Script by John Finnemore
Transcript by Ariane DeVere
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DOUGLAS (over cabin address): Good evening. This is First Officer Douglas Richardson. Just to let you know we’re now making our final preparations to ‘fly you to the moon.’ While we’re airborne I do hope you’ll take advantage of the opportunity to ‘play among the stars.’ Those of you sitting on the left-hand side of the aircraft should have an excellent view of ‘what spring is like on Jupiter’; and on the right-hand side, ‘Mars.’ ‘In other words, hold my hand. In other words, baby, kiss me.’ Cabin doors to automatic.
This week, Cremona.
MARTIN (chuckling): Very good, very good. Okay, my turn.
DOUGLAS: All right. Er, do ‘Come Fly With Me.’
(Martin clears his throat. Bing-bong.)
MARTIN: Good evening, ladies and gentlemen. On behalf of MJN Air, I’d like to invite you to ... (singing) ♪ Come fly with me, let’s fly, let’s fly away ... ♪
CAROLYN (over radio): Martin, Martin, what on earth are you doing?
MARTIN: Carolyn! I ... hel... yes, nothing.
CAROLYN: What’s going on in there? You’ve been on stand for half an hour. I’ve been waiting for you in the portacabin.
DOUGLAS: Yes. We saw your light was on and we thought you might still be there.
CAROLYN: But you didn’t come in!
DOUGLAS: No. We saw your light was on and we thought you might still be there.
CAROLYN: Well, come in now. I want to talk to you. Well, heaven knows that’s not true, but I have things to tell you.
(Portacabin office door opens.)
CAROLYN: Ah, at last. Now then, guess who’s got a job tomorrow? I’ll give you a clue: it’s us.
DOUGLAS: And they call Hitchcock the master of suspense.
CAROLYN: Anyway, you’ll like this trip. You are taking a film star to Italy.
MARTIN: A film star?
MARTIN: Which one?
CAROLYN: Hester Macauley.
MARTIN: Oh, yes. Wasn’t she ...
ARTHUR (excitedly): Hester Macauley?!
DOUGLAS: Good lord! Arthur! I didn’t know you were here!
ARTHUR (excitedly): Hester Macauley?! The Lady of the Lake?! In my cabin?!
MARTIN: What were you doing behind there?
CAROLYN: And what are you talking about, idiot child?
ARTHUR (high-pitched with excitement): She was Griselda, the Lady of the Lake – in-in Quest for Camelot!
CAROLYN (disinterestedly): Oh, was she?
ARTHUR: Yes! She’s the one who tells Arthur to bring her Excalibur!
DOUGLAS: Bring her Excalibur? Surely she gives him Excalibur.
ARTHUR: How could she give him Excalibur? Excalibur’s a person.
DOUGLAS: Rrrright. Keen Arthurian scholars were they, these film makers?
ARTHUR: Well, I say ‘person’; obviously it famously turns out he’s a vampire.
CAROLYN: Arthur? There’s something on your face.
ARTHUR: Ooh. Got it?
CAROLYN: No, no, lower. It’s hanging off the bottom of your face. It’s a sort of huge shelf of bone and flesh, and it’s flapping about making a horrible noise. Will you make it stop?
ARTHUR: Right. Yes. Sorry, Mum.
CAROLYN: Thank you. Now scatter to the winds, all of you. Martin, flight plan; Douglas, load sheet; Arthur, coffee.
CAROLYN: Fly, my pretties, fly!
MARTIN: Come on, monkey face.
(Martin and Arthur leave.)
DOUGLAS: Cremona? So I imagine we’re staying at the Excelsior?
CAROLYN: Then carry on imagining, Douglas, because that’s as close as you’re getting. Ms Macauley will be at the Excelsior; you will be over the road at the Garibaldi.
DOUGLAS: Oh, no! The Garibaldi’s an absolute dump!
CAROLYN: A dump, yes, but a keenly-priced dump.
DOUGLAS: If this was a proper airline, we’d be staying at the Excelsior.
CAROLYN: Agreed. And if you were proper pilots you’d be flying with a proper airline. Impasse. Now, go and do me that load sheet: one passenger and a dozen shirts.
