The Golden Age of Ballooning : George III

(Cut to a throne room. George III is being read to by an adviser.)


Reader: ... Titty was very worried. Where could Mary be? He looked everywhere. Under the stones and behind the bushes... and Mr Squirrel helped him by looking up in the trees, and Mr Badger helped him by looking under the ground...

(There is a knock on the door. George III looks up quickly. The reader, with obvoiously well practiced skill, shuts the book, slips it beneath another book which he opens and carries on reading.)

Reader: ... and so, Your Majesty, we the Commons do herein crave and beseech that...

George III: Enter!

(Lord North enters and bows briefly.)

Lord North: Your Majesty... Louis XVIII is here!

George III: Who is Louis XVIII?

Lord North: The King of France, Your Majesty! This is a great moment to have, sir.

George III: There is no Louis XVIII.

(We hear a Scottish voice outside the door. Lord North ducks his head out for a moment, then reappears.)

Lord North: He craves Your Majesty's pardon. He has had a long journey here and miscounted... He is Louis XVII.

George III: Louis XVI is dead already?

(A trace of worry crosses North's face. He goes outside the door again for a moment. Sounds of a slight argument between himself and the Glaswegians. Suddenly there is a yell of pain and Lord North reels in holding the bridge of his nose.)

Lord North: Aaaaaaaaaaaaghh! Oh my God! Oh... ah... oh Christ!

(Louis strides in with the two dukes. They all wear tam o 'shanters.)

Louis: (to the reader) Your Majesty, I am Louis XVI... Oh Christ... (to George III) Your Majesty... I am Louis XVI as you so rightly say, and I don't want to muck about. I have a wee proposition which could make the name of George IV the most respected in Europe...

George III: George III

Louis: George III Sorry. Where can we talk?

Lord North: OH God! ... did you see that?... Oh!... aaaargh! Oh dear! (he is in great pain still and clutching his nose)

George III: We shall have a state banquet at St James' Palace!

Louis: No no, look, I can't hang about. It's take it or leave... we got to get back to... er...

First Duke: Paris.

Louis: Paris, by tonight...

George III: Must you leave us, Louis?

Louis: I'd rather just sell the plans and nip off, Georgie boy.

George III: All right... we will buy the plans... if you will undertake to disengage your troops in America.

Louis: Do what?

George III: And, I shall give you £10,000 for the plans...

Louis: Ten thousand pounds! Right, well, we'll disengage the, urn, you know... like you said - we'll disengage 'em... tell you what, then, I'll put a duke on to it... OK? Right!

Lord North: (still clutching his nose) That's the worst thing you can do to anybody.

Louis: You asked for it, sonny.

Lord North: You could have broken my bloody nose!

George III: North! Please!

Lord North: You saw it! It was right on the bone.

George III: North! Will you send for the Duke of Portland ... we have a financial matter to discuss.

Lord North: Well, it really hurt.

Louis: No, look, I think it's better if you give the money to us. We're going back. We've got a bag.

George III: No, no... don't worry, Louis. We shall talk to your Monsieur Necker.

Louis: Ah! Well, actually, we'd rather you didn't... we've been having a wee bit of trouble with him... you know what I mean?

George III: Monsieur Necker? The man who introduced so many valuable reforms and who proved so popular despite his opposition to Mirabeau's policy of issuing 'assignats'?


Louis: Er... aye, yeah... the trouble is he's been drinking a bit recently ... you' know, fourteen lagers with his breakfast... that sort of thing.

George III: Well... very well, Louis...

(The door flies open and there is Joseph Montgolfier, still clad only in towel and silly bath hat.)

Joseph: Just a moment!

Louis: Oh, Christ!

George III: What are you doing?

Joseph: I am Joseph Montgolfier, the inventor of the fire balloon. The man before you is an impostor!

George III: Ooh! I am not ... honestly!

Joseph: No, not you, Your Majesty (he points at Louis) This man -- this Louis, the so-called King of France man. Which number did you give this time - Louis the 23rd?

Louis: I got it right!

