Episode Forty-one: Michael Ellis

Department store
Buying an ant
At home with the ant and other pets
Documentary on ants
Ant communication
Complaining about ant
Poetry reading (ants)
Complaints office
Different endings

Colour code: Michael Palin - Eric Idle - Graham Chapman - Terry Jones - Terry Gilliam - Carol Cleveland

Animated titles.
Roll credits.
Establishing shot of large Harrods-type store. Outside limousines and taxis are disgorging very rich customers. Small doormen in enormously large coats opening door of cars. A man with his nose bandaged comes out of the store. One large car pulls softly up to the curb, and as small doorman (Michael) opens its door, an enormously opulent lady (Terry J) in furs gets out. The doorman holds the door open. She knees him in the groin and walks on into the store. Chris Quinn (Eric) arrives on a bicycle. He parks the bicycle against the curb (the doorman flings it into the road) and goes into the outer hall of the store. He passes a couple leaving who also have noses bandaged. A gaggle of customers, mostly pepperpots, rush out. A very eager pepperpot lady shopper, going the other way, rushes between the two and bangs into a set of glass doors which have closed behind the gaggle. She cries out with pain clutching her nose and is escorted away by a large, coated attendant. Chris Quinn looks up at the list on the wall. It reads:
Quinn, knowing that there are doors, goes forward more cautiously and enters. The banging of noses on glass doors is a constant background theme. Cut to the gift department. A large lady is standing by counter holding a large cylinder with a rose attachment.
Lady Yes this looks the sort of thing. May I just try it?
Assistant Certainly, madam.
The lady presses button and a sheet of flame shoots out across the hall.
Lady Oh! Sorry! So sorry! (she is happy though) Yes that's fine.
Assistant Is that on account, madam?
Lady Yes.
Chris walks by, watching with interest but not much concern, passing a customer whose back is on fire but who has not noticed. He approaches a counter with a sign saying 'Ant Counter'. He stands by the apparently empty counter for one moment, then rings a bell.
Chris Hello? Hello?
A strange rubber-masked head appears from below the other side of the counter and gesticulates at him making a strange noise. This soon stops.
First Assistant Oh, I'm terribly sorry... (he takes off the mask to reveal a straight forward assistant) I thought you were someone else.
Chris Oh I see, yes.
First Assistant I'm sorry sir, can I help you?
Chris Yes, yes, as a matter of fact you can, actually I was interested in the possibility... of purchasing one of your ... can I ask who you thought I was?
First Assistant What?
Chris Who did you think I was... just then... when you thought I was somebody.
First Assistant Oh, it's no one you'd know, sir.
Chris Well I might know them.
First Assistant It's possible, obviously, but I think it's really unlikely.
Chris Well, I know quite a lot...
First Assistant I mean he's hardly likely to move in your circles, sir...
Chris Why, is he very rich?
First Assistant Oh, no, I didn't mean that, sir.
Chris Is he a lord or something?
First Assistant Oh, no, not at all.
Chris Well look, this is very easy to settle. What is his name?.
First Assistant What?
Chris What is his name?
First Assistant Well... er...
Chris Yes?
First Assistant Michael Ellis.
Chris Who?
First Assistant Michael Ellis.
Chris I see.
First Assistant Do you know him, sir?
Chris Er ... Michael Ellis. Michael Ellis...
First Assistant You don't
Chris Well, I don't remember the name.
First Assistant I think you would remember him, sir.
Chris Why do you say that?
First Assistant Well, would you remember a man six foot nine inches high, fortyish, and he's got a long scar from here to here and absolutely no nose?
Chris ... oh, I think I do remember somebody like that...
First Assistant Well, that's not Michael Ellis.
Chris What?
First Assistant He's a small man about this high with a high-pitched voice.
Chris Right, I'm not going to buy an ant from you now.
First Assistant (distressed) Oh, no, please.
Chris No. You've not been properly trained. I demand another assistant.
First Assistant Oh, no, come on... please...
Chris No, I want another assistant.
First Assistant All right! I'll get another assistant. (he disappears behind a curtain)
Chris Thank you.
The same assistant reappears with a long mandarin-style Chinese moustache.
First Assistant (high-pitched voice) Hello sir, can I help you, sir?
Chris No, I want a different assistant.
