Pornographic Bookshop

(We see a bare room with a counter and magazines in racks on the walls at eye-level. Three drably dressed men are thumbing through books. One of them is a vicar, one of them is gathering a huge pile. Behind the counter is a Soho toughie in Tudor gear showing books to Mr Nid a tweedy, rather academic, respectable-looking man of senior years. The customer goes through, and the wall slides back.)

Second Assistant (Eric Idle): There's a 'Bridget - Queen of the Whip'.

Nid (John Cleese): Yes.

Second Assistant: Or 'Naughty Nora' or there's this one: 'Doug, Bob and Gordon Visit the Ark Royal'. Or there's 'Sister Teresa - The Spanking Nun'.

Nid: I see, you don't have anything specially about Devon and Cornwall?

Second Assistant: No. I'm afraid not, sir.

Nid: The one I was really after was Arthur Hotchkiss's 'Devonshire Country Churches'.

Second Assistant: Well how about this, sir: 'Bum Biters'.

Nid: No, not really. I don't suppose you have any general surveys of English Church architecture?

Second Assistant: No, it's not really our line, sir.

Nid: No, I see. Well, never mind I'll just take the 'Lord Lieutenant in Nylons' then, and these two copies of 'Piggie Parade'. Thank you.

Second Assistant: Right, sir.

First Assistant: (voice over) My Lord of Warwick.

Second Assistant: 'Allo?

First Assistant: (voice over) Raise high the drawbridge. Gloucester's troops approach!

Second Assistant: Right.

(He presses a button below counter and the wall slides back. The man with the big pile of books comes up to counter.)

Man: Just these, then.

(Enter Gaskell in Tudor gear. The wall closes up behind him.)

Gaskell (Michael Palin): All right. This is a raid. My name is Superintendent Gaskell and this is Sergeant Maddox.

Second Assistant: Ah! Sir Philip Sidney. 'Tis good to see thee on these shores again.

Gaskell: Shut up.

Second Assistant: Your suit is fair and goodly cut. Was't from Antwerp?

Gaskell: Shut up. It's a disguise. Right! Confiscate the smutty books, Maddox.

Second Assistant: Sir Philip! Prithee nay!

Gaskell: Listen, mate! Don't come that Philip Sidney bit with me. I'm not a bloody Tudor at all. I'm Gaskell of the Vice Squad and this is Sergeant Maddox.

(They all look at him blankly. He looks to Maddox for support and realizes he isn't there.)

Gaskell: Maddox! Where's he gone?

Second Assistant: Sir Philip, prithee rest awhile.

Gaskell: Look. This is the last time I'm warning you. I'm not Sir Philip Bleeding Sidney. I am Superintendent Harold Gaskell and this is a raid.

(Everybody resumee their book-buying and ignores him. At the counter the assistant is still totaling up the huge pile of books.)

Second Assistant: That'll be 540 quid sir.

Man: Oh, I'll just have this one then. (takes top one)

Gaskell: Maddox! (addressing everyone in shop; they ignore him) Look, this is a raid. (no reaction) Honestly, I promise you. (people start to leave through the rear door of the shop; Gaskell blocks it) Where are you going?

Customer: I'm going home.

Gaskell: Right. (looks for his notebook but it's not in his Tudor clothing) I'll remember you. Don't you worry. I'll remember you.

Customer: Pray good, Sir Philip, that you...

Gaskell: Don't you start! Maddox! (the customer leaves; other customers start to leave) Listen, I can prove to you I'm a policeman. I can give the names of all the men down in 'F' division at Acton: Inspector Arthur Perry, Superintendent Charles Frodwell, my best friend, police dogs, Butch, Wolf, Panther, Maudling. How would I know those names if I was Sir Philip Sidney? (the vicar comes up to counter) Look, vicar, you know me. The Gargoyle Club - I got you off the charge. (the vicar leaves guiltily)

Second Assistant: Farewell, good Sir Philip.

(He goes out carrying a pile of magazines. Then the vicar goes, followed by the Tudor man.)

Gaskell: Hey, stop! (the door slams; Gaskell turns and looks round the empty shop) Maddox!

(He rushes up to the sliding wall and beats on it. Then he turns and makes for the little back door and goes through.)

Gaskell: You'll never get away with this, you porn merchant. Blimey!

(He stops and gapes. We cut to his eye-line to see he is standing in a beautiful, green, Tudor garden. In the distance a Tudor house. A girl is sitting on a stone bench, sobbing. Gaskell walks towards her, bewildered.)

Gaskell: Maddox!

(The girl looks up at him with beseeching eyes. She is young and beautiful.)

Girl: Oh good sir, how glad I am to see thee come. Forgive me weeping, but my love has gone.

Gaskell: Er, listen. My name is Gaskell, Superintendent Gaskell of Vice Squad. Myself and Sergeant Maddox are on a raid. We are not Tudor people. We are the police.

(An Elizabethan gentleman appears through the trees.)

Father (Terry Jones): Frances, what idleness is this? Why, good Sir Philip Sidney, (he bows extravagantly to Gaskell) What hast thou here?

Girl: (turning to Caskell with bated breath) You are Sir Philip Sidney?

Gaskell: Possibly... but I may be Superintendent Gaskell of the Vice Squad.

Father: Ah good, Sir Philip, thy sharp-tongued wit has not deserted thee. Come. Let us eat and drink. Stay with us awhile.

Gaskell: All right, sir. I think I will.

(They walk off together am in am into the idyllic country garden. The girl looks after them with hope in her eyes. Bring up Elizabethan music.)

Continue to the next sketch... Elizabethan Pornography Smugglers