sombre music, then fades out
courtroom atmosphere, people talking
Silence in court!
people quieten down, someone coughs
Be upstanding for the judge, Mr Justice Biggles.
propeller plane approaching
Alright Ginger, get the [??].
machine gun fire, explosion
Got him! Hahahaaa!
M’lud, m’lud, you’ve just bombed the jury.
Sorry, [old bean ?]?
You just bombed the jury, m’lud. Entirely wiped them out.
Oh, sorry, ol’ m’am. Thought they might have been Hitler.
With respect, milord, how could eight men and four women be mistaken for Hitler?
Weeell, they just had that look in their eyes. Anyway, [call me help ?]. Help me off with the old helmet and boots, ol’ m’am. That’s it… (fades out)
Well, a very good afternoon to you here from number one court at the Old Bailey. And er first of all, a word of apology to listeners who may have tuned in expecting the scheduled programme in our series of correspondence courses, The Burkiss Way to Dynamic Living. Er Lesson 16, Be Patient The Burkiss Way will not now be broadcast for another four weeks. This is because earlier in the week, the Burkiss Way was in fact arrested, and er, is now being prosecuted under section fourteen of the BBC charter, on three charges of being funny. Legal representatives for our listeners have advised us to plead ‘not guilty’. Erm, and so now we… so now we invite you to follow the trial as we—
Stop whispering into that microphone.
Er, I’m-I’m verry sorry…
This is a court of law, not a bag of peppermints. Now, usher, I think we’re ready to proceed with the first case. Call Adolf Hitler.
Call Adolf Hitler. Call Adolf Hitler. Call Adolf Hitler.
Hrm hrm. You are Adolf Hitler of 42 The Bunker, Berlin. You are charged with being German on or about the years 1939 to ’45, and further, of not being a very nice man at all. And also of talking foreign. Do you plead guilty, or else?
M’lud, I’m the usher.
Speak up Fritz, I can’t hear you.
I am the usher, milord.
Where’s Hitler then?
He’s dead, milord.
Ohh, trying that old caper out now, is he? Well, we’ll see about that kettle of fish for a game of soldiers later. What’s the next case, usher?
The Crown v. Burkiss Way, milord.
Proceed. (bangs gavel)
Oww! Ahem, milord, my name is Marmaduke Smoth, and I appear for the prosecution in this case.
And my name is Sir Beatrice Thrimpson QC, and I appear for the humorous wireless programme ‘The Burkiss Way’, m’lud.
Proceed with the charges.
Err, very well, m’lud. One, it is alleged that on or between the above dates, the humorous wireless programme ‘The Burkiss Way’ was funny by means of, or did cause to be funny, a signature tune and opening credits, contrary to section fourteen of the BBC charter, brackets er ‘Silly Openings to Radio Shows’, provision thriteen, subsection thrity-five. Er two, it is alleged that the Burkiss Way did obtain a humorous advantage through causing to be brought into question the intellectual competence of one or more persons suffering from the name Nicholas Parsons, in that they did wilfully crack, or otherwise did cause to be cracked, a joke, er namely ‘We’re omitting the reference to Nicholas Parsons’ brain transplant, and how the monkey is struggling for recovery, because er…, because we don’t want to get any cheap laughs at his expense.’ Er thereby contravening the BBC charter, brackets ‘Protection of Radio Quizmaster’s Facade of Sanity’, subsection thrity-five, milord. Er three, it is alleged that The Burkiss Way did inflict actual Bodily Laughter upon the studio audience at the BBC Paris Theatre, and four, it is alleged that The Burkiss Way is in fact Adolf Hitle—, er Hitler? Er, er look er er, do we have to proceed with this last charge, m’lud?
Ohhhh, very well, strike it off.
Er, thank you m’lud.
Sir Beatrice, you have instructions on what pleas your client wishes to enter?
I have, m’lud.
And how do you wish to plead – in semaphore, in crab language, or in grand opera?
In grand opera please, m’lud.
tapping of conductor’s baton
(singing) I wish to plead, I wish to plead, I wish to plead… pleeead.
(singing) How d’you wish, how d’you wish, how do you wish to plead?
(singing) How do I wish?
(singing) How do you wish?