First Assistant I am sir, I'm Mr Abanazar, sir.
Chris Don't be silly.
First Assistant (normal voice) Oh no, please please please let me help you...
Chris No! I want another assistant.
First Assistant Oh, no, come on, please...
Chris If you don't give me another assistant...
First Assistant No, no, I'll be very good, sir, really. (he becomes exaggeratedly polite) Good morning, sir... how are you, sir... bit parky outside today... isn't it, sir... ? A very nice suit you've got there, sir... you had a very close shave this morning, sir...
Chris Right I'm going!
First Assistant No, no, please... (he takes off his moustache) I'll get another assistant... (he rings the bell on the counter.)
After a pause, very slowly indeed an identical mask to the first appears over the top of the counter right next to the first assistant, making the same noise very quietly. The first assistant sees him, starts and nudges him hard.
Second Assistant Woooooo ....ooooooo...
First Assistant It's not him!
The second assistant makes a disappointed noise and disappears below.
Chris (pointing over the counter at the disappeared assistant) I don't want him!
First Assistant Oh please, give him a chance!
Chris No!
Second Assistant (appearing from below counter without a mask, looking immaculate) Yes, sir, can I be of any assistance?
Chris Oh no, come on, don't try that!
Second Assistant I'm sorry, sir... try what?
Chris You know perfectly well what I mean.
Second Assistant I'm afraid I don't, sir.
Chris You were down behind there with a silly mask on going wooo-ooo...
Second Assistant I don't think I was, sir.
Chris All right, get the manager.
Second Assistant There seems to have been some sort of misunderstanding, sir.
Chris Manager!
First Assistant This is the manager, sir.
Chris What?
Second Assistant (in a silly voice) Yes, I'm the manager.
Chris Manager! (he keeps calling)
Second Assistant It's a smashing store this, I can't recommend it too highly, well-lit, rat-free. It's a joy to manage. Oh yes, the freshest haddock in London, second floor, third floor Ribena, ants here, television and flame throwers over there, behind them our dinner-wagon exhibition closes at six...
First Assistant (nudging him) Quick!
They both disappear under the counter. The real manager arrives and presents himself to Chris.
Real Manager Yes, sir? Can I help you, sir?
Chris (noticing the 'manager' badge on his lapel) Yes, I want to complain about the assistants on this counter.
Real Manager I'm sorry to hear that, sir, which ones?
Chris Well, they're hiding now.
Real Manager Sir?
Chris They're hiding, down there behind the counter.
Real Manager I see, sir. (he goes round counter, looks, but obviously can't see them; Chris goes round to join in the search)... well... there's nobody down here, sir.
Chris They must have crawled through here, and made their escape through 'Soft Toys'. (he points)
Real Manager Yes, of course.
Chris They were wearing masks and making silly noises and one of them pretended to be the manager. He spoke like this.. (he does an impression)
Real Manager Ah! I think I've got it, sir, I think I've got it! It's rag week.
Chris Ragweek?
Real Manager Yes, you know, for charity, sir.
Chris Oh! I see. Some local college or university?
Real Manager No, no it's the store's rag week.
Chris The store's rag week?
Real Manager Yes. The senior staff don't join in much - it's for the trainees really...
Chris It's not very good for business is it?
Real Manager Oh, It's for charity, sir. People are awfully good about it, you know. (he rattles a collecting tin)
Chris Yes, yes, of course. (he puts a coin in)
Real Manager Right, sir, I'll get you a senior assistant - ants, was it?
Chris Yes, please.
Real Manager (calling) Mr Snetterton? (Mr Snetterton approaches immediately; he is clearly the first assistant with very bad short crew-cut wig on) Could you look after this gentleman, Mr Snetterton?
Chris I don't want him!
First Assistant Oh please! Give me a chance!
Chris No!
Real Manager All right - Mr Hartford!
Hartford Yes - good morning, sir - can I help you?
Chris Yes, please, I'm interested in buying an ant.
Hartford Ah yes - and what price were you thinking of paying, sir?
Chris Oh, well, I hadn't actually got as far as that.
Hartford Well sir, they start about half a p. but they can go as high as three p. or even three and a half p. for a champion - inflation I'm afraid...
Chris Well, I should think one about one and a half p., please.