DOUGLAS: One of our sweatier actresses, is she?
CAROLYN: No; the film’s set in fascist Italy, and apparently the studio needs some extra black shirts for the, um ...
CAROLYN: Yes, playing ...
MARTIN (in an over-the-top grovelling voice): Good morning, madam, and welc... No, ‘ma’am.’ Good morning, ma’am, and welc... No, she’s not the Queen! Um ... good morning, Ms Macauley and w... No, ‘madam.’
(The portacabin door opens. There is the distant sound of singing before the door closes again.)
ARTHUR: The thing is: is it unprofessional to tell a passenger that you once made a collage of her face out of pasta shapes?
DOUGLAS: Hmm. I really don’t know.
ARTHUR: You see, part of me thinks ...
DOUGLAS: Oh, I’m sorry. Did I say ‘know’? I meant ‘care.’ I don’t really care. Morning, Martin. You’re looking very smart.
MARTIN (rapidly): No I’m not, no more than usual, this is how I always look, what are you saying?
DOUGLAS: Yes, you’re quite right. It was an unforgiveable compliment. I do apologise. Now then, Arthur, spot-test.
ARTHUR: Oh, great! I love these!
DOUGLAS: What can you tell me about the group of people we passed just now waiting outside the portacabin?
ARTHUR: Right. Um ... I didn’t really notice them. Um ... mostly men, I think. Er, I think one of them had a beard. That’s it.
DOUGLAS: There were about thirty of them, all wearing home-made suits of armour and singing a song about a dragon.
ARTHUR: Yeah, now you say that ...
MARTIN: Suits of armour? Why on earth were they ...
(The singing becomes clear as the door of the portacabin opens.)
MEN (singing): ♪ ... Arthur, King of the Britons, as it was written, so it shall beeeee! ♪
HESTER: Thank you, thank you, yes, thank you.
(Portacabin door closes. She sighs.)
HESTER: Oh, hello. MJN Air?
MARTIN: Yes! Hello! Er, good morning, Ms Madam, and wel... Ma-Madam Macauley, Ms Ma’am, Mmm, Ms Macauley.
HESTER: Good! Thank you; but please, call me Hester.
DOUGLAS: Yes – the full title’s rather a mouthful, isn’t it?
MARTIN: Th-thi-thi-this is First Offi... I mean, I’m ... Captain Martin Crieff, but this is the first officer, Douglas Richardson, the co-pilot.
HESTER: Pleased to meet you, Mr. Co-Pilot. Is that like being a co-star?
DOUGLAS: I suppose it is, yes.
MARTIN (laughing nervously): Well, not really. I mean, ‘co-star’ is equal with the other co-star, whereas the co-pilot is junior to me.
HESTER: Oh, yes, I’m sure he is, Captain Crieff.
MARTIN: Oh, please, call me Madam. Martin!
HESTER: Thank you, Martin. I will. And who is this?
ARTHUR (nervously): Hullo. I am Arthur.
HESTER (angrily): What?
ARTHUR: Er, I’m Arthur.
HESTER (angrily): King of the Britons?
ARTHUR: Steward of the aeroplane.
DOUGLAS: He, er, he really is called Arthur.
HESTER: Oh. Oh, I’m so sorry, Arthur. I thought you were one of those idiotic fans.
ARTHUR (breathlessly): Yes.
HESTER: Now I wonder if I could just have a quick word with the manager?
MARTIN: Oh, yes, yes, of course. Just through that door there.
HESTER: Thank you so much, Captain ... er, Martin.
MARTIN: Oh, you’re quite welcome ... Hester.
(Office door opens and closes.)
DOUGLAS: ‘Oh, quite welcome, Hester. Quite, quite, quite.’
(Office door opens.)
CAROLYN: Oh, hello. You must be Ms Macauley. How splendid to meet you.
HESTER: Where’s the manager? I want to speak to him.
CAROLYN: Well, I’m her. Carolyn Knapp-Shappey, owner and manager.
HESTER: Right. Then what the hell is going on here? I arrive at what I’m assured is a competent and discreet private charter firm to find the entrance thronged with my fans.
CAROLYN: Would you call them a throng?
