Court Scene [Viking]


(Usual dramatic music. Fade music as we come up on a courtroom. A man, Mr Birchenhall, is giving evidence.)

Man: 8 o'clock is a peak viewing hour so naturally we tend to sack to our comedy output - unless of course there's sport - because of course we know this is popular, and popularity is what television is about. Quite frankly I'm sick and tired of people accusing us of being ratings conscious.

Judge: (to the clerk of the court) Ratings conscious?

Clerk: Transmitting bland garbage, m'lud.

Judge: Thank you.

Man: Now I'm really cheesed off. I mean it's not your high-brow bleeding plays that pull in the viewers, you know.

Judge: (bored) Thank you.

Man: (getting more and more angry) I mean Joe Public doesn't want to sit down and watch three hours of documentaries every evening.

Judge: Thank you.

Man: He wants to sit down and he wants to be entertained, he doesn't want a load... (he is helped out of court by two policemen, still protesting violently) No really - I'm absolutely fed up with this. I really am.

Judge: (banging gavel) Case dismissed.

(The prosecuting counsel rises anxiously.)

Prosecuting Counsel: Case dismissed, m'lud?

Judge: Oh all right, five years.

Prosecuting Counsel: Thank you, m'lud. (he sits)

Judge: Call the next case please.

Prosecuting Counsel: Call Erik Njorl, son of Frothgar, brother of Hangnor... (etc.).

Clerk: Call Erik Njorl ... (etc.),

Voices: (off) Call Erik Njorl .. , (etc.). (all calling at once)

(Erik comes into the dock. He is bandaged almost totally, like a coccoon, including his head. He wears a Viking fur hat, The usher approaches him with the card and Bible.)

Usher: You are Erik Njorl, son of Frothgar...

Judge: Get on with it!

Usher: Will you raise your right hand.

Judge: He obviously can't raise his right hand, you silly usher person... can you raise your right leg Mr Njorl?

(Njorl shakes his head.)

Usher: Can you raise any part of your body, Mr Njorl?

(Njorl leans over and whispers in the usher's ear.)

Usher: I see... well, we'll skip that... well, just take the book in your right hand Mr Njorl without raising any part of your body... Oh ....

Judge: What is it now, you persistently silly usher?

Usher:, He can't hold the Bible m'lud.

Judge: Well screw the Bible! Let's get on with this bleeding trial, I've got a Gay Lib meeting at 6 o'clock. Superintendent Lufthansa will you please read the charge.

Superintendent: Is a charge strictly necessary, m'lud?

Judge: (heavy aside) The press is here.

Superintendent: Oh sorry! Right, here we go. You are hereby charged. One, that you did, on or about 1126, conspire to publicize a London Borough in the course of a BBC saga; two, that you were wilfully and persistently a foreigner; three, that you conspired to do things not normally considered illegal; four, that you were caught in possession of an offensive weapon, viz, the big brown table down at the police station.

Judge: The big brown table down at the police station?

Superintendent: It's the best we could find, m'lud ... and five... all together now...

(The whole court shout together.)

Court: Assaulting a police officer!

Prosecuting Counsel: Call Police Constable Pan-Am. (Pan-Am runs into court and starts beating Njorl with a truncheon) Into the witness box, constable ... there'll be plenty of time for that later on. (the policeman gets into box hitting at anyone within range; his colleagues restrain him) Now, you are Police Constable Pan-Am?

Constable: No, I shall deny that to the last breath in my body. (superintendent nods) Oh. Sorry, yes.

Prosecuting Counsel: Police constable, do you recognize the defendant?

Constable: No. Never seen him before in my life. (superintendent nods) Oh , yes, yes he's the one. He done it. I'd recognize him anywhere, sorry, super. (the superintendent looks embarrassed)

Prosecuting Counsel: Constable, will you please tell the court in your own words what happened?

Constable: Oh yes! (refers to his notebook) I was proceeding in a northerly direction up Alitalia Street when I saw the deceased (points at Njorl) standing at an upstairs window, baring her bosom at the general public. She then took off her ... wait a tick. Wrong story. (refers to his notebook) Ho yes! There were three nuns in a railway compartment and the ticket inspector says to one of them. (the superintendent shakes his head) No, anyway I clearly saw the deceased...

Clerk: Defendant.

Constable: Defendant! Sorry. Sorry, super. I clearly saw the defendant ... doing whatever he's accused of...Red-handed. When kicked... he said: 'It's a fair ... cop, I done it all ... Right... no doubt about... that'. Then, bound as he was to the chair, he assaulted myself and three other constables while bouncing around the cell. The end.

(Spontaneous applause from the court. Shouts of more! more!. Pan-am raises his hands and the clapping and shouting dies down.)

Constable: Thank you, thank you... and for my next piece of evidence...

Superintendent: I think you'd better leave it there, constable.

Prosecuting Counsel: Excellent evidence, constable (the constable is removed, flailing his truncheon the while) ... Thank you very much. Now then Mr Njorl, will you tell the court please where were you on the night of 1126? (silence from the bandages) Move any part of your body if you were north of a line from the Humbet to the Mersey. (silence)

Judge: Is he in there, d'you think? . .. Hello... Hello! Defendant, are you there ... coo-ee! De-fend-ant... (to the clerk of the court) I think you'd better go and have a look, Maurice.

Clerk: Don't call me Maurice in court!

Judge: I'm sorry.

(The clerk and prosecuting counsel and two policemen look inside Njorl, who is now in fact a framework of bandages with no one inside.)

Continue to the next sketch... Stock Exchange Report