Hartford Ah yes, well you should get a very serviceable little animal for that, sir. Quite frankly the half pence ones are a bit on the mangy side ... What length was sir thinking of?
Chris Oh ... medium?
Hartford Medium. Medium. Here we are, sir. (he tips some ants - which we can't see - out into a special ring on counter) That one there is an Ayrshire, and that one there is a King George bitch I think ... and that one killing the little flitbat is an Afghan.
Chris That's a nice one.
Hartford Let's see how you get on with him, eh? (he puts it on Chris's hand) Ah yes, he likes you. He's taken to you.
Chris What do you feed them on?
Hartford Blancmange.
Chris Blancmange?
Hartford I'm sorry. I don't know why I said that. No, you don't feed them at all.
Chris Well, what do they live on?
Hartford They don't. They die.
Chris They die?
Hartford Well of course they do, if you don't feed them.
Chris I don't understand.
Hartford You let them die, then you buy another one. It's much cheaper than feeding them and that way you have a constant variety of little companions.
Chris Oh, I see.
Hartford That's the advantage of owning an ant.
Chris Right, well I'll take this one. Oh dear, I've dropped it...
Hartford Never mind. Here's another one.
Chris Is there anything else I'll need?
Hartford Yes, sir - you'll need an ant house. (he produces a birdcage) This is the model we recommend, sir.
Chris Won't it get out of there?
Hartford Yes.
Chris Well what's the point of having the cage?
Hartford Well, none at all really. And then some pieces of cage furniture which will keep him entertained. (he produces microscopic things) Here's an ant-wheel, ant-swing, and a very nice one here, a little ladder - he can run up there and ring the bell at the top, that's a little trick he can learn.
Chris Will he live long enough?
Hartford Not really, no, but it's best to have one just in case, and here's a two-way radio he can play with... and of course you'll need the book. (he produces an expensive-looking book, thoughtlessly slams it down where the ants were, then hurriedly brushes them away)
Chris The book?
Hartford Yes, the book on ants.
Chris (looking unsure) Yes...
Hartford So, sir, that is, if I may say so, one hundred and eighty-four pounds one and a half p., sir.
Chris Will you take a cheque?
Hartford Yes, sir, if you don't mind leaving a blood-sample, and a piece of skin off the back of the scalp just here, sir ... (indicates a point behind his ear) sorry ... it's just for identification .-. you can't be too careful. (he hands him a little knife and some cotton wool)
Chris Oh, well I think I'll put it on account.
Hartford I should, sir... much less painful. Anyway sir, you know what they say about an ant. A friend for life, eh? Well, a friend for its life anyway... (Hartford loads the large cage, furniture, two-way radio and the book on ants into a huge box; with some difficulty he finds the ant; he picks it up carefully) His name is Marcus. (he drops him in the big box and pushes it across the counter; the box has on one side, in large letters 'live ant: handle with care'; it has breathing holes in it) If the little chap should go to an early grave, sir, give us a ring and we'll stick a few in an envelope, all right?
Chris Thanks very much indeed.
Hartford Not at all, thank you, Mr Ellis.
Chris turns sharply. The first assistant comes quickly up to Hartford.
First Assistant Sssssshh!
Chris What did you say?
Hartford I said thank you, Mr Ellis...
First Assistant It's not him.
Hartford Oh!
Chris Why did you say I was Mr Ellis?
Hartford (innocently) Who?
First Assistant No, he didn't say that.
Chris Yes he did. I heard him say 'Thank you, Mr Ellis'.
First Assistant Oh, no, no - he said 'I'm jealous'.
Chris What?
First Assistant I'm jealous of your ant. Goodbye. Goodbye. (waves pointedly)
Chris (leaving the counter) I don't care who Michael Ellis is!
Chris passes a shop area labelled 'The Paisley Counter' where two customers are talking to mirrors in thick Irish accents. Chris moves on to lift. A little old lady passes, oblivious to the fact that her shopping trolley is smouldering. The lady passes and Chris is about to enter.
PA System Will Mr Michael Ellis please go straight to the manager's office... I'll repeat that... (Chris wheels round and listens) Will Mr Nigel Mellish please go straight to the manager's office.
