Also sprach Zarathustra by Richard Strauss (continues in background)
From the outer reaches of the universe they had come! From the very edge, where space curves back upon itself and time ceases to be! For eons they had travelled on their quest: They had come past the mysterious quasars of the Crab Nebula, unrelenting in its sinister pulsations! They had come past the collapsing molecules of the neutron stars, where mass caves infinitely inwards! They had come past the cavernous black holes, unassuaging in their eternal appetite for matter in their wake! Two beings, one of whose wife had just been to the West Indies. ‘Jamaica?’ the first had inquired, ‘No, she had gone of her own’ —
That’s enough of that, go on, go on, get out. Go on.
door slamming shut
Go on, out you go.
That’s the last time we ever have Arthur C. Clarke on Does The Team Think.
Burkiss Way opening signature tune
Yes, [watchamates ??]. Just another one of the Christmas clips from the Christmas shows coming your way this Christmas on the BBC at Christmas! Stay tuned this Christmas to this special Christmas edition of the Christmas Burkiss Way to Dynamic Christmas Living. Featuring: Jo Kendall, Nigel Rees, Chris Emmett, Father Christmas and Fred Harris, as we christmasly present our christmasingly christmassy eighth correspondence course, Plan Christmas Schedules The Burkiss Way!
Well, as you may have noticed, it’s Christmas. As you can see, we’ve decorated the programme with fancy paper, tinsel and holly leaves – and I think it looks rather nice.
I think it was overdoing it a bit though, sticking a fairy on the opening announcements.
Oh, get [butch box/bugs ??].
Well, it all serves a purpose, because this week, our course is all about gearing your TV and radio programmes to the festive season. How To Plan Christmas Schedules The Burkiss Way.
Now, it’s necessary to devote some time to serious consideration about what programmes to put on. Ten seconds is about average in national broadcasting companies. But you must think very carefully, in case you contravene the rules of the charter. In ITV of course, this can’t happen.
No, in ITV it’s absolutely impossible to think carefully. Let’s just show you the kind of thing we mean.
Christmas themed instrumental music (continues in background)
Christmas on television. A selection of all your favourite and most popular programmes, plus Sale of the Century.
Well, let’s get straight on with a rundown. And after that, even more rundown, followed by the tired and stale, and then the pathetic and extremely tedious. Starting with at six o’clock Christmas Crossroads.
Crossroads signature tune (continues in background)
The story so far. Amy Amnesia, the desk duster, has taken a tray of tea and biscuits into Meg Variety-Award’s study. Little knowing that Sandy Monotone is already there with a tray of tea and biscuits, brought in by David Love-Interest and Vera Canal-Boat, who are secretly having a tray of tea and biscuits together on the quiet. In tonight’s special Christmas episode, the story takes an unexpected turn as Dianne You-Must-Be-Joking suddenly arrives at the motel with a tray of tea and mince pies, throwing the entire plot into total confusion.
Christmas music resumes
Yes, this is followed at seven o’clock by more seasonal japes when the Christmas tree gets stuck in the lavatory and everybody’s knickers fall down during the Christmas dinner. Then after World In Action, it’s time for The Best Of Hughie Green at eight o’clock.
And at two minutes past, we present the best of television comedy, featuring Hilda Baker in Not On Your Malapropism, and excerpts from Yes Guv’nor, It Ain’t ’alf Bloomin’ Freezin’ Pop, And What A Flamin’ Not ’alf A ’oliday ’e And ’er Missis ’ad With ’im, [Em’ry ??], recently acclaimed by the press as the Show With The Most Apostrophes of Nineteen Seventy-Six.
Yes, just some of the delights coming your way this Christmas on British television.
Planning Christmas Schedules The Burkiss Way can be less painful.
Remember that Professor Emil Burkiss—
choir singing ‘Hallelujah!’ (from Hallelujah Chorus by Händel)
—doesn’t like to overdo things. Now when you go to parties, just pull one cracker. And if you’re careful you can make her last all Christmas. The same applies to your broadcasting schedule. Begin the day with a nice, sincere, touching little programme that all the children will enjoy. Then after that, try a programme like this:
Instrumental version of Jingle Bells, then fades out for
Hello, and welcome to the Royal Children’s Christmas Morning Hospital For The Incurably Heart-Warming, where I’m going to meet some children who are forced to spend Christmas day suffering from acute sickly sentimentality, and an advanced case of tugged heart-strings. Now first, let me see who’s in this bed. Ha..hello. Er, what’s your name?
Ha ha, haaa haaa haaa haaa haaa haaa haaa haaa haaa haa, very good, yes. Er, wh.. what, what is your name, sonny?
