This Is Your Life signature tune, then down for
(over) Hello there, and This Is Your Life. And tonight on This Is Your Life, a man with what must be the most diabolical occupation in the world. (music fades out) A man whose mindlessly soul-destroying job would probably cost most people their sanity. But more about me later. (audience reaction) Our subject tonight is a very well-known Radio Four comedy show, which is about to start any second now, so we haven’t got a lot of time. I’m now gonna disguise myself as a joke, ugghh… ugh… there, that didn’t take long… and now, I’ll just slip back onto—
—page three of the script, and we’ll see what happens.
This is Radio Four. And now, news of some programmes coming to you later today. In a few moments, we present the humorous wireless programme ‘The Burkiss Way to Dynamic Living’. (voice starts speeding up) Then at six forty-five tonight, there’s another chance to hear what’s going on in Ambridge as we present ‘The Archers’. (continues speeding up to unintelligibility) That’s followed at seven o’clock by the news and weather, another look…
explosion, several objects clattering onto the floor
police siren approaching, car door closing
Alright, alright squire. What’s your game then, squire? Don’t you know the speed limit for continuity announcers on Radio Four? Squire? Thirty words an hour, squire. (pause) I think you’d better announce into this bag. (audience reaction) Eh, squire?
What do you mean? I was perfectly legal.
Just announce into the bag, squire. Say something about one of your Radio Four programmes.
Look, this is pathetic.
That’ll do nicely. Now then, may I see your papers?
Ah, erm well that’s a bit awkward actually I’m afraid, because I haven’t got all my personal papers and diaries and things at the moment, my.. husband said he wanted to borrow them all.
Borrow them all? What for?
Well, he didn’t say. But he did stress that it wasn’t to lend them to the research consultants on the This Is Your Life programme.
Strange. Exactly the same thing happened to me.
Yes. My husband did exactly the same thing. Well, be that as it may, squire, I’ve got to have a look at your papers.
Well, mine were delivered this morning.
Hang on, there was something funny about that joke.
No, I don’t think so, squire.
No, I mean it wasn’t a real joke at all, but it, it was—
Stop! He he hee!
Alright, hold it there.
The next line is now appearing on the cutting room floor at Broadcasting House.
He he. Well, you thought you were both comin’ here tonight to do a rather zany routine about radio announcers getting arrested for speeding, but instead, we’ve got bags more, thrills, spills and surprises for you all, because tonight, The Burkiss Way to Dynamic Living, This Is Your Life.
(short pause, audience reaction)
Yes, a ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha… (pause, audience reaction) a ha ha ha ha ha ha… (pause, audience reaction) a ha ha ha… (short pause, audience reaction) a ha ha… ha (pause, audience reaction) a ha… (pause, audience reaction) … cut to the studio quick, for heaven’s sake!
This Is Your Life signature jingle
(off-camera) Have they all had their injections now, only I don’t want them t— (realises he actually is on camera) Oh right, a ha ha ha ha ha… Good evening, ladies and gentlemen, and tonight, This Is Your Life The Burkiss Way. Now, the story of the Burkiss Way is one which begins in a little maternity ward in Stepney, nearly twelve months ago.
George, I feel like an enormous apple dumpling, with.. with… with a couple of erm, with a couple of brussel sprouts on top.
Yes, ye-yes I dare say, but, but you’ll get your figure back eventually, dear.
Oh, isn’t it marvellous, darling?
Here we are, expecting our very first radio programme.
Ahh. Our very own little Tony Blackburn Show.
Oh, now now dear, you never know – it might be a boy.
I think it’s coming on!
Oh good lord! Nurse! Nurse!
Alright Mister Smoth, I think you’d better wait outside.
Right you are, nurse.
Burkiss Way opening signature tune
(over) Oh… oh my…
(over) Oh, yes?
(over) Congratulations, Sir, it’s a Radio Four comedy!
(over) Ohh, oh fantastic!
