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'Spectrum' - Talking about Things

The cast:

Michael Palin
Graham Chapman
John Cleese
Eric Idle

The sketch:

(Superimposed caption on screen: 'SPECTRUM')

Presenter: Good evening. Tonight 'Spectrum' looks at one of the major problems in the world today - that old vexed question of what is going on. Is there still time to confront it, let alone solve it, or is it too late? What are the figures, what are the facts, what do people mean when they talk about things? Alexander Hardacre of the Economic Affairs Bureau.

(Cut to equally intense pundit in front of a graph with three different colored columns with percentages at the top. He talks with great authority)

Hardacre: In this graph, this column represents 23% of the population. This column represents 28% of the population, and this column represents 43% of the population.

(Cut back to presenter.)

Presenter: Telling figures indeed, but what do they mean to you, what do they mean to me, what do they mean to the average man in the street? With me now is Professor Tiddles of Leeds University...

(Pull out to reveal bearded professor sitting next to presenter.)

Presenter: ... Professor, you've spent many years researching into things, what do you think?

Professor: I think it's too early to tell.

(Cut to presenter, he talks even faster now.)

Presenter: 'Too early to tell' ... too early to say... it means the same thing. The word 'say' is the same as the word 'tell'. They're not spelt the same, but they mean the same. It's an identical situation, we have with 'ship' and 'boat' (holds up signs saying 'ship' and 'boat') but not the same as we have with 'bow' and 'bough' (holds up signs), they're spelt differently, mean different things but sound the same. (he holds up signs saying 'so there') But the real question remains. What is the solution, if any, to this problem? What can we do? What am I saying? Why am I sitting in this chair? Why am I on this program? And what am I going to say next? Here to answer this is a professional cricketer.

(Cut to cricketer.)

Cricketer: (ERIC) I can say nothing at this point.

(Cut back to presenter.)

Presenter: Well, you were wrong... Professor?

(Pull out to reveal professor still next to him.)

Professor: Hello.

(Cut to close-up of presenter.)

Presenter: Hello. So... where do we stand? Where do we stand? Where do we sit? Where do we come? Where do we go? What do we do? What do we say? What do we eat? What do we drink? What do we think? What do we do?

(Mix to stock film of London-Brighton train journey in two minutes. After a few seconds the train goes into a tunnel. Blackness. Loud crash. Cut to signalbox as before.)

Signalman: (calling out of window) Sorry!

(He goes back to wrestling with bear.)

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