Script by Simon Evans
Transcript by Ariane DeVere
These transcripts are not intended as a breach of copyright. They are provided purely for the benefit of those whose first language is not English, who have hearing difficulties, or who find it difficult to follow subtitles/closed captions.
If Simon, the Execs or the BBC feel this is not appropriate, I can be contacted here, or on Twitter @ CallieAriane (I’ve deliberately followed Simon, and Phin, and Staged on Twitter) and will, of course, take them down on request.
PLEASE NOTE: If you post a comment here and you’re not registered with Dreamwidth, your comment will be screened automatically until I unlock it, so please be patient for it to appear on screen.
This is a work in progress. Transcripts of all the episodes will be added in due course
Click for Season 1 transcripts
Warning: There is very strong language throughout the series.
[Words in bold appear on the screen at that moment. I’m not including all the credits, just some which are relevant to the ‘plot.’]
FLASHBACK to episode one of Season 1:
David is sitting on the end of a bed; Michael is sitting at the kitchen table. He is turned away from the camera and looking to his left. Birds can be heard tweeting, though it’s not yet clear where from.
DAVID: You all right?
MICHAEL (still looking to his left): Give me a minute.
DAVID: What’re you looking at?
MICHAEL: I’m worried that I’m in a Hitchcock film.
DAVID: What d’you mean?
MICHAEL: The birds are coming back to Port Talbot.
DAVID: That’s nice.
MICHAEL: And that large blue finch is the leader, it seems.
DAVID: You all right?
(Finally Michael turns to the screen.)
MICHAEL: Just adjusting. You all right?
(As the scene progressed, the screen began to reduce in size, with a sparkly background behind it. The scene ends, a theme tune plays and the words “Romesh Ranganathan’s 6 MONTHS IN LOCKDOWN” appear on the sparkly background. We then see Michael and David on separate screens, dressed differently to the preceding scene, and a third screen showing Romesh Ranganathan.)
ROMESH: Cachu hwch!
MICHAEL (laughing): Cachu hwch!
ROMESH: Cachu hwch!
DAVID (Welsh accent): Cachu hwch! Total ... bloomin’ disaster!
(Michael laughs, probably noticing David’s hesitation and change of the wording which he had used when describing the meaning of the Welsh phrase.)
ROMESH: Er, well, look, for those of you just joining us, er, welcome to my house. Welcome to my kitchen. I’ve been imprisoned here for half a year. I’m done with Zoom, if I’m being honest with you, but I’m here now with two people who actually made it work. Michael Sheen and David Tennant! Or should that be David Tennant and Michael Sheen?
ROMESH: This is, er, Romesh Ranganathan’s 6 Months in Lockdown, a celebration of the wonderful things that basically got us through this challenging period. Michael and David are here to talk to us about their BBC show Staged.
MICHAEL: Thank you for having us!
DAVID: Lovely to be here.
ROMESH: And still with us, of course, er, Sir Michael Palin who waited for Godot, er, in an online reading of the Beckett classic. I meant to ask, Sir Michael, did Godot ever arrive?
(Sir Michael Palin appears on a fourth screen.)
SIR MICHAEL: No, no. We’re still waiting!
ROMESH: Okay, well, while you wait ... David and Michael, massive congratulations on the show. I know I have to say that contractually ...
MICHAEL: Thank you.
ROMESH: ... but genuinely I mean it. Very funny.
DAVID: Thanks very much. Cheers!
ROMESH: First question, um, I guess, is what’s real and what’s not? Like, is Simon that much of an idiot?
DAVID (grimacing and looking dubious): No.
MICHAEL (nodding pointedly): No.
DAVID: Michael does shout at birds.
MICHAEL: Well, I have a bird’s nest for hair, so it helps to be courteous.
DAVID: Yeah, yeah.
ROMESH: But it was a television show.
MICHAEL: It was a television show, yeah.
ROMESH: So, I mean, does Simon’s sister own that house?
ROMESH: What, no screenplay, no novel ...
DAVID: No carrots, no pineapples, none of that.
ROMESH: It did feel real.
MICHAEL: Well, thank you very much.
ROMESH: How much of it was actually improvised?
DAVID: All of it!
MICHAEL (laughing): Well, that-that does come up a lot.
ROMESH: Was there actually a script, then?
DAVID: There were ... ideas, and then we would, we would play around with it quite a lot.
MICHAEL: Not-not everything made it into the cut, though.
DAVID: No. There are hours of footage somewhere of us not being particularly funny.
ROMESH: So what gold did we lose to the cutting room floor?
MICHAEL: Well, there was one moment where – quite memorably – David accused me of being a cut-price Mike Yarwood.
(They both grin.)
ROMESH: What, is that funny?
MICHAEL: ... Well, no.
ROMESH: I don’t think I actually know who Mike Yarwood is.
MICHAEL: Ah! You see! I told you, didn’t I? I told you!
DAVID: I don’t believe you. I don’t believe ... He’s a, he’s a comedy titan!
MICHAEL: So, Romesh, most of David’s contributions were based on these, sort of, bizarre obscure references.
DAVID: Yeah, yeah. Well that’s why they’re cut. I’m a little too intellectual for prime time!
MICHAEL: And not funny!
DAVID: Well, at least I didn’t resort to lazy Muppet impressions, did I?
MICHAEL (cheerfully indignant while David impersonates Michael’s Muppet impersonation): There was nothing lazy about my Muppet ... I was exhausted at the time!
ROMESH: Do you know who Mike Yarwood is, Sir Michael?
SIR MICHAEL: Yeah, I actually know Mike Yarwood.
