until one fateful day:

F/X: thunderbolt

Music: out

God: Moses! Look up, Moses!

Moses: Look up where, oh Lord?

God: Look up the logarithm, stupid!

Moses: Thank you, Lord.

God: Now, go forth and multiply.

Moses: Oh Lord.

F/X: thunderbolt

Music: resumes

Voice-over: From the people who brought you Rodgers and Hammerstein’s list of physical constants.

Music: [something else]

Singer (rather high-pitched): Theee aaaaatomic weeeeight of a graaam of chloooriiine / deeepends on the choooice of an iiiiisotoooope / Aha ha ha haa…

Music: fades out

Voice-over: And the unforgettable Roget’s Thesaurus.

Music: [??]

He & She: (kissing, moaning etc.)

He: Love.

She: Passion!

He: Eroticism!

She: Tenderness!

He: Adoration!

She: Infatuation!

Music: fades out (as does their passion)

He: Erm, emotiveness.

She: Err ha, erm, regard.

He: Benevolence.

She: Erm…

F/X: paper rustling

She: Partiality?

He: Respect.

She: Er tolerance.

He: Cuddles.

She: Erm, being nice to people?

Music: dramatic music resumes

Voice-over: Yes, if you thought that the Bradford Yellow Pages made a great Kung-Fu film, you can count on The Cambridge Logarithm Tables. Coming soon to this intermission.

Music: fades out

F/X: door bell

Male Presenter: Now you may find that as a result of your keep unfit exercises you tend to get very depressed. If you don’t, in fact if you generally have trouble getting depressed, simply pick out eight winning draws on a pool’s coupon, and then forget to post it. When you’ve done that, you could be ready for this.

F/X: door bell

Voice-over (a different voice): Do you want to feel a big fat slob? Then come and work as a masseur for Burkiss Massage Parlours of Stepney, and you can feel big fat slobs all day long.

F/X: door bell

Female Presenter: Of course, if you like to become a big fat slob, you should try the special Burkiss high-cholesterol extra-fatty diet, which will help you gain six stones. Two gall stones, three kidney stones and one tomb stone. The items for this diet are available from most ordinary shops. In other words, a shop not like this:

F/X: door handle, shop bell

Shop Assistant: Good morning, Sir.

Customer: Good morning, I’m in a hell of a hurry. Can I have a box of matches please?

Shop Assistant: A box of er matches?

Customer: Yes.

Shop Assistant: Oh dear. Oh I’m sorry, I’m afraid we don’t have any boxes of matches, it’s all—

Customer: Ohhh, never mind, then I must—

Shop Assistant: Oh no, just ju.. just a minute, Sir.

Customer: Yes?

Shop Assistant: We’ve got some cough sweets.

Customer: Pardon?

Shop Assistant: We’ve got some cough sweets. They’re the same price as matches.

Customer: Can you light things with ’em?

Shop Assistant: Er, no no.

Customer: Well, they’re not much use to me then, are they? Good bye!

Shop Assistant: Oh ju.. just a minute, Sir. Here, we’ve got some light bulbs. They light things.

F/X: switch being flicked

Customer: Do they strike instantly and burn brightly?

Shop Assistant: Well, just one second, Sir.

F/X: the light bulb shatters on the floor

Shop Assistant: No.

Customer: Then if you don’t mind I’ll get on—

Shop Assistant: Oh I know, I know, er er, I’ve got it, I’ve got it, come here, Sir, now, I’m a, oh I’m a silly aide, I should have tought of it before.

Customer: Wha.. what’s that?

Shop Assistant: Bengal tigers, Sir!

Customer: Bengal tigers?

Shop Assistant: Bengal tigers! They strike instantly and burn brightly.

Customer: (already quite annoyed) And have you got any Bengal tigers in this shop?

Shop Assistant: Well er, let me see, I’ve got tobacco, pipes, cigarettes, flints—

Customer: Ohh no, I can’t believe it!

Shop Assistant: —pipe cleaners, ball point pens, oh no, I’m sorry, no, I’m afraid not.

Customer: (very annoyed) Good! Then perhaps I can get on with—

Shop Assistant: Oh, we got some elephants, though.

Customer: You what?