HESTER: ... through which I have to fight my own way.
CAROLYN: I’m not sure thirty’s a throng. A gathering, maybe.
HESTER: ... because no-one is there to meet me to help me from the taxi, to take my luggage, to show me to the ...
CAROLYN: I’m so sorry, I had no idea. We’ll make arrangements immediately. Now, may I ask the precise nature of your disability?
HESTER: What? I’m not disabled!
CAROLYN: Oh! Oh, I’m sorry – I thought you said you couldn’t get out of a taxi without help.
HESTER: Listen. Have you even flown a film star before?
CAROLYN: We took Norman Pace to Farnborough. He’s a lovely man.
HESTER: Well, I am not Norman Pace.
CAROLYN: I was beginning to suspect as much.
HESTER: Listen to me, dearie. One more crack out of you, and the Executive Producer of this film will cancel the contract and re-book me on a flight with a professional company.
CAROLYN (humbly): I’m so sorry if I have in any way offended you. Nothing could be further from my intention.
HESTER: That’s better. And another thing: is that strange little red-faced man actually a qualified pilot? I mean, am I safe to fly with him?
CAROLYN: I can assure you that Captain Crieff is very nearly the best pilot in the company.
MARTIN (clicking switches in the plane’s flight deck): ... and beside that, we have the artificial horizon.
HESTER: Gosh, yes! What does it do?
MARTIN: Well, it just tells you if you’re flying level, or ... or ... or ... or not level; and if you’re not flying level, you can correct it on the basis of that, and fly more ... more ...
DOUGLAS: ... levelly?
MARTIN: And these are the altimeters.
HESTER: Really? They sound like a nice middle-class couple, don’t they?!
(She and Douglas laugh. Martin chuckles nervously.)
MARTIN: How-how-how d’you mean?
HESTER: You know: oh, do come in, lovely to see you. Now, have you met the Altimeters?
MARTIN: Ohh! (He laughs falsely.) I see! Yes, that’s very good! (He laughs falsely again.) Yes, the Altimeters! (More false laughter.) Mrs and Mr. Altimeter! (Putting on a deeper voice) I’m-I’m-I’m Greg Altimeter and-and-and this is my wife, Katherine Altimeter!
(He laughs again, snorting in the middle of his laughter before trailing off.)
HESTER: Exactly. Yes. Why do you need two?
MARTIN: Um, just in case one goes wrong.
DOUGLAS: That’s the theory, anyway. In practice, it’s like Confucius says: Man with one altimeter always know height; man with two, never certain.
MARTIN: Oh-oh, I know loads like that. Um ... (he laughs, then puts on a Chinese accent) ... Confucius, he say ...
(Pause, then he drops back into his normal accent.)
MARTIN: Oh, they’ve, um, they’ve all gone out of my head.
HESTER: Well, never mind. I probably ought to go back now, actually. Thank you so much for showing me around up here.
MARTIN: Yes. Right, yes, of course. Well, I’m glad you enjoyed it. Who knows, maybe you can show me round a film set one day.
HESTER (unconvincingly): Maybe. Who knows?
MARTIN (loudly): Never eat yellow snow!
MARTIN: Confucius. He ... well, tha-tha-that’s not one of the best ones.
(Flight deck door opens and closes. Martin sighs blissfully.)
MARTIN: What a lovely woman.
DOUGLAS: Oh, did you like her? You seemed rather cool and distant.
MARTIN (anxiously): Oh, no! Did I? Really?
HESTER: Oh. Hello.
ARTHUR: Might I ask yourself at this time if yourself would care to partake of the enjoyment of the in-flight entertainment system we do provide on the aircraft today?
ARTHUR: Shall I put the telly on?
HESTER: That’s sweet of you, but I’m quite happy reading my book. Thank you.
ARTHUR: You’re welcome.
HESTER: Is that all?
ARTHUR: Yes, that’s all. ... Except ... I-I-I’m sorry about that thing when you met me and-and you thought I was a fan.
HESTER: Oh. No-no-no, I-I ... I should apologise to you. It’s just those ridiculous Camelot idiots – they follow me all over the world, singing and chanting and telling me they’re my biggest fans. It gets to one a little sometimes, you know?