(Michael and David stop goofing around and look startled.)
DAVID: Really? I didn’t realise that he was still ... um ... working.
ROMESH: Well, let’s have another clip.
(The show’s title appears on the screen and the theme tune plays, then fades out. The clip is apparently playing to the show’s viewers but we can’t see it.)
ROMESH: And we’re off.
DAVID: Okay. Which one is it?
ROMESH (looking down at his notes): It’s, um, cookie jar.
MICHAEL (quietly): Who stole the cookie ...
[Transcriber’s note: I can’t work out what David says here, and I’m not sure that the BBC subtitles are correct.]
ROMESH: Yeah, sure. I mean, I imagine Sir Michael’s a step ahead there.
ROMESH: Sir Michael, how many dead parrots d’you reckon you’ve seen in your time?
SIR MICHAEL: Oh, a few!
MICHAEL: What is the collective noun for dead parrots?
DAVID: A Norwegian Blue!
MICHAEL: A sunken fjord!
DAVID: A McCaw!
ROMESH: Sir Michael, any ideas? Collective noun for dead parrots?
SIR MICHAEL: An humiliation?
(David and Michael laugh.)
ROMESH: Er, have you seen Staged, Sir Michael?
SIR MICHAEL: Yeah, yeah, watched a couple.
DAVID: Have you? Which ones?
SIR MICHAEL: The first one.
MICHAEL: Did you like it?
SIR MICHAEL: Loved it!
MICHAEL: Ah, great!
DAVID: Thank goodness for that.
SIR MICHAEL: For what it was, you know.
(The boys’ smiles fade a bit. Just then a three second countdown starts and they’re back on the air.)
ROMESH: And we’re back. That was BBC One’s lockdown comedy Staged. Er, David and Michael, you said the story is fictional, but what about your characters?
MICHAEL: Oh ...
DAVID: Total fabrication.
MICHAEL: ... nothing like us at all.
DAVID: Not a scintilla. I mean, I don’t think we’re very funny in real life.
MICHAEL: Well, I don’t think you’re funny. I’m funny.
DAVID: ... Sure, obviously. I just mean, we’re not, we’re not comedians.
SIR MICHAEL: Ah, you’re still young!
(The boys laugh.)
ROMESH: And what’s next for you guys?
DAVID: I’m back to proper work, actually, um, a show I was working on before lockdown is revving back up, so I’m off out to South Africa.
ROMESH: Very nice.
DAVID: We’ve had a couple of false starts, but I think this is finally it and I am flying tomorrow.
ROMESH: Great! And, er, Michael?
MICHAEL: Er, I don’t do proper work any more, so I’m off to New York to see family and friends.
ROMESH: Right, travel allowing, I imagine.
MICHAEL: No, no, it’ll be fine, I believe. It will be fine.
ROMESH: Of course, of course. Um, Sir Michael, d’you reckon you would have done Staged if they’d asked you?
SIR MICHAEL: Oh, no. I couldn’t have kept up!
(The boys laugh gently.)
ROMESH: No improvisation in Monty Python?
SIR MICHAEL: No, we were quite disciplined.
ROMESH: That wasn’t the Staged approach!
SIR MICHAEL: No!
(Romesh and Sir Michael laugh. David and Michael’s smiles are fading.)
MICHAEL: Although, I do think some quite brave stuff has come out of that more, sort of, improvisatory approach.
SIR MICHAEL: Do you?
(Michael’s smile has now completely dropped and he’s looking upset.)
ROMESH: Er, Michael, David. We’ve got another clip, but first, one more question. Er, I think you know what I’m gonna ask. Er, any chance of another series?
DAVID: I mean, it was so specific to that moment, wasn’t it? It was so about being locked in your house ...
MICHAEL: I mean, hopefully we’re not going to go into another lockdown.
DAVID: Well, exactly. But, having said that, if there was a way of doing it ...
DAVID: ... for me it would definitely be a yes.
MICHAEL: I mean, it was a joy to do, so ...
DAVID: It was such good fun, yeah.
ROMESH: So I’m gonna take that as a really waffly ‘yes.’
DAVID: Yeah, I suppose so!
MICHAEL: It’s a great big Welsh waffly ‘yes’ from me!
ROMESH: Well, on that, here’s a clip of some other strange and wonderful things that people have made from all of this.
(The show’s title appears on the screen and the theme tune plays, then fades out.)
ROMESH: Okay, we’re out. This one’s a little bit longer, so I’m just gonna nip to the toilet, guys, all right?
ROMESH: Great stuff. See you in a sec.
(He gets up from the table and disappears offscreen. Michael leans forward anxiously.)
MICHAEL: I hope you don’t think I was, um, dismissing the Python approach.
SIR MICHAEL: Oh, God, no. No, not at all.
MICHAEL: Good. ’Cause, I mean, it was so important to me when I was growing up. I’m such a fan.
(Sir Michael smiles. Michael nods reassuringly.)
SIR MICHAEL: I didn’t really Staged.
(Offscreen, a toilet flushes.)
SIR MICHAEL: I don’t really like improvisation. All these people sort of rolling the comedy dice and hoping something sticks.
MICHAEL: Right ... no, I understand.
SIR MICHAEL: We worked hard in our day.
MICHAEL (putting on a Yorkshire accent, mis-quoting the Pythons’ “Four Yorkshiremen” sketch): Waking up before I went to bed.
SIR MICHAEL: Yeah, yeah, that’s one of Eric’s great lines.
DAVID: I ... I think we ... it’s not that we didn’t ... we worked hard too.
SIR MICHAEL: Oh, I’m sure you did. You squatted down, you pushed very hard, and you squeezed something out.
