S04ESP Lesson 41 – Eric Pode of Croydon’s Easter Special

The Burkiss Way presents Eric Pode of Croydon’s Easter Special, starring Jo Kendall, Nigel Rees, Chris Emmett and Fred Harris. Written by Andrew Marshall and David Renwick. Producer David Hatch.

First broadcast on 26 December 1979

Continuity Announcer: Well, we seem to have a few minutes to spare while we’re rewinding the tape of Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, so in the meantime here is the first showing of a brand new programme:

Music: [???] signature tune

Continuity Announcer: And now another BBC 2 programme that’s of minority interest – to everybody. Face The Smart Alecs. Introduced as always by Joseph Cooper in his dummy suit.

Joseph Cooper: Well, a very dummy hello and welcome once again to Face The Smart Alecs. And tonight on Face The Smart Alecs, our special guests are TV astronomer and understudy to Southwark rubbish tip, Patrick Moore; a slimy smug-looking expression, and sitting behind that Robin Ray; and finally one of the most respected personalities in the music business, the bacterian who gave Anthony Newley lockjaw. So, that’s the panel on Face The Smart Alecs tonight and first of all, Robin Ray, I’d like you to listen carefully to this piece of music.

Music: very short extract from a piece of classical music

Joseph Cooper: And now could you please tell us, Robin, what an awful smart alec you are?

Robin Ray: Certainly, certainly. I hold fifty-seven honorary degrees in music, I know every single composer who ever lived personally, and I’m, I am in general quite sickeningly smart and clever and the most brilliant authority on classical music ever in the entire history of civilisation.

Joseph Cooper: No, I think you’re just guessing there, Robin. Er, I’ll give you a clue, it’s er seven words.

Robin Ray: Err… how can I be such a creep?

Joseph Cooper: Correct, yes! Two points to you.

Continuity Announcer: Well, we’ve had complaints that this edition of Face The Smart Alecs is a little too upmarket for most of BBC 2’s viewer. So, let’s feed the programme into the BBC’s special Commoner’s Muck Desophisticator Machine and see what comes out.

Music: [??, same as before] signature tune, after a few bars, electronic distortion sets in, and finally it fades into the Juke Box Jury signature tune

Presenter: Hello. Hello once again and welcome to another edition of Junk Box Jury. My name is Noel Edmonds, but that’s your problem. And here at the BBC television theatre in Purgatory, we’re all ready to try and rehash another tired old programme from the sixties, because we can’t think of any new ones. And on our panel tonight, we have four more really up-to-date, nineteen-eighties type, contemporary folk of today and right now. And they are: Super singing star and modern day heartthrob, Frankie Avalon.

Frankie Avalon (old man’s voice): Hello, good evening.

Presenter: Lead guitarist with the Tornados, [Heinz ?].

Heinz (old man’s voice): Hello and good evening.

Presenter: An exciting new wave artist, the man who played double bass with the old Seekers and grinned a lot.

Bass Player (old man’s voice and sounding a bit crazy): Hello, good evening.

Presenter: And finally, a man with his finger really on the pulse of the current rock scene: The assistant roadie to Pearl Carr and Teddy Johnson.

Assistant Roadie (not quite so old man’s voice): Hello, good evening.

Presenter: So that’s the panel. The rules are the same as always: We play extracts from brand new, innovative ITV and BBC television programmes and afterwards, the panel have to vote on whether the show will be a hit, or an ATV comedy series. And here’s the first one now. It’s from ITV, a fantastically new, never-thought-of-before, radically different pop programme. A bit.

Music: Ready Steady Go signature tune (5-4-3-2-1 by Manfred Mann)

Chorus: Five, four, three, two, one!

Announcer: (over) Yes, the weekend starts here with another edition of Ready Steady Go!

Music: fades out

F/X: door handle

Doctor: Good morning, Mister Thrimpskins.

Patient: Good morning doctor, just take your clothes off, would you please?

(slight pause)

Doctor: No, I say that.

Patient: Oh sorry, I’m new here.

Doctor: Yes. Er well, what can we do for you then, Mister Thrimpskins?

Patient: Well, it’s my left leg, doctor.

Doctor: What about it?

Patient: Well, this last few weeks it’s been feeling a bit… er, a bit.. Scottish. All down the inside.

Doctor: I see. Just roll up your trousers then, would you please?

Patient: (falsetto voice) Certainly, doctor!

Doctor: Not that far!

Patient: (normal voice) Sorry. Sorry.

