1/3 The Walther Mitty PPK
I love writing this type of old-fashioned radio ad, which also works well as a telly sketch. I wrote two promoting the Walther Mitty PPK; this is the first. I like to think that, like the Star Trek transporter, this could be the perfect product for life to legitimately imitate art at some point in the future …
SFX: DOOR OPENING, PING OF A TEASHOP BELL.
JANE: Sorry, I’m late Nancy. It was Robert.
NANCY: Trouble in paradise? Tea?
JANE: Yes, please.
SFX: POURING TEA. STIRRING.
JANE: It’s my own silly fault. That’s the second time in ten years I’ve burnt the cauliflower cheese.
NANCY: Well, at least he hasn’t made you wear the cow bell this time.
JANE: Oh, he has. I’ve just wrapped my hanky around the clapper. See?
SFX: COW BELL.
JANE: And he says if I take the ‘STUPID WOMAN’ sign off he’ll sell the children.
NANCY: That really does sound the most frightful bind.
JANE: Heigh-ho, serves me jolly well right. Anyway, enough of my silly nonsense. I haven’t even asked how you’re bearing up after Andrew’s death. Such a brave girl. It’s only been a week since your husband died and yet you seem remarkably chipper.
NANCY: I feel guilty for saying this, but I am. I feel amazing, like I have the energy of a dozen women. My skin is brighter and more youthful, my hair more glossy.
JANE: (LAUGHS) Are you going to let me in on your secret?
NANCY: Well, I’ve discovered a marvellous new product that specifically targets the signs of aging. Look.
SFX: THUNK ON TABLE.
JANE: It’s a gun.
NANCY: Not just any gun. This is the Walther Mitty PPK. Accurate to fifty feet yet compact enough to fit in the slimmest of clutch bags. Coming in an exciting range of colours, the Walther Mitty PPK takes a girl right through from day to night, and with its ergonomically designed safety catch you don’t have to worry about laddering your tights.
JANE: Nancy! Do you mean to say that you murdere—
NANCY: No. I’ve merely realigned my brain waves. Researchers at the British Institute of Thinking have proven that eight out of ten women are happier with a dead husband. See this graph here?
SFX: PAPER RUSTLING.
NANCY: This shows the brain pattern of a married woman.
JANE: But … it’s just a jumbled mess of broken dreams and shattered hopes.
NANCY: Yes. But look here.
SFX: PAPER RUSTLING.
NANCY: These are the brain patterns of the same woman after just one application of the Walther Mitty PPK.
JANE: But, that’s incredible. Is that the shape of a—?
NANCY: Yes, a dove of happiness. In laboratory experiments, the Walther Mitty PPK is ten times more effective at raising a woman’s sense of well-being than a new pair of shoes.
JANE: What’s it called again?
NANCY: The Walther Mitty PPK.
JANE: The Walther Mitty PPK?
NANCY: Yes, the Walther Mitty PPK.
JANE: I’m tempted, Nancy, but I don’t think I could live with the guilt.
NANCY: Oh, that’s more than made up for by the joy you feel when your scatter cushions stay on the bed, Jane.
ANNCR: The Walther Mitty PPK. Because you’re worth it. Available from Argos, Youngmans, and Castle Guns, Norham.
Performed at The Maltings Theatre, Berwick-upon-Tweed, May 2012
2/3 Die Bally Hard
I won’t lie to you lovely folk, but this project was a bloody nightmare. To coincide with the Berwick Film Festival, the Berwick Broadcasting Corporation came up with the brilliant (young, foolish, etc) plan to convert classic blockbusters into twenty-minute radio plays from the 1940s. Being a massive fan of the Die Hard franchise I thought … scrap that, I clearly didn’t think at all. I got carried away with the excitement of creating something beautiful, something worthy of the original genius of Jeb Stuart, something which gave me the excuse I’d been looking for to write a character who spoke just like Alan Rickman. It didn’t occur to me that:
Nobody up here has ever heard of Die Hard, so not one person would appreciate the inclusion of the line:
I love what you have done to the place, Mr Takagi. The chandeliers, genius! And the popcorn machine, pure poetry. “And when Alexander saw the breadth of his domain he wept, for there were no more worlds to conquer.”
And action films, as a rule, don’t tend to lend themselves to radio. Yeah, I’m wondering how I missed that too.