MICHAEL: Well, I ... I mean, people do like it.
DAVID (quietly): Fuck you.
SIR MICHAEL: You wheel out this well-practised, self-congratulatory back-and-forth because people want to celebrate your used toilet paper again!
(David gapes at him. Michael looks devastated.)
MICHAEL: I’m – I’m a fan of yours.
SIR MICHAEL: It was like a thirty-minute Celtic reach-around.
MICHAEL: No, David ...
DAVID: And the episodes are only fifteen minutes.
(Romesh had come back into the room earlier and been seen wandering around his kitchen. Now he leans into view close to the screen.)
ROMESH: All right?
SIR MICHAEL: Yeah.
SIR MICHAEL: Fine.
ROMESH: Cool. We’ve got about another minute.
SIR MICHAEL: Okay! We’ll be ready.
ROMESH: Wicked. All right, see you in a sec. (He disappears offscreen.)
DAVID: I think you’re being a bit unkind, actually.
SIR MICHAEL: We made Python fifty years ago.
DAVID: Yeah, and it’s a bit dated.
MICHAEL (anguished): Oh, David.
SIR MICHAEL: They still talk about us now.
DAVID: I know.
SIR MICHAEL: But they won’t talk about you.
DAVID: Why not?!
SIR MICHAEL: Because you’re not funny.
(David gawps at him. Michael is still looking hurt. Romesh comes over and sits down, apparently unaware of the conversation that’s just gone on.)
ROMESH: Oh, God. Sorry about that, guys. David, Michael – all PR aside, are you gonna do a second series, d’you reckon?
MICHAEL (flatly): Unlikely.
DAVID (flatly): Wouldn’t have thought so.
ROMESH: Honestly? Why not?
DAVID: Well, we’re not funny, are we?
SIR MICHAEL: Yeah. That’s a shame.
(A three second countdown starts and they’re back on the air.)
ROMESH: And we’re back!
Michael Sheen David Tennant
SIMON: What’s going on?
(He’s sitting in a room talking on his mobile phone.)
SIMON: Yeah, I’ve got a suitcase here.
(Michael and David are in their respective houses, wearing different clothes to the previous scene.)
DAVID: This is ... interesting.
MICHAEL: Yes, it is ... interesting.
DAVID: But ... okay, let me just get this ... just so I understand. It’s not ... we’re not talking about a second series; we’re talking about a re-make.
MICHAEL: For American television.
DAVID: American Staged.
MICHAEL: But isn’t it a bit ... unnecessary?
DAVID: Why don’t they just show the episodes we’ve already made?
MICHAEL: Well, when do we need to decide?
DAVID: When do they need an answer?
MICHAEL: What – I’m flying to New York tomorrow!
DAVID: Yeah, I’m literally about to leave for the airport.
(They each look away from their screen thoughtfully before turning back to look into their camera.)
DAVID: I’ll need to talk to Michael.
MICHAEL: I need to talk to David.
Saddle Up Sheen!
(David comes to sit down next to Georgia on either a small sofa or a pile of suitcases. There are other suitcases and bags beside Georgia. She’s looking at her phone.)
DAVID: I have news.
GEORGIA: Yeah, me too.
DAVID: What’s your news?
GEORGIA (lowering her phone and looking at him): What’s your news?
DAVID: You’re not pregnant, are you?
GEORGIA: What?! No!
DAVID: I mean, it’s not an unreasonable question.
GEORGIA: What’s your news?
DAVID: They want to do an American remake of Staged.
DAVID: What’s your news?
GEORGIA (showing him her phone): The flights to South Africa have been cancelled.
DAVID: Oh, you’re kidding.
DAVID: Oh, cock-a-doodle-bum-tits. Not again!
DAVID: What’s the plan?
GEORGIA: Uh, “Watch this space.”
DAVID: Oh, I fucking hate this space.
GEORGIA: I know.
DAVID: I just want to work.
GEORGIA (sympathetically): I know.
DAVID (looking at her): Do you think I’m funny?
(She hesitates for a moment before looking at him.)
GEORGIA: I think you do and say funny things.
DAVID: That is wilfully opaque. (He looks away.) I just wanted to do new things.
GEORGIA: Have you spoken to Michael?
DAVID (quietly): No.
(Michael and David are talking.)
DAVID: All right, so pros and cons. Yeah, pros: I really wanna work.
MICHAEL: Con: Michael Palin doesn’t think we’re funny.
DAVID: Can’t we ask another Python?
MICHAEL (plaintively): Which one?
DAVID: Eric Idle? He seems nice.
MICHAEL: Well, Michael Palin seemed nice!
(He leans back, thinking for a moment.)
DAVID: I like the landscape of America.
MICHAEL: Mm, me too.
DAVID: Always really fancied myself in a cowboy film.
MICHAEL: Oh, ho-ho, yes! What would your horse be called?
DAVID (after a moment’s thought): Sheen.
(His affectionate expression then drops and he frowns. Just then, Anna walks past behind him.)
DAVID: Oh, hey, Anna!
ANNA: Oh, hi, David.
(She walks back and stands beside Michael, who is still frowning at the screen.)
ANNA: Aren’t you supposed to be flying?
DAVID (dramatically): Oh, not today.
ANNA: Oh, no.
DAVID: You ready for New York?
ANNA: Yeah, just packing, but ...
(She leans around Michael, puts one elbow on the table and leans right into the camera.)
ANNA: ... can you talk to Michael about his legs?
DAVID: I would love to.
ANNA (while Michael leans around and looks at her with an appalled look): He says they’re too chunky.
