(Animation of balloons ascending.)
CAPTION: 'THE GOLDEN AGE OF BALLOONING'
CAPTION: 'THE BEGINNINGS'
(Cut to a suburban bathroom. A plumber with a bag of tools
open beside him is doing an elaborate repair on the toilet. He is in
rather an awkward position.)
Plumber: (working away) The Golden Age of
Ballooning can be said to begin in 1783 ... when the Montgolfier
brothers made their first ascent in a fire balloon. On the eve of
that ... (struggling with the work) come on... come on...
momentous ascent, the brothers took one last look at their craft, as
it stood on the field of Annencay.
(Pleasant elegant eighteenth-century music. Mix to a French
small country-house interior. At the window Joseph and Jacques
Montgolfier are looking out at their balloon. In the background a
plumber is working. away at a bit of eighteenth-century French
Jacques: This is a great moment for us, Joseph.
Joseph: It is a great moment for France.
Jacques: Ah, oui!
Joseph: First ascent in a hot-air balloon, by the
Montgolfier brothers - 1783. I can see us now... just after
Montesquieu and just before Mozart.
Jacques: I think I'll go and wash ...
Joseph: Good luck.
Jacques: Oh ... it's quite easy, really ... I just slap a
little water on my face, then...
Joseph: No... good luck for tomorrow.
Jacques: Oh I see, yes. You too. Yours has been the work.
Joseph: Let us hope for a safe ascent... and don't use my
Jacques: You know, when you showed me the plans in Paris,
I could not believe that we should be the first men who would fly.
Joseph: Yes ... it's wonderful.
Jacques: I am so excited I could hardly wash.
Joseph: Yes ... I too have had some difficulty washing
these past few days.
Jacques: Still, what is washing when we are on the verge
of a great scientific breakthrough?
Jacques: Yes, Joseph...
Joseph: I have not been washing very thoroughly for many
Jacques: What do you mean? You must have been washing your
Joseph: Oh yes, my face, I wash my face... but my legs...
my stomach ... my chest, they're filthy.
Jacques: Well, I don't wash my stomach every day.
Joseph: (with increasing self-remorse) Ah, but you
wash far more than me ... you are the cleaner of the Montgolfier
Jacques: This is nothing, Joseph...
(A very formal butler enters.)
Buffer: Monsieur Montgolfier..' A Mr. Parfitt to see you,
(A head appears round the door and corrects the butler, in a
very stage whisper.)
Mr. Bartlett: No, no... no... Bartlett! (the head
Buffer: A Mr. Barklit, to see you, sir.
Mr. Bartlett: No! Bartlett with a 't'. (the head
Buffer: (with difficulty) Barr ... at ... elett ... to see
Mr. Bartlett: Bartlett (he disappears again)
Mr. Bartlett: Bartlett!
Buffer: Baffle... Bartlett... A Mr. Bartlett to see you,
Joseph: I don't want to see anyone, O'Toole... tell him to
Buffer: Thank you, sir. (he exits)
Jacques: Well, it's getting late. I must go and have a
Joseph: What will you be washing?
Jacques: Oh ... just my face and neck ... perhaps my
feet... and possibly ... but no ... no ... lock up the plans,
Joseph... tomorrow they will make us the toast of France. 'The first
ascent by the Montgolfier brothers in a balloon'. Just after
Ballcock and just before Bang... what a position!
(Some men have now entered the room, chosen a spot and are
briskly but quietly setting up a screen and a projector, The
projector is turned on and a film comes up on the screen together
with triumphant music, applause and commentary. We zoom in to the
screen. It shows an animation of two naked men boxing in a large tub
Voice Over: So, on June 7th, 1783, the Montgolfier
brothers had a really good wash ... starting on his face and arms,
Joseph Michael Montgolfier went on to scrub his torso, his legs and
his naughty bits, before rinsing his whole body. That June night, he
and his brother between them washed seventeen square feet of body
area. They used a kilo and a half of catholic soap and nearly
fourteen gallons of nice hot water. It was indeed an impressive
CAPTION: 'THE END'
(Picture of a balloon. Cut to BBC2 logo)
SUPERIMPOSED CAPTION: 'THE GOLDEN AGE OF BALLOONING'.
Voice Over: Next week on 'The Golden Age of Ballooning',
we examine the work of Girlsher and Coxwell, the English balloonists
who ascended to a height of seven miles in 1862 without washing.
There is also a book called 'The Golden Age of Ballooning' published
by the BBC to coincide with the series. It's in an attractive
hand-tooled binding, is priced L5 and failure to buy it will make
you liable to a 50 pound fine or three months' imprisonment. There's
also a record of someone reading the book of 'The Golden Age of
Ballooning', a crochet-work bedspread with the words 'The Golden Age
of Ballooning' on it, available from the BBC, price 18 pounds (or
five months' imprisonment) and there are matching toilet-seat covers
and courtesy mats with illustrations of many of the balloons
mentioned. Also available is a life-size model frog which croaks the
words 'The Golden Age of Ballooning' and an attractive Bakelite case
for storing motorway construction plans in, made in the shape of a
balloon. And now, another chance to see a repeat of this morning's
re-run of last night's second showing of episode 'two of the
award-winning series 'The Golden Age of Ballooning'.
(ANIMATION: balloons ascending as before.)
CAPTION: 'THE GOLDEN AGE OF BALLOONING'
CAPTION: 'EPISODE TWO: THE MONTGOLFIER BROTHERS IN LOVE'>
CAPTION: 'NOT WITH EACH OTHER, OBVIOUSLY'
(Joseph Montgolfier's workshop. We see plans and drawing
boards, and at one end of the room, Joseph's fiancée, Antoinette, in
a pretty dress. She is hanging suspended in a harness horizontally,
attached to a gas bag. In other words she is floating like the
bottom half of an airship. Joseph is making calculations excitedly.
Occasionally he goes over to her, takes a measurement and goes back
to his desk to write it down.)
Antoinette: Oh Joseph, all you think about is balloons...
all you talk about is balloons. Your beautiful house is fun of bits
and pieces of balloons... your books are all about balloons... every
time you sing a song, it is in some way obliquely connected with
balloons... everything you eat has to have 'balloon' incorporated in
the title... your dogs are an called 'balloon'... you tie balloons
to your ankles in the evenings.
Joseph: I don't do that!
Antoinette: Well, no, you don't do that, but you do duck
down and shout 'Hey! Balloons!' when there are none about. Your
whole life is becoming obsessively balloonic, you know. Why do I
have to hang from this bloody gas bag all day? Don't I mean anything
Joseph: (busy measuring) Oh ma Cherie, you mean
more to me than any heavier than air dirigible could ever...
Antoinette: Oh there you go again!
Joseph: Don't waggle!
Jacques: I've run your bath for you, Joseph. (he sees
Antoinette) Oh... I'm so sorry, I didn't realize.
Joseph: It's all right, we've done the difficult bit.
Jacques: Well, don't forget we have our special guest
coming this evening.
Jacques: Don't tell me you have forgotten already. The man
who is giving us thousands of francs for our experiments.
Joseph: What man?
Jacques: Louis XIV!
Joseph: Isn't he dead?
Jacques: Evidently not...
Joseph: All right, I'll be round.
Jacques: Oh, and Joseph...
Joseph: Yes, Jacques?
Jacques: You will... wash... won't you?
Joseph: Yes, of course!
CAPTION: 'LATER THAT EVENING'