Eric Pode of Croydon, mate.
Yes, er… and er… how old are you, eh?
Haa haaa haaa haaa haaa haaa haaa haaa, isn’t that adorable? Now, tell me, what, what are you in here for, Mister Croydon?
I came in to have me operation.
Yes. And, and what, what did they do?
Well, one of the doctors took my appendix out.
Then he took me tonsils out.
Yea. Then he took me small intestines out—
I see, and finally?
Well, he eloped with me kidneys, didn’t he?
Haaa haaa haaa haaa haaa haa.
Just a little joke we rehearsed there. Now, tell us, tell us seriously, though, if I, if I can be serious for a moment, wouldn’t you rather be home with your family, enjoying your Christmas dinner?
Ah no, no. We can’t afford a turkey. We had to find something else to fatten up.
Yeah, I been force-feeding a sausage for six months.
Haaa haaa haaa haaa haaa ha ha ha haha haa, he’s a panic, isn’t he? Now, tell.. tell me, Mr Croydon, did you, did you hang up your sock on the bedpost last night, did you?
My sock, yes, yes.
Yes, and what did you get?
Haa haa haha, haaahh, what would you do with him, eh? Well, now boys and girls, if you all just look over towards that door now…
Christmas [rattle ?]
… who’s this great fat biggo with the red cheeks and the bushy white beard coming in?
It’s matron, innit eh?
Yeees. Yes, that’s right, because we’ve got a nice little surprise for you all, now you see? To liven up your Christmas for you, does everybody like sea lions?
Oh yes. Yes. Sea lions… etc.
Yeah? Jolly good, jolly good. Well just hold out your plates, then…
clattering of plates and cutlery, people talking
That’s it. [Pull out this plate [??] everybody [??]] you all get a flipper? Who wants some brussel sprout? Anybody want stuffing?
noises fade out
Here is an important warning. The item which you’ve just heard was not suitable for people of a nervous disposition, or anyone else. It was in fact a prime example of the sort of show one should avoid scheduling for Christmas morning.
Good fillers for Christmas afternoon viewing are the Queen’s Speech and a dreary old film. But, be sure to announce them properly, so people know which is which. All details of your Christmas programme should be sent well in advance to the Radio Times, so that it can ignore them properly.
The complaint has of course been made in the past that Radio Times is out of touch with the modern viewers’ tastes. Well, here to answer that is the man who operates the electron microscope that lays out the radio pages. Sir Gordon Dull.
Sir Gordon, some people say your magazine has a great tendency to spout highbrow journalism.
You mean it hasn’t a tendency to spout highbrow journalism?
No, it has a tendency to utter rubbish.
I see. And er what do you to say to the criticism that it is in fact boring?
Weeell, this depends on the subjective nature of one’s viewpoint and personally I’m of—
—the opinion that… (continues in background)
Er well, while—
—Sir Gordon is answering that, we’re just going to nail him into a wooden box here, and drop him in the sea, er just to be on the safe side.
heavy object splashing into the water
Sir Gordon, thank you and er good luck with the sharks.
And talking of ITV, let’s take a look now at the typical little family interest story, which has become so much a part of our Christmas viewing these days.
pet shop atmosphere with bird noises etc.
bell ringing continuously
Er good morning, er er I wonder if—
Get out! Go on, get out!
Er, but… but er look, I beg your pardon?
You heard me, go on, get out!
door closing, bell ringing stops
Damn bell salesmen. Fifth today.
door handle, door closing again
Ah, good morning. Is this the pet shop?
If we were on television, you wouldn’t need to say that.
I beg your pardon?
(very brusque) Can I help you?
Yes. I’m after a Christmas present for my nephew. I thought I’d buy him a puppy.
Oh. Puppy, eh? Well, you’re in luck. There, we’ve just got one squid left. Now I think if I change—
We’ve just got one squid left.
No. I wanted a puppy.
It’s alright, it’s only a puppy, it’s very playful. Look.
water splashing (continues in background)
Down boy. Down boy!
No, I..I.. I don’t want a squid, I want a puppy.
splashing noises stop
I mean, you can teach a puppy to fetch things.
Well, you can teach a squid to sting you.
Sting you? Where’s the fun in it stinging you?
Squids always seem to enjoy it..?
No. It’s got to be a dog.
Oh, alright. A dog. Think I’ve got a dog here somewhere. Just one minute, madam.
There we are. You’re in luck. Your very own li’l puppy dog.
That’s not a puppy dog.
What is it then?
Oh it’s a squid, with two floppy ears sellotaped to its head.
That’s a dog alright.
Well what are those eight tentacles doing on it then?
Well… been doctored.