ANNA: Mm, so he refuses to pack shorts.
DAVID: I see. Right.
ANNA: Do you wear shorts?
DAVID: Almost exclusively.
(Anna smiles and turns to look triumphantly at Michael.)
MICHAEL: D’you think I’m funny?
(Anna’s eyes widen.)
ANNA (straightening up): What, in shorts?
MICHAEL (loudly, exasperated): No! Am I a funny person?
(She puts a hand on his shoulder and bends down to kiss his forehead.)
(She walks away. Michael turns his eyes to the screen, looking unhappy.)
DAVID: Michael, come on.
DAVID: Wear shorts.
DAVID: Why not?
MICHAEL (quietly): They make my crotch ... too free.
(David leans back from the screen, grimacing.)
DAVID: Oh, fuck it. Shall we just go to America?
MICHAEL (a little dubiously): Yeah?
DAVID: Yeah. I mean, I do and say funny things; you have comedically chunky legs. That’s enough!
MICHAEL: We are funny!
DAVID: Oh, we’re fucking hilarious!
MICHAEL: Yes. Back to work!
DAVID (loudly, dramatically, spreading his arms wide): Staged: America!
MICHAEL: (loudly, dramatically, in an American accent): Staged: America!
DAVID (in an American accent, pretending to be astride a horse and whipping it with the reins): Come on, Sheen!
MICHAEL: Eh, no! Hey, no!
DAVID (American accent): I’m gonna ride you all the way to America, boy!
MICHAEL (laughing): You are not riding me anywhere, matey!
DAVID (American accent): Saddle up, Sheeny!
MICHAEL: I have put the last saddle on my back for you, mate!
DAVID (normal accent): I love it. We made a thing; let’s go to America and do it again!
MICHAEL: Yeah, and d’you know, d’you know what? One day we will bump into Michael Palin at some glitzy fancy-dress party and he will say, “I utterly misjudged you, you clown gods.”
DAVID: Yes; we’ll be invaluable again!
MICHAEL: Because you know what? You and I are masters of our destinies.
DAVID: Kings of the hills!
MICHAEL: Tops of the morning!
DAVID: Docks of the bay!
DAVID: They’re gonna fuckin’ love us!
MARY: They don’t want you.
(Michael stares at the screen in disbelief. At this point we can’t see Mary’s screen.)
MARY: Either of you.
(We’re now allowed to see Mary’s screen. She is played by Whoopi Goldberg.)
MARY: Now, they love the show, but they’d wanna re-cast for the American market.
MICHAEL: That is, er, bad news.
MARY (pulling a sympathetic face): Oh, I know.
MICHAEL: When did you know this?
MARY: Well, the email just arrived.
MICHAEL: Well ... s-s-so who is doing it, then?
MARY: Well, it’s only rumours.
MARY: Colin Firth and Hugh Grant.
MICHAEL: Colin Firth and Hugh Grant?!
MARY: That’s just what I’m hearing.
MICHAEL: They’re not American!
MARY: Doesn’t matter.
MICHAEL: I mean, they’re more British than we are!
MARY: Yes, but they’re known in America.
MICHAEL: I’m known in America!
MARY: They’re known better.
MICHAEL (rubbing his hands over his face): What, what else does the email say?
MARY (peering at another screen): It says they have a lot of respect for you both, and they want leads with more US recognition, and a pair who are more believable as friends.
MICHAEL: Sorry – we are actually friends!
MARY: Yes, but nobody’s buying it. And they also want people with more comedic experience.
MICHAEL: I’m funny.
MARY: I know.
MICHAEL: I mean, Colin Firth is not funny. I’m fun... Knock, knock.
MARY: You’re still on as Executive Producers.
MICHAEL: Knock, knock.
MARY: With Simon.
(Michael’s face drops.)
MARY: Yes! He’s still involved.
MICHAEL (frantic, disbelieving): Doing what?!
(Michael sighs and looks away.)
MARY: Listen, I didn’t think you were in a rush to get back to work.
MICHAEL: I’m not; it’s just, David got me all excited about this.
MARY: I thought you were David.
MICHAEL: No, I’m Michael.
(Mary looks blankly at the screen for a moment, then ends the call. Michael stares for a long moment.)
MICHAEL (in disbelief): Hugh Grant.
DAVID: Okay, choose a card.
Michael Sheen David Tennant
MICHAEL: People don’t think we’re believable as friends.
DAVID: I know. I heard.
MICHAEL: The Palin thing hurt, but that is a gut-punch. Why ... why is that?
DAVID: I suppose they’ve only ever heard us speak other people’s lines, haven’t they?
MICHAEL: Anna keeps telling me I’m ‘dropping into character.’
DAVID: Yes! Georgia says exactly the same to me about me.
MICHAEL: Right, yeah.
DAVID: I keep having to say to her: no!
MICHAEL: That’s who I am! That’s me!
DAVID: Exactly! Yeah! You can’t say I’m dropping into character when I’m the character!
MICHAEL: I can’t be anything ... Say something now. Say something that’s authentically you.
(David stops, looks blank, and lifts his eyes away from the screen thoughtfully.)
MICHAEL: My flights to New York are cancelled.
DAVID: Ah. The world starts; the world stops. It’s arbitrary, isn’t it?
MICHAEL: “As flies to wanton boys are we to the gods.”
DAVID: Can we not?
MICHAEL: Quite right.
(He’s been looking down; now he lifts his eyes to the camera.)
DAVID: Yeah, got it? Okay, hold it up. I don’t wanna see it, but hold it up, back facing to me.
