Series 4, Special Programme, Broadcast 31 August 1954
Andrew Timothy: Ladies and gentlemen, we present radio programme in English.
From time to time actors will be heard. The author has fled the country
ORCHESTRA: DRAMATIC THEME, STILL PLAYING AS ANDREW
Andrew: 1954. A world overshadowed with doubts, fears, uncertainty.
Of Indo-China, the Suez, Cyprus, East and West German strife, the H-Bomb explosion, and
yet to come the unbelievable power of the
cobalt bomb (music ends). But our own governors are not
unaware of these dangers. At this moment the House of
Commons are debating serious matters.
Harry (old politician): Starlings, they're ruining St, Martin's!
Peter (old politician): There are far too many starlings in Trafalgar Square!
Harry: Err, here, here.
Spike (old politician): We must get rid of these disgusting creatures!
Peter: Well said
Harry: Yes, here here
Henry: Yes, get rid of them
Henry: Well said
Harry: Yes, yes, get rid of them
Henry: (talking over Minnie) Get rid of them
Minnie: Here, let's all have some tea
Everyone: cheers and applause (carry on in background while Andrew
Andrew: Yes, Parliament was aroused. On the terrace of the House of
Commons during the tea break back-benchers gave voice to their
GRAMS: LAND OF HOPE AND GLORY SUNG BY CROWDS
FOLLOWED BY APPLAUSE AND CHEERS
Andrew: The inventive genius of the country was called upon and for three
years the starlings were attacked with a series of frightening devices
Peter: Stuffed owls
Harry: Wriggling rubber snakes
Spike: High frequency sound beams
Peter: (woman's voice) Little round things that went "knick, knick, knick"
Major: Rice puddings fired from catapults
Andrew: A recording of a female starling in trouble
Peter: A recording of a female starling not in trouble
Spike: Trained cats
Major: Rice puddings fired from catapults, mark 2
Harry: Flashing lights and Chinese crackers
Spike: (grand voice) Large things dropped from a great height, and vice-a-
Major: Failing that, rice puddings fired from catapults
Andrew: For some inexplicable reason all these devices failed. The starlings
Peter: (undertaker voice) The inventors were filled with remorse, and in sack
cloth they marched the streets
GRAMS: FOOTSTEPS MARCHING SLOWLY TO A DRUMBEAT
ORCHESTRA: DESPAIR MUSIC (CAST SOBS BEHIND)
Andrew: At the same time at the Ministry of Grit, Filth and Exportable Heads,
the Secretary, Mr Ned Bladok was handed a vital bird statistic
FX: PAPER BEING RUSTLED
Neddy: Are you sure this figure is correct?
Throat (Spike): Yes
Neddy: Have you had it checked?
Neddy: You mean there are 30 million starlings roosting in Trafalgar Square?
Neddy: Thank you, Miss Perch
Neddy: (to himself) 30 million starlings! Hm, Mr. Thin!
FX: FOOTSTEPS RUNNING TOWARDS MICROPHONE
Thin (Peter): (before arriving, during sound effect) Yes sir! Yes sir! Coming
Sir! Ahh! (arrives) Did you so much as call me, sir?
Neddy: Ah yes, Mr. Thin. Call a meeting of all the people we keep especially
ORCHESTRA: TRUMPET FANFARE
Neddy: (loud voice) Gentlemen, I have called this meeting, to declare war on
the starlings in London
GRAMS: AUDIENCE RESPONSE AS TO HITLER'S SPEECHES
Neddy: Thank you. The question is, how to get rid of them?
Major: What about rice puddings fired from catapults?
Neddy: No, no, no, no. We've had that.
Major: Have we?
Major: Oh. I say, look here, I remember a fashion out during the first world
war for lasting peace. I remember after a heavy artillery barrage there
were no signs of birds for months after.
Neddy: I don't think that is at all relevant
Major: If we could draw up 200 regiments of artillery, in Trafalgar Square,
and let off a non-stop barrage for a month I am sure that -
Neddy: (interrupting) No, no, no, Major. Wait a moment
Neddy: You've given me an idea.
Major: I have?
Neddy: Look, it all boils down to making a noise.
