The Golden Age of Balloning: Louis XIV

(Sketch is a continuation of 'Montgolfier Brothers' Sketch. Fade up on the Montgolfiers' sitting room. Jacques sits there rather nervously. The plumber is working away. The door opens and the butler appears.)

Butler: His Royal Majesty, Louis XIV of France.

(Mr Bartlett's head pops in and whispers loudly to butler.)

Mr Bartlett: And Mr Bartlett.

(The butler pushes him aside. Fanfare. Enter Louis XIV and two tough-looking advisers. He is resplendent in state robes.)

Jacques: Your Majesty. It's a great privilege. Welcome to our humble abode.

Louis: (in very broad Glaswegian accent) It's er... very nice to be here.

Jacques: (calling) O'Toole.

Butler: Sir?

Jacques: Claret for His Majesty please.

Butler: There's a Mr Barttett outside again, sir.

Jacques: Not now, I can't see him, we have the King of France here.

Butler: Yes, sir.

(He exits. Jacques and the king stand in rather embarrassed silence. Jacques eventually speaks.)

Jacques: Your Majesty. You had a pleasant journey, I trust?

Louis: Yes... yes, oh definitely... yes... yes. Oh aye, aye.


Jacques: You have come from Paris?

Louis: Where?

Jacques: From Paris... you have travelled from Paris?

Louis: Oh yes, we've come from Paris... yes... yes, yes, we've just come from... er... Paris... yes.

(The butler comes back in.)

Butler: Sir?

Jacques: Yes, O'Toole?

Butler: Which one is the claret, sir?

Jacques: The claret is in the decanter.

Butler: The wooden thing?

Jacques: No no... the glass thing... the glass decanter with the round glass stopper.

Butler: Oh yes, behind the door.

Jacques: No no... on the sideboard.

Butler: The sideboard?

Jacques: The sideboard... yes. Look... you go into the salle a manger ... the dining room, right? - and the sideboard is on your left, by the wall, beside the master's portrait.

Butler: Ah! Above the mirror, sir?

Jacques: No! No! The mirror is on the other side. It's opposite the mirror.

Butler: But that's the table, sir.

Jacques: No... you don't go as far as the table. You go into the room, right?... on your right is the door to the orangery, straight ahead of you is the door to the library, and to your left is the sideboard.

Butler: Ah, yes, I see, sir...

Jacques: And the claret is on top of the sideboard, to the left.

Butler: On the left.

Jacques: Yes...

Butler: As one looks at it, sir?

Jacques: Yes.

Butler: I see, sir, thank you. (he turns to go)

Jacques: O'Toole.

Butler: Yes, sir.

Jacques: Will you please tell Monsieur Joseph our guest is here.

Butler: Yes, sir.

(He leaves. There is another embarrassed silence.)

Jacques: I'm sorry about that, Your Majesty.

Butler: (re-entering) Apparently, sir, there is a plan to build a canal between the two Egyptian towns of..,

Jacques: Not now, O'Toole!

(The butler exits. More silence.)

Louis: Well... er... Mr Montgolfier... let's not beat around the bush ... my... dukes and I are very busy men. What we'd like to do is see the plans of your proposed balloon... if that's at all possible.

Jacques: Certainly, Your Majesty... I have them here ready prepared.

Louis: Oh, great .... then... what we would like to do ... is er... to take them back with us for the Royal Archives of er...

First Duke: (also Glaswegian) France.

Louis: France, aye.

Jacques: Well, it is indeed a great honour Your Majesty, that I cannot refuse.

Louis: Right! OK! Let's get 'em.

(He and his two dukes are suddenly galvanizd into action. They are about to grab the plans when Joseph enters, clad only in a towel and rather silly bath hat.)

Joseph: Just a moment!

Jacques: Joseph!

Joseph: (indicating the king) This man is not Louis XIV!

Jacques: Joseph Are you out of your mind!

Joseph: I've been looking it up in my bath. Louis XIV died in 1717. It's now 1783! Answer me that!

Louis: Did I say Louis XIV? Oh, sorry, I meant Louis XV... Louis XV.

Joseph: He died in 1774!

(Louis, getting rather hot and angry, comes over to Joseph belligerently.)

Louis: All right, Louis XVI!... listen to me, smartarse, when you're King of France,... you've got better things to do than go around all day remembering your bloody number.

(Putting his face very close to Joseph's. He butts him sharply and viciously on the bridge of the nose with his forehead in the time-honoured Glaswegian way.)

Joseph: Aaaaaarh!

(He reels away, clutching his nose in agony. Louis approaches Jacques, equally belligerently.)

Louis: Right! You want to argue about numbers?

Jacques: Er... no, no.

Louis: Right, well... lets get hold of the plans for the Royal Archives. We've got to get back to... er...

First Duke: Paris.

Louis: Paris by tonight so get a move on..

Joseph: Aaaargh! Ow! Ooooohh!

(The butler reappears.)

Butler: I got as far as the sideboard, sir...

(Louis and his dukes grab the plans and push past the butler and across to an open window. There is a bit of a scuffle at the window as they are clambering out at the same time as two men in black with a projeaor and screen are clambering in.)

Joseph: Stop them... oh! Ah... oooooohh!

Butler: (to Jacques) No news on the canal I'm afraid, sir, but apparently in India they're thinking of building a railway between the towns of Lahore...

Joseph: Stop... ow! Stop them, O'Toole for... oh! shit! God's sake... stop them, they've got the plans! (he rushes to the window)

(By now the men in black have set up the screen. On the screen comes film of Louis and his men racing through the gardens away from the Montgolfier' s home.)

Voice Over: Will Louis XVI get away with the Montgolfiers' precious plans? Is sixteen years of work to be stolen by this suspect sovereign? Is France really in the grip of a Glaswegian monarch? Watch next week's episode of 'The Golden Age of Ballooning'... Now!

(Cut to animation titles as before. Music.)



(Cut to a TV discussion in progress. An Urgent, impressive current affairs show called 'Derision '. Two opulent-looking men and a presenter.)


Sir Dividends: ... But now that the Government has collapsed ... and shown itself incapable of providing any son of unifying force, I feel we do need the stability and the breathing space that a military presence would provide.

Presenter: Lord Interest?


Lord Interest: Oh yes... I agree that the army should take over, but I think it should not interfere with the programme of street executions, which I feel have been the shot in the arm that the British economy so desperately needed.

(As they drone on, the presenter turns away from them to talk softly into the camera.)

Presenter: The Montgolfier brothers' plans did indeed turn up... six months later, and a long way from Paris, at the court of King George III of England.

(Continued in George III)

Continue to the next sketch... George III