Here’s a taste of that difficult lesson learnt.
MUSIC: ‘LET IT SNOW’ — FADE.
SFX: TAXI PULLING UP AND IDLING.
ARGYLE: Alreet, man. This is you, the new Maltings Nakatomi. When the refurbishment’s finished some folk reckon it’ll rival the picture house at Gala.
MCCLANE: Thanks, Argyle.
SFX: GIRLS GIGGLING AND RUNNING PAST.
ARGYLE: Look at them lasses. Seems te be quite a Christmas party gannin on in there.
MCCLANE: Yeah, the way I hear it, Berwick girls like to party hard. I mean — wow — zero degrees outside, six inches of snow on the ground and, look, their muffs are still hanging empty.
ARGYLE: That’s three shillings and tuppence. I divvint think you wor from around here but I couldn’t place yeh accent.
MCCLANE: No, sirree. Kirk Yetholm born and bred.
ARGYLE: Kirk Yetholm! Why, that’s leik where town councillors go te die. Must be a bord who has ye haulin yer arse out this way.
McClane: My wife, Argyle. A high-flying career woman who’s following her dream. First head typist here at The Maltings Nakatomi and now promoted to Creative Director’s secretary.
ARGYLE: Your wife lives here, in Berwick? Well, why divvint you come with her, man?
MCCLANE: I’m a KYPD cop, Argyle. I like a bit of misogyny with my marriage and she promised to obey. But hey, it’s Christmas, the season of good will, right? I’ve even brought my washing. Three shillings and tuppence, was it?
ARGYLE: Wait a minute, but. You gan in, and if she looks leik she’s ganin te stott yeh one, I’ll be here.
MUSIC: BACH, BRANDENBURG CONCERTO — UNDER UNTIL “HARRY!”.
SFX: GENTEEL PARTY SOUNDS, TINKLING GLASSES, ETC.
HARRY: Quick, in here!
SFX: DOOR OPENING AND CLOSING.
HOLLY: Harry! I’ve told you before. Keep your hands to yourself, I’m a married woman!
HARRY: Don’t give me that tosh and nonsense, Holly. You earn your own money; if that’s not giving a chap mixed signals then I jolly well don’t know what is.
HOLLY: I dare say my husband would have quite a few words to say about that!
SFX: DOOR OPENING.
HOLLY: John, darling! Why, you made it!
MCCLANE: Hey, honey.
SFX: TENTATIVE PECKED KISSES.
MCCLANE: Hey, Harry. Guess you’re gonna have to let the hair grow over your palms after all.
Harry: You can’t bally-well talk to me like that! I’m, I’m … I’m Head of Tickets!
MCCLANE: And I’ve heard a lot of good things about your stub.
SFX: KNOCK AT THE DOOR.
TAKAGI: I’m not interrupting am I, Miss Gennero?
MCCLANE: Gennero? What the …? You’re using your maiden name?
HOLLY: Mr Takagi! Allow me to introduce you to my husband John McClane. John, say hello to my boss, The Maltings Nakatomi’s Creative Director, Joseph Takagi.
TAKAGI: Glad you could come, John. Holly speaks of you often. You’re a policeman, I understand?
MCCLANE: Yeah, KYPD. You throw quite a party, Mr Takagi. I didn’t realise they celebrated Christmas in Japan.
TAKAGI: Hey, we’re flexible. Pearl Harbour didn’t work out so we get you with ruddy big swords to carve the turkey.
TAKAGI: Your wife has made quite an impression with us at here at The Maltings Nakatomi, Mr McClane. Her ruthless shorthand skills have single-handedly pushed up our quarter-return by 250%.
MCCLANE: Really? Well, lemme tell you something, she’s not always been that quick or rewarding taking things down.
HOLLY: Why John, darling, I think the journey from Kirk Yetholm has quite tired you out! Why don’t you take a moment to kick your shoes off and relax?
TAKAGI: Of course, where are my manners? John, join us when you’re ready. Come on, Harry.
SFX: DOOR OPENS AND CLOSES.
HOLLY: Not again, John, not this again. It’s a Japanese company, I had to use my maiden name.
MCCLANE: You, you, you, it’s always about you. What about me, Holly, huh? I have needs; I have freakin washing, for God’s sake, which sure as shingles ain’t gonna do itself!
