The Mouse Problem
(Sketch starts with a policeman leading a man in mouse costume into a police station. Photo of headline: Mouse Clubs On Increase. Cut to: photos of neon signs of clubs: Eek Eek Club; The Little White Rodent Room; Caerphilly A Go-Go. Cut to studio: ordinary grey-suited Linkman.)
Linkman: (Michael Palin) Yes. The Mouse Problem. This week 'The World Around Us' looks at the growing social phenomenon of Mice and Men. What makes a man want to be a mouse?
(Interviewer, Harold Voice, sitting facing a confessor. The confessor is badly lit and is turned away from camera.)
Confessor: (John Cleese) (very slowly and painfully) Well it's not a question of wanting to be a mouse... it just sort of happens to you. All of a sudden you realize... that's what you want to be.
Interviewer: (Terry Jones) And when did you first notice these... shall we say... tendencies?
Confessor: Well, I was about seventeen and some mates and me went to a party, and, er... we had quite a lot to drink and then some of the fellows there... started handing... cheese around... and well just out of curiosity I tried a bit... and well that was that.
Interviewer: And what else did these fellows do?
Confessor: Well some of them started dressing up as mice a bit... and then when they'd got the costumes on they started... squeaking.
Interviewer: Yes. And was that all?
Confessor: That was all.
Interviewer: And what was your reaction to this?
Confessor: Well I was shocked. But, er... gradually I came to feel that I was more at ease... with other mice.
(Cut to linkman.)
Linkman: (Michael Palin) A typical case, whom we shall refer to as Mr A, although his real name is this:
Voice Over: (John Cleese)(and CAPTION)
32A MILTON AVENUE,
Kargol: Well, we've just heard a typical case history. I myself have over seven hundred similar histories, all fully documented. Would you care to choose one?Janet (Carol), dressed in a showgirl's outfit, enters and offers linkman the case histories fanned out like cards, with one more prominent than the others; he picks it out.
Kargol: (without looking) Mr Arthur Aldridge of Leamington.Linkman: Well, that's amazing, amazing. Thank you, Janet. (Chord. Janet postures and exits) Kargol, speaking as a psychiatrist as opposed to a conjuror...
Kargol: (disappointed) Oh...Linkman: ...what makes certain men want to be mice?
Kargol: Well, we psychiatrist have found that over 8% of the population will always be mice, I mean, after all, there's something of the mouse in all of us. I mean, how many of us can honestly say that at one time or another he hasn't felt sexually attracted to mice. (linkman looks puzzled) I know I have. I mean, most normal adolescents go through a stage of squeaking two or three times a day. Most youngsters on the other hand, some youngsters are attracted to it by its very illegality. It's like murder - make a thing illegal and it acquires a mystique. (linkman looks increasingly embarrassed) Look at arson - I mean, how many of us can honestly say that at one time or another he hasn't set fire to some great public building? I know I have. (phone on desk rings; the linkman picks it up but does not answer it) The only way to bring the crime figures down is to reduce the number of offenses - get it out in the open - I know I have.
Linkman: The Amazing Kargol And Janet.What a lot of people don't realize is that a mouse, once accepted, can fulfil a very useful role in society. Indeed there are examples throughout history of famous men now known to have been mice.
(Cut to julius Caesar on beach. He shouts 'Veni Vidi, Vici'. Then he adds a furtive squeak. Napoleon pulls slice of cheese out of jacket and bites into it. Cut to Linkman)
Linkman: And, of course, Hillaire Belloc. But what is the attitude...
(Cut to man in a Viking helmet.)
Viking: (Eric Idle) ...of the man in the street towards...
Linkman: ...this growing social problem?
(Vox pops films.)
Window Cleaner: (Eric Idle) Clamp down on them.
Off-screen Voice: How?
Window Cleaner: I'd strangle them.
Stockbroker: (John Cleese) Well speaking as a member of the Stock Exchange I would suck their brains out with a straw, sell the widows and orphans and go into South American Zinc.
Man: (Terry Jones) Yeh I'd, er, stuff sparrows down their throats, er, until the beaks stuck out through the stomach walls.
Accountant: (Graham Chapman) Oh well I'm a chartered accountant, and consequently too boring to be of interest.
Vicar: (John Cleese)I feel that these poor unfortunate people should be free to live the lives of their own choice.
Porter: (Terry Jones) I'd split their nostrils open with a boat hook, I think.
2nd Man: (Graham Chapman) Well I mean, they can't help it, can they? But, er, there's nothing you can do about it. So er, I'd kill 'em.
(Cut to linkman.)
Linkman: Clearly the British public's view is a hostile one.
Voice Over: (and CAPTION) 'HOSTILE'
Linkman: But perhaps this is because so little is generally known of these mice men. We have some film now taken of one of the notorious weekend mouse parties, where these disgusting little perverts meet.
(Cut to exterior house (night). The blinds are drawn so that only shadows of enormous mice can be seen, holding slices of cheese and squeaking.)
Linkman's Voice: Mr A tells us what actually goes on at these mouse parties.
(Cut to Mr A.)
Mr A: Well first of all you get shown to your own private hole in the skirting board... then you put the mouse skin on... then you scurry into the main room, and perhaps take a run in the wheel.
Linkman: The remainder of this film was taken secretly at one of these mouse parties by a BBC cameraman posing as a vole. As usual we apologize for the poor quality of the film.
(Very, poor quality film, shadowy shapes, the odd mouse glimpsed.)
Mr A's Voice: Well, er, then you steal some cheese, Brie or Camembert, or Cheddar or Gouda, if you're on the harder stuff. You might go and see one of the blue cheese films... there's a big clock in the middle of the room, and about 12:50 you climb up it and then... eventually, it strikes one and you all run down.
(Cut to a large matron with apron and carving knife)
Linkman's Voice: And what's that?
Mr A's Voice: That's the farmer's wife.
(Cut to the linkman at desk.)
Linkman: Perhaps we need to know more of these mice men before we can really judge them. Perhaps not. Anyway, our thirty minutes are up.
(Sound of baa-ing. The linkman looks up in air, looks startled, pulls a gun from under the desk and fires in the air. The body of a sheep falls to the floor.)
Continue to the next sketch... Court Scene