Doctor: Yes, you’re right. Look, you’re starting to grow a tartan sock all down the right-hand side, and… unless I’m very much mistaken, there are traces of a sporran beginning to form up here.

Patient: Oh no!

Doctor: Yes, I’m afraid it looks dangerously as if you’ve caught Kenneth McKellar of the knee! Er, tell me, does it hurt when I say ‘Jimmy Logan is as funny as an amputated’ —

Patient: Ohhh, ooohh, uuhh! Phew, yes I’m afraid it does!

Doctor: Oh dear.

Patient: Oh, what is it doctor, what have I got?

Doctor: Er just open your mouth wide and say ‘ahhh’, would you please?

Patient: Ahhhh…

Music: Scottish folk tune (The Six Twenty Twostep?)

Patient: (half-singing, with Scottish accent) …hhhh, hee.. hello and welcome to the White Heather Club, we’re all the same old tedious gang as usual, and all ready and waiting to see the new year in, okay, yeehoooo!!

Music: stops

Doctor: Fine. Again, please.

Patient: Ahhhh…

Music: Scottish folk tune (The Six Twenty Twostep?)

Patient: (half-singing, Scottish accent) … we’ve got grown men prancing ’round in stupid check skirts with big furry bags hanging from their waists, grown women hoppin’ up and down like idiots over swords, and grown men and women pretending to enjoy a joke by Chic Murray, yeehooouu!!

Music: stops

Patient: (normal voice again) Did that tell you anything, doctor?

Doctor: It’s as I feared, Mr Thrimpskins, you have contracted terminal Hogmanay.

Patient: Oh my god! Is it serious?

Doctor: No, it’s too bloody silly for words.

F/X: phone ringing, handset taken off cradle

Music: Scottish folk tune (The Six Twenty Twostep?) coming out of the telephone

Caller (Scottish accent): (half-singing, over telephone) Dear Sir, I like to complain about the distorted picture being presented of we folk up here in the Highlands, yeeheee! Yahaahaa… (fades out)

Presenter: Well, there we are.

Music: fades out

Presenter: ITV’s new one, Ready Steady Go. Frankie Avalon, did that do anything for you?

Frankie Avalon: Well, to me it didn’t really seem to have quite the same.. flavour as the original series of Ready Steady Goat. In fact, I think—

Presenter: Go!

Frankie Avalon: Oh sorry, Ready Steady Go.

Presenter: No no, I meant get out!

Frankie Avalon: Oh right.

F/X: door handle, door closing

Presenter: And er… and good riddance. A man who played double bass with the old Seekers and grinned a lot, any thoughts at all?

Bass player: Well, I thought it seemed a bit long for a pop programme, long and thin and made of plastic and bent at one end!

Presenter: Erm, I think you may have been listening to the arm of your glasses by mistake.

Bass player: Oh, sorry.

Presenter: So, let’s just vote on that one, shall we? Hit, or an ATV comedy – oh dear. The panel have voted that overwhelmingly an—

F/X: canned laughter

Presenter: —as we move on to our next offering.

Music: glissando, then Theme From A Summer Place

Voice-over: (over) There will now be a short intermission.

Music: dramatic music

Voice-over (a different voice): And now, from the people who brought you ‘All The President’s Men’, ‘Washington Behind Closed Doors’ and ‘Ear-ache’, comes the most sensational, most devastating, most shocking film ever to hit the screen about American politics. We present ‘A Complete Pack Of Lies’:

Music: patriotic marching music

Narrator (m): Washington Nineteen Seventy. And throughout the capital the Nixon administration wait for the dreadful storm clouds to break.

Music: fades out

F/X: knocking

Male Adviser: Senators, Generals, most trusted advisers of the President and her puppies, as you know, you’ve been invited to meet our leader here in the Oval Office for a very special reason: There are no corners for you to hide in.

General (clearly a madman): Do I get to press the button now?

Male Adviser: What?

General: Do.. do I get to press the button now?

Male Adviser: No no, not yet, general. Now… now I have to have—

General: What.. what’s.. what’s the use of me being a general if I can’t press the button??

Male Adviser: Shhh, now now, now gentlemen, I would like to—

General: Pleeeaaasee!! Please! Look, look look, I’ll let you wear my uniform tonight.

Male Adviser: Ohh, weeell er—

F/X: door handle

Music: more patriotic music

Female Adviser: Ladies and gentlemen, the President of the United States of America.