If it’s a dog, why is it in a tank of water?
It isn’t house-trained yet.
Now look here—
Alright! Alright. I will admit, I will admit it is a foreign model. In Japan they prefer their dogs a bit less… canine. They go more for dogs that are a bit… squid-like.
I told you, that’s a squid, not a dog and I’m not buying it! Now then.
What have you got against squids?
I want a dog! You can take a dog for a walk in the park.
Well you can take a squid for a walk in the park. Except for the park bit. My wife takes it for a walk every night.
In the canal.
How does she breathe?
It’s quite near the park.
How does she breathe, now answer that! How does she breathe?
She’s a haddock.
Oh cor, you can’t be married to a haddock!?
Alright! Alright, I admit it. No, I’m not. We’re living in sin! Now look, this is a beautiful beast. I’d love to own a squid like this.
Well you do own it, what are you worried about? No, I’m not having that squid.
I’ve got another one out the back.
No! Look, don’t you have any other ordinary pets here?
sounds of various animals typical of pet shops
Oh yes. Just look around the shelves. We got all sorts.
No, you haven’t. There’s no animals on these shelves at all. You’re playing a record entitled ‘Pet Shop Atmosphere’. This isn’t a proper pet shop at all, is it?
Well, not in the verbal sense of the word, no. Look, you’re sure you don’t want a squid?
Of course I’m sure! What would my nephew want with a squid?
Ohhh, right. I have got a dog here. Just the one. A real puppy dog.
dog barking, paper rustling
I just wrap it in gift paper and send it off for you. Could I have your nephew’s name, please?
Certainly. It’s Mr Jack Cousteau, two thousand fathoms, the Galapagos islands.
Copies of that exercise can be obtained from Burkiss Publications of Stepney, prized at a couple of squid… er (chuckles) quid.
But, back to programme planning. And you should by now have planned your schedules up to John Rickman’s ninth non-start in the Boxing Day sports round-up.
And because Boxing Day is such a typically British institution, it’s as well to balance your shows for the evening accordingly, as this Burkiss tape demonstrates:
[some 70s cop show-style music?]
(over) Programmes tonight on BBC One: At six thirty-five, more exciting detective action with Schulz, New York’s fat, bald police-chief, doomed to live the rest of his tragic life in a wheelchair because he’s too lazy to walk. The man who solves crimes in his own, inimitable way: very badly.
changes tempo and comes into the foreground for a moment
(over) That’s followed at seven ten by O’Reilly, Chicago’s thin, scruffy, hard-talking bald police-chief with a heart of gold – a liver of nylon, two plastic hips and reinforced concrete small intestines. Doomed to spend the rest of his life on Who Do You Do.
changes again slightly and fades momentarily into the foreground
(over) Then it’s another thrilling episode of Spassky & Flinn. Cincinnati’s tall, midget, one-legged, deaf, gay, Christian scientist, colour-blind, amnesiac, [Jesuit ?], bald police-chiefs – though not necessarily in that order. Doomed to spend the rest of their lives in repetitive plots, shooting at people for no apparent reason.
But now on BBC One, it’s time for the start of a new series: The adventures of San Francisco’s bald police-chief, run over by a steamroller, and doomed to spend the rest of his life completely dead. We present: A Stiff Called Ironside.
[?? signature tune, mimicking a police siren]
steam roller, screaming as someone is being run over
police siren, tyres screeching
street atmosphere with traffic passing in the background
Okay boys, put it down over here.
Hey, you can’t put that carpet down in the street.
It’s er Chief Ironside, lady.
Well can’t he step on the sidewalk like everybody else?
No no, no, that’s no carpet, lady, that is Chief Ironside. He had an accident with a steamroller. It was a tragic day for this city.
What do you mean?
Well, the road had just been resurfaced. Well, is this your apartment the hoods are holed up in?
Sure. Can you get them out?
We’ll sure try, lady. Er, Chief? What do you think we should do? (pause) Check Chief, you’re absolutely dead! (through megaphone) Okay, [Padorouski ?]. We know you’re in there. Come on out! We got irons, and we’re not afraid to use ’em. (pause) [Padorouski ?], we know you’re in there. [Padorouski ?], look! We’re… pretty sure you’re in there. [Padorouski ?]! We… we think you might just conceivably be in there. [Padorouski ?]!! We reckon you ain’t in there at all, you lousy stinkin’ bum, what kind of trick is that to pull?
[???], all the doors are locked!
(normal) Ahh, he’s in there. (through megaphone) That’s what you think, [Padorouski ?]. We’re coming in!
Are you sure it’s safe?
(normal) You’re right, Lady. Murphy, er I guess you better give the Chief an iron.