HOLLY: We’ll talk about this later, John. Right now I have to give Mr Takagi a tour of my typing pool.
Performed at The Maltings Theatre, Berwick-upon-Tweed, September 2011
3/3 Black Saxon Chap Wax
Oh, why not? Another ad. Sometimes you just can’t beat a good dose of innuendo. I even sniggered at the word ‘dose’ just then.
SFX: STREET SOUNDS, PEOPLE WALKING BY.
SFX: MOURNFUL HARMONICA.
GAMMY-LEG REG: Spare any change, mister? Spare a few pence for a man so down on his luck he ain’t even got a string for his dog?
SFX: DOG WHIMPERS.
CLARKSON-CLARK: Of course, my dear fellow … why, wait a second. Reginald? Reginald Frottage? It’s me, Clark Clarkson-Clark. We went to school together.
GAMMY-LEG REG: Sorry, gov. Don’t know anyone by that name. My name is Gammy-Leg Reg, since the day I were born to the day I die.
SFX: MOURNFUL HARMONICA.
GAMMY-LEG REG: (COUGHS) Any day now, God willing.
CLARKSON-CLARK: Come now. I know it’s you. We did trig together at Haggerston Prep. Reginald Frottage. You have a sister called—
GAMMY-LEG REG: Blast! Yes, all right, it’s me. Come to mock, have you? Poor old Gammy-Leg, voted Fellow Most Likely to Marry a Film Starlet and Have An Adulterous Affair with her Twin Sister … well, just look at him now. A loser, a pan-handler, a shoe-shiner on the days he can spare the spit. Yes, it’s me!
CLARKSON-CLARK: (Concerned) I say, settle down, old boy. What happened, eh? The war?
GAMMY-LEG REG: (Sighs) I came back to Blighty and everything had changed. I couldn’t keep up. Suddenly there were women working, and, and talking to me like they were my equal. I felt …
GAMMY-LEG REG: Oh, I tried to fight it. I continued to hold open doors and light two suave cigarettes at once and laugh condescendingly at their pathetic helplessness, but then one day …
CLARKSON-CLARK: Performance anxiety?
GAMMY-LEG REG: There was nothing there. Nothing. I went to stand erect at a lady’s entrance and, well … my knees went from under me. I could no more stand to attention than I could take my boisterous privates in hand that time in Prague. (Pause) I’ll never forget the look on her face. Full of hurt reproach and me still sprawled there in the chair like … well, like an American.
GAMMY-LEG REG: Gosh it all to hell, Clarky. Call yourself a friend?
CLARKSON-CLARK: Well, have you seen your moustache lately?
GAMMY-LEG REG: What’s that got to—
CLARKSON-CLARK: Limp. Floppy. Lifeless?
GAMMY-LEG REG: I fail to see—
CLARKSON-CLARK: Latest scientific research by the British Institute of Thinking sponsored by Black Saxon Chap Wax has demonstrated a conclusive link between poorly groomed facial hair and social anxiety.
GAMMY-LEG REG: You mean—?
CLARKSON-CLARK: Yes. In laboratory experiments scientists have proven without a shadow of a doubt that a man draws testosterone directly from his hair follicles not, as first thought, from his sexual reproductive organs, what nonsense. But, hey, we live and learn.
GAMMY-LEG REG: You mean—?
CLARKSON-CLARK: Yes. Had Samson treated his hair with Black Saxon Chap Wax, he would have saved himself a whole heap of lady trouble.
MR CLARKSON-CLARK: But seriously. Apply Black Saxon Chap Wax three times a day to your upper lip and feel the patented stiffening effect.
GAMMY-LEG REG: What’s it called again?
CLARKSON-CLARK: Black Saxon Chap Wax.
GAMMY-LEG REG: Black Saxon Chap Wax?
CLARKSON-CLARK: Yes. Black Saxon Chap Wax, manufactured in association with the British Institute of Thinking. Be the man of yesterday you want to be today.
GAMMY-LEG REG: (Pause) Um, you don’t have any spare change do you?
ANNOUNCER: Black Saxon Chap Wax. Available from Boots, Superdrug and Semi-Chem. Send proof of purchase to the British Institute of Thinking and receive a complimentary keyring by return. Conditions apply.
Performed at The Maltings Theatre, Berwick-upon-Tweed, March 2012