F/X: door closing

Male Adviser: Good morning, Sir. A.. allow us to help you off with your sincerity.

F/X: sound of velcro being peeled off

Female Adviser: Let me take these jowls and hang them up somewhere, Sir.

F/X: wobbly/watery sounds

Richard Nixon: Thank you, gentlemen, thank you. Now then, what is this emergency meeting all about? Hackembadoffski?

Male Adviser: Oh well Mister President, it seems that you’re trailing rather badly in the latest set of popularity ratings.

Female Adviser: Research reveals that you have an obvious disadvantage over Lyndon Baines Johnson, John Fitzgerald Kennedy and Franklin Delano Roosevelt.

Richard Nixon: Oh, you mean… ?

Male Adviser: Er yes, Mister President. I’m afraid your middle name isn’t nearly silly enough.

Richard Nixon: Oh no.

Male Adviser: We’ve also gone into very careful research on this one, Mister President, in fact the Vice President himself bravely volunteered to be the first guinea pig. However, I’m afraid he’s er… he’s…

Richard Nixon: Oh, he’s Spiro T. Agnew?

Male Adviser: I, I’m afraid so, Sir. A… a malfunction in the process gave him silly first and last names and er, left his middle name untouched.

Female Adviser: Late last night however our boffins produced this, Sir: The Acme Silly Presidential Middle Names Simulation Computer. Switch it on and let’s see what it comes up with.

F/X: electronic beeping noises while the computer is running

Computer: Richard Bingo Nixon. ‘beeeep’

Richard Nixon: Oh no no, not, not quite right, no.

Computer: Richard Snigsby Nixon. ‘beeeep’

Richard Nixon: Oh that’s terrible, isn’t there anything that suits me at all?

Computer: Richard Watergate-Scandal Nixon. ‘beeeep’

Richard Nixon: I think we’ll switch it off now.

Computer: Richard Millstone-Round-The-Neck-Of-The-American-People Nixon. ‘beeeep’

Richard Nixon: Oh no, no, general, will you please…?

Computer: Richard Biggest-Crook-In-The-White-House Nixon. ‘beeeep’ Richard Normans—

F/X: explosion, computer noises stop

Richard Nixon: Oh. Oh, I am sorry, the grenade slipped.

Male Adviser: Well, which you’re gonna choose, Mister President?

Richard Nixon: Oh well, let’s see. What were the last two?

Male Adviser: Er, Richard Millstone-Round-The-Neck-Of-The-American-People Nixon, er and Richard Biggest-Crook-In-The-White-House Nixon.

Richard Nixon: Hmm. Millstone and White House. That gives me an idea. I take one bit from each, let’s just write it down. Here we are, that looks innocent enough, doesn’t it?

General: Stonehouse?

Richard Nixon: Yeah. (audience reaction) Nothing sinister about that.

F/X: glissando

Presenter: Alan Freeman, er you’re not in fact on this programme, er but that may just be wishful thinking. What did you think about that one? Erm, Alan Freeman?

Alan Freeman: Oh sorry, I thought I was dead.

Presenter: Oh yes, I beg your pardon. So you are, my mistake. So another—

F/X: canned laughter

Presenter: —there. Now on to something a little more nostalgic. A re-release of an old LWT show.

Music: Age of Aquarius by 5th Dimension, then fading out for

Russell Harty: Good evening and welcome to Aquarius, the arts programme that makes Aquarius look boring. I would have been Russell Harty if it was still legal. In today’s profile on comedy we visit the new one night show at Her Majesty’s Theatre by Siberian salt mine workers in aid of people all over the world who are, for one reason or another, Oxbridge comedy geniuses. Also, later on in the show, Wither Rowan Atkinson. A blast furnace manufacturer shows how it’s possible. But first, the arts. Sitting next to me now is a dirty plastic mac, partly occupied by Mister Horace Mouthdribble, of a London borough we won’t mention in case it puts the local residents off going round the back of Sainsbury’s ever again.

Mr Mouthdribble: (mumbling, then nasty coughing)

Russell Harty: Fine. Now er, now I understand you’ve just secured a very substantial grant from the Arts Council. A grant in fact for you to develop under the patronage of the said council the activities of the Dirty Old Man as the significant art form.

Mr Mouthdribble: (more nasty coughing)

Russell Harty: Now tell me, what lucre-gobbling project are you engaged on at present?

Mr Mouthdribble: Molesting the Royal Ballet!

Russell Harty: Er, molesting the Royal Ballet.