Shop Assistant: We got some elephants. They come from the same country as Bengal tigers, Sir! Well, at least they would, if er…

Customer: If what!?

Shop Assistant: Well, if they weren’t African elephants, Sir.

Customer: All right, all.. how much are they?

Shop Assistant: Three p a packet, Sir.

Customer: There you are.

Shop Assistant: Thank you, Sir.

Customer: Er g.., just, just a minute, just a min.. just a minute, these aren’t elephants!

Shop Assistant: Yes they are.

Customer: No, they’re not.

Shop Assistant: Of course they are.

Customer: They’re not.

Shop Assistant: All right, what are they then?

Customer: They’re matches.

Shop Assistant: Well, they’ve… they’ve got an elephant on the box.

Customer: That’s a swan!

Shop Assistant: Oh, well we have to call it an elephant, you know, for er tax purposes.

Customer: You..! You’re just deliberately trying to waste my time, aren’t you?

Shop Assistant: Noo! Er, well, erm, might be. Hahaha.

Customer: That does it! I’m leaving.

Shop Assistant: Oh no, but you can’t walk away without a punchline!

Customer: I haven’t got time for that, good bye.

F/X: shop bell, door slamming

Shop Assistant: Oh no, oh dear. Oh (clears throat). Oh heck, I’ve got to have a punchline, or I’ll be stuck here forever. Erm…

F/X: phone handset taken off cradle, dialling noises

Shop Assistant: (agitated noises)

F/X: ringback tone

Shop Assistant: Oh come on, answer!

Emergency operator (falsetto voice): Emergency, which service do you require: Fire, Police, Ambulance or Punchline?

Shop Assistant: Punchline.

F/X: siren approaching

F/X: car door closing, running feet coming nearer

F/X: door handle, shop bell

Punchline Paramedic #1: Alright madam, where’s the sketch?

Shop Assistant: Oh, it was just here, in this shop!

Punchline Paramedic #1: Okay Charlie, in here with the, the punchline. Er Frank, stand by with the trombone.

Punchline Paramedic #2: Right ho.

Punchline Paramedic #1: It’ll be a bit of a makeshift job, I’m afraid, madam, but it should patch it up for the time being—

Shop Assistant: Oh thank you.

Punchline Paramedic #1: —if that’s alright. Now then, what was your last line again?

Shop Assistant: Ahem, well I said er, ahehem, ‘But you can’t walk away without a punchline!’

Punchline Paramedic #3: If I could walk that way, I wouldn’t need the talcum powder!

Music: trombone accompanying the punchline

F/X: door bell

Voice-over: Ladies, would you like to have power over men? Try Burkiss naughty underwear. The new inflatable temptress bra with the peek-a-boo fluorescent shoulder straps and the incredible seductress revolving silk knickers with reversible lace thigh enhancers. Yes, photograph him in these and he’ll do anything to get the negatives. Apply Burkiss Blackmail Limited, Stepney.

F/X: door bell

Female Presenter: Well, now let’s turn to drinking. And go for a final piece of advice from Professor Shadrach-Meshach-and-Abednego-Burg.

Professor: Er good evening already yet again. Right, drinking. Rules are very simple, one, get a mouth; two, open it; three, pour beer into it and four, be sick as a pig. Now don’t do it too often, though, you might start enjoying it, alright?

Male Presenter: Thank you, Professor. Well next week, we’ll have another Professor, who recently performed acupuncture on Raquel Welch, and exploded two of medicine’s biggest myths. Now though, it’s time to wind up today’s programme on unfitness with a look at The Burkiss Way in Action.

Female Presenter: And this week in The Burkiss Way in Action, we show how you, too, can use medicine to make yourself repulsive. The story you’re about to hear is so strange and uncanny, it’s not true. In fact, it is a pack of lies. The strange case of Doctor Jekyll.

Music: [??, something dramatic and somewhat ominous], then down for

Narrator: (over) Some people say the human soul has manifold amazing properties.

Man & Woman: (together, repeating slowly) The human soul… h.. has manifold amazing properties.

Narrator: And since the beginning of time, many men have struggled to get more power for their own ends. (audience reaction) Doctor Henry Jekyll was one of them.

Man: One of them.