ARTHUR: Right. I see. Still, though, I just want to say, I am your biggest fan.
HESTER: Oh really?
HESTER: Enjoy my Clytemnestra, did you?
ARTHUR: Your Clyte...?
HESTER: My career-defining Clytemnestra at Stratford. Or perhaps you preferred my Olivier award-winning performance in A Doll’s House.
ARTHUR: You performed in a doll’s house?!
HESTER: No. Wrong. Perhaps you’re more of a movie buff?
ARTHUR: Yes! I just loved ...
HESTER: No, don’t tell me. I’m keen to guess. A Light Shines Darkly? Tails, You Lose? Fardel’s Bear?
ARTHUR: No, I loved ...
HESTER (increasingly angrily): Because I hope you weren’t about to suggest that you’re my biggest fan based on two miserable weeks I spent up to my bosom in pondweed filming some ridiculous fantasy drek I only agreed to because my little cat needed a dialysis machine!
ARTHUR: ... Right. No, I like the other ones. Did your cat get better?
HESTER: No, she died.
ARTHUR: Oh dear. Still, you know what they say about cats.
ARTHUR (frantically): They’ve got nine lives. So maybe ... she’s still alive.
HESTER (furiously): Get out of my sight!
(Sound of the galley curtain being pulled open.)
CAROLYN: Everything all right in here?
ARTHUR: I’m just getting out of the client’s sight!
CAROLYN: So often the key to a happy flight.
HESTER: Will you please explain to me what the hell is going on here?
CAROLYN: Difficult book, is it?
HESTER: Not the book – the fact that having assured me I would have no more trouble from my weird fans, you appear to have assigned me one as my steward.
CAROLYN: I apologise, madam, but can I congratulate you on the hard-line manner in which you dealt with the menace?
CAROLYN: Oh, it’s just that so many people, faced with someone shyly telling them they like their work, would simply have smiled and said, ‘Thank you,’ but not you. You let the bastard have it with both barrels. Well done, you.
HESTER: Listen. It’s not too late for me to walk out on you, you know.
CAROLYN: Yeah, that’s true, so long as you can phone your Executive Producer before we take off. May I just remind you all electronic equipment must be switched off until after we take off.
HESTER: I am the Executive Producer.
CAROLYN (instantly): How can I make madam’s journey more comfortable?
HESTER: That’s better. I want that Camelot freak kept out of my sight. You can do my stewardessing; and you can start by bringing me a lemon tea.
CAROLYN: Instantly, madam.
(Sound of the galley curtain being drawn shut.)
CAROLYN (distantly): Arthur, put the kettle on and dig out those lemon hand wipes.
(Canned music playing in a hotel lobby. The automatic entrance doors hiss open.)
ARTHUR: Wow! This hotel’s amazing! Look! That whole wall’s a waterfall!
MARTIN: Well, don’t get too attached to it. The Garibaldi is pretty different.
(He grunts as he puts Hester’s suitcase down.)
MARTIN: Though, to be fair, it does also have water running down the walls.
DOUGLAS: Ms Macauley, may I present the Excelsior?
HESTER: Oh, it’s lovely, Douglas. Thank you so much.
RECEPTIONIST (male, Italian accent): Buongiorno, señor.
MARTIN: Oh. Buongiorno. Um, d’you speak English?
RECEPTIONIST: Of course, sir!
MARTIN: Good, great. Um, er, one room, please.
RECEPTIONIST: Certainly. What name is it?
MARTIN: Mrs Hes...
HESTER: I don’t use my real name. The fans, remember?
MARTIN: Oh, yes, of course. What name do you use?
HESTER: Oh, various ones – often cartoon characters.
ARTHUR: Oh wow! Did you nick that off Notting Hill?
HESTER: They nicked it off me.
MARTIN: So, er, what name shall I use?
HESTER: You choose.
MARTIN: Er, yes. (To the receptionist) One room, please, for Ms Jessica Rabbit.
MARTIN: Oh, God, no! I mean, I didn’t mean you look like ... not that you don’t look like ... well, that-that you do, but ... (he drags in a breath) ... um, not Jessica Rabbit. Mrs ... Snoopy.