Mr Mouthdribble: Yeah, yeah.

Russell Harty: I see. Now, to [a layman], such as we won’t go into that, the aesthetic concept of touching up a major national dance troupe are… still a little blurred, so perhaps we could just take a look now at this extract from one of your performances at [??].

F/X: concert hall atmosphere, musicians tuning their instruments, then the director taps his stick and the music starts

F/X: after a few bars, the music is replaced by the siren of an approaching police car

F/X: car doors, feet running

Policemen: (various voices) Hear, hear! What’s that? What’s going on here? Come on, come on, that’s quite enough of that!

F/X: applause

Russell Harty: Absolutely fascinating. Erm, well I’m sure viewers watching in radio only would love to know what you actually did there?

Mr Mouthdribble: Ten years.

Russell Harty: Now, more recently one gathers you’ve been engaged on another work.

Mr Mouthdribble: Oh yeah, yeah. I believe this one could [mark ??] a greater degree of delimitation in the, the psycho-automatic exploration of post-[??] free expression.

Russell Harty: And this is…?

Mr Mouthdribble: Taking the D’Oyly Carte Opera Company upstairs for a nice time. Bruuaahaaa.

Russell Harty: Yes, this er, by any standards must rank as a pretty ambitious opus—

Mr Mouthdribble: Oh yeah, yeah.

Russell Harty: … in, in view of the fact that you live in a bungalow.

Mr Mouthdribble: Quite.

Russell Harty: So now, Mister Mouthdribble, let’s move on to some of the critical notes that you received at the time for that performance, and I quote: Er, ‘Mister Mouthdribble’s attempts to offer the Prospect theatre company a nice bag of sweeties: Terrible! – The Daily Telegraph. Awful! – The Financial Times. Anominable! – The Guardian.’

Mr Mouthdribble: ’ere, ’ere, this one here liked it.

Russell Harty: Oh yes, the Chocolate & Confectionists Chronicle: ‘Mister Mouthdribble gives a whole new meaning to Mackintoshes Rolo.’ Now look, Mister Mouthdribble, or may I call you? Are you… in any way worried by somewhat widespread alarm at your being paid vast sums of public money despite the rather smutty nature of your activities?

Mr Mouthdribble: Oh not at all, yes.

Presenter: Thank you, Angela. And I think if we move fast, we’ve just got time to fit in another quick one. This is from the BBC, and let’s see what you think of this:

F/X: big crowd atmosphere

David Vine: Hello, and welcome to David Vine shouting into a microphone at the Crystal Palace National Sports And Show Off Your Body Centre. Where once again, butch men from all over their girlfriends have gathered to flaunt huge great lumps of flesh at the camera in another sparkling Holiday edition of The Superstars.

Music: Superstars signature tune, then down for

Commentator: (over) And taking part in Superstars tonight are Kroef Oelze, the celebrated Dutch marathon cyclist and current holder of the sore parts of his bottom; Ooms Vøøtzgenhøøg, the famous twenty-two year old Belgian boxing champion from Bruges whose neck is eight inches wider than his head; Gladbach Worms, the controversial Westphalian bob-sleigh supremo who wrestles bulldozers and cracks nuts by coughing very loudly; Pokk-Kokkola Yaamiki Haamengründ, the crack twenty-two year old skittles ace from Finland whose vital statistics are twenty-three stone, eighteen stone, twenty-two stone, and who does press-ups by lying on his back and pushing the world up and down; and Gratz Turda, the fifteen year old infant beggar-thy-neighbour prodigy from Czechoslovakia – as strong as an ox, and almost half as nice smelling; Grok Volgodonsk, the world-famous twenty-five year old Romanian tug-war team, rumoured by some to be the world’s most athletic lover and currently married to a trampoline; Mel Paparelli, the celebrated American fag-cards ace from Springfield, Missouri, holder of eight hundred and fifty-seven butchness titles and in his spare time, Mount Rushmore. Least but by no means last, Britain’s very own superstar from Hamburg, Kevin Kevin David Kevin Sportswear-Promoter Tax-Exile, the twenty-two year old soccer nonpareil who exercises every morning by jogging twenty-five miles ’round his bank balance. And finally, also from Britain, champion, Joe Bugner impersonator for six years running, Brian Jacks, the judo and karate masochist who keeps himself in regular agonising pain by frying his feet in [??] cooking oil; and also has regular workouts in the gym every day underneath the business end of a seventy-three ton pile driver. Yes, these are the men who are going to compete tonight for the title of World Superstar Nineteen Seventy Nine.