(Michael holds up a playing card, the back facing the camera. David holds a hand towards his camera, wiggling his fingers for a while with a look of concentration on his face.)
MICHAEL: We’re gonna be like this for a while yet, aren’t we?
DAVID: How d’you mean?
MICHAEL: Staring at a screen ...
(David continues wiggling his fingers.)
MICHAEL: ... hoping for a miracle.
DAVID: Oh yeah.
MICHAEL: Maybe we can start a magic act.
(David finally lowers his hand.)
MICHAEL: The Amazing Michael Sheen, and the Scottish David Tennant.
DAVID: Three of diamonds.
DAVID: Fuck. Four of diamonds.
MICHAEL: It was close. (He turns the card around.) It was the two of diamonds!
DAVID: Oh, you see! I’m so close!
MICHAEL: Close enough for jazz. Not close enough for magic!
David and Michael are in their kitchens.
DAVID: I’m embracing this.
David Tennant Michael Sheen
MICHAEL: How d’you mean?
DAVID: My shoot dates have changed again, and location.
MICHAEL: What, no South Africa?
DAVID: No. Italy now.
MICHAEL: Still nice.
DAVID: So I’m embracing the fact that I have no control over events, and I am going to welcome the role that chaos needs to play in my life.
MICHAEL: And how-how are you doing that?
DAVID: The game is happening, but it’s being played far away by unknowable strangers.
MICHAEL: Out of sight, out of mind.
(David looks thoughtful for a moment.)
DAVID: We should quit.
DAVID: It’s a young man’s game, innit?
MICHAEL: I’m only fifty!
DAVID: We could do other things!
MICHAEL: You have zero discernible skills beyond pretending.
DAVID: Is there something else you were gonna do, if you hadn’t ended up doing this?
MICHAEL: I was gonna be a footballer.
MICHAEL: I was!
DAVID (not looking totally convinced): Yeah. I could have been a minister of the church.
MICHAEL: Yeah? No-no problem with the cassock?
DAVID: Not having kilted.
MICHAEL: Of course!
DAVID: When one has welcomed the breeze to dust one’s lower branches, there’s no going back.
MICHAEL (chuckling): No. Well, you need to do something to keep the flies off your haggis.
DAVID: Exactly, yeah!
MICHAEL: The priest and the footballer!
DAVID: Yeah. You might struggle a bit at first.
DAVID: Well, you know, you’re not in the ... you’re not ... you don’t ...
(Michael leans closer to his screen.)
DAVID: ... you’re not in the ... absolute kind of ...
(Michael’s mouth starts to open in indignation.)
DAVID: ... o-optimum state of physical peak.
MICHAEL (sitting back): Oh! I will have you know I am a fucking paragon of human fitness, mate!
DAVID (dubiously): Are you?
MICHAEL: What about you? You would need a total spiritual overhaul.
DAVID: Has this ever happened to you before?
DAVID: You got recast?
MICHAEL: I did.
DAVID: Who by?
MICHAEL: Don’t wanna say.
DAVID: But you know?
MICHAEL: I know.
DAVID: Well, come on.
MICHAEL: No, can’t.
DAVID: Why not?
MICHAEL: Because I am doing something about it.
MICHAEL: Can you keep a secret?
MICHAEL (quietly, slowly): I am befriending him slowly and methodically, engineering ways for us to work together, insinuating my way into his life ...
(David stares at him in horror.)
MICHAEL (quietly, slowly): ... the better to exact my slow ... and decisive ... revenge.
Long Time, No See
Simon is talking over Zoom with Nina Sosanya, who played Jo in season 1.
SIMON: Nina! Hello! Hi! Oh God, it’s lovely to see you.
NINA: Yeah, it’s lovely to see you too! Ah, this is exciting!
SIMON: It’s really exciting!
NINA: More Staged!
SIMON: More Staged!
NINA: Oh, my word! How have you been?
SIMON: Yeah, good, I think. Yeah, great. And you?
NINA: I’m fine. It’s strange, you know.
SIMON: Yeah, I suppose it is!
NINA: Um, I was offered a play.
SIMON: Oh, great!
NINA: And then, yeah, we weren’t allowed to do the play.
NINA: It’s difficult.
SIMON: Sure. No, I understand.
NINA: Yeah, and I feel like sometimes, you know, I want to kill someone.
(Simon looks a little anxious.)
NINA: But I won’t.
SIMON: No, best not.
NINA: No. ... ’Cause I should have been an astronaut.
SIMON: W-was that an option?
(Simon looks away for a moment, confused. Nina smiles.)
NINA: How are you?
NINA: Actually, where are you?
SIMON: Oh! (He laughs.) I’m in Los Angeles.
NINA: Er, what are you doing there?
SIMON: Getting ready to film.
NINA: Oh, exciting! What?
SIMON: ... What have you been told?
NINA: Well, um, actually not much. (She looks at some notes or an email.) “Doing more Staged ...
NINA: “They want you for Jo again.” Er, “Can you talk to Simon?”
SIMON: Well, okay, so there’s a couple of things that you should have been told that it seems you haven’t been told
NINA: And what are they?
SIMON: Er, well, so, it’s not a sequel; it’s a sort of re-make ...
NINA: Oh, okay.
SIMON: ... for the American market. And the most crucial thing ... (he laughs nervously) ... and I’m sort of a bit sorry that I’ve got to be the one to tell you this, but we’re gonna be doing it without, er, David or, and, er, Michael.
SIMON: Er, so, er, the producers don’t think that they are quite big enough names for the American market.
NINA: But I am?
SIMON: Well, you’re not the lead. That’s ... (He trails off.)
