Rival Documentaries

(Cut to a documentary producer standing in forested hillside.)

First Producer (John Cleese): Was Sir Walter Scott a loony, or was he the greatest flowering of the early nineteenth-century romantic tradition? The most underestimated novelist of the nineteenth century... (another introducer of documentaries comes into shot and walks up to the first) . . . or merely a disillusioned and embittered man ...

Second Producer (Michael Palin): Excuse me ... (pointing at the microphone) can I borrow that, please.

First Producer: ... yes.

Second Producer: Thank you. (he immediately starts on his own documentary) These trees behind me now were planted over forty years ago, as part of a policy by the then Crown Woods, who became the Forestry Commission in 1924. (he starts to walk towards the forest) The Forestry Commission systematically replanted this entire area...

(The first producer follows behind.)

First Producer: Excuse me.

Second Producer: Sh! That's forty thousand acres of virgin forest. By 1980 this will have risen to two hundred thousand acres of soft woods. In commercial terms, a coniferous cornucopia... an evergreen El Dorado... (the first producer runs and makes a feeble grab for the mike)... a tree-lined treasure trove ... No ... a fat fir-coned future for the financiers ... but what of the cost ...

First Producer: It's mine!

Second Producer: (to first producer) Go away ... in human terms? Who are the casualties?

(The first producer makes a lunge and grabs the mike. He stops and the camera stops with him.)

First Producer: For this was Sir Walter Scott's country. Many of his finest romances, such as 'Guy Mannering' and 'Redgauntlet'...

Second Producer: Give that back!

First Producer: No. (they grapple a bit. The first producer just manages to keep hold of it as he goes down onto the ground) Scott showed himself to be not only a fine...

(The second producer manages to grab the mike and runs off leaving the first producer on the ground. The camera follows the second producer.)

Second Producer: (running) The spruces and flowers of this forest will be used to create a whole new industry here in...

(The first producer brings him down with a diving rugger tackle and grabs the mike.)

First Producer: ... also a writer of humour and...

(They are both fighting and rolling around on the ground.)

Second Producer: Britain's timber resources are being used up at a rate of...

(The first producer hits him, and grabs the mike.)

First Producer: One man who knew Scott was Angus Tinker.

(A sunlit university quad with classical pillars. Gentle classical music. Tinker is standing next to one of the pillars. He is a tweed-suited academic.)


Tinker (Graham Chapman): Much of Scott's greatest work, and I'm thinking here particularly of 'Heart of Midlothian' and 'Old Mortality' for example, was concerned with... (at this point a hand appears from behind the pillar and starts to go slowly but surely for the mike) preserving the life and conditions of a... (the mike is grabbed away from him)

Voice: Forestry research here has shown that the wholly synthetic soft timber fibre can be created... (Tinker looks behind the pillar to discover a forestry expert in tweeds crouched) ... leaving the harder trees, the oaks, the beeches and the larches... (Tinker chases him out into.the quad) and the pines, and even some of the deciduous hardwoods.


Forestry Expert (Terry Jones): This new soft-timber fibre would totally replace the plywoods, hardboards and chipboards at present dominating the...

(A Morris Minor speeds up round the quad and passes straight in front of the expert and the firstt producer's hand comes out and grabs the mike. Cut to interior of the Morris Minor as it speeds out of quad and out into country. The first producer keeps glancing nervously over shoulder.)

First Producer: In the Waverley novels... Scott was constantly concerned to protect a way of life...

(He ducks as we hear the sound of a bullet ricochet from the car. Cut to shot through the back window. The second producer is chasing in a huge open American 1930's gangster car driven by a chauffeur in a thirties kit. He is shooting.)

First Producer: ....safeguarding nationalist traditions and aspiration, within the necessary limitations of the gothic novel...

(More bullets. The American car draws level. The second producer leans over trying to grab the mike. Still attempting to say their lines, both of them scramble for the microphone as the cars race along. Eventually the cars disappear round a corner and we hear a crash.)

(Cut to Toogood, surrounded by people, holding the book very close to his face and peering closely at the print. MacDonald lies on the floor in front of them.)

Toogood: Then... then... the... the end! The End. (looks up)

Continue to the next sketch... 'Dads Doctors' / 'Dads Pooves'