Music: up for a little, then fades out

F/X: gym atmosphere, whipping/beating sounds

David Vine: So there we are. Well, the first eighteen events were—

Brian Jacks: (background) Ahhhh!

David Vine: —won by foreigners, so we’re not gonna show them. Instead, you join us now in the gym where Brian Jacks is now—

Brian Jacks: (background) Ahhhh!

David Vine: —up on the parallel bars, and taking part in an event that he has now made his own!

Brian Jacks: (background) Ahhhh!

David Vine: Viciously, viciously whipping yourself across the back with a piece of thick copper wire, as used in training by all thick coppers.

F/X: ‘whip’

Brian Jacks: (background) Ahhhhhaahh!

David Wine: Absolutely amazing stamina, this, from a twenty-two year old caucasian homo sapiens here…

F/X: ‘whip’

Brian Jacks: (background) Ahhhhhaaaahh!

David Vine: Four hundred and eighty-five and he’s already way in front of the others. But I was talking to one of his muscles earlier on—

F/X: ‘whip’

Brian Jacks: (background) Ahhhhhhh!

David Vine: —and he told me Jacks’s biggest ambition is to shatter his own personal record of four trillion and seven lashes, which you’ll remember he set up in Helsinki last year, shortly before being admitted to the local mortuary for observation.

F/X: ‘whip’

Brian Jacks: (background) Ahhhhhaahh!

David Vine: Well, he’s still got a long way to go, in the meantime over to the racetrack and Ron Pickering.

F/X: racetrack atmosphere

Ron Pickering: Hello, this is Ron Pickering here at the start of the five hundred metres and there seems to be a slight hold-up at the moment—

F/X: starter pistol clicking several times

(slight pause)

F/X: more clicking

F/X: running feet

Ron Pickering: Bang. And their off! And it’s Turda in the lead. The plucky [?? tall tax-exile cheque] is in the lead, followed by the twenty-five year old flesh-coloured plantigrade from Bronsk in the centre lane, then comes the skin-coloured primate from the Netherlands and Pokk-Kokkola, the sinewy two-armed Fin on the outside. So now it’s the five foot ten inch [medal ?] now, the five foot ten inch [medal ?] followed closely by the multicellular Romanian with no hair on the palm of his hands, and here comes the [??] now, the powerful Finnish vertebrate, he’s pushing ahead now, ahead of the endoskeletal [quantocentenerian ?] from near the Carpathian backs of the river Olt. But here comes the non-reptilian, the brawny six foot Missouri [footing all??], he’s streaking ahead now and it looks certain to win this race without any shadow of a doubt—

F/X: explosion

Ron Pickering: Ohhh nooo, no, he’s exploded, what terribly bad luck, incredibly bad luck. Paparelli has exploded there just as he was coming up to the last bend, and what a shame! This after such a promising start to the season by the American here. I think it only previously exploded in something like eight of this twenty events, three of which only involved his head blowing up, so he was still able to keep running. So what a pity there, a tremendously gifted athlete, and if only he could just conquer this weakness for spontaneous detonation I’m sure he could really get somewhere. Well now, over to David Vine shouting from the swimming baths.

F/X: swimming bath atmosphere

David Vine: (shouting) And as you join us here in the Superstars freestyle relay, it’s Oelze out in front by a mile, then come Worms, Vøøtzgenhøøg and our own Kevin Kevin David Kevin Sportswear-Promoter Tax-Exile, who is, it must be admitted, suffering from a very unfair handicap in this event in being British. But it’s definitely Oelze now in the lead as they come now into—

Music: suddenly some [spiritual ?] music

David Vine: Oh no, I don’t believe it, I do not believe this at all! One more length to go, he had the race in the palm of his hand and Oelze has undergone a radical spiritual conversion just at the last turn. Instead of retaining the breast stroke in the left-hand lane, he’s converted to Brahmanism, shaved his head and is now handing out pamphlets about the Hindu belief in the cycle of life – or Samsara – to the other competitors. Oh what an upset here! And I’m afraid this has completely ruined the Dutchman’s chances of a win in this event now, so over now to Ron Pickering in the gym.