(singing) How do I wish?
(singing) How do you wish?
(singing) How do I wish to plead, I wish to plead, I wish to plead, I wish to pleeead? Nooot… noot… noot! (short pause) I wish to plead, I wish to plead, I wish to plead…
(singing) … he wishes to plead, he wishes to plead, ohhh, he wishes to plead.
(singing) I wish to plead, I wish to plead, not…
(singing) … not!
(singing) … not!
(singing) … noooooooooot …
I beg your pardon?!
He doesn’t wish to plead yet, milord.
Well how long’s he going to be? I’ve got to bomb Frankfurt at half past two.
I suggest we take it as a plea of ‘not guilty’ on all charges and proceed with the prosecution case, milord.
I would now like to deal with the first charge, the charge of jocular signature tunes, m’lud. Er call the Burkiss Way’s signature tune.
Call the Burkiss Way’s signature tune. Call the Burkiss Way’s signature tune. Call the Burkiss Way’s signature tune.
Burkiss Way opening signature tune fades in
(over) It is alleged that the following credits are funny, milord.
(over) Do you suffer with funny openings? Are you jolly, happy, easily amused? Would you rather find yourself in bad humour once in a while? Then write now to Jo Kendall, Chris Emmett, Nigel Rees and Fred Harris for the Burkiss Way’s course on how to get a part in ‘Yus, My Dear’, and you can be in bad humour all the time. Stay tuned now for this and other amazing legal loopholes as we present Lesson 16, Get Off With Life The Burkiss Way.
(bangs gavel) Not guilty, next charge.
Harrumph. Very well, the next charge relates to Nicholas Parsons, m’lud. I propose to show that the humorous wireless programme ‘The Burkiss Way’ did make the said Nicholas Parsons look silly.
Objection, m’lud. Er someone had got there before us.
Very well, I find no case to answer. (bangs gavel) Next charge. (to himself) At this rate I can be over Munich in twenty minutes, ohohoho.
Er the final charge, m’lud, will I think prove more involved. That of inflicting laughter upon the audience. I would like to draw your attention first to exhibits A, B, C and D. Er these letters, together with twenty-two others, were used by the accused in their scripts to make up humorous words, and surrealistic routines. Er with your indulgence, m’lud, I would like to show you now an excerpt from one of the sketches, which was seized by the police on Monday.
phone handset taken off cradle, dialling, ringback tone
Haha, Jim lad. Ha hahahaa. Fifteen man on a dead man’s chest. Ha ha haa. Yo-ho-ho and a bottle of rum! Haar haahh… [Scupper ?] the [scurvy ?? ?], slit their throats and keelhaul ’em for the [??], so be it, yo-ho-ho-hoo, ahaahahaa. Pieces of Eight, (almost laughs) Pieces of Eight, and pass me that grog, landlubber, haa haa haar, arrrh arrr. Yes?
Who’s that speaking, please?
Arrrh, my name become Silver, hahaarr Jim lad, but folks as know me calls me Long John, haharrr, for reasons we won’t go into, haha harr.
Erm, well the thing is, I haven’t been left any milk this morning.
Harrhahaaa, ha haha haaa, oh hoo hoo, pardon?
I haven’t been left any milk this morning.
No milk, eh? Ye scurvy swab, arrhh. [Rotten ?] me bones by the sword of Ol’ Man Dozer, and the tomb of Capt’n Flint. Ahahaharr, a ha ha ha, (runs out of steam) a ha ha ha… haar… How many pints did ye order?
I have two large gold tops.
Well that’s as maybe, but how many (almost laughs) pints did you order? Arr harr, Jim lad, arrrhh. Sss-scuttle the [??], splice the mainbrace [??], arr arr arrr. (continues in background while customer talks) Arr, ohh, Jim lad, ohh arrrh, arrr, o ho-ho-ho Jim lad, ohh, arrr, ohhhhh, arrrr—
(over) Oh. Sometimes I think it was a waste of time switching over to Treasure Island dairy in the first place. I should have stayed with the Co-op.
(cuts in) Mmm-now the Co-op! Arrrhh, blister me barnacles, I’ll be glad when they get this chair sandpapered, oohharrrr harr.