SIMON: That’s not quite what I sort of meant. I sort of meant, well, you sort of are the lead ...
NINA: But you’ve managed to keep yourself involved?
SIMON: Er, well, yeah, ’cause I sort of created it last time, and sort of directed that, er, that sort of version ...
NINA: You’ll be directing this time?
SIMON: Er, n..., er, no, no, I’m not.
NINA: Why not?
SIMON: Er, because people don’t think I actually did anything ... (he laughs sarcastically) ... last time.
NINA: I mean, I thought David and Michael improvised most of it, didn’t they?
SIMON: No, no, no, they didn’t, did they? They didn’t do that. They didn’t improvise it, did they? I-I-I wrote it, didn’t I? I typed the whole thing.
(He turns to the board behind him, which has many pieces of card stuck to it, together with chalk-written notes on the board. He pulls down one of the cards.)
SIMON (quick-fire): I’ve got these blue cards. I wrote ... I write the thing and then I put them on the wall ... (he sticks the card back onto the board) ... and then I write, write, write, write, write and we don’t say that they wrote it or improvised it ’cause they didn’t, did they? We don’t say that, did they? ’Cause they didn’t.
(The card falls off the board.)
NINA: Do David and Michael know?
(Simon gazes off into space.)
Georgia opens a door and walks into the hall, promptly bumping into and almost falling over two large suitcases just outside the door.
GEORGIA: Ah, shit! Can you move the suitcase?
DAVID (walking over): Yeah, yeah, yeah, I’m sorry.
GEORGIA: ’Cause I don’t think the hallway should be used as an obstacle course.
DAVID: No. (He sits down on one of the cases.) I’ve just been feeding the goldfish. We never got another one.
GEORGIA: No, you didn’t.
DAVID: We had two and now we’ve got one.
DAVID: That’s how death works.
GEORGIA: And maths.
DAVID: I’m worried that the one that’s left behind’s getting a wee bit depressed.
GEORGIA: Oh, I don’t have time for this.
DAVID: What d’you mean?
GEORGIA: Well, it’s just that I sense that you were segueing into some tangent about short-term memory and I just, uh, haven’t got time to play.
DAVID: You love my tangents!
GEORGIA (unconvincingly): Yeah, sure. It’s just that Lister’s coming round.
DAVID: What, right now?
GEORGIA: Yeah. For a charity thing.
DAVID: Like, in the flesh? Like Zoom doesn’t cut it any more?
GEORGIA: Yeah! Normality beckons, babe!
DAVID: Is that safe?
GEORGIA: Yeah, I think so, as long as we stay a certain distance apart, and use our own mugs, and don’t stick our hands in the cookie jar at the same time – and, oh, also, more importantly, we don’t crack our heads open by tripping over your fucking suitcase.
DAVID: Yeah. I’ll move it.
GEORGIA: Yeah, that’d be great. Thank you.
DAVID: What would you have done, if you weren’t doing this?
(She looks at him pointedly.)
GEORGIA: What is it you think I do?
DAVID: Come on. What, what’s the, what’s the dream?
GEORGIA: Um ... archaeologist.
DAVID: I never knew that!
GEORGIA (exasperated, putting her hands over her face): Oh, God, I’ve done it again!
GEORGIA (lowering her hands): You’ve sucked me in! You’re like a black hole!
DAVID: Don’t be mean to me!
GEORGIA (frustrated): Oh, look, Michael is your procrastination buddy, and I’m your wife, and I’ve got stuff to do, and you really need to not be here when that happens.
DAVID: I’ve just got a lot of stuff to process, and feelings, and ...
GEORGIA: Yeah, it’s just the rest of us just have to get on with it ...
DAVID: I’m just a bit worried that the goldfish that’s left behind would do anything to have its little buddy to play round the castle with.
GEORGIA: Okay. I think that the goldfish left behind forgot about the other goldfish within seconds.
(David’s mobile buzzes. He pulls it out of his jeans pocket and looks at it.)
GEORGIA: Who is it?
DAVID: It’s Nina. (He answers it.)
GEORGIA: Oh. Hi, Nina!
DAVID: Hi, Nina.
Michael is at his kitchen table; David is in a sitting room.
MICHAEL: He’ll be with us in a couple of minutes.
DAVID: Okay. Good.
(He looks away, his face serious.)
MICHAEL: You all right?
DAVID (turning back to look at him): It’s everyone else.
MICHAEL: I understand.
DAVID: Adrian, Nina, Lucy.
MICHAEL: Dame Judy?
DAVID: Of course.
MICHAEL: And Simon.
DAVID: And Simon, yeah.
MICHAEL (a little hesitantly): Anna thinks that we should, um, should try and stay calm with him.
MICHAEL: Because he’s on one side of the line, and we’re-we’re on the other.
DAVID (angrily): Michael, we drew the fucking line!
MICHAEL: I know. Anna said it better. (Calling out) Anna!
ANNA (offscreen): Yeah?
MICHAEL: Er, what, er, what was that Viking saying?
ANNA (offscreen): What?
MICHAEL: You know, the Viking phrase.
DAVID: The Viking phrase?
ANNA (walking to stand beside Michael, and bending down to look into the camera): Oh, “the thrall alone takes instant vengeance.”
DAVID: What the fuck does that mean?
MICHAEL (looking round at her): Yeah, what does that mean?
ANNA: Actions are too often ruled by emotions.
DAVID: That seems a little bit hypocritical coming from the Vikings.
MICHAEL: Yeah, what she’s saying, we-we ... should remain civil.
DAVID (high-pitched): Fuck that!
ANNA: Don’t burn your bridges.
