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Old Lady Snoopers

The cast:

ENID
Eric Idle
GLADYS
John Cleese
FIRST LIFEBOATMAN
Michael Palin
SECOND LIFEBOATMAN
Graham Chapman
MRS. NEVES
Terry Jones
MRS. EDWARDS
Graham Chapman
DORIS
John Cleese
OFFICER
Michael Palin

The sketch:

(Sketch continues from the Lifeboat Sketch. We still hear the shouts. Close up on an elderly spinster (Gladys) holding the net curtain discreetly ajar.)

Enid: Who's that shouting?

(We pull out to reveal a sitting room full of high-powered eavesdropping equipment, i.e. an enormous telescope on wheels with a controller's chair attached to it, several subsidiary telescopes pointing out of the window, radar scanners going round and round, two computers with flashing lights, large and complex tape and video recorders, several TV monitors, oscilloscopes, aerials, etc. All these have been squeezed in amongst the furniture of two retired middle-class old ladies. Enid, a dear old lady with a bun, sits at the control seat of an impressive-looking console, pressing buttons. She also has some knitting.)

Gladys: (JOHN) It's a man outside Number 24.

Enid: Try it on the five inch, Gladys.

Gladys: (looking at the array of telescopes) I can't. I've got that fixed on the Baileys at Number 13. Their new lodger moves in today.

Enid: All fight, hold 13 on the five-inch and transfer the Cartwrights to the digital scanner.

(Gladys leaps over to the tape deck, presses levers and switches. Sound of tape reversing. There is a hum and lights flash on and off. A blurred image of a lady in the street comes up on one of the monitors.)

Enid: Hold on, Mrs. Pettigrew's coming back from the doctor's.

Gladys: All right, bring her up on two. What's the duration reading on the oscillator?

Enid: 48.47.

Gladys: Well that's a long time for someone who's just had a routine checkup.

Enid: (reading a graph on a computer) Yes, her pulse rate's 146!

Gladys: Zoom in on the 16mm and hold her, Enid.

Enid: Roger, Gladys.

Gladys: I'll try and get her on the twelve-inch. (she climbs into the control seat of the huge mobile telescope; we cut to the view through Gladys's telescope - out of focus at first, but then sharper as she zooms in towards the side door of Number 24) Move the curtain, Enid. (the curtain is opened a little) Thank you, love.

(Cut to the interior of Mrs. Neves's kitchen once again. It is absolutely full of lifeboatmen. They are all talking happily and drinking cups of tea. We pick up the conversation between two them.)

First Lifeboatman: Yes, it's one of those new self-righting models. Newhaven was about the first place in the country to get one.

Second Lifeboatman: What's the displacement on one of them jobs then?

First Lifeboatman: Oh it's about I40-150 per square inch.

Mrs. Neves: Who's for fruit cake?

All: Oh yes, please, please.

Mrs. Neves: Yes, right, macaroons, that's two dozen fruit cakes, half a dozen macaroons. Right ho. Won't be a jiffy then.

(She puts a scarf on, picks up a basket and goes out of the front door. As she opens door, we hear the sound of a storm which carries us into the next shot. Cut to the deck of a lifeboat; rain-lashed, heaving, wind-tossed Mrs. Neves struggles against the gale force winds along the deck. She hammers on a hatch in the forward part of the lifeboat.)

Mrs. Neves: Yoohoo! Mrs. Edwards!

(The hatch opens and a cozy shop-keeping pepperpot sticks her head out.)

Mrs. Edwards: Hello.

Mrs. Neves: Hello, two dozen fruit cakes and half a dozen macaroons.

Mrs. Edwards: Sorry love, no macaroons. How about a nice vanilla sponge.

Mrs. Neves: Yes, that'll be lovely.

Mrs. Edwards: Right ho. (sound of a ship's horn; they both look) There's that nice herring trawler come for their Kup Kakes. Excuse me. (she produces a loudhailer) Hello, Captain Smith?

Voice: Hallooooo!

(Mrs. Edwards hurls a box of Kup Kakes off deck.)

Mrs. Edwards: Kup Kakes to starboard.

Voice: Coming.

Mrs. Neves: I'll pay you at the end of the week, all right?

Mrs. Edwards: OK, right ho.

(Mrs. Neves struggles back along the deck. Cut to stock film of Ark Royal in a storm.)

Mrs. Neves: Here; it's the Ark Royal, Doris. Have you got their rock buns ready?

(Sound of a ship's horn.)

Mrs. Edwards: Hang on!

(Doris appears at the hatch, and hands over two cake boxes.)

Doris: Here we are, five for them and five for HMS Eagle.

Mrs. Edwards: Right ho. (takes them and throws them both overboard; an officer climbs up the side of the boat) Yes?

Officer: HMS Defiant? Two set teas please.

Mrs. Edwards: Two set teas, Doris. Forty-eight pence. There we are, thank you.

(Money is handed over. The teas emerge on two little trays with delicate crockery, little teapots, milk jugs, etc.)

Officer: By the way, do you do lunches?

Mrs. Edwards: No, morning coffee and teas only.

Officer: Right ho. (holding the teas he goes up to edge and jumps overboard)

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