Chris narrows his eyes suspiciously and gets into the lift cautiously. Cut to the kitchen in Chris Quinn's home. His mother is putting chopped meat into a line af at least half a dozen feeding bowls with various animal names on them. 'Babboon', 'Dromedary', 'Gorilla', 'Trout', and 'Pangolin'. There is a tiger in a cage in the middle of the kitchen, with a bowl marked 'Tiger' in front of him. A large cobra is hanging from the clothes drier and a wolf is in a cage below the sink. A monkey is on top of one of the cupboards. Chris enters with the box.
Mother What have you got now?
Chris I bought an ant, mother.
Mother What d'you want one of them for! I'm not going to clean it out. You said you'd clean the tiger out, but do you? No, I suppose you've lost interest in it now. Now it'll be ant ant ant for a couple of days, then all of a sudden, 'oh, mum, I've bought a sloth' or some other odd-toed ungulate like a tapir.
Chris It's really different this time, mum. I'm really going to look after this ant.
Mother That's what you said about the sperm whale... now your papa's having to use it as a garage.
Chris Well, you didn't feed it properly.
Mother Where are we going to get forty-four tons of plankton from every morning? Your papa was dead vexed about that. They thought he was mad in the deli.
Chris Well at least he's got a free garage. (growl from the tiger)
Mother That's no good to him... his Hillman smells all fishy. (we hear a roar) Oh blimey, that's the tiger. He'll want his mandies.
Chris Are you giving that tiger drugs?
Mother 'Course I'm giving it drugs!
Chris It's illegal.
Mother You try telling that to the tiger.
Chris I think it's dangerous.
Mother Listen ... before he started fixing, he used to get through four Jehovah's witnesses a day. And he used to eat all of them, except the pamphlets.
Chris Well he's not dim.
A very loud roar and rattling of cage.
Mother All right!
She loads a syringe and starts to leave.
Chris Well, I'm going to watch one of the televisions... come on Marcus.
He puts Marcus in cage and is just about to take it through to the next room.
Mother Michael's been on the phone all day for you.
Chris Michael?
Mother You know, Michael... Michael. Michael Ellis. He's been on the phone all day ... he came round twice.
Chris What did he look like?
Mother Oh, I didn't see him. The orange-rumped agouti answered the door. Only useful animal you ever bought, that.
Chris Where is he now?
Mother He's upstairs forging prescriptions for the sodding tiger!
Chris No, no, where is Michael Ellis now?
Mother Oh, I don't know... he said it wasn't important, anyway... all right, here I come.
She goes to the tiger. Chris looks confused, then shrugs and goes into the sitting room with Marcus. In the room there are about twenty old televisions on shelves. Chris selects one of the televisions, puts it on the table, switches it on and settles down to watch it with Marcus.


Announcer (on the TV) Hello and welcome to the University of the Air. And first this afternoon, part seventeen in our series of lectures on animal communications. This afternoon we look at recent discoveries in the field of intraspecific signalling codes in the family formicidea.
Chris That's a stroke of luck, Marcus...
Cut to a restaurant. A waiter (Graham) stands at one side. Our hero (Terry J) enters, the waiter approaches him and they go through an elaborate signalling or greeting ceremony, stamping and so forth. The waiter does strange series of movements.
Hero stamps a lot and clasps the waiters bottom.
Waiter routine.
Hero routine.
Waiter routine.
Hero routine.
Waiter routine.
Hero routine.
Mother enters. She is rather torn and tattered and her face is bloodstained.
Mother Turn that bloody thing off!
Announcer We interrupt this programme to bring you the latest news of the extraordinary Michael Ellis saga. Apparently Michael Ellis... (mother switches it off)
Chris Hey! I was watching that...
Mother Bloody thing. It's upsetting the tiger. (there is a roar and a crash of breaking crockery from the kitchen) Oh Christ!
She dashes across to the door and goes into the kitchen. Chris quickly switches the TV on.
Announcer (waits for noises to stop) ... nd of the announcement. And now back to 'University of the Air', and our series for advanced medical students, 'Elements of Surgical Homeopathic Practice'. Part 68 - 'Ants'.
Chris Ah! We're in luck again, Marcus.
A surgeon appears on television. He makes a few ant gestures.
Surgeon Hello formicidophiles! Before the blood and guts that you're waiting to see, let's have a look at the anatomy of the little ant.