Narrator: I’m sorry, one of them. (audience reaction) One day, at medical college, he conducted an experiment with a rat, because nobody else would work with him. Years later however, Jekyll found things were starting to click, so he put some ointment on them. Unfortunately, his friends never quite saw eye to eye with his strange work.

Music: out

F/X: clattering as Jekyll, Clarence and Angela are eating dinner

Clarence: Well er, ahem, I’m bound to say Jekyll, I still don’t think it’s natural, you know.

Jekyll: Hm?

Clarence: All these monkeys’ hearts and pigs’ brains and cats’ livers whatever, it’s not natural at all!

F/X: clattering stops

Jekyll: Alright alright Clarence, just leave them and eat the dumplings.

Clarence: (groans slightly)

Jekyll: You know, I confess that sometimes I, I wonder why I ever bother to have you for dinner. Look at you, you’re all gristle.

Angela: Oh no Henry, you mustn’t speak of father so; I hope you won’t treat him like this after the wedding.

Jekyll: Do we have to go through with this wedding, Angela?

Angela: Of course.

Jekyll: But why, Angela? It’s you I want to marry.

Clarence: Eehhh, so, so I’m not good enough for you, now eh? Ahaha. Well, anyway, I’m not sure I want to go ahead with it while you’re carrying out all these ridiculous experiments of yours.

Jekyll: It is not wise to mock, Clarence. Look how people said I’d never be able to carry out those mouth transplants. Ha! They’re laughing on the other side of their faces now! Yes, yes, my work is now virtually finished. (starting to sound a little crazy) I have discovered the secret of external youth!

Angela: External, Henry? External means you are without.

Jekyll: It does have side effects, I’m afraid. A small price to pay for the rebirth of the soul!

Clarence: Ah, the man’s mad. Come on, Angela, time we left.

Music: ominous music

Narrator: And later that night, in Jekyll’s gloomy, dank laboratory, something diabolic happens.

F/X: pig noises

Jekyll: I’ve told you before not to come into my laboratory, mother. Get out!

F/X: pig noises stop

Music: fades out

F/X: rhythmic dripping noises

Jekyll: Hahahaha. Now we shall see whether I’m mad or not! For years I have worked to develop this potion here, little knowing that I have made one vital error in the formula which will cause the chemicals to transform me into something hideous instead of the Greek god I expect them to, ahahahahaha!! Now, down the hatch!

F/X: glass shattering

Music: resumes

F/X: dripping noises fade out

Jekyll: Ouagh! Ahh! (coughs)

Narrator: And sure enough, an eery change came over the handsome countenance of Doctor Henry Jekyll.

Jekyll: (with changed voice) Uuuagh! Aaagh! (further moaning and groaning as he gets transformed)

Narrator: Hair grew curly. His eyes deep-set. His brain was reduced to the size of a peanut. Transforming him finally, from the respectable Doctor Jekyll, into the ghastly Mister White-Hope-of-British-Boxing.

Mr WHoBB: Uff, uff! Uff! Uff, uff. Yeah, it’s splash it all over. Umh, umf, umh umh umh umh! Umh. Umf. Umf!

Narrator: Within seconds, Mister White-Hope-of-British-Boxing was experimenting with his right and his left. And in less than an hour, he had learned how to use both feet. Out of the building he staggered, far away into London’s cobbled East End streets.

Music: fades out

F/X: horse carriage driving along street, street atmosphere

F/X: two heavy knocks on a door, then creaking as door gets opened

Woman: Yes? Oh, hello deary. You’re quite something you are, aren’t you? Mmmhh, quite something. Er, what are you?

Mr WHoBB: (deep voice) Iii’m, (voice getting higher) hha.. hiii’m, (falsetto) I’m the White Hope of British Boxing.

Woman: Hmm, come inside.

F/X: door closing, street atmosphere stops

Woman: I like a man who’s big, strong and handsome, but in the meantime you’ll do fine. Here…

F/X: slurping noises

Mr WHoBB: Mmmm. Umf. Umf umf, umf!

Woman: Would you like another, sweetie?

Mr WHoBB: No thanks, one sweetie is enough for the moment.

Woman: Excuse me being in the middle of me tea, let’s go upstairs and we can—

Mr WHoBB: Umf..