Look, I might say that I haven’t been at all happy with your service just lately. For a start, I don’t like all those new milkmen you’ve put on my round. Blind Pew, Ben Gunn, Israel Hands, I mean really—
Ohh arrrrrr-rrrrrr, well in that case Jim lad, that only leaves me with one other roundsman.
Oh no, I’m most definitely not having that one.
Well he squawks too much and keeps pecking holes in the tops.
Alright, I think I’ve heard enough, Mr Smoth, carry on.
Harrumph. Ahrm. Very well, m’lud, I would now like to swear in the first witness, er.
Take the book in your right hand, repeat after me: ‘I swear to tell the trough, the whole trough, and nothing but the trough.’
The witness would seem to be rather on the er… bovine side, counsel.
Er, no no no no, m’lud er, she’s just putting on a facade.
Putting on a facade? How can four hundredweight of cow be a facade?!
Er well, it-it-it’s a very.. unimaginative facade, m’lud.
Then she is a cow?
Only professionally, m’lud.
What is she when she’s off duty then?
Well er, a-a different cow, m’lud.
Always a cow.
Er yes, m’lud.
I see, a cow.
But not Adolf Hitler?
Er ohh, no, no no no, m’lud.
a few hoof steps
Ahem, harrumph. Er now then, erm cow, tell us what you know about the humorous wireless programme ‘The Burkiss Way’. (bad attempt at ventriloquism) Now goodnesh me, shertainly, milord. I think it’sh the most agominagle programme on GGC radio. (normal) Erm, she erm, she says er, she thinks it’s the abominable programme on BBC radio, m’lud. (more obvious ventriloquism) In fact, only the other day, I ’as [starting to a couple of bullocks ?]—
Er, milord, milord, how much more of this have we got to listen to? Counsel is quite clearly throwing his voice in a rather feeble attempt to make it look as though the cow is talking.
Good golly, do you reckon?
Of course, m’lud. Wouldn’t be quite so obvious though if he took the cow off his knee.
Objection sustained. You may cross-examine, Sir Beatrice.
Thank you. Er now then, cow, I think we can clear this all up both quickly and simply er… If you think the Burkiss Way is a reputable, honest and fair-minded programme, just go ‘mooh’.
I rest my case, m’lud.
Right. Er, the witness may leave the stand – and clear that up.
Er m’lud, er… at this point in the proceedings I would like to call for a short intermission.
(bangs gavel) Request granted.
vibraphone glissando, then Theme from A Summer Place
(over) There will now be a short intermission.
Gone with the Wind theme music, then down for
(over) And now, at last, the motion picture of a lifetime. The story of the greatest romance in all history. We present – the RAC production of ‘Gone with the Wind’.
fades up again for a short bit
Oh Rhett, Rhett… you’re back from the war at last. Mah darling, ah thought you would never return.
I’m sorry, I tried to take the A12 through [??].
Never mind, mah darling—
Then on the Colchester bypass I suddenly came to a diversion due to flooding on the B1019 at Hatfield Peverel, near the triple roundabout intersection between Witham and Chelmsford.
Oh, that’s all behind u—
Then just as I got to Catford on the South Circular, there was a two-lane bottleneck at… (fades out)
fades up again
(over) Yes, witness again the smouldering love scene that shocked a generation.
outside atmosphere, crickets chirping
Ohh, Rhett… Ohhhh (heavy breathing), ohh Rhett! (more heavy breathing) Ohh Rheeett!
Look, how can I change this wheel if you won’t hold the car?
Gone with the Wind theme starts up again
(over) Yes, the RAC version of Gone with the Wind, in pale maroon colour together with full-supporting subframe, underseal and a cost of thousands is coming soon to this intermission!
(bangs gavel) The court is reconvened.
Er, I would now like to call my next witness, milord. Er ahrm. Harrumph. You are Ernest James Feedline, a straightman by occupation.
Er, I don’t wish to know that.
Just answer the questions, —
—will you please. You are, I believe, rather a wet person…
That is correct yes.
… and, I understand for example that you drink warm milk quite a bit, peel all your apples before eating them and frequently use underarm deodorant.
Tell the court please, how you were subjected to a rather zany sketch by the accused.