HESTER: But why only one room? Where are you all staying?
DOUGLAS: The Garibaldi.
HESTER: Oh no. No, you mustn’t stay there. It’s ghastly. They tried to put me up there when I did Who Do You Think You Are?
DOUGLAS: Oh, you have Italian relatives?
HESTER: God, no. But when the BBC offer to fly you to wherever your family are from, you don’t say Kidderminster. But the Garibaldi is the most awful dive. I insisted they move me.
DOUGLAS: Oh dear. Well, Carolyn can’t have known that when she booked it for us, can she, Martin?
HESTER: If I were you, I’d just stay here. Oh – unless you have to.
MARTIN: No. No! We don’t have to. Good lord, no! Erm ... (to the receptionist) ... three more rooms, please.
RECEPTIONIST: Certainly, sir. What names?
ARTHUR: Ooh-ooh! Can I be Goofy?
MARTIN: Douglas Richardson, Arthur Shappey, and Captain Martin Crieff.
RECEPTIONIST: Ooh, you’re a capitaine!
MARTIN: That’s right, yes. I’m an airline captain.
RECEPTIONIST: So did you want a suite?
RECEPTIONIST: Well, generally when the aircrews come, the capitaine, he likes a suite.
MARTIN (laughing nervously): Yes! Er, the thing about that is ...
RECEPTIONIST: No, sir, I ask because, I’m sorry, we have none left today.
MARTIN: Oh! Oh, well, well yes, I would have liked one. I mean, obviously. I’m an airline captain – and frankly this is very shoddy. I mean, I’ll rough it this once in one of your normal ... five-star rooms, but I’m very disappointed.
RECEPTIONIST: Well, you could always take the State Rooms.
RECEPTIONIST: The State Rooms, on the fifth floor – the whole of the fifth floor.
HESTER: Oh, yes, Martin! Why don’t you?!
MARTIN: Right! Yes! I will! Yes! (Getting more high-pitched in panic) Yes!
DOUGLAS: Nonchalantly done.
MARTIN: And, er, anything else I can do, you have my number, so don’t hesitate to call!
(Lift dings and the doors close. Martin sighs.)
ARTHUR: Wow, Skip! Five-star hotel, eh? This is the life!
MARTIN: No it’s not.
ARTHUR: Isn’t it?
MARTIN: No. We’re going straight back down the lobby, refunding those rooms and we’re going back to the Garibaldi. I’m so sorry to disappoint you.
ARTHUR: No, it’s fine. I don’t like big hotel rooms anyway. Too many drawers.
ARTHUR: Yeah. ’Cause, you know, you’ve gotta put something in every drawer, haven’t you, or it doesn’t feel like home. And sometimes in these places, I have to split pairs of socks.
(In the lobby.)
MARTIN: Ah, hello. Er, I was here fifteen minutes ago. I ...
RECEPTIONIST: I remember you!
MARTIN: Yes, I imagine you would do.
RECEPTIONIST: It’s very exciting for us, you know. We don’t often get to rent out the State Rooms in the winter.
MARTIN: No, I bet you don’t. The thing is, I, um, I’ve been up to have a look at the room ... er, the rooms, and to be honest they’re a little ... stately.
RECEPTIONIST: Well, they’re State Rooms.
MARTIN: Yeah, yes, I appreciate that, but there-there comes a point, don’t you feel, when a State Room crosses the line from being a nice stately room for a statesman to ... lie in state, and becomes, you know, just terrifyingly huge and expensive. So if you could possibly just refund me the ...
MARTIN: I don’t like the way you said, ‘Oh.’ Please tell me it’s a cultural thing and that’s just how you begin the sentence ... (in an attempt at an Italian accent) ‘Oh, don’ta worry, sir, that will be no problemo at all.’
RECEPTIONIST: No, the-the-the problem is, er, somebody just tried to rent the State Rooms, and we had to turn him down.
MARTIN: Great. He can have it.
RECEPTIONIST: No-no, he-he’s gone now. Er, we don’t know where.
MARTIN: What did he look like?