(over) Ga ga ga ga, gu gu gurgle gurgle gu ga ga. Ga ga gu gu gurgle gurgle, Jo Kendall, Nigel Rees, Chris Emmett and Fred Harris, gurgle gu ga gu ga, gu-gurgle gurgle gu-ga gu-ga, Lesson 17, Gurgle Gurgle Gu-Ga The Burkiss Way.
to finish & out
Ha ha, a ha ha ha, a ha ha, a ha ha ha, a ha, a ha ha… And so, the Burkiss Way was born! Ha. But our story doesn’t end there – do you remember this laugh?
one person laughing, some others talking
Yes, that was the very first laugh you ever got, way back on show eleven! (audience reaction) Yes, that’s right. Come in, the laugh to the joke about Richard Burton’s pet newt.
This Is Your Life signature jingle
same laugh as above
A ha ha ha, a ha ha, a ha. Well, I’m sure that brought back many memories, er… but now we’re going to bring back a few more, because I wonder if you recall this line?
(sounding a bit like a tape recording) What a shame you went and cracked it before you’d finished.
A ha ha, yes it was of course the twenty-ninth line in this train sketch:
train running noises in background
Excuse me, do you mind if I sit here?
Are you sure?
If you don’t want me to, just say so!
No, it’s quite alright.
It’s up to you.
Well I mean, some people can find me a little irritating—
Will you shut up and sit down!
Er I’m sorry, sorry. It’s just that I’m trying to finish this murder story.
leafing through book
Oh, sorry. (short pause) I’ll sit down, shall I?
You just ignore me and go on reading.
I won’t say a thing.
I shall be silent. (pause) As silent as.. the dusk dawning over the southernmost slopes of ancient Thebes. (short pause) Where languid cows ate grasses on the sleepy banks of the liquid warm stream, and the wizened old washer women watched their floors drying off in the crimson shade of the afternoon sun, while nearby the milkwhite water nymphs from the beach got tanned in the city’s equatorial warmth, and the golden globes—
Oh, sorry. Inadvertantly I made the mistake of describing my forthcoming silence in a rather… oververbal fashion. (short pause) Thereby inhibiting your enjoyment.
My book, yes, yes…
Well I.. I mean, if I keep talking you’ll never be able work out that it was Lord Thrimpson that did it.
snaps the book shut
Oh, don’t tell me – you’ve guessed already, ohh… What a shame you went and cracked it before you’d finished.
I-I’m, I’m not irritating you, am I?
Oh good. Oh I am glad. Er excuse me while I get my case down then, I just like to catch up on my work if I may.
noises of case being moved down and then opened
(starts humming a little)
(calm again, but only barely) What is your work?
Oh, I’m an earplug tester.
Pardon? (audience reaction) [Now I’ll erm… ?] You’ll excuse me, I just put [??]—
Err hold..hold on, hold on, what are you switching that tape recorder on for?
glass shattering, spring going ‘sproing’, machine gun fire, heavy objects clattering, ‘burp’, ‘sproioooiong’, explosion
switch being flicked
Yeees, that one seems alright. (hums) Mmm hhmm…
‘cock-a-doodle-doo’, ‘baaah’, punch operating, pneumatic drill, weird sproinging and bubbling noises
Mmm ye— ah! Ah, you would tell me if I started irritating you, wouldn’t you? I mean, you would speak up—
more weird clattering and banging noises, as well as some strains of music
(over) Yes! Yes alright!! I think you’re irritating me!
(over) You’re annoying me! Stupid, annoying, nasty, irritating little man and I can’t stand you any longer!
recording of weird sounds stops, only train running noises continue in background
You’re just saying that.
(on verge of breakdown) Get out! Get out of here!
Oh! Oh so it’s like that, is it? Well, I know your sort! Right, I’m off. I’m going. And I tell you one thing:
I hope they catch you flushing this lavatory when we’re in a station, huh! Goodbye!
compartment door closing
Ha ha ha ha ha. Well, you haven’t seen some of those jokes now for some fifty-six years. But here to talk about them is one of the two men from that very sketch: Come in please, the man who was trying to read his book, Alfred Perskins of Hackney:
This Is Your Life signature jingle
Ha ha, haha hahahaha. Well, there was quite a story attached to that sketch, I believe, Mr Perskins.