Well, it all happened like this. First of all, my voice started fading away, like this… (so he does)
knocking on door, door handle
(fades back in) Oh hello, my name’s Feedline, Ernest James Feedline. Somebody told me you were the person to see about booking up to see a West End show.
Well, it’s not quite my sketch, but I’ll see if I can help. Now er… what have we got? Ah yes, Sir, how about this one, Sir? Er, Harry Nilsson’s ‘The Point’.
Oh yes, what happens in that?
Well er, a man comes down off the stage, and pokes you in the eye with a pencil.
But surely that could cause serious damage.
No, it-it’s quite alright, they sharpen it again afterwards.
No no..no. What other shows have you got?
What other shows have we got, —
—well there’s your ‘Equus’, by Peter Shaffer.
What’s that about?
Well, that one as far as I can tell, Sir, is about… a man, who comes down off the stage, and pokes you in the eye with a pencil.
What, another one?
Oh yes, Sir, they couldn’t use the same pencil. No no, of course you see, both productions run simultaneously, yeah, and it would be a bit of a rush getting a taxi to take the pencil, er you see, from the Mermaid Theatre to the er, the Albery Theatre, —
Oh, yeah, yeah…
—which is where it’s playing.
…yeah, well no, no I don’t want that then. No.
You don’t want that, —
—well er… the ‘John Curry Theatre of Skating’?
Erm, does that involve a man coming down off the stage and poking you in the eye with a pencil?
I don’t think so, Sir, but just let me check, er…
… ah here we are, Sir. Ah, yes, Sir.
(quietly) Oh. (normal) In that case I don’t want it.
You don’t want that, well, —
—well what else is there…? Ohh! Thi-this might do, Sir. ‘No Poking You In The Eye With A Pencil Please, We’re British’.
Oh, Sir! ‘A Bed Full of Pencil-pokers’. Or.. ‘Let My People… Poke You In The Eye With A Pencil’.
Erm, look, I-I-I, I hate to sound picky—
Oh, you don’t sound picky.
Well no, I don’t, no, but… have you got anything apart from a show where a man comes down off the stage and pokes you in the eye with a pencil?
Well, well, now, now you make me think of it, so we have got ‘Oh! Calcutta!’
Yes. Now there’s a show, Sir, which involves a man not coming down off the stage and poking you in the eye with a pencil.
Oh good! Oh that sounds more like it.
I’ll just check and find out what he does poke you in the eye with.
(bangs gavel) This witness may step down now. That will be all, Mr Hitler.
Oh, thank you.
Haahh!! Fell for it, eh!
short burst of machine gun fire
He didn’t fool me for a second! Ha haa, right now. I’m afraid I won’t be able to judge the next part of this case, because I’ve got something else to judge in the next court. A beauty contest. In the meantime, (starts leaving) just carry on without me, will you…
door handle, door closing
[??], then down for
Ladies and gentlemen, we present the quarter finals of Miss Old Bailey Nineteen Seventy-Seven.
fades up momentarily, then out
And here’s your host for the evening, Michael Cesspool.
Your Majesty, your Most Royal Highness, your Grace, your Excellency. Your Worships, my Lords, Ladies and Gentlemen. Tables, chairs, napkins, and cruets… curtains, cutlery… things in the soup, gravy on the tablecloths, Stars on Sunday, raindrops on roses, whiskers on kittens, bright copper kettles and warm woolen mittens, brown paper packages tied up with strings, these are a few of my – favourite things. Ladies and gentlemen, it gives me great pleasure now to welcome you all to Miss Old Bailey Nineteen Seventy-Seven. This is of course the third heat, but the doctor says it should get better when I’m less excited… Right now though, let’s meet the judges: First, Mister Justice Biggles.
Next, a film actress, who’s been cut off at the bottom of the screen just at the interesting bits.
Good evening. (giggles)
And er, next to her, a racing driver who looks out of place in evening dress.
Good evening. (giggles)
Next to him, a black man to make the panel look balanced.
And finally, last year’s Miss Old Bailey, a girl with big lips who laughs a lot when people talk to her!