RECEPTIONIST: Er-er, he-he-he was a-a big man with a big ... coat, er, and a big ... beard.
MARTIN: Right, so in the eight minutes since I was last here, Brian Blessed strolled in, tried to rent the most expensive suite in the hotel and then left disappointed for a destination unknown.
RECEPTIONIST: I didn’t get his name.
MARTIN: Despite you just telling me you never get any bookings for it during the winter!
RECEPTIONIST: What can I say? We were lucky.
MARTIN: Yes, well, you make your own luck, don’t you? How about the other two rooms, the normal-sized ones? Can you refund those?
RECEPTIONIST: This maybe we can do.
MARTIN: Right, great.
(Mobile phone rings.)
MARTIN: Oh, for heaven’s sake! Arthur, go to Douglas’ room, three-one-two. Stop him unpacking. I’ll meet you there.
MARTIN (answering his phone): Hello?
CAROLYN (over phone): Martin, my favourite aviator.
MARTIN: Oh God. What have I done now?
CAROLYN: Nothing, nothing! You simply find me in a rare good humour.
MARTIN: Certainly rare.
CAROLYN: I am in Italy on a sunny day, my flight home is not ’til midnight, the studio have coughed up the money like lambs, and generally all is rosy. ... Unless you were about to tell me otherwise.
MARTIN: No, no! Everything here’s fine.
CAROLYN: Excellent! Well, such a good mood am I in, I thought I would treat you three to dinner tonight.
MARTIN: Well, that’s very nice of you ...
CAROLYN: And not only that, but at the Excelsior.
MARTIN (anxiously): Ohh! No. No! The Garibaldi will be fine!
CAROLYN: Oh, don’t be ridiculous. The Garibaldi is far from fine, or you wouldn’t be staying there.
MARTIN: No, actually, I had a look at the restaurant. They do a very nice Italian ... burger thing, which looks good.
CAROLYN: I don’t know what you’re playing at, Martin, but stop it. For reasons of my own, I particularly want us to eat at the Excelsior this evening, so that is where I shall see you, seven thirty, sharp.
(She hangs up.)
MARTIN: Oh, terrific.
MARTIN: Three-ten, three-eleven ... Ah. Three-twelve.
(Knock on a door. The door is opened.)
DOUGLAS: Ah, Martin, hello, no.
MARTIN: No what?
DOUGLAS: No way. Absolutely out of the question, José.
MARTIN: You don’t know what I’m gonna ask.
DOUGLAS: Oh, but I do.
ARTHUR: Hello, Skipper. Don’t worry – I filled Douglas in.
MARTIN: Oh, well done(!)
DOUGLAS: So, if Arthur can be relied upon – which I concede is far from a given – you’re going to ask if, to save your skin with Carolyn, I will leave this lovely five-star hotel room and go to the Garibaldi.
DOUGLAS: While you stay here in the five-star hotel’s State Room suite. Well, obviously I’ll have to think long and hard about this one. No.
DOUGLAS: Sorry. I like it here. I have two fluffy dressing gowns in case one of them goes wrong, and there are complimentary mixed nuts, which is charming ...
MARTIN: Well, I’m sorry, but I’ve returned this room to the hotel. You can’t stay here.
DOUGLAS: Fair enough. Then you go to the Garibaldi and I’ll have the State Rooms.
MARTIN: No, Douglas, I’m trying to tell you: you’re right.
DOUGLAS: So glad we agree.
MARTIN: You’re right: you can’t trust anything Arthur tells you. Of course I’m not staying in the State Rooms. I got them refunded too.
ARTHUR: What, after I’d gone?
MARTIN: Yes, after you’d gone.
ARTHUR: Oh, well done, Skip. I must say I’m surprised, ’cause that receptionist seemed pretty firm ...
MARTIN (interrupting): I’m very persuasive. So, all the rooms are refunded and we have no choice but to go to the Garibaldi, okay?
DOUGLAS: Spoilsport. All right, give me ten minutes. I have things to pack.
MARTIN: You can’t have unpacked already.
DOUGLAS: I didn’t say they were my things.
MARTIN: Don’t forget the mixed nuts.
DOUGLAS: As if I would.
(In a hotel lobby.)