Cut to a drawing of an ant.
Ant Expert's Voice The body of the ant is divided into three sections. (arrow indicates) The head, the thorax and the abdomen. They are enclosed in a hard amour-like covering called the exoskeleton, which provides some protection from other nasty little insects but unfortunately not from the dissector's scalpel. (an animated hand with a knife slices bits off the ant) See, nothing to it, he's not such a toughy. And his legs ... they help him carry hundreds of times his own weight, but look at this ... (a hand pulls the legs off) you're not so strong compared with me, four, five, six ... Ha!
Chris I didn't know ants had six legs, Marcus!
Ant Expert Well I can assure you they do, Mr Ellis.
Chris Hey! You've got two legs missing! And that's a false feeler Marcus! Blimey!
He leaps up, switches the TV off and hurls it into the corner onto a pile of used TVs, and hurries out. The tiger is quiet now. Mother, bloody and torn, is emptying a tin of 'Kit-E-Cobra' into a box marked 'Cobra'.
Chris I'm taking this ant back, mother - he's got two legs missing.
Mother Hey! Mrs McWong's been on the phone! The polar bear's been in her garden again.
Chris Well I'll get it on the way back from the store.
Mother Well mind you do - his droppings are enormous. (Chris goes through the door, mother shouts after him) Oh, and by the way, while you're out get us another couple of tellies would you, here's 180 quid. (she tosses a wad out to him)
Cut to the garden outside. There are TVs heaped in the garden path. Chris catches the wad of notes and leaves through the garden gate as a TV van is unloading half a dozen TVs onto a trolley, prior to wheeling them into the house.
Cut back to the store. Inside the lift. Chris stands there with his ant in his hand. There are also two ladies in Geman national costume. The lift lady, who has a wall-eye, a wooden leg, a tooth-brace, a hearing aid, a hilt-up shoe, a neck-brace, and a hook is reciting.
Lift Woman Second floor ... stationery, leather goods, tribal head injuries, cricket bats, film stars, dolphinariums.
The lift stops with some difficulty. The German girls get out with their baggage. In gets a man in Greek national costume holding an oar.
Lift Woman Third floor ... cosmetics, books, Irish massage, tribal head-gear, ants.. (Chris starts to get out) but not complaints about ants!
Chris Oh, where do I go to complain?
Lift Woman Straight on, then left, then right past the thing, then, up the little stairs, then right by where it's gone all soft, then down the wobbly bit, left past the nail, past the brown stain on the wall to your right and it's the door marked exit straight ahead of you on the left.
Chris Thank you.
Lift Woman (the doors shut but we can just hear her voice) Fourth floor... kiddies' vasectomies...
The ant counter. It is obviously the same place with a roughly made sign 'Complaints'. Chris is standing there with the original Assistant, who now has a plate in his lip and an enormous false chin about eight inches long and six inches across.
Chris I don't want you.
First Assistant (speaking with difficulty) Oh, something wrong with your little ant friend?
Chris No! I'm not going to tell you.
First Assistant Something missing in the leg department?
The Manager appears.
Manager Can I help you, sir?
Chris looks down and sees that the Manager is half in a sack.
Chris No! No! No! No!
Manager Oh, it's all right, sir, it's for the sack race later on.
Chris No, no, no, I want to speak to the General Manager, I want to complain.
Manager Oh, well you want the Toupee Hall in that case, sir.
Chris The what?
Manager The Toupee Hall, Mr Ellis. (he hops off)
Chris approaches a stocking counter where lady assistant is serving two heavies who are trying on nylons over their heads. Chris speaks to the assistant.
Chris (embarrassed) Excuse me - could you tell me the way to the Toupee Hall, please?
Assistant Sorry?
Chris The Toupee Hall.
Assistant The what?
Chris The Toupee Hall.
Assistant Oh, the Toupee Hall (loudly) Gladys, where are toupees now?
Gladys Toupees? (people start to look)
Assistant This gentleman wants one.
Gladys (even louder) A toupee?
Chris Well, no, actually...
Gladys I think they're in surgical appliances now.
Assistant That's right, yes, you go left at artificial limbs and hearing aids, right at dentures and it's on your left just by glass eyes. It doesn't say toupees to avoid embarrassing people, but you can smell 'em.