Yeah, that.. that’s better. The creases have gone now. (through megaphone) Right, [Padorouski ?]. The Chief’s coming in. (normal) Slip him under the door, boys.
the Chief being slipped under the door
machine gun fire
Okay, okay. Got it. [???] Alright.
Okay boys. Book him!
That was the most daring thing I ever saw.
romantic music starting up
I’d er… I’d kinda like to repay the Chief for what he did. You know, Lieutenant, take him out to dinner maybe. Where can I contact him?
Er you’ll er, you’ll find him in the phone book, Lady.
Sure, yeah. Between pages one five six and one five seven. Okay boys, fold him up. Easy does it though, there we go.
Well, by now we’re into the late evening viewing slot and so it’s possible—
—to proceed with our—
Excuse me a moment. Erm what is it?
Hello, is that the Burkiss Way to Dynamic Living of Stepney, callers welcome?
Er, I’d like to complain about my course. You said you’d rid me of my speech impediment in just two weeks. That was eight months ago. I want my money back!
Er, forgive me, Sir, but I don’t see what your complaining about. Your voice sounds perfectly alright to me.
Well it’s not. Are you going to give me my money back or not?
Er certainly not.
In that case I shall go elsewhere, and see if they can stop me sounding as if I was on the telephone all the while!
door handle, then door slamming shut
Ha, well, ha ha ha ha. Sorry about that interruption, as I was saying, now that we’re into the late evening, you can put on one of those strange, incomprehensible plays.
Like this one perhaps.
compartment door opening
Tickets please. Tickets please. Thank you, Sir. Thank you. Thank you very much. Fine, thank you. Tickets please. Ta. Thank you. Ta. Thank you.
Er, er excuse me…
Tickets please. That’s it, Sir. Thank you. Tickets, Sir.
Er, excuse me—
There’s only me in this compartment.
I’m well aware of that, Sir, but I’ve got a job to do. [??]. Tickets please. Tickets, Sir. Thank you. Tickets please.
Er, er, look I, I I I don’t seem to have a ticket, I’m afraid.
Tickets please. Tickets, Sir. Thank you. Ta. Thank you very much [for the fare ?]. Would you mind repeating that, please?
Er, certainly, yes. Tickets please. Thank you, Sir, thank you. Ta. Thank you, ta.
Thank you. Now then, no ticket, eh?
I see, Sir. In that case I’m afraid I shall have to shoot you.
Alright, Sir, all in good time, all in good time. Now then, where did I put my gun?
Er er, let, let’s not be hasty about this, I, I was under the impression the penalty for not having a ticket was a fine of not more than twenty-five pounds.
Oh not any more, Sir. You see, yesterday I gave an old-age pensioner thirty lashes across the back, you see, Sir. And she had a perfectly valid ticket.
What was the offence then?
Not smoking in a smoking compartment. So you see, if I gave her thirty lashes, it’s stands to reason I’ve got to shoot you. Otherwise the whole thing would be out of proportion, wouldn’t it?
Er, so you’re, you’re going to shoot me immediately?
No, I can grant you a stay of execution for the length of time it takes this train to pass through East Croydon.
And how long is that?
Oh, about three and a half hours, Sir. Now as a c… (audience reaction), now as a condemned man, you’re entitled to one last meal from the buffet.
Oh well, perhaps just a sandwich, a cup of tea and a slice of fruit cake…
Ohh, come on, remember where you are, Sir.
Oh yes, yes yes ye.., I, I mean I’ll have two bits of baby’s blanket filled with chop polystyrene, a cup of soggy iron filings and a slice of damp hardboard.
I’m sorry, Sir, it’s off.
Oh. I know what you are: You’re a sadist, aren’t you? It’s the thought of power; it makes you into a sadist!
The thought of power does not make me into a sadist, Sir.
No. It’s the black leather underwear that makes me into a sadist. Now then, before I shoot you I shall have to take your name and address.
I’m not giving you my name!
Alright then, I’ll just take the dress.
Very well, I don’t enjoy shooting passengers, you know. Well, only a bit. But I can see I’ve got no alternative—
W..wait a minute, wait a minute, look, look, here’s five hundred quid in used notes, there, there, look. N..now, will you spare my life?
Ohhh, well… thank you very much, Sir. Yes, well, I think in that case we can forget about the whole thing, don’t you?
Ohh, yes, yes. Oh, just a minute, hang on, I, I think I’ve just been conned. You’ve conned me, haven’t you?
Nonsense, Sir! Whatever makes you think that?
Well, for a start I—
compartment door opening
Is the ticket collector in here? Ah, you’re wanted in the next car.