ARTHUR: Gosh. It is different here, isn’t it? Are those real?
DOUGLAS: No, no. They’re decorative stuffed cockroaches. Ah well. See you at dinner, then, chaps.
MARTIN: Has he gone? Right. (He clears his throat.) Buongiorno. ’Scuse me. I made a mistake. I just want one room, please. If we can return these two?
(The receptionist sighs in exasperation.)
MARTIN: Thank you.
ARTHUR: Wha-what’s going on, Skip?
MARTIN: All right, Arthur, listen really carefully.
ARTHUR: Oh dear. I hate these.
MARTIN: You and I aren’t staying here tonight; we’re staying in the Excelsior, in the State Rooms.
ARTHUR: But I thought you managed to return ...
MARTIN: No! Of course I didn’t return them! But here’s the important thing.
(They walk out into the street.)
MARTIN: You mustn’t tell Douglas that we’re staying at the Excelsior; you mustn’t tell Hester we’re staying at the Garibaldi; and above all, you must not tell Carolyn ... anything at all. Got that?
MARTIN: Okay. Look, here we are. We might just be able to pull this off.
(The sound of singing has been getting louder and now becomes clear.)
MEN (singing): ♪ ... King of the Britons, as it was written, so it shall beeeee! ♪
MARTIN: Arthur! You promised me you didn’t tell anyone where she was staying!
ARTHUR: I didn’t! Honestly, I didn’t!
MARTIN: You must have done! Oh God. D’you think she’s seen them?
(His phone rings. He answers it.)
HESTER (furiously, over phone): What have you done?
ARTHUR: Yes, I do.
MARTIN: Ah, Hester. I was just ...
HESTER: Don’t ‘Hester’ me, you ridiculous, incompetent little man. Just explain to me how it is that ... no, actually, don’t explain.
MARTIN: But I ...
HESTER: I don’t want to hear any more of your stuttering and toadying. I just want you to make them all GO AWAY!
(She hangs up.)
DOUGLAS: Well, she’s no Norman Pace, is she?
MARTIN: Douglas? What are you doing here?
DOUGLAS: Oh, I saw you beetling off and I just had a hunch this might be an interesting place to come and have a drink. The horde of knights is an unexpected bonus.
MARTIN: What am I gonna do?
DOUGLAS: About what in particular?
MARTIN: About everything.
DOUGLAS: Ah, everything in particular. Well, as I see it, your problems are: a vastly expensive non-refundable State Room suite; a hotel lobby’s worth of gormless fans; and a furious actress.
DOUGLAS: And your assets are: a dozen black shirts.
DOUGLAS: Well, the answer’s obvious, surely?
MARTIN: Not to me!
DOUGLAS: Ah. Interesting, because it is to me. So, suppose I were to sort all this out for you, and suppose once it was sorted out, there was still a nice Excelsior hotel room left over?
MARTIN: Yes, yes. You can have it.
DOUGLAS: Excellent! (Louder) Attention, oh spotty knights. I have a proposition for you. Am I right in thinking that you are here lying in wait like grubby leopards for Hester Macauley?
DOUGLAS: Well, as the more astute – or the least un-astute – of you will have noticed, she’s not coming down until you go away.
PERCIVAL: Well, we’re not going away until she comes down!
DOUGLAS: What a delicious metaphysical conundrum; and one to which, luckily, I have the answer. I can arrange for twelve of you to not only meet Miss Macauley ...
(The men gasp in excitement.)
DOUGLAS: ... but to actually shake her hand ...
(The men gasp louder.)
DOUGLAS: ... after first washing your own sixteen or seventeen times, naturally; on condition that the rest of you immediately go a really, really long way away.
GAWAIN: But how do we pick which twelve?
LANCELOT: Oh, we-we could cut cards for it.
DOUGLAS: Oh come, come! What sort of opportunity does that give you to demonstrate your strange, unsettling devotion?
PERCIVAL: You mean you want us to fight for it?
DOUGLAS: No, no, no. I want you to bid for it. Do I hear, for instance, five hundred Euros?
GAWAIN: Five hundred Euros!
(The men all start calling out increasingly large bids.)