Woman: ’ere, hang on?

Mr WHoBB: Umph, ummmh…

Woman: What are you doing with that dish?

F/X: clattering noises

Mr WHoBB: Ummf, umf umf! Ummf.

Woman: That’s my rice pudding in there, leave it alone!

Mr WHoBB: Umm, ummf, umf, ummmmhh!!

F/X: two sploshing noises

Woman: Aaahh!! He’s knocked the skin off me rice puddn’!!

Music: dramatic music

Narrator: (over) And this was only the beginning. Weeks later.

Music: fades out

F/X: clattering as Jekyll, Clarence and Angela are again eating dinner

Clarence: Well Jekyll, what, what do you make of this? This character who’s running amok through London, knocking the skins off decent folk’s rice puddings.

Angela: The police reckon nobody is safe. Lady Barchester-Trollope apparently had the top ripped off her maccaroni yesterday…

Clarence: Good god.

Angela: … and last night they dragged out a headless tapioca from the Thames.

Clarence: It’s said the culprit is some sort of madman.

Jekyll: I’m sure it’s all, chrmm, um umf, poppycock, Clarence. You, you don’t want to ummf umff umf…

Clarence: I say ha.., have you got the flu, Jekyll?

Jekyll: No, no no, umff, umf, it..it’s, it’s nothing.

Angela: Here, have another helping of rice pudding, Henry—

Jekyll: Ummh, hmmf!

Angela: —I flavoured it with some Beaujolais.

Jekyll: Ummfhh, no no, I think I, please, ummfh, excuse me (voice suddenly changes to falsetto) I think I have to, (back to normal) ummh, rush off! Umm.

F/X: door slamming

Narrator: And later that night, at a local carnival.

F/X: crowd atmosphere

Showman: (shouting) A roll up, a roll up, roll up, have fifty guineas for a man, oh and beat the Blond Bomber at fisticuffs! So roll up, roll up!

Mr WHoBB: I take on the Blond Bomber.

Various voices: Ohh! It’s, it’s him! … It’s the maniac! … that rice pudding maniac… the maniac!

Showman: Well, as you wish, Sir. Er Ladies and Gentlemen, I think this fight will be a little one-sided, but if that’s what the gentleman wants, so be it. Er bring on the Blond Bomber, Shirley Temple!

F/X: gong

Music: On The Good Ship Lollipop by Shirley Temple: On the good ship, Lollipop, it’s a sweet trip …

Mr WHoBB: Ummf, ummfh etc. (this goes on for a little, then)

Music: …to a candy shop where bon-bons play on the sunny beach of Peppermint Bay.

F/X: crowd cheering

Showman: Oh! And he’s out, he’s out! After only ten seconds to the first round he’s been knocked out by Shirley Temple! Hey, here, hang on. Hang on, he’s changing appearance. Course, to right me, is that London doctor Henry Jekyll?

Angela: Oh, let us see him! Let us through. (panting) Oh, oh, it can’t be, was that awful savage really Henry?

Jekyll: Ohhh! Ohh, I feel awful! What happened?

Clarence: Oh, it..it’s it’s alright, Jekyll, it’s probably just that Beaujolais that Angela put in the rice pudding at lunch.

Jekyll: Beaujolais?

Angela: Yes, I.. I got it from the bottle in your cellar.

Jekyll: I haven’t got any Beaujolais in my cellar.

Angela: Then what was in that bottle that I mmf, mmf,—

Clarence: Ummf, ummh—

Angela: Oh! Oh dear, oh! Oh, ohh oh… ohhh oh ohh.

Angela & Clarence: (their voices now resembling that of Mr WHoBB) It’s splash it all over. Ummh, ummf etc.

F/X: crowd atmosphere stops

Music: Burkiss Way closing signature tune

Burkiss Way announcer: Isn’t it time you did yourself an injury? Write now to Denise Coffey, Chris Emmett, Fred Harris and Nigel Rees, and you’ll receive details of the Burkiss Way’s wide range of unwholesome health aids, from nicotine tablets and artificial gall stones, to false hernias and pimple grafts. Ruin your health with scripts by Andrew Marshall, John Mason and David Renwick, available only from producer Simon Brett of Stepney. See you next week and happy dynamic living!