Major: A noise
Neddy: Just a noise
Major: Yes, yes
Neddy: Now, if we can get volunteers just to kick up a noise then -
Major: Gad! You're right! Ah perfect! I'll ask Field Marshall Clinical Foot to
let us have 3 brigades of guards at Trafalgar Square at dawn on
GRAMS: SOLDIERS MARCHING AND COMMANDERS SHOUTING
Major: What a magnificent sight! Aughhhh!
Andrew: Good morning, err, Major Bloodnok?
Major: The same
Andrew: I'm Mr. Cringing-Nut, of the Morning Flight.
Major: Oh yes, you're one of the observers aren't you?
Andrew: That's right, sir
Major: Yes, yes, yes. Well I'll tell you briefly what's happening. The whole of
the square mile of Trafalgar Square has been cautioned off
Andrew: Is it now a curfew area?
Major: Yes. Only curfews our allowed in. All these squads marching in here
are to kick up a din and in so doing you see they drive the starlings
Andrew: What does the noise making equipment consist of?
Major: Sergeant Steinbacker!
Major: Explain the noise equipment to this gentleman, would you?
Harry: Yes sir! Four men entering this area are headed with the following
items: Iron bath tub with beater, football rattles, whistles, tin cans,
dustbin lids, gas stoves filled with iron bolts, bagpipes, dinner gongs,
kettle drums, thunder sheets, and other various noise making gear, for
the uses of.
Andrew: Thank you.
Major: Ah, I see I see that Lance-Colonel Sockclencher is going to address the
Peter: (speaking into megaphone) Men! At ease chaps! Now, I'm going to put
you in the picture. In a short time we will be commencing the noise for
the uses of. So lets have a little practice first. Yes? Right. Now first,
let's hear from the dustbin lids.
FX: DUSTBIN LIDS BEING BANGED TOGETHER
Peter: Well done. Thank you. Yes, thank you. Now, whistles and rattles.
FX: WHISTLES AND RATTLES
Peter: Good show, whistlers and rattlers. Thank you, that's enough. I know you
all like music so there'll be time enough for that in a few moments. So
now, take your positions, and according to our information the
starlings are due in ten seconds from now. So let's have complete
Andrew: Gad Carruthers! Action at last!
Peter: Yes, well, it had to come.
GRAMS: SEVERAL SECONDS OF SILENCE FOLLOWED BY
STARLINGS ARRIVING FLAPPING WINGS AND
Peter: (on megaphone) Right men, noise commence!
FX: DUSTBIN LIDS, WHISTLES AND RATTLES
Andrew: (speaking over quietened noise) Diary of Operation Cacophony
Harry: March the second, third week of operation. Starlings undisturbed. But
two thirds of guard brigade stone deaf.
Spike: April the first. Still no effect on starling. All rather annoying, really!
Peter: December the first, very cold. Noise makers were augmented by the
bagpipes of the Highland Brigade. Starlings still undisturbed.
Population of London dropped 10,000 over night.
GRAMS: BAGPIPES JOIN THE REST OF THE NOISE
Andrew: December the 3rd. Deep snow. Starlings sleeping peacefully. Noise
continues. Field Marshall Plunch sends the brigade a Christmas
greeting. He receives in return a Christmas Pudding, with a rather
disturbing message, and then -
ORCHESTRA: DRAMATIC CHORDS AND TUNE
Andrew: February the thirty-second. All troops withdrawn. Operation
Peter: A military disaster! Those responsible were clad in sack cloth and once
more walked the streets
GRAMS: FOOTSTEPS MARCHING SLOWLY TO A DRUMBEAT
ORCHESTRA: DESPAIR MUSIC (CAST SOBS BEHIND)
Everyone: shouting angrily, Neddy trying to keep order
Neddy: I admit that Operation Cacophony cost £160,000 and was a complete
and utter failure. But these little mistakes will happen!
Peter: (old politician) You made a muck of it!
Neddy: Honourable members, it was not an absolute failure. I mean, that is to
say, though the starlings wee not removed from Trafalgar Square,
they were...err well rearranged!
Minnie: Rubbish! Rubbish!
Major: You should have used rice puddings fired from catapults!