People by this time have formed a ring round to see who it is.
Chris Thank you.
As he moves off people peer at his head.
Woman (to friend) You can see the join.
Chris in order to avoid this embarrassment, dives into the nearest department. A sign over the door reads 'Victorian poetry reading hall'.
Cut to a poetry reading. Wordsworth, Shelley, Keats and Tennyson are present. Chris stands quietly in the comer hoping not to be noticed.
Old Lady Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen, it's so nice to see such a large turnout this afternoon. And I'd like to start off by welcoming our guest speakers for this afternoon, Mr Wadsworth...
Wordsworth Wordsworth!
Old Lady Sorry, Wordsworth... Mr John Koots, and Percy Bysshe.
Shelley Shelley!
Old Lady Just a little one, medium dry, (a dwarf assistant pours her a sherry) and Alfred Lorde.
Tennyson Tennyson.
Old Lady Tennis ball.
Tennyson Son, son.
Old Lady Sorry - Alfred Lord, who is evidently Lord Tennisball's son. And to start off I'm going to ask Mr Wadsworth to recite his latest offering, a little pram entitled 'I wandered lonely as a crab' and it's all about ants.
Murmur of exalted anticipation. Wordsworth rises rather gloomily.
Wordsworth I wandered lonely as a cloud
That floats on high over vales and hills
When all at once I saw a crowd
A host of golden worker ants.
Ripples of applause.
Old Lady Thank you, thank you, Mr Bradlaugh. Now, Mr Bysshe.
Shelley Shelley.
Old Lady Oh... (the dwarf refills her glass)... is going to read one of his latest psalms, entitled 'Ode to a crab'.
Shelley (rising: and taking his place quietly) Well, it's not about crabs actually, it's called 'Ozymandias'. It's not an ode.
I met a traveller in an antique land
Who said 'Six vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desert
And on the pedestal these words appear
My name is Ozymandias, King of Ants
(oohs from his audience)
Look on my feelers, termites, and despair
I am the biggest ant you'll ever see
The ants of old weren't half as bold and big
And fierce as me'.
Enormous applause.
Old Lady Thank you Mr Amontillado. I'd like to ask one or two of you at the back not to soil the carpet, there is a restroom upstairs if you find the poems too exciting (she falls over) Good afternoon, next, Mr Dennis Keat will recite his latest problem 'Ode to a glass of sherry'. (she falls off the podium)
Keats My heart aches and a drowsy numbness pains
My senses, as though an anteater I'd seen
(panic spreads and the audience half rise)
A nasty long-nosed brute
(screams from the audience)
With furry legs and sticky darting tongue
I seem to feel its cruel jaws
Crunch crunch there go my legs
Snap snap my thorax too
(various screaming women faint)
My head's in a twain, there goes my brain
Swallow, swallow, swallow, slurp (he loses control)
Old Lady Mr Keats, Mr Keats, please leave immediately.
Keats It's true. Don't you see. It's true. It happens.
Old Lady (she bustles him out) Ladies and gentlemen, I do apologize for that last... well I hesitate to call it a pram ... but I had no idea ... and talking of filth... I have asked you once about the carpet ... Now, I do appreciate that last poem was very frightening... but please! Now before we move on to tea and pramwiches, I would like to ask Arthur Lord Tenniscourt to give us his latest little plum entitled 'The Charge of the Ant Brigade'.
Tennyson Half an inch, half an inch...
Enter Queen Victoria with a fanfare, followed by Albert's coffin.
All The Queen, the Queen. (they all bow and scrape)
Queen Victoria My loyal subjects, we are here today on a matter of national import. My late husband and we are increasingly disturbed by recent developments in literary style (developing a German accent) that have taken place here in Germany ... er England. There seems to be an increasing tendency for ze ent... the ent... the ant... to become the dominant ... was is der deutsches Entwicklungsbund...
Attendant Theme.
Queen Victoria Theme ... of modern poetry here in Germany. We are not ... amusiert? (an attendant whispers) Entertained. From now on, ants is verboten. Instead it's skylarks, daffodils, nightingales, light brigades and ... was ist das schreckliche Gepong ... es schmecke wie ein Scheisshaus... und so weiter. Well, we must away now or we shall be late for the races. God bless you alles.
Chris leaves. We cut to him outside a door with a sign saying 'Electric Kettles'.