Right, I’ll come straightaway and I’ll deal with you later!
compartment door closing
And so we reach the end of our course on planning your Christmas schedule the Burkiss Way. If you’ve organised the programmes with due regard for timing, balance and good, sound, mature entertainment, you’ll never make a television controller.
We’re sorry to interrupt this programme, but we’re going over to the BBC newsroom now for a newsflash.
Ahem. Gerald Beaverston, the film actor, is dead. And has been for twenty-six years. This is the end of this newsflash.
And finally, to wind up our course for you today, let’s turn to a variety show that can teach us rather a lot of things about programme planning. It’s of course purely an isolated example, and the more isolated, the better.
[Celebrity Squares ?] signature tune
Yes, it’s Celebrity Morons, the fun-packed noughts-and-crosses game, where a famous celebrated celebrity sits in each square and delivers agonisingly rip-tickling ad-libs every time he or she is asked a question. All the contestants have to do is to say whether the celeb’s excrutialing, mirth-giving off-the-cuffery is true or false. And now, without more ado, let’s meet our host for the show, Bob Wisecrack!
And as the hippie said when his friend asked ‘How are you?’ – ‘High.’ Hahahahahaha. Well, our first contestant tonight is Mrs Agnes Boring. And Agnes, as the actor said to the actress in Ol’ Calcutta, ‘Nice to have you on the show.’ Hahahahahaha. Agnes, do you live in London?
What do you do in it then? Hahahahaha. Seriously, where do you live?
I live in Barnsley.
Yes, I know someone who wants to move as well. Barnsley, that’s outside Reading, isn’t it?
Well, what is it then? Inside Reading? Hahahahahahaha. Well, over here is Mr Les Ordinary of Catford. Tell us a bit about yourself, Les.
Well I’m a builder. Putting hemispherical roofs on toilets; and last week I… accidentally hit an Irish salesmen selling [orthodonts ??].
Really? Sounds like an Knick-Knack-Paddy-Whack-Give-A-Bog-A-Dome, hahahahha.
Oh… I hadn’t thought of that.
Well, as the… as the [??] said to the stripper, ‘Let’s get on with the game’, because it’s time now to play Celebrity Morons and Agnes, you go first.
Arthur Badactor, please.
Arthur Badactor, down in the bottom corner there. Arthur, Sir Gerald Fitz-Innuendo was the first person to do it with a broom handle while leaning over backwards in his lady’s boudoir in fifteen seventy-three. What did he do?
Er, I should think he did himself an injury. Ho ho. No no, I, I believe he crossed, he crossed the Atlantic in a plane.
You’re wrong to agree. In fifteen seventy-three he was the first person to use that last joke. So no money on that square. Les?
Er, Pat Stooge, please.
Pat, Pat, nice to see you on the show, Pat. In birds, Paddy, what is the difference between a redbreast and a blue tit?
Cyril Smith’s knickers. Oh no, no, no, it’s er… er…
I, I… I think you’ve, I think you’ve turned over two pages, Paddy.
leafing through pages
Oh, er, yeah. John Inman does when he’s on top of a Christmas tree. Oh no. Ah so. It’s another name for an incontinent owl. Oh, oh! Sorry, ha. Yeah, [sorted that one out ??]. False, they drop off in the autumn.
Errr er, I… , I think, I think we better come back to you on that one, Pat. Err, Agnes, Agnes, your turn again.
Er the Labour cabinet please.
The Labour cabinet up there in the top corner. Welcome to the show all of you. What’s the difference between a socialist government and a sweet shop?
(various voices muttering)
I should think they both find things get very sticky. Ho ho, ho.
Thank you, Jim. Well, Agnes?
You’re wrong to agree. The difference between a sweet shop and a socialist government is: One issues the fudge and the other fudges the issues. Hahahahhaha. Well, with the score neck-on-neck at zero each, who’s won? We got a draw between Agnes and Les, and a draw between Les and Agnes. What’s the result? I think we’d better ask the audience.
I should think it’s a pair of drawers. Ho ho ho.
Well well, as my wife says to me every Saturday night, ‘That’s it for another week.’ Hahahahha. Byeee!
Burkiss Way closing signature tune
Well, there’s no need to ruin your Christmas watching television when the Burkiss Way’s around. Switch on the radio and ruin your Christmas instead with Jo Kendall, Nigel Rees, Chris Emmett and Fred Harris. You too could write scripts for Christmas crackers like Andrew Marshall and David Renwick, or for additional crackers like Colin Bostock-Smith. All you need is a little festive spirit, as drunk by producer Simon Brett of Stepney. See you next week everyone and Merry Dynamic Living.