DOUGLAS: It seems I do.
[Transcriber’s note: I have had to guess at which voice has which of the names given on the credits.]
(Lift bell dings and the doors open.)
DOUGLAS: After you, Ms Macauley.
(The doors close again and the lift starts to rise.)
DOUGLAS: Ms Macauley. On behalf of us all at MJN Air, allow me to say how sorry we are for all the trouble and inconvenience you’ve suffered.
HESTER: Well, so you bloody well should be.
DOUGLAS: Indeed we bloody well should be, and so we bloody well are. Firstly, let me assure you that the medieval contingent have now been entirely vanquished; and furthermore, in recompense for your suffering, I have been authorised to secure for you perhaps the most luxurious accommodation in Italy not already bagsied by the Pope. Behold ...
(Lift bell dings.)
DOUGLAS: ... your State Rooms.
(The lift doors open.)
HESTER: How did you time your speech so that it ended precisely on the ding?
DOUGLAS: I rode up and down in the lift a few times, practising.
HESTER: Well, it’s a nice room.
DOUGLAS: It is a nice room, and beyond lies an even nicer room, which leads into a frankly astonishing room, and beyond that ... an airing cupboard, which I admit is an anti-climax.
HESTER: This is certainly more how I expect to be treated.
DOUGLAS: Well, of course it is. And not only that, but we have paid for the hotel to lay on a team of staff who’ll be exclusively dedicated to looking after you during your stay. Allow me to introduce ... (he opens a door) ... your butler.
PERCIVAL (in a nervous voice): Could I just ...
DOUGLAS (interrupting): Sadly, none of them can speak any English.
HESTER: Pleased to meet you.
(Percival wibbles nervously.)
DOUGLAS: And then ... and then this is your under-butler ...
(The ‘under-butler’ snorts fannishly.)
DOUGLAS: ... your under-under-butler ...
(More nerdy sounds.)
DOUGLAS: ... and your under-butler-butler. ... And this is your chef, your wine waiter, your pastry cook, and your ... pudding-smith.
HESTER: Pleased to meet you.
LANCELOT (nervously): Pleased to meet you.
HESTER: Are you all right?
DOUGLAS: That’s Cremonese dialect for ‘The pleasure’s ours.’ Finally, your laundryman, your knife and boots boy, the man whose job it is to fold the end of your loo roll into a v-shape, and your stable lad.
HESTER: Why on earth would I want a stable lad?
DOUGLAS: Don’t you? Umberto, you’re fired.
GAWAIN (disappointedly): Oh.
HESTER: Isn’t there a maid of some sort?
DOUGLAS: Oh, yes, of course. Umberto, you’re re-hired.
DOUGLAS: Now, all of you, go.
(Grumbles of protest.)
PERCIVAL: Come on, everyone.
(The door closes.)
HESTER: Curious uniform they have.
DOUGLAS: Yes. I rather like it.
HESTER: If I was an Italian hotel manager, I wouldn’t give my staff black shirts.
DOUGLAS: Ah, but that’s the beauty of it. Gives them an exciting ninja look, don’t you feel?
DOUGLAS: It’s perfectly simple: Hester stays in your State Rooms, paid for by the proceeds of the handshake auction; I stay in Hester’s old room here; you stay in my old room at the Garibaldi.
ARTHUR: And me?
DOUGLAS: Also in my room at the Garibaldi.
ARTHUR: Brilliant! Bagsie I get the floor.
MARTIN: Why would you want the floor?
ARTHUR: Are you joking?! I sleep in a bed every night. Ooh, there’s Mum!
DOUGLAS: Carolyn? I thought she was flying home.
MARTIN: Not ’til tonight. She was very keen to take us for dinner here first. God knows why. Carolyn! Hello.
CAROLYN: Martin, what is going on?
MARTIN (anxiously): Nothing! Nothing! Everything’s fine. Hester’s happy; the accommodation budget’s balanced. Everything is absolutely fine.
CAROLYN: But where are all the fans?
MARTIN: Oh, you heard about that, did you? Yes, well, we did have a-a momentary glitch with some enthusiasts but don’t worry. We sent them all away.
CAROLYN: You sent them