The Golden Age of Ballooning: Zeppelin


(Cut to photo of family, group.)

1st Voice Over: Ferdinand von Zeppelin was born in Constance in 1838, the brother of Barry Zeppelin, the least talented of the fourteen Zeppelin brothers.

(Black and white film of Barry blowing up balloons of increasing size. They all sink to the ground. The last one blows back and inflates him; he rises into the air. Cut to stock film of a zeppelin.)

1st Voice Over: Meanwhile for Ferdinand von Zeppelin, the year 1908 was a year of triumph.

(Cut to interior of a zeppelin. A party. Expensively dressed guests. Champagne. A palm court orchestra playing. Some guests looking out of the windows in wonderment.)

Von Bulow: (approaching Zeppelin) Herr Zeppelin - it's wonderful! It's put ballooning right back on the map.

(Zeppelin goes instantly berserk with anger.)

Zeppelin: It's not a balloon! D'you hear?... It's not a balloon ... It's an airship ... an airship ... d'you hear?

(He hits him very hard on the top of the head with the underside of his fist.)

Von Bulow: Well, it's very nice anyway.

Tirpitz: (to Zeppelin) Tell me, what is the principle of these balloons?

Zeppelin: It's not a balloon! You stupid little thick-headed Saxon git! It's not a balloon! Balloons is for kiddy-winkies. If you want to play with balloons, get outside.

(Drags Tirpitz over to the door, opens it and flings him out into the clouds.)

Tirpitz: Aaaaaaaaaghhh!

(Cut to an old German couple in a cottage. The man is reading from a big book, the lady is knitting. The man is in underpants. There are a pair of lederhosen drying in front of the fire.)

Helmut: (reading) Yorkshire ... pudding. A type of thick pancake, eaten with large ...

(Roof splitting noise. A thump and the house shakes. They both look up. Cut back to the airship. The party is still going on.)

Hollweg: I hear you are to name the balloon after Bismarck?

Zeppelin: (flying into hysterical rage) Bismarck? Of course I'm not calling it after Bismarck. It's a zeppelin. It's nothing to do with bloody Bismarck!

Hollweg: Surely he gave you some money for it?

Zeppelin: Get outside!

(He opens the door and flings Hollweg out. Cut back to the old couple in the cottage.)

Helmut: Za... bag... lione... a sort of cream mouse... mousse of Italian origin...

(Roof splintering noise. A thump and the house shakes. Cut back to the airship. A little cluster of people round the door. The party is still going on but there is a little tension in the atmosphere.)

Von Bulow: Ferdinand... that was a Minister of State you just threw out of the balloon.

Zeppelin: It's not a balloon! It's an airship!

Von Bulow: All right, I'm sorry.

Zeppelin: All right - go and have a look! (he throws the protesting Von Bulow out) And you!

(Animation of several men being thrown from airship.)

Helmut: Zu... cchin... ni ... Italian... ma... flows... (splintering crash, thump, the home shakes) Zingara... A garnish of finely chopped ... or shredded lean ham ... (splintering crash, thump, the house shakes) ... tongue ... (another splintering crash, thump, the house shakes) ... mushrooms and truffles. (same again) ... Zakuski. A Russian ... hors d'oeuvre ... (a very load splintering crash, thump and the house shudders; Mrs Halrout stops knitting and crosses the room to the door and into the next room, where the sounds are coming flora) With tiny pieces of sliced...

Mrs Helmut: (looking in the other room) Oh, look! It's the Chancellor!

(Helmut's hand immediately goes to his tie. He half makes to rise.)

Helmut: What? Prince Von Bulow? Here?

Mrs Helmut: Ja!

Helmut: Coming here?

Mrs Helmut: No - he is here.

Helmut: (jumping to his feet) Oh, I must go and put my old uniform on.

Mrs Helmut: He won't notice, Helmut. He's dead.

Helmut: Dead? Here?

Mrs Helmut: Ja. In our sitting room.

Helmut: This is our sitting room, dear.

Mrs Helmut: well, you know what I mean.

Helmut: (waving his finger at her) The drawing room!

Mrs Helmut: Yes ... but it's a kind of sitting room.

Helmut: (doubtfully) Well...

Mrs Helmut: Look!

(She opens the door wider to reveal heap of about ten bodies in the other room. There is dust rising from them and a big hole in the ceiling. Helmut goes to the door.)

Helmut: Which one is Von Bulow?

(They walk round the pile. Mrs Helmut looks at a few bodies and then points.)