DAVID: No, we won’t, we won’t.
(He leans back, stroking his hair back. Anna leans forward and puts her elbows on the table, getting close to the camera. David leans forward as well.)
ANNA (quietly, intensely): It’s the only way to get close enough to do some real damage.
DAVID: What would the Vikings recommend?
(She looks away as if checking to see if anyone’s listening, then looks back at him.)
ANNA: Something with an axe.
(David smiles and nods nervously. Anna straightens up and walks away, revealing Michael’s look of shocked horror. He looks nervously in her direction for a moment, then his laptop sounds an incoming call.)
MICHAEL: Er, right, okay. Now remember the Vikings, okay? Just calm.
(David raises his fists either side of his head and grimaces.)
MICHAEL (making a placating gesture): Just ...
(David growls furiously.)
MICHAEL: ... calm ...
(David growls again.)
MICHAEL: Shh ...
(David straightens up and strokes his hair down again.)
MICHAEL: Embrace chaos.
DAVID (calming down): I’m gonna be fine.
DAVID: I’m gonna be really calm, and nice.
MICHAEL: Okay. Here we go. Just deep breaths, deep ...
(He accepts the call and Simon appears on screen, waving cheerfully. Michael waves back. David smiles, then leans forward.)
DAVID (loudly, angrily): Ahh! So that’s where you’ve been hiding, you cunt!
(Michael face-palms briefly. Simon raise a finger in a ‘wait a moment’ gesture, looks down and starts poking around on his laptop. He lifts his head again and puts a finger to his earpiece even as David starts talking again.)
DAVID: I said that’s where you’ve been hiding, you fucking cu...
MICHAEL: He can’t hear you, he can’t hear you. Thank fuck ...
MICHAEL: ... he can’t hear you. Okay, David, please.
(Simon smiles into the camera, shaking his head as he continues trying to fix his sound.)
DAVID: Even just seeing his punchable little face, I’m finding it very hard.
MICHAEL: I know, I know, I know. You know he’s a twat, I know he’s a twat ...
DAVID: Ah, man.
MICHAEL: ... but let’s just pretend for this conversation ...
(He waves at Simon.)
MICHAEL: It’s all right, take your time, take your time, Simon!
(Simon grimaces and raises his fists in frustration, then grins and gets back to tinkering. Michael waves a ‘no problem’ sort of gesture.)
MICHAEL: Yeah, no, don’t worry, don’t worry.
DAVID (grinning falsely): Oh, we’ve got all the time in the world!
MICHAEL: Just ... just ...
DAVID: Oh, it’s so nice to see you, Simon!
MICHAEL: ... just please, just, let’s just give it a try.
DAVID: I’m, I’m on my best behaviour.
MICHAEL: Okay. Thank you.
(There’s a tone as Simon’s audio finally connects. The boys smile dutifully; David’s is a little tooth-gritted.)
SIMON: Hi! Sorry.
SIMON: Hey. Sorry about that. (He points to his earpiece.) All of fucking this.
MICHAEL: How are you, mate?
SIMON: Yeah, no, good, sorry. Er, yeah. Michael! Hello, hi. Er, David! Goodness!
(David hums through his false smile and gritted teeth.)
SIMON: Long time, no see! How are you?
DAVID: Yeah, Nina phoned me.
SIMON: Right. Okay, right.
MICHAEL: But, well, let’s just have a little catch-up first, shall we?
SIMON: Yeah, that’d be lovely.
MICHAEL: How are you?
SIMON: Good. (He gestures to the exotic trees and plants behind him.) I mean, hey, look – I’m in Los Angeles!
(The boys laugh falsely.)
MICHAEL: It ... so it’s happening: Staged America?
SIMON: Yeah, looks like it.
MICHAEL: That is exciting.
SIMON: Yeah, it really is. And, look, I know I owe you guys a lot of thanks for that. Um, I know we haven’t really had a chance to talk about it all, but ...
MICHAEL: Oh, don’t be silly.
SIMON: Well, it’s been mad.
MICHAEL: Yes, I bet. So, what, lots of ... lots of new opportunities?
SIMON: I’ve been run off my feet! There’s just so much work to do! I couldn’t have imagined any of this.
DAVID: No, well, I mean you couldn’t have imagined anything at all without us, could you?
MICHAEL (carefully): Er, what I ... What David means, I-I think, is that we feel, um, you know, quite a lot of love, er, even ownership of the project too.
SIMON: Yeah, I mean I did write it.
(David shakes his head and turns away from the camera.)
MICHAEL (hurriedly): Now, David is gonna get a wee bit ticked off with that kind of territorial attitude, Simon. He thinks that we both brought a lot to the project too. We thought we were a team.
SIMON: Oh, me too.
MICHAEL: So we were a little bit hurt when we heard that we weren’t needed.
SIMON (nodding): Of course.
MICHAEL: But we got past that – but then, when we heard from Nina ...
DAVID: Yeah. My friend Nina; Nina who ... My friend Nina called me up.
MICHAEL: ... that literally every other member of the cast ...
DAVID: Every other member.
MICHAEL: ... was coming back except us ...
MICHAEL: I mean even you managed to hold on to your role.
SIMON: Well, I am Simon.
DAVID: Oh, well, who am I then? Fucking Spartacus?
MICHAEL: But, yeah, but you’re ... you’re not an actor.
SIMON: No, but I ... but I wrote it.
DAVID (exasperated): Argh, f... (He gets up and walks offscreen.)
MICHAEL (urgently): David, David, Vikings. Vikings, David, Vikings!
SIMON (puzzled): Vikings?