Good evening. (giggles)
Well, as you know there are fifty beauties this year, but which of the twenty-five girls will win? (audience reaction) Well, the contestants have already been whittled down from twenty-five to one. So… can we now have our first finalist, please, Miss United Kingdom!
something on strings
Ha, good evening, good evening ha, we-eell, we must stop meeting like this. And er what’s your name again?
Eric Pode of Croydon.
Ha ha ha, yeah. Well, isn’t she adorable. And er tell me, what are your vital statistics?
Twenty-one, thirteen, nought.
Yeah, I got fallen arches.
Hahaha. Aha. What a doll. And er tell me, tell me now er, what do you do for a living?
Hahaha. Haha. Aha. Well, isn’t she a panic? But tell me now, er what, what job do you do?
I work on a building site, as-as-as..as a layer of bricks.
As a bricklayer?
No, a layer o’ bricks.
Hahaha. Ha. We-eell, move over Sophia Loren, you’ve got real competition here. Now, tell us Miss Croydon, why do you want to win this competition?
I need the money, I… I got a wife and Crystal Palace to support.
Hahaha. Aha, haha…
… well er, what a hunk of woman, yeah…
… erm, here are the judges’ results.
Ah, ah, thank you, yes. And I’m just being handed the judges’ results now…
paper being torn up
Don’t you think you want to read them out instead of tearing them up?
Why yes, you’re right, yes. Ahrm. Well I just read out what it says on the paper: Er ‘Will Mister Justice Biggles please get back into courtroom number one, where his trial is just coming to a close.’
door handle, door slamming shut
Er, have I missed anything?
The prosecution has now finished, and the defence counsel is calling his last witness, milord.
Er, call the Burkiss Way’s audience.
Call the Burkiss Way’s audience. Call the Burkiss Way’s audience. Call the Burkiss Way’s audience.
(stomping their feet in imitation of foot steps)
Now, you are I believe, the Burkiss Way’s studio audience?
That is correct, yes.
And would you tell the court your address, please?
(everybody attempting to give their address simultaneously, with someone then shouting ‘Ten Downing Street’ above the general hubbub)
I see. Now, remember you’re on oath – has the Burkiss Way ever to your recollection caused you to laugh?
Er, could they have time to think about this one, m’lud?
Certainly not. Come to the point, Sir Beatrice, if you’re going to.
Very good m’lud. The point is this: I submit, that the laughter heard on the humorous wireless programme ‘The Burkiss Way’, was provoked not by the programme itself, but, by the continuity announcer, who introduced it!
(bangs gavel) Silence! (audience quietens down again) Explain yourself.
I submit, m’lud, that the BBC’s announcers are so funny…
… that throughout the following programme, the audience is still periodically tittering… over the extremely amusing pre-show continuity material. Allow me to demonstrate with this BBC announcer, exhibit J, m’lud.
This is Radio Four.
(burst of laughter)
And now, the Burkiss Way.
(longer burst of laughter)
(shouting) Quiet! Quiet! (calming down again) I find your case proved, Sir Beatrice. I direct the jury to clear the Burkiss Way and instead, I find the BBC continuity announcer, exhibit J, guilty on all charges. It’s alright, though, I’m not going to sentence you to life…
Oh, thank you milord.
… I’m going to sentence you to the exact opposite – four months doing walk-on parts in ‘Men from the Ministry’, take him away.
Ohh, no no no! No…
Court (bangs gavel) adjourned. Court ad – journed. (to himself) Phew. Thank goodness for that. Now we can get back to some real work. Right. Into the cockpit.
propeller plane revving up
Look out, Adolf, here we come! Ready, Ginger?
Mmm, whenever you are, sweetie.
propeller plane taking off and flying away
Burkiss Way closing signature tune
(over) Well, well, we’ve made it, the Burkiss Way leaves the court with all charges dropped and completely free. Unfortunately, the same can’t be said of our amazing correspondence course, which will set you back five hundred pounds. Send off now to Jo Kendall, Chris Emmett, Nigel Rees and Fred Harris, and sample the incredible briefs of Andrew Marshall and David Renwick, and the additional briefs of Tom Magee Englefield and Liz Pollock, and you’ll be able to get off with a fifty pound fine, or producer Simon Brett of Stepney, whichever turns you on most. See you in court folks, and happy dynamic living.