Mrs Helmut: Here ... look!

Helmut: Oh, ja ... and Admiral Tirpitz!

(They are both momentarily overawed.)

Mrs Helmut: Ja.

Helmut: And Von Muller... and Herr Reichner... and Hollweg and Von Graunberg...

Mrs Helmut: That isn't Graunberg - that's Graunberg... das ist Moltke...

(She lifts the body's head up by the hair as it's facing down.)

Helmut: He's a lot older than I thought.

Mrs Helmut: He's a clever man, ja.

Helmut: ... and Zimmermann ... and Kimpte...

Mrs Helmut: What shall we do, Helmut?

Helmut: We must ring the Government.

Mrs Helmut: This is the Government, Helmut.

Helmut: Oh dear.

Mrs Helmut: It is a great honour to have so many members of the Government dead in our sitting room.

Helmut: Drawing room.

Mrs Helmut: Ja, well...

Helmut: There are no members of the Government dead in our sitting room.

Mrs Helmut: Ja, you know what I mean.

Helmut: Perhaps I should make a little speech or something?

Mrs Helmut: Not a speech, Helmut no...

Helmut: Shall we make them a cup of tea?

Mrs Helmut: It would be a waste of tea.

Helmut: But we must do something - so many important people in our drawing room - we must do something.

(They think for a little while.)

Mrs Helmut: We could sort them out.

Helmut: And make a little list.

Mrs Helmut: Ja, ja. We could put the ministers for internal affairs over against the wall, and those for foreign here by the clock.

Helmut: And we can sort them out alphabetically?

Mrs Helmut: Nein, nein - just put the cleanest by the door.

Helmut: Ja.

(They start to hump the corpses around. Helmut starts to hump Von Bulow towards the clock.)

Mrs Helmut: No, no! That's Von Bulow! He must go over here.

Helmut: That is my reading chair.

Mrs Helmut: He is the Reich Chancellor of Germany, Helmut.

(Helmut starts to take him towards the reading chair.)

Helmut: All right ... but I think he would have been better up against the clock, you know.

Mrs Helmut: No, he would not look nice under the clock.

Helmut: I did not say under the clock. I said against the clock.

Mrs Helmut: Well then we could not see the clock!

Helmut: We could put the Minister for Colonies under the clock. He's small.

Mrs Helmut: No. Colonies are internal affairs. He must go against the wall. (Helmut lifts up the head of another corpse) Education!

(Helmut starts to drag him over to the wall.)

Helmut: Soon we shall be able to make a list.

Mrs Helmut: Ja, is, wait a minute! ... Who's that by the cat litter?

Helmut: I don't know. I've never seen him before.

Mrs Helmut: He is not a member of the Government. Get him out of here. Put him in the drawing room.

Helmut: He's in the drawing room, my dear.

Mrs Helmut: Ja, well you know what I mean.

Helmut: Put him in the sitting room.

Mrs Helmut: Ja, in, the sittng room, it's all the same.

Helmut: You can put him in the sitting room if he's in the drawing room.

(Cut to stock film of the zeppelin.)

1st Voice Over: Count Ferdinand Von Zeppelin's behaviour on that flight in 1900 had incredible, far-reaching consequences, for one of the falling Ministers (cut to an old Edwardian photo of a German minister) the talented Herr Von Maintlitz, architect of the new Geman expansionist farm policy, fell on top of an old lady (old Edwardian photo of an elderly lady) in Nimwegen, killing her outright. Her daughter, Alice (old Edwardian photo of attractive young girl in the nude) suffered severe cerebral damage from the talented minister's (picture of Maintlitz again) heavy briefcase (Edwardian photo of a brief case) but was nursed back to life (another Edwardinn erotic postcard) by an English doctor, Henderson. (a Muybridge photo of a nude man) Eventually, they married (Edwardian nude couple) and their eldest son, George Henderson ... (1930s nude man) was the father of Mike Henderson... (health and efficiency nudist camp group photo; a figure at the back is arrowed) producer and director of 'The Golden Age of Ballooning'.

(ANIMATION: balloons as before.)


(Pointed surgical instruments fly on in formation and puncture the balloons.)


(Cut to black.)

2nd Voice Over: Mr and Mrs Rita Trondheim; Reginald Bo-sankway, who would be next to Norway in a rhyming dictionary, if it included proper names, and if he pronounced his name like that.

(Cut to a Victorian couple in the countyside.)


(The couple rise slowly in the air. Fade out.)

Continue to the next sketch... Department Store