Joseph: I bet you took a few guesses.

Louis: Listen, you spotty sassenach pillock..

Dr Hamer: (not a doctor but a period butler) Your Majesty! The Ronettes are here.

Bartlett: And Mr Bartlett.

(Three black ladies wearing modern showbiz costumes come in and sing 'George III' song. Two men come in and set up a screen as before.)

The Ronettes: (singing) George III ... etc .... etc ....

George III: Oh dear, I'm not supposed to go mad till 1800!

(Louis, arguing violently with the butler, butts him. Music comes up and the sound fades on this strange scene. George IlI falls to the floor and waggles his legs around in the air. Zoom in as the men in black take cover off the caption.)


(Cut to drawing more in the Montgolfiers' house. Jacques is at a table working on some drawings. Behind him Antoinette paces the room nervously. She is still wearing her harness, but it is no longer attached to the gas balloon. In a corner of the room a plumber is still mending the elaborate plumbing.)

Antoinette: Joseph has been gone for six months now ... we have heard nothing!

Jacques: He can look after himself.

Antoinette: But he had only on a towel, you know.

(Jacques takes off his false ears and walks over to Antoinette.)

Jacques: Antoinette... from now on there is only one Montgolfier brother.

Antoinette: But Louis XIV has the plans... you must wait until Joseph returns.

Jacques: (casually loosening her harness) The plans are here, cherie. (he indicates the desk where he has been working) Let me put my tongue in your mouth.

Antoinette: What do you mean?

Jacques: We're supposed to be French, aren't we?

Antoinette: No, I mean what are the plans which Joseph after is chasing?

Jacques: Please, let me put it in a little way.

Antoinette: Oh, Jacques, ze plans!

Jacques: I take it out if you don't like it.

(He chases her a bit with his tongue out. Antoinette is about to react rather violently one way or the other, when her dramatic moment is cut short by the entrance of O'Toole the butler.)

Butler: Are you sure the claret was on the left of the sideboard, sir?

Jacques: Yes, O'Toole, it's always been there.

Butler: Well I'll look for one more month, sir. (he turns and goes out; Jacques eyes Antoinette lasciviously and is about to try and make contact in the French way when the butler returns) By the way sir, Mr Bartlett has gone, sir. He said he couldn't wait any longer.

Jacques: Thank you, O'Toole...

Butler: Not at all, sir... I've enjoyed being in it...

Jacques: (impatiently) Right!

Butler: Thank you, sir... mam'selle.

(He exits. Tremendous applause. He reappears, takes a bow and leaves again. Jacques and Antoinette look nonplussed. He reappears. Terrific applause. He gestures for them to quiet down. Eventually them is silence.)

Butler: By the way, sir, Mr Bartlett has gone, sir. (tremendous applause) He said he couldn't wait any longer, sir.

(Incredible volume of laughter here brings the house down. The rest of the scene is pandemonium with laughter developing into prolonged applause.)

Jacques: Thank you, O'Toole.

Butler: Not at all, sir ... I've enjoyed being in it.

Jacques: Right!

Butler: Thank you, sir ... mam'selle.

Audience: More! More! More! etc .... etc .... etc ....

(Crescendo of applause. Over shouts of more! More! Superimposed Python credits. The butler is showered with flowers. Fans come on and congratulate him. A BBC security man restrains them. Other members of the cast appear and shake hands, and stand in a row behind, applauding. A dear old middle-aged lady comes in and stands beside him, weeping proudly.)

1st Voice Over: George III was arranged and composed by Neil Innes. He is available from the BBC price £4 or eight months imprisonment.

(The credits end. Cut to BBC world symbol.)

2nd Voice Over: That was episode three of 'The Golden Age of Ballooning'. May I remind you that there's still time to get your 'Golden Age of Ballooning' suppositories direct from the BBC, price £4.50, or £19 for a set of six. Well, in a moment the BBC will be closing down for the night, but first, here is a Party Political Broadcast on behalf of the Norwegian Party.

Continue to the next sketch... Zeppelin