Er yes, it was rather humorous really, because the man who was annoying me had terrible trouble with spoonerisms, ha. Like he, he always said things like ‘Meesed to pleat you’, and er ‘Let me druy you a bink’ and so forth.
Ha ha. Well thank you very much, Alfred Perskins of Hackney.
And he had terrible trouble with that speech about the dusk dawning over ancient Thebes.
Well thank you very much, Alfred Perskins of Hackney.
Like instead of saying ‘The…’, ‘The water nymphs from the beach got tanned in the city’s’, he said ‘The water nymphs from the beach got sand in the— ’
Well th..thank you very much, er Alfred Perskins of Hackney.
Er and, and instead of saying ‘The washer women watched their floors drying off’ he said ‘The washer women watched their drawers— ’
Well, well thank you very much, Alfred Perskins of Hackney.
And then, when he should have said ‘The cows ate grasses’, he said ‘The cows grazed— ’
Well thank you very much, get him off, get him off… what… oh, ha.
Ha ha, hahaha. But worse was to come. (short pause) And there’s one man who still remembers those days very vividly.
Well, here we are at Shepperton Film Studios, where we’re very, very honoured that a new, world-famous, glittering show business star has taken time off from his work to talk to us. Good evening to you.
A ha ha. A ha ha, well… yes. Is it any wonder that he’s a legend in his own lifetime? Now of course you’re heavily made up for one of your parts, so lets tell all the viewers who you are, shall we?
Eric Pode of Croydon.
A ha. Yeees… ha. Well Mr Croydon, I expect many people were fooled by the hunched back, the eye and the forehead and so on.
Yeah, yeah, they’ve covered them up quite well, haven’t they?
Er now er, you’ve, you’ve been in films for many years now, haven’t you?
Yeah, that’s right, yeah, yeah. Before the talkies arrived, I used to double the silences on, you see? I, I had to sit in front of the microphone all day keepin’ absolutely quiet.
But er, but this is your best role yet, isn’t it? This film about 19th century Paris?
Yeah, yeah yeah. They’ve got a special device they use to make me look short, like, like, like that bloke Toulouse-Lautrec.
I see, yes, an-and er, this device, what is it, er trick photography?
No, a saw.
Haa haa, well, yeees, isn’t he a panic? Yees, er… well you’ve obviously done very well, Mister Croydon.
Yeah, yeah, the critics say I’m like a breath of fresh air in the film world.
Er, a breath of fresh air?
Yeah, I get up everybody’s nose, you see?
Yeah… well ha, oho, stop it, the pain’s too great. Aha, ahrm… now er, Mister Croydon, erm—
—tell us, what was it like working on the Burkiss Way?
They were the happiest days of my life.
No, not really. (audience reaction) Mind you, mind you, they always treated me like a king.
Like a king…
Yeah, they kept burying me in Westminster Abbey, you see. Haaaaaaaahhh…
A ha ha ha, a ha. Yeah…
I got that, I got that off a gag cracker’s ball, you know.
… I hear… Oh wee-eell, well thank you Mr Croydon and er, now we’ll let you get back to your shooting.
Thank you very much, Sir, thanks. Alright boys, take it away.
machine gun fire
Owwww! Owww! Oww!
Vibraphone glissando, then Theme from A Summer Place
(over) There will now be a short intermission.
another Vibraphone glissando, then outside atmosphere with birds tweeting
Yes please, darling. I’ll have one of those.
glasses clinking, some liquid being poured
some sort of funky sounding music starts up
motor noises of souped-up cars driving around, another drink being poured with ice cubes clinking, then seaside atmosphere with seagulls, a splash as someone jumps into the water, laughing, drinking noises, more water splashing (continues in background)
Mmmm, another drink, please.
drinking noises, ice cubes clinking
match being struck, followed by an explosion
fades back in
(over) Yes, people like you are drinking ‘Meths’.