Voice Psst! Electric kettles over here, Sir.
A hand holding a sign saying 'Toupees' beckons him. He goes over to door and is ushered through. There are pictures of famous bald world figures with toupees on the walls.
Toupee Manager Don't worry, sir, you're among friends now, sir. (the manager has an appalling toupee; Chris sees it and tries not to stare; the manager introduces his assistants) Mr Bradford, Mr Crawley. (Bradford and Crawley come forward; each has a toupee worse than the others) These are our fitters, sir. We've had a lot of experience in this field and we do pride ourselves we offer the best and most discreet service available. I don't know whether you'll believe this sir, but one of us is actually wearing a toupee at this moment...
Chris Well, you all are, aren't you?
They rush to a mirror.
Bradford Have you got one?
Crawley Yes, but I didn't know...
Toupee Manager I didn't realize that you two... I thought it was me,
Crawley Yes, I thought it was me.
Bradford So did I. (to Crawley) That is good.
Chris Actually, I only came in here to ask where the manager's office was.
Toupee Manager Just a minute - someone told you we all had toupees?
Chris No.
Crawley Oh yeah?
Bradford How did you know?
Chris Well ... it's pretty obvious, isn't it?
Crawley What do you mean obvious! His is undetectable.
Chris Well, it's a different colour, for a start.
Bradford Is it?
Crawley Course it isn't!
Chris And it doesn't fit in with the rest of his hair... it sort of sticks up in the middle.
Bradford It's better than yours.
Crawley Yes.
Chris I'm not wearing one. (they all jeer)
Toupee Manager Oh, I see, you haven't got one.
Crawley Why did you come in here then?
Chris They told me to find the manager's office here.
They all jeer again.
Bradford Oh no, not again.
Crawley That's a bit lame, isn't it...
Chris It's the truth!
All Manager's office. (they laugh mockingly)
Bradford Yeah, look at it. Where did you get that, Mac Fisheries?
Toupee Manager Dreadful, isn't it?
Crawley Nylon?
Chris It's not, it's real look. (he pulls it)
All Oh yeah, anyone can do that.
They all do the same. Bradford incautiously pulls his loose.
Crawley Come on, get if off.
Chris Get away.
Toupee Manager Look, do you want a proper one?
Chris No, I don't need one.
Bradford There's no need to be ashamed.
Crawley We've all owned up.
Chris I'm not wearing one.
They all look at each other for a moment, registering 'a hard case'.
Toupee Manager Don't you see... this is something you've got to come to terms with.
Chris I am not wearing a toupee! They just told me to come in here to find the manager's office, to complain about my ant!
They look at each other.
Crawley Pathetic, isn't it.
Bradford Complain about an ant?
Toupee Manager This is for your own good.
He grabs Chris's hair. A fight ensues in which all the assistants get their toupees dislodged. Chris is backed up against a door marked: 'Strictly no admittance'. He suddenly ducks out through this door. Cut to the other side of the door. Chris turns and double takes. It is the manager's office. There is a long line of people sitting waiting to complain. The manager looks up.
Complaints Manager (irritably) All right. Take a seat.
Chris shuts the door and takes a seat at the end of a line often people waiting to complain: the German clothes prop man; the Icelandic honey week man; a Greek with a motor tyre; a man with a lawn mower with a cat sticking out of it; a man with a bandaged nose holding a dog with a bandaged nose; a lady with a bandaged nose; a lady with a bandaged nose and a pram with a small column of smoke rising from it; a rather butch lady with her head through a tennis racket; a man with a cigar in his mouth that has obviously exploded - his face is blackened and his collar awry; a man in a terrible suit with one arm twice as long as a normal sleeve and trousers that finish at mid-thigh. A uniformed shop attendant is sitting next to a rather well dressed lady in twin set and pearls, and her equally distinguished looking husband. The attendant is occasionally touching the lady's cheek and peering into her eyes. The lady and the husband stare straight ahead. Next to them is Colonel Ewing. At the desk is the lady with the flame thrower. Part of the manager's desk and the entire corner of the office are blackened and smoking.
Lady You see! There ought to be a safety catch on it, I mean ... ohhhh! (a spurt of flame shoots out) I mean, what if this fell into the wrong hands?