Andrew: I suggest the honourable member applies for the Chiltern Hundred
Neddy: I refuse to get in that queue. In any case, I have already taken steps to
ensure that the starlings are removed from London
Neddy : I have, this day, inserted an advertisement in the paper asking for
suggestions that will rid us of this pest
Peter: (old politician) Well, we'll give you one more chance. Now then, lads,
who's in for a quick round of pontoon?
Everyone: applauds and shouts out encouragement (fades out)
FX: TYPING BEING DONE VERY SLOWLY
Neddy: Good morning, Miss Perch. Working late again?
Neddy: Good girl. Any replies to the advert in the papers?
Throat: Yes, this bloke here's been waiting for you
Neddy: Oh! Ha-Ha
Bluebottle: Yes! He-he! I have been waiting to speak to you. Mr. Clum-Thrut-
Neddy: Mr. Bladok's the name
Bluebottle: Yes that's it. I knew it was something like Clum-Thrut-Knid-Sproo
Neddy: Please, please. Well, will you come in please?
Bluebottle: Thank you
FX: DOOR OPENS AND SHUTS
Neddy: Now, Mr., umm
Bluebottle: Umm, my name is, um, Jim Bluebottle Tiger-Nuts. It is an unusual
Neddy: Yes, I suppose it is. (polite cough) Still, a rose by any other name,
Bluebottle: No, I do not know any Roses by any other names.
Neddy: Ha-ha-ha (polite cough). Err, cigarette?
Bluebottle: I do not smoke. Too expensive.
Neddy: It's no expense to the Ministry. I could have you one rolled within the
Bluebottle: No thank you.
Neddy: Right, now to business. What is your invention?
Bluebottle: It is an artificial explodable bird-lime
Neddy: What a fascinating start. Continue
Bluebottle: Thank you. Well, I have managed to compound a mixture that
looks exactly like bird-lime. Now then, this bird-lime can be put
down anywhere where there are starlings
Neddy: (in acknowledgement)Um-hum
Bluebottle: Then, simply by pressing a remote control button, all those little
blobs of bird-lime can be exploded
Neddy: Good Heavens!
Bluebottle: Yes. It is all done by sound waves
Neddy: You really mean it would drive the starlings away?
Neddy: Gad! What a saviour he is! Here, have an OBE
Bluebottle: Oh, ta!
Neddy: In England's darkest hour one always appears. First Cromwell, then
Fred Clute, and now you. Now, Mr. Tiger-Nuts, do you have the
formula for this artificial exploding bird-lime?
Bluebottle: Yes, I have
Neddy: Good. Let me have it and I'll get the Woolwich Arsenal to make it up
Neddy: This little invention of yours will save the day (fade out)
GRAMS: (FADED IN) CAULDRONS BUBBLING
Neddy: (speaking over Grams) Well, gentlemen of the press, there it is.
40,000 liquid tonnes of artificial explodable bird-lime
Andrew: Wonderful! Absolutely marvellous!
Neddy: Not too close, gentlemen, ah-ah, mind you don't fall in
Spike: Ah, terribly sorry
Peter: (old politician) It looks like the real thing
Neddy: Well, it has to. These starlings must not suspect for a moment, Mr.
Fairfax. After all, they know the real thing.
Peter: Of course, of course
Andrew: When will it be ready?
Neddy: Well, the head of the department tells me the mixture will take 10 days
Spike: That's not bad at all
Neddy: No. Then it is to be given artificial colouring and forced into tubes
ready for squirting on to the buildings
Spike: Oh, brilliant!
Neddy: All in all, about 2 weeks, I should say. By then the inaugurating
ceremony will be ready
Andrew: What inauguration ceremony?
Neddy: My dear sir, exploding of the artificial bird-lime recussetates the
pressing of a button. And it is common law that all cutting of tapes
and pressing of buttons must be carried out with due ceremony -
Peter and Spike: Of course, of course
Neddy: - As it will be in this case
Andrew: Can I quote you on that?
Neddy: You can quote me as saying it, but no more
Andrew: What will be the date of the ceremony?