Ha ha ha. But it didn’t end there. As you probably remember, that was the first time you ever had an intermission, and nine months later, you were rushed to hospital for this sketch:
Right, now this won’t hurt a bit, Mr Sproat.
tearing/ripping noises, then a drill, followed by some hammering, a jigsaw, finally something clattering
Ah, there we are. And I don’t mind saying that’s one of the toughest ingrowing toenails I’ve ever come across. Next!
door handle, door closing
Mr Norman Jobes, doctor.
Ah yes, good morning, and er, how are you today, Mr Jobes?
Fine, thank you.
Good. (audience reaction) Just… just keep up the tablets. Next.
door handle, door closing
Er, afternoon, doctor.
Ah, good evening. Er, what can I do for you?
Well er, I-I’ve been getting these earaches, doctor.
Earaches, I see.
Er… I-I-I… I-I beg your pardon, doctor?
Er, whereabouts? Er in what part of your body do you get these ‘earaches’?
Well er, ahem, i-in..in my ears.
I’m sorry, in your what…?
My ears, doctor, me ears.
Your… sorry, sorry, what did you call them?
Ears. My..my ears.
No, no no, ears. E A R S, ears. Ears.
Twenty-five years as a medical practitioner and I’ve never come across that one before. [Well yah ?]… funny how you can miss out on things, isn’t it? Hang on, I’d better note that down before I forget it.
Er, ears, er. Place where you get earache.
Er now look, w-wait a minute, never mind that. W-what are you gonna do to relieve my pain then?
Well, I think that under the circumstances we’d better send you along to a lobster specialist.
A lobster specialist?
Yes, they’re the best here I think.
Well he’ll know much more about lobsters than me, you see erm… it’s what he’s been trained to specialise in.
Yeah but, look look, I.. I haven’t got any lobsters.
Haven’t got any? You had them removed at birth, did you?
I—, I’ve never had any lobsters.
Oh dear. (writes) No lobsters. (normal) Well, [now ?] you don’t worry about it, lots of men have learned to live virtually an ordinary live with just one lobster – or as in your case with none at all.
Now..now look here, wait a minute, I’ve had enough o’ this, this is gonna stop!
Ah. Ah in that case, I’d better send you along to Doctor Hawkitts, a female colleague of mine.
Oh yeah, who’s she?
Er, well she’s what’s called a punchline specialist.
Just through here.
door handle, door closing
Phew, that was a bit close one. Now I can get back to my rounds of the wards.
reverberating foot steps, hospital atmosphere in the background
Ahh, Mrs Hackinbottom, ha. And how are we today?
Ohh, I’m still getting these dizzy spells, doctor.
Dizzy spells, I see, yes. Have you been giving her anything to make her sleep, sister?
Yes, we play her a recording of ‘Sale of the Century’ at about eight thirty.
But, she’s still not responding. Hmm. Well Mrs Hackinbottom, I think we’d better have the old head off, don’t you?
Have the old head off. We’ll just rip it off for you. Better to be safe than sorry.
Oh. Uh. Very good, doctor. If you’re sure it’s no trouble.
No trouble at all, Mrs Hackinbottom. We’ll have you as right as a corpse in no time.
Oh. I think you doctors are wonderful.
Only doing our job, Mrs H. So make a note of that, would you, sister? Book the theatre at three pm tomorrow for a headectomy.
Erm… er, very good, doctor. Oh, erm… while I think of it, Mrs Hackinbottom, there are some visitors outside for you.
Visitors? For me? Ohhho, how lovely!
Yes, hold on, I’ll just show them in.
door handle, foot steps
And here they are, your visitors: Arthur Askey (applause starts), Ted Ray, Cyril Fletcher, and (applause fades out) the man who hatched up the whole idea, Professor Jimmy Edwards (more applause).
Ohh, excuse me, but what is all this? You’re makin’ me feel worse.
Making her feel worse. Well panel?
(continues muttering in background)
This is the tale of a poor old dear /
who went to hospital feeling queer.
So ugly was she that to boot /
her face looked like a bowl of fruit.