Complaints Manager Yes, madam. I'll speak to the makers personally, all right?
Lady Would you? It would put my mind at ease.
She leaves closing the door. We hear the flame thrower.
Lady's Voice Sorry...
Complaints Manager Next?
The colonel gets up. As he does so Mr Zyndenky (the husband) indicates his wife and the attendant.
Mr Zyndersky He's still molesting her.
Complaints Manager Yes, yes, I'll see to you in a moment, sir. (the colonel sits at the manager's desk)
Colonel Ewing I've got a complaint to make.
Complaints Manager Do take a seat. I'm sorry it's on fire.
Colonel Ewing Oh, not at all. (he sits on it) I got used to this out east.
Complaints Manager Where were you out east?
Colonel Ewing Oh, Norway ... Sweden ... places like that... oh I'm terribly sorry, my suit seems to keep catching fire.
Complaints Manager Extinguisher?
Colonel Ewing Oh no, thank you, I think we'd better let it run its course. I was just thinking... Norway is not very east, is it? I should have said when I was out north. (he slaps at the flames)
Complaints Manager Are there many fires in Norway?
Colonel Ewing Good Lord yes. The place is a constant blaze. Wooden buildings, d'you know. I lost my wife in Norway.
Complaints Manager I am sorry to hear that.
Colonel Ewing Why, did you know her?
Complaints Manager No, I meant...
Colonel Ewing Oh I see. No, she wasn't a favourite of mine. We were out strolling across a fiord one day when one of the local matadors came out of his tree house and flung a load of old scimitars and guillotines out that he'd got cluttering up his wine cellar and apparently rather a large proportion of them landed on my wife causing her to snuff it without much more ado.
Complaints Manager Yes, yes - well look...
Ding-dong of store PA. An announcer speaks.
Announcer Here is an important announcement about Michael Ellis. (Chris looks up at loudspeaker; everyone turns towards it) It is now the end of 'Michael Ellis' week. From now on it is 'Chris Quinn' week. (murmur of excitment)
Chris What a rotten ending.
Cut to a polite, well dressed assistant at a counter with a big sign saying 'End of Show Department' behind him.
Assistant Well it is one of our cheapest, sir.
Chris What else have you got?
Assistant Well, there's the long slow pull-out, sir, you know, the camera tracks back and back and mixes...
As he speaks we pull out and mix through to the exterior of the store. Mix through to even wider zoom ending up in aerial view of London. It stops abruptly and we cut back to Chris.
Chris No, have you got anything more exciting?
Assistant How about a chase?
The manager and the toupee assistants suddenly, appear at a door.
Manager There he is!
Exciting chase music. They pursue Chris out of the hall and into another part of the store. Then cut back to Chris at counter.
Chris Oh, no, no, no.
Assistant Walking into the sunset?
Chris What's that one?
Dramatic sunset shot on a beach. We can just see the back of Chris and the assistant as they walk together towards the setting sun. The assistant is gesturing and describing it.
Assistant You know ... two lone figures silhouetted against the dying rays of the setting sun. The music swells, you've got a lump in your throat and a tear in your eye...
Cut back to the store.
Chris Oh no.
Assistant Oh, pity, I rather like that one...
Chris They're all a bit off the point, you see.
Assistant Well there is one that ties up the whole Michael Ellis thing, but....
Chris But what... ?
Assistant Oh, no, nothing, nothing...
Chris Look, who is this Michael Ellis?
Assistant How about a happy ending, sir?
A girl rushes up to Chris and flings her arms around him.
Girl Oh Chris! Thank God you're safe.
Assistant No, you wouldn't want that, would you.
This time we see the girl has disappeared.
Chris Why wouldn't I want that?
Assistant What about summing up from the panel? That's cheap. You know - the big match experts.
Panel in typical football panel set. Malcolm Allison, Brian Clough, and huge still of Jimmy Hill on set behind.
Malcolm Allison Yes. It was quite a good show. I think that the Michael Ellis character was a little overdone.
Brian Clough Well, I don't agree with that, Malcolm, quite frankly the only bit I liked was this bit with me in it now.
Cut back to the store.
Assistant No? Slow fade?
The picture begins to fade.
Chris Nnnn... no.
The picture comes up again.
Assistant Well, how about a sudden ending?