Music: fades out

F/X: gym atmosphere

Ron Pickering: And the tragic news here in the gym is that Brian Jacks has lost his chance of beating his own world whip-the-skin-off-your-back record. We’ve never seen a disappointment like it, he was up to four trillion and three strokes, just four more self-inflicted stinging cuts across the back to go, and then, disaster struck! Jacks turned into a moth. I think it’s fair to say it took everyone by complete surprise here, he just formed himself into a pupa, recomposed his molecular structure inside the chrysalis and then emerged almost immediately as a bagworm moth and fluttered away. Well, Jacks’ wife is in fact here in the crowd tonight, so let’s go straight over for a word with her now. Er, Mrs Bagworm, have you any comment to make at all about your husband’s decision to opt for insect metamorphosis there?

Mrs Bagworm: Well, as a matter of fact, there is something I’ve been wanting to get off my chest for some time now.

Ron Pickering: And what’s that?

Eric Pode: Eric Pode of Croydon. Whhoaaey.

Music: epic film music

Ron Pickering: Look, stop humming that epic film score!

Music: stops

Eric Pode: Sorry.

Ron Pickering: Well. Well Mr Croydon, it’s certainly a surprise to see your face in these parts.

Eric Pode: I know, yes.

Ron Pickering: Shouldn’t it be on your head?

Eric Pode: Well, the suspension’s gone on me car, see.

Ron Pickering: Oh I see, yes. Er now tell me, how have you been keeping?

Eric Pode: Embalming fluid.

Ron Pickering: Er haha, er ha, ha, well, er welcome to Crystal Palace anyway. Now tell us, what race have you been taking part in today?

Eric Pode: The final of the womens’ one hundred metres, mate.

Ron Pickering: Er, but they don’t allow men in that.

Eric Pode: I know, the qualifying event was murder.

Ron Pickering: Ahaha, ha, aha, isn’t he a panic? Er well, I gather you had a hard time of it in the gymnasium?

Eric Pode: Yeah, yeah, I was held up for a long time in the weightlifting.

Ron Pickering: Oh, what by?

Eric Pode: A truss. Haaaaaaa.

Ron Pickering: Haha, well, thank you very much there, Eric Pode of—

Eric Pode: Hear, hear…

Ron Pickering: —Croydon, and—

Eric Pode: —I used to play a lot of cricket once, you know?

Ron Pickering: Oh.

Eric Pode: Only I, I was disciplined for whacking the umpire below the belt with my bat.

Ron Pickering: And what did you get for that?

Eric Pode: Two boundaries, haaaaaaaa!

Ron Pickering: Ha, ha, yeah.

Eric Pode: Hear, hear, I get a lot of these off scrap dealers, you know.

Ron Pickering: Will you shift your grotty little skeleton out of here before I shove this microphone right up your—

Presenter: So very quickly now, Heinz, did you enjoy that at all?

Heinz: Er well, personally I thought it smacked too much of the former radio show ‘The Burkiss Way’. So I’d vote it an erm, an ATV comedy.

Presenter: Oh dear! Well, that’s a very great shame because I have to tell you I’m afraid that we do in fact have with us tonight the Burkiss Way’s closing credits.

Various panel members: Oh noo!! Oh dear oh dear… etc.

Music: Burkiss Way closing signature tune

Burkiss Way Announcer: In that seasonal edition of Eric Pode of Croydon’s Easter Special you heard the voices of me, the two other blokes, and a well-built young lady. The Easter parade of insults was written and enjoyed by two young men who are not dockers and didn’t go to Cambridge. And the egg they laid was hatched and produced by a man with the glasses, most of which are now empty. See you again next Easter folks, till then happy dynamic living!

Music: finish & out

Continuity Announcer: The Burkiss team with their own seasonal brand of good cheer. But now, the second half of today’s comedy bill:

Music: The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy theme tune (Journey of the Sorcerer)

Voice-over: (over) The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, by Douglas Adams. Starring Peter Jones as the Book.

Music: theme tune fades into Oxygène by Jean-Michel Jarre

The Book (guest appearance by Peter Jones): (over) Somewhere in the shady part of the Milky Way, just outside a small bluish star orbited by a few damp planets of dubiously desirable habitation, there is a tiny hole in the electromagnetic airspace. To plug this void in the continuum, the inscrutable monoliths of the collapsing star system of Radio Four Light Entertainment occasionally employ a tiny imperceptible device known as The Burkiss Way. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy defines this as ‘A programme of infinite tedium, which gets cheap laughs by doing pathetic parodies of other much more successful shows. Its impressions are notoriously unrecognisable.’ This one, for instance, sounds absolutely nothing like me! And as if that weren’t bad enough, it invariably ends in a silly fashion, just when you least…