Soon she felt a great deal worse /
when hearing this appalling verse.
The team’s behaviour she abhorred /
but all her pleas they just ignored.
Till finally Mrs Hackinbottom picked up a gun /
and with it…
machine gun fire
A ha ha ha ha ha. But it didn’t end there. Because it was just two weeks later that your closing signature tune emigrated to Australia, and you thought you’d never see it again. Well, at great expense, we’ve flown the closing signature tune two thousand miles from New South Wales to be here tonight. And here it is:
This Is Your Life signature jingle
Burkiss Way closing signature tune
(over) Well pooftahs, that’s about cop you lot for ’nother week out; sorry about that sports, but that’s the way the kookaburra crumbles, and if you don’t like to taste some kookaburra crumbles, ha, just sling five thousand readies now to Jo Kendall, Nigel Rees, Chris Emmett and Fred Harris, and we’ll bung you the rest of it quicker than you can switch off a Rolf Harris show. [Yes ?], laugh at the [??] now with the chuckle literature of Andrew Marshall and David Renwick, or you’ll end up with a wacko for the [??] from producer Simon Brett of Sydney. We’ll be with you for another giggle-gig next week [??] till then from all of us dingos of the Intensive Forces Ward, happy dynamic living.
to finish & out
The Burkiss Way. And now on Radio Four, it’s time for programmes for children. And this week we present number forty-two in our series of comic book classics, The Legion of Superheroes.
electronic sci-fi-style music
The year: Twenty Seventy-Seven. The place: The planet Krypton in the star system of Zanagar. The sketch: This one.
to climax, then fades out
(everybody muttering) Cosmic matter, cosmic matter, cosmic matter …
three gavel bangs
(muttering) … cosmic matter…
I call this meeting of the Legion of Superheroes to order. Invisible Kid? (pause, audience reaction) Oh, Invisible Kid, how are the applications for membership progressing?
Well, Invulnerable Boy, we’ve had several people, but none were very suitable for the Legion of Superheroes. First, there was Transvestite Lad. Has the ability to dress up in womens’ clothes at will. Captain Horlicks. Can make hot malted milk bedtime drinks at will. Commander Lemon. Can change into a lemon at will. And Archive Lass. Can obtain obscure back numbers of the ‘Exchange & Mart’ at will. Erm, none of which would really be a potent deterrent in the event of an unexpected invasion of the galaxy. Unless of course the invasion was from a kinky reader of the ‘Exchange & Mart’ suffering from [night ?] starvation and citrus fruit phobias.
Well, it has been known. Show in the final applicant.
portal opening with reverb, ominous-sounding hum, foot steps
Oh. You wish to join the Legion of Superheroes.
Er yes please, yes.
And wh..what is your super power?
Well I have the power, completely without any form of energy, to stand up.
Stand up, yes?
Yes, at will.
What, just stand up?
Yes, I-I realise it’s quite unbelievable. W-would you, would you like me to demonstrate?
(all three) Oh, please.
Right. Hand me that chair. Now… uh..uhgggh…
… I see.
You.. certainly seem to have a power there, but how can we put it, it’s, well it’s… it’s… it’s not really very super, is it?
I can do it quite quickly.
Speed of itself isn’t sufficient additive to take ‘standing up’ into the ‘incredible’ class. To be frank, it’s a bit on the… ‘bloody pathetic’ side.
Oh. Well, luckily I do have other powers.
Yes, I can travel about from place to place.
What, at will?
Oh yes, yes.
Oh, teleportation. Say, how exactly do you do this travelling?
Well, I decide where I want to travel, then I simply raise my right arm like this…
… until it’s out-stretched.
And fly up into the air!
No, the bus stops and I get on.
(together) Grave matter, grave matter.
Look, will you get out of here and stop wasting our time, you stupid little weed?
Ss-so! Stupid little weed, is it? Well, I’ll show you. I do in fact have another power that I haven’t mentioned. A power so incredible you won’t believe it!
I have the power to completely stop any comedy programme at will!
I don’t b—