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Emigration from Surbiton to Hounslow

The cast:

Eric Idle
Michael Palin
Graham Chapman
Terry Jones
Eric Idle

The sketch:

(Pull back from a shot of an old little Ford Popular to reveal Mr. and Mrs. Norris, standing with it outside the front garden of a small suburban semi-detached house.)

Voice Over: Who, a year ago, had heard of Mr. and Mrs. Brian Norris of 37, Gledhill Gardens, Parsons Green? And yet their epic journey in EBW 343 has set them alongside Thor Heyerdahl and Sir Edmund Hillary. Starting only with a theory, Mr. Norris set out to prove that the inhabitants of Hounslow could have been descendants of the people of Surbiton who had made the great trek north. No newcomer to this field, Mr. Norris's 'A Short History of Motor Traffic Between Parley and Esher' had become a best-selling minor classic in the car-swapping belt.

(shot of Mr. Norris gazing into a window, where his book lies; there is a sign saying 'Remaindered)

But why would the people of Surbiton go to Hounslow? Mr. Norris had noticed three things:

(split-screen shot of two identical semi-detached houses)

Firstly, the similarity of the houses. Secondly, the similarity of the costume between Hounslow and Surbiton,

(similarly, dressed suburbanites on either side of the split screen)

and thirdly, the similarity of speech.

(Split screen.)

Man on Right: Are you still running the GDBDMDB?

Man on Left: Yes, but I've had the excess nipples woppled to remove tamping.

Man on Left: Jolly good.

Voice Over: Were these just coincidences, or were they, as Mr. Norris believed, part of an identical cultural background? One further discovery convinced him.

(cut to two lawnmowers arranged on a table, as if they were exhibits in a museum, with type-written documentation in front of them for the visitor)

The lawnmower. Surely such a gadget could not have been generated independently in two separate areas. Mr. Norris was convinced.

Mr. Norris's Voice: I'm convinced.

Voice Over: But how to prove it.

Mr. Norris's Voice: But how to prove it.

Voice Over: There was only one way to see if the journey between Surbiton and Hounslow was possible, and that was to try and make it. Months of preparation followed whilst Mr. Norris continued his research in the Putney Public Library,

(Mr. Norris in a library reading a book titled 'The Lady with the Naked Skin' by Paul Fox Jr.)

and Mrs. Norris made sandwiches.

(Cut to Mr. and Mrs. Norris leaving their home.)

Voice Over: Finally, by April, they were ready. On the 23rd, Mr. and Mrs. Norris set out from 'Abide-A-Wee' to motor the fifteen miles to Surbiton, watched by a crowd of local well-wishers.

(one tiny child holding a small British flag)

That evening they dined at Tooting.

(quick flash of them sitting in the window of a Golden Egg or Wimpy place)

This would be the last they'd see of civilization. Mr. Norris's diary for the 23rd reveals the extraordinary calmness and deep inner peacefulness of his mind.

(We see the diary.)

Mr. Norris's Voice: 7.30 Fed cat. 8.00 Breakfast. 8.30 Yes (successfully). 9.00 Set out on historic journey.

(Cut to Mr. Norris's car driving along a suburban road. A sign says 'You are now leaving Surbiton, gateway to Esher'.)

Voice Over: On the morning of the 24th, early to avoid the traffic, Mr. Norris's historic expedition set out from Surbiton - destination Hounslow. Early on they began to perceive encouraging signs.

(cut to sign saying 'Hounslow 25 miles '; Mr. Norris closely examines the sign, as would an archaeologist)

The writing on the sign was almost exactly the same as the writing in the AA book. They were on the right route. During the long hours of the voyage, Mr. Norris's wife Betty kept a complete photographic record and made sandwiches. This is some of the unique footage which Mrs. Norris got back from the chemists...

(badly, shot pictures of sandwiches, with fingers in the lens, etc.)

Mile succeeded mile and the terrific strain was beginning to tell when suddenly,

(chord; Mr. Norris points excitedly, pull back to reveal him standing on a bridge over the Kingston by-pass examining it through field glasses)

by an amazing stroke of luck, Mr. Norris had come across the Kingston by-pass. This was something to tell the Round Table.

(cut to a map, it traces the two routes in red as the voice talks)

At this stage, Mr. Norris was faced with two major divergent theories concerning his Surbiton ancestors. Did they take the Kingston by-pass, turning left at Barnes, or did they strike west up the A308 via Norbiton to Hampton Wick? Both these theories ran up against one big obstacle - the Thames, (the car at a river bank; Mr. and Mrs. Norris puzzling; behind them three or four bridges with traffic pouring over) lying like a silver turd between Richmond and Isleworth. This was a major setback. How could they possibly cross the river? Several hours of thought produced nothing. There was only one flask of coffee left when suddenly Mr. Norris spotted something.

(cut to a sign saying Metropolitan Railway)

Could this have been the method used? Hardly daring to believe, Mr. Norris led his expedition on to the 3.47.

(cut to them getting on the train)

Forty minutes later, via Clapham, Fulham, Chiswick and Brentford, they approached their goal: Hounslow.

(a sign saying 'Hounslow Central'; Mr. Nortis sticks a British flag on the platform; he poses for his wife's photos; much hand shaking)

Was this, then, the final proof? Something aroused the accountant's instinct buried deep in Mr. Norris's make-up.

(cut to Mr. Norris's eyes and furrowed brow)

The journey was possible, and yet ....

(zoom in on railway timetable on wall saying 'Trains to Surbiton every half hour)

'Wrong Way' Norris had accidentally stumbled on a piece of anthropological history. It was the inhabitants of Hounslow who had made the great trek south to the sunnier pastures of Surbiton, and not vice versa, as he had originally surmised. This was the secret of Surbiton! Happy and contented Mr. Norris returned to the calmer waters of chartered accountancy, for, in his way, 'Wrong Way' Norris was right.

(Music swells, over book title 'The Story of EBW 343 ' by 'Wrong Way' Norris.)


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