DAVID (offscreen): I could have been a minister!
MICHAEL: Okay, okay. Okay, whurr, let’s just, let’s just, let’s just talk about something else for a minute, okay? Let’s just shake it off. Ummm, Simon – what, what were you gonna be when you were young?
SIMON: A director.
MICHAEL: No, I meant ... I meant if, er, that didn’t work out.
(David walks back into view a distance away from his laptop, his arms folded.)
SIMON: I wanted to be a magician.
DAVID: Oh ... (He laughs ironically and walks offscreen again.)
MICHAEL: Woah! David! Ha! David’s, um, trying to learn some tricks!
MICHAEL: Were you, were you any good?
SIMON: I was, actually. I was ... I was ... I was very good.
DAVID: Yeah? (He storms closer to the screen, holding up a playing card with its back to the camera.) What’s that card?
SIMON (peering at the card momentarily): The seven of diamonds.
DAVID (angrily hurling the card down and storming away again): Oh, fuck you!
MICHAEL: All right, all right. Is there anything we can do to help you, Simon?
SIMON (a little suspiciously): ’Scuse me?
SIMON: No. No, I don’t think so.
MICHAEL: No, no, it’s not a trick.
(David walks back on and sits on a sofa at the back of the room.)
MICHAEL: We, we just wanna help. We-we-we just, just ... What we can do? What can we do? Come on. (He claps his hands encouragingly.) What can we do?
SIMON (after a moment’s thought): I wouldn’t say this if you hadn’t just ... Two of the actors that we’re considering for David and ... and Michael, they’ve actually reached out to see if you might make some time to ... talk to them.
DAVID: About what?
SIMON: Just to offer some thoughts on your ... experience making the show.
MICHAEL: We would ... be very ... happy to.
SIMON (frowning uncertainly): Really?
MICHAEL (shrugging): We’re all on the same side.
SIMON: Well, then I’ll ... I’ll set it up.
SIMON: I really appreciate it.
MICHAEL: No, no, thank you. That’s what we ... what we needed; just to ... you know, a little, a little bit of collaboration.
SIMON: Hey, maybe you could give a couple of notes on the roles, too.
MICHAEL (roaring furiously): FUCK YOU!
(He stands up and walks off-camera. David surges off the sofa and storms towards the camera.)
DAVID (furiously): I mean, I will ... I will put an axe into your face, and I will nail your skull onto the mast of my Viking longship before I give any actor another bunch of notes about how to play David Tennant, you fucking patronising mollusc!
(Michael has been pacing rapidly back and forth behind his chair and now lets out a furious roar.)
SIMON: I think we should just let our agents talk from here, shouldn’t we?
MICHAEL (surging towards the table): Don’t you fucking ...
(But Simon has already ended the call. Michael sits down, breathing loudly. He covers his face with his hands for a moment, then lowers them.)
MICHAEL: I didn’t even know he had an agent.
DAVID: Seven of fucking diamonds! Unbelievable.
(Michael lowers his head and bangs it onto the table and lets out an exasperated sound.)
David Tennant Michael Sheen
The boys are sitting in their kitchens. David is holding up a playing card with its back to the camera. They are talking more calmly.
MICHAEL: I called Simon back and apologised.
DAVID (nodding): Okay, well done.
MICHAEL: Told him we’d speak to those other actors tomorrow.
DAVID (a little exasperated): Oh, Jesus. Okay.
MICHAEL: Why do you think we have never made each other this angry?
DAVID: Well, because we have a scintilla of respect for each other.
MICHAEL (holding up a finger in acknowledgement): Yes.
DAVID: Yeah, ’cause we started out as colleagues, and then we became friends ...
MICHAEL: And then great friends.
DAVID: Would you say I’m your best friend?
MICHAEL (instantly): No.
MICHAEL: No, I don’t mean it like that.
DAVID: No, no, no. Fine. I just ... you know, I thought you might take a bit longer to think about it.
MICHAEL: No, but, am I yours?
MICHAEL: Well, there you are.
DAVID: No, you might have been.
MICHAEL: If what?
DAVID: If you’d said I was yours.
MICHAEL: I’ve got a older friend.
DAVID: I’m old.
MICHAEL: No, I mean, I’ve-I’ve got a friend who I’ve known for longer. He lives in New York.
DAVID: Okay. (He looks off-camera.) Yeah, I had a friend once.
DAVID: Rather not say.
MICHAEL: And you’re not friends any more?
DAVID: No. ... So, when you go out to New York, you’re gonna see him, are you?
MICHAEL: Well, that’s why I’m going. He’s getting married.
DAVID: Oh, well, that’s lovely for him.
MICHAEL: Well, I’m-I’m the Best Man. It was supposed to happen earlier this year, but ...
DAVID: But it all ... yeah.
MICHAEL: So, you know, it’ll be nice to be there.
DAVID: Well, it’ll be nice to be anywhere.
(He looks off to the side and then back to the camera.)
MICHAEL (more quietly): Anna hasn’t been to Sweden in ages. She’s really missing her family.
DAVID: Well, I’m sure she is, yeah.
(He realises he’s still holding up the playing card and waves it.)
MICHAEL: Ummmm ... four ... of diamonds.
(David turns the card around to show that it’s the two of spades.)
MICHAEL (exasperated): Awww!
DAVID: We should quit.
MICHAEL: Magic is harder than it looks.
DAVID: Oh God, I hate magic.
MICHAEL (sarcastically): Well, maybe we could ask Simon for help.
(David grimaces madly.)
(I’m unable to update this entry without the formatting going really wonky. To read further transcripts of Season 2, go to Dreamwidth.)