Cut to usual opening shot of close up of harmonica being
played by tommy.
CAPTION: YPRES 1914
Slow zoom out to reveal set-up as before with no extraneous
Jenkins: Yes, sarge?
Sergeant: What are you going to do when you get back to
Jenkins: I dunno, sarge. I expect I'll look after my mum.
She'll be getting on a bit now.
Sergeant: Got a family of your own have you?
Jenkins: No - she's all I got left now. My wife, Doreen
... she... I got a letter.
Sergeant: You don't have to tell me, son.
Jenkins: No, sarge, I'd like to tell you. You see, this
bloke from up the street...
(Enter a young major - excruciatingly public school.)
Major: OK, chaps, at ease. I've just been up the line...
Sergeant: Can we get through, sir?
Major: No, I'm afraid we'll have to make a break for it at
Sergeant: Right, sir. We're all with yer.
Major: Yes I know, that's just the problem, sergeant. How
many are there of us.?
Sergeant: Well there's you, me, Jenkins, Padre, Kipper,
there's five, sir.
Major: And only rations for...
Sergeant: Four, sir.
Major: Precisely. I'm afraid one of us will have to take
the 'other' way out.
(Crash zoom into revolver which the major has brought out.
Jarring chord. Close up of faces looking tense from one to the
other. Tense music.)
Padre: I'm a goner, major. Leave me, I'm ... I'm not a
complete man anymore.
Major: You've lost both your arms as well.
Padre: Yes. Damn silly really.
Major: No, no, we'll draw for it. That's the way we do
things in the army.
Sergeant: The straws!
(The sergeant gives him the straws. The major arranges them
and hands them round)
Major: Right now, the man who gets the shortest strain
knows what to do
(They all take the long straws. Including the padre who takes
one in his teeth. The major is left with a tiny straw. A pause.)
Sergeant: Looks like you, sir.
Major: Is it? What did we say, the longest straw was it?
Sergeant: No, shortest, sir.
Major: Well we'd better do it again, there's obviously
been a bit of a muddle. (they do it again and the same thing
happens) Ok dear. Best of three? (they go through it again
and he gets left with it again) Right, well I've got the
shortest straw. So I decide what means we use to decide who's going
to do... to... to... to er .... to do the thing ... to do the right
thing. Now rank doesn't enter into this, but obviously if I should
get through the lines, I will be in a very good position to
recommend anyone, very highly, for a posthumous VC. (he looks
round to see if there are any takers) No? Good. Fine. Fine.
Fine. Fine. Right. (counting out) Dip, dip, dip, my little
ship sails on the ocean, you are (comes back to himself)...
no wait, wait a minute, no I, I must have missed out a dip. I'll
start again. Dip, dip, dip, dip, my little ship, sails on the ocean,
you are ... (it's back on him again) No, this is not working
out. It's not working out. What shall we do?
Jenkins: How about one potato, two potato, sir?
Major: Don't be childish, Jenkins. No, I think, I think
firsties would be best. OK, so hands behind backs. After three, OK,
one, two, three.
(everyone except the padre who has no arms puts out clenched
fist) Now what's this... stone, stone, stone, (looks down at
his hand) and scissors. Now. Scissors cut everything, don't
Sergeant: Not stone, sir.
Major: They're very good scissors (then he suddenly
sees the padre) Padre hasn't been!
Sergeant: No arms, sir.
Major: Oh, I'm terribly sorry, I'm afraid I didn't... tell
you what. All those people who don't want to stay here and shoot
themselves raise their arms.
Padre: Stop it! Stop it! Stop this ... this hideous
Sergeant: Easy, padre!
Padre: No; no, I must speak· When I, when I came to this
war, I had two arms, two good arms, but when the time came to... to
lose one, I .. I gave it gladly, I smiled as they cut if off,
(music under: 'There'll Always Be An England) because I knew
there was a future for mankind· I ... I knew there was hope... so
long as men were prepared to give their limbs (emotionally)
And when the time came for me to give my other arm I... I gave it
gladly. I... I sang as they sawed it off. Because I believed...
(hysterically) Oh you may laugh, but I believed with every fiber
of my body, with every drop of rain that falls, a... a flower grows.
And that flower, that small fragile, delicate flower... (two
modern-day ambulance attendants comb in with a trolley which they
put the padre onto and wheel him away; he is still going on)...
shall burst forth and give a new life. New strength! (Cut to a
present-day ambulance racing out of TV Centre in speeded-up motion.)
(The ambulance arrives at the casualty entrance of a hospital;
the doors swing open and the padre is rushed out on stretcher
(still in fast motion) totally under a blanket; we hear his
voice) ... freedom. Freedom from fear and freedom from
oppression. Freedom from tyranny. (the camera picks up on sign
which reads: 'Royal Hospital for Over-acting) A world where men
and women of all races and creeds can live together in communion and
then in the twilight of this life, our children, and our children's
children and . .. (by this time he has disappeared in through the
doors of the Hospital for Over-Actors)