Neddy: Err, 3 weeks from now. The BBC are covering the occasion
Andrew: They would (voices and Grams fade out)
Andrew (maybe Peter): This is London. And now it's time for our special
outside broadcast from Trafalgar Square. Today
the great experiment Operation Explodable Bird-Li
- err, Bird Mixture - is about to commence. For
the first part of our broadcast let us go over to
GRAMS: CROWD ATMOSPHERE
Ginstone: (Andrew, speaking over noise): Hello listeners, Brian
Ginstone here, and I'm speaking from the roof of St. Martin's, the
roof of St. Martin's, where for the past week workmen have been
spreading the artificial explodable bird mixture, so to tell us a
little about it, let's have a word with the foreman. Pardon me sir
Peter: (old working class voice) Ey?
Ginstone: I'm from the BBC
Peter: I'll punch you in the flipping ear 'ole
Ginstone: (laughs politely) Well, I wonder sir, if you'd like to say a few words
to the listeners
Peter: Don't they get enough chat from you lot?
Ginstone: (laughs politely) Tell me, how long have you been putting the
mixture round the ledges of this building?
Peter: Oh, err, about 10 days, on and off
Ginstone: What do you mean, "On and Off"?
Peter: Well, some of us keep falling off
Ginstone: (laughs politely) What jolly fun
Ginstone: Now tell us, you've been working on this job for 10 days on and off,
what do you think of the idea and its chances?
Peter: Well, you know, I -
Ginstone: Err, Thank you. Now, as the workmen take down the last of the
scaffolding, I see that the ceremony in the square below us is
about to begin, so over to Richard Dimbleby (fade out)
GRAMS: CROWD ATMOSPHERE (CONTINUED THROUGHOUT)
Peter: (impression of Richard Dimbleby, speaking over crowds) Here, in the
Great Square of Trafalgar, which, as we all know, takes its name from
the great underground railway that runs directly beneath its ancient
flagstones, here all is in readiness for the great explodable bird
mixture inauguration. To my right rises the great wooden old platform
from which this solemn ceremony will be perfumed. The entire
Square is a great mass of banners, banners from the great Society of
Pest Control, all waiting to see the result of this experiment.
FX: SIREN ADDED TO CROWD ATMOSPHERE
Peter: (over FX) Yes, there goes the great siren, telling us that all the workmen
are clear of the buildings (Siren stops). That is to say St. Martin's, the
National Gallery, Africa House, and all the other buildings that have
been treated with this wonderful explodable bird mixture.
GRAMS: SOLDIERS MARCHING AND SHOUTING COMMANDER
IN BACKGROUND ADDED TO CROWD ATMOSPHERE
Peter: Now then, to my right, up the right side of the square, I can see the
bright, scarlet and pink tulips of the Royal College of Heralds, as they
march majestically up to the base of the great platform. (Soldiers
Grams stop) They are, of course, looking to sound the traditional
fanfare Tedium Vitae which will announce the arrival of Duchess
Winifred Boiledusspudswell, the well-known human being.
GRAMS: HORSES AND CHARIOTS JOIN CROWD ATMOSPHERE
Peter: And as I speak, I see the Third Battalion of the First Regal Household
Cavalry, so-called as every member is a householder, and yes, there
they go, their great white hooves, swords, snorting at the reign, and fie,
and lifting the dust as they pass the base of Nelson's great Column, that
column so nobly erected here in 1672 to commemorate Lord Nelson's
victory at Balaclava, over the combined Egyptian and Turkish cavalry
GRAMS: CROWD ATMOSPHERE STARTS CHEERING
Peter: And those cheers are for the leader of the Household Troop as he dips
the Union Jack, the national flag of the union of Jack
ORCHESTRA: TRUMPET FANFARE
Peter: That great fanfare announces the arrival of the great television coach
bearing the Duchess by arrangement with Richard Winnick and Mark
GRAMS: COMMANDER SHOUTS "PRESENT ARMS" FOLLOWED
BY SOUNDS OF PRESENTING THE ARMS
Peter: The Guard of the Tender Plumage Haddackurs presents arms and we
all stand to attention for the anthem of the great Bird Pest Control
ORCHESTRA: ANTHEM OF THE GREAT BIRD PEST CONTROL
Peter: What a lovely tune that is from the pen of the marcher of the Archer
Street roles, and now, yes, now, here comes the Duchess
Boiledusspudswell followed by the venerable City Fathers, Mothers,
Sisters, Mothers-In-Laws and all the great traditional hangers-on. Now
the Duchess approaches the great charcoal and bulsar staircase that
leads up to the rostrum and at the same time leads down again. She
mounts the great steps, her great cape of Northern Weevil scrabbling
across the ancient planks of the high Grantfordloo
ORCHESTRA: TRUMPET FANFARE
Peter: And with that the Herald sounds the Turk Voluntary, the Voluntary so
well beloved by the Swahili dust-group of Westminster. And now she
reaches the great gold and bronze microphone to make her declaration.
