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Agatha Christie Sketch (Railway Timetables)

The cast:

JASMINA
Carol Cleveland
JOHN
Eric Idle
LADY PARTRIDGE
Graham Chapman
INSPECTOR
Terry Jones
TONY
Michael Palin

The sketch:

(Cut to an upper-class drawing room. An elderly man lies dead on the floor. Enter Jasmina and John.)

Jasmina: Anyway, John, you can catch the 11.30 from Hornchurch and be in Basingstoke by one o'clock, oh, and there's a buffet car and... (sees corpse) oh! Daddy!

John: My hat! Sir Horace!

Jasmina: (not daring to look) Has he been...

John: Yes - after breakfast. But that doesn't matter now... he's dead.

Jasmina: Oh! Poor daddy...

John: Looks like I shan't be catching the 11.30 now.

Jasmina: Oh no, John, you mustn't miss your train.

John: How could I think of catching a train when I should be here helping you?

Jasmina: Oh, John, thank you... anyway you could always catch the 9.30 tomorrow - it goes via Caterham and Chipstead.

John: Or the 9.45's even better.

Jasmina: Oh, but you'd have to change at Lambs Green.

John: Yes, but there's only a seven-minute wait now.

Jasmina: Oh, yes, of course, I'd forgotten it was Friday. Oh, who could have done this.

(Enter Lady Partridge.)

Lady Partridge: Oh, do hurry Sir Horace, your train leaves in twenty-eight minutes, and if you miss the 10.15 you won't catch the 3.45 which means ... oh!

John: I'm afraid Sir Horace won't be catching the 10.15, Lady Partridge.

Lady Partridge: Has he been... ?

Jasmina: Yes - after breakfast.

John: Lady Partridge, I'm afraid you can cancel his seat reservation.

Lady Partridge: Oh, and it was back to the engine - fourth coach along so that he could see the gradient signs outside Swanborough.

John: Not any more Lady Partridge... the line's been closed.

Lady Partridge: Closed! Not Swanborough!

John: I'm afraid so.

(Enter Inspector Davis.)

Inspector: All fight, nobody move. I'm Inspector Davis of Scotland Yard.

John: My word, you were here quickly, inspector.

Inspector: Yeah, I got the 8.55 Pullman Express from King's Cross and missed that bit around Hornchurch.

Lady Partridge: It's a very good train.

All: Excellent, very good, delightful.

(Tony runs in through the french windows. He wears white flannels and boater and is jolly upper-class.)

Tony: Hello everyone.

All: Tony!

Tony: Where's daddy? (seeing him) Oh golly! Has he been... ?

John and Jasmina: Yes, after breakfast.

Tony: Then ... he won't be needing his reservation on the 10.15.

John: Exactly.

Tony: And I suppose as his eldest son it must go to me.

Inspector: Just a minute, Tony There's a small matter of... murder.

Tony: Oh, but surely he simply shot himself and then hid the gun.

Lady Partridge: How could anyone shoot himself and then hide the gun without first cancelling his reservation.

Tony: Ha, ha! Well, I must dash or I'll be late for the 10.15.

Inspector: I suggest yOu murdered your father for his seat reservation.

Tony: I may have had the motive, inspector, but I could not have done it, for I have only just arrived from Gillingham on the 8.13 and here's my restaurant car ticket to prove it.

Jasmina: The 8. 13 from Gillingham doesn't have a restaurant car.

John: It's a standing buffet only.

Tony: Oh, er... did I say the 8.13, I meant the 7.58 stopping train.

Lady Partridge: But the 7.58 stopping train arrived at Swindon at 8.19 owing to annual point maintenance at Wisborough Junction.

John: So how did you make the connection with the 8. I3 which left six minutes earlier?

Tony: Oh, er, simple! I caught the 7.16 Football Special arriving at Swindon at 8.09.

Jasmina: But the 7.16 Football Special only stops at Swindon on alternate Saturdays.

Lady Partridge: Yes, surely you mean the Holidaymaker Special.

Tony: Oh, yes! How daft of me. Of course I came on the Holidaymaker Special calling at Bedford, Colmworth, Fen Dinon, Sutton, Wallington and Gillingham.

Inspector: That's Sundays only!

Tony: Damn. All fight, I confess I did it. I killed him for his reservation, but you won't take me alive! I'm going to throw myself under the 10.12 from Reading.

John: Don't be a fool, Tony, don't do it, the 10.12 has the new narrow traction bogies, you wouldn't stand a chance.

Tony: Exactly.

(Tableau. Loud chord and slow curtain.)

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