But first the master of the rolls and leather goods pledges his
allegiance, also the quanti-denorum, so let us listen to it
GRAMS: SPEECH BEING MADE ON MICROPHONE. BREAKING
UP EVERY FEW WORDS
Peter: He appears to be having trouble with the great microphone of state, the
same great microphone used in 1672, hand beaten and foot slapped in
gold and silver surmounted by two Burmese Cherubs and fashioned by
the great sculptor Ben Venuto Selinae and his brother Fred. Oh and
now I see the great engineer of state with the great state screwdriver
adjusting the mace screws on the great microphone.
Spike: (on microphone blows a few time) Hello....testing, testing...1, 2, 3, 4, 5,
6 testing.....yes it's all right now
Peter: (master of the rolls, on microphone) My lords, ladies and gentlemong.
Pray silence for the Duchess Boiledusspudswell, Deme of the
Empire, and at the present appearing in a television "That's your lot",
"Where's your bond?", "What's up now?", "Who's your dad?",
have you come?" and other edifying panel games. She appears by
permission of the makers of Footo, the wonder boot exploder
Peter: (Dimbleby impression) With that great dignified ringing across the great
square, she steps up to the great microphone
Peter: (Duchess on microphone, sounds like Queen) Ladies and Gentlemen. It
is with "-" pleasure that I have come "-" today to give my
Spike: (blows into microphone a few times) Hello, hello, testing, 1, 2, 3, 4,
yes it's all right now
Peter: Ladies and Gentlemen. It is my privilege and pruvilege to name this
experiment Operation Explodable Bird Mixture, and may all who
stand on it perish.
Peter: (Dimbleby) She steps forward to press the great button. She presses it.
And so for the final result over to Brian Ginstone on top of the
GRAMS: MILD EXPLOSIONS CONTINUOUS THROUGHOUT
Ginstone: (Andrew) And all around the corners of St. Martin's the bird mixture
is exploding and the starlings are being driven away and I -
GRAMS: GIANT EXPLOSION, CROWD CHEERS SCREAMS
Ginstone: Oh dear, I don't quite know what happened
FX: FIRE ENGINE BELL RINGING, SCREAMS CONTINUE, FADES
Everyone: (fades in) shouts and boos in House of Commons
Peter: (Old politician, almost Churchill) Lads, lads, lads. Please, lads. Quiet
now. Let us have a fair hearing. And now, Mr. Bladok.
Neddy: Mr. Prime Minister, Honourable Members. I fear that the explodable
bird-lime was a might too powerful, but fear not, St. Martin's will be
Andrew: But the starlings will only roost in it again
Neddy: Well, if they do, we'll blow it up again. Naturally we would rebuild
again, but if the starlings still persist in roosting there we'll have no
compulsion but to blow it up yet again. We'll see who gets tired first
Minnie: But think of the expense
Neddy: No fears there. I have it on good authority that our financial position is
far in excess of the starlings
Neddy: Yes, in any case, I have a new invention to deal with the pests
Neddy: Rice puddings fired from catapults
FX: CATAPULT RUBBER RELEASED HITTING SOMETHING
THAT SOUNDS METALLIC
Andrew: Good shot
Peter: Right, lads, how about a nice cup of tea?
Everyone: Here, here plus cheers and applause (fades out)
GRAMS: STARLING TWITTER DURING ANNOUNCEMENTS
Andrew: That was "The Starlings", that was, by Spike Milligan. All parts were
played by Peter Sellers, Harry Secombe and Spike Milligan. Other
pests were played by the starlings themselves. Technical
production by Harry Green and Barry Wilson. I am the announcer,
Andrew Timothy is the name, and I am asked to say that any
resemblance to a Goon Show is due to the laxity of the producer #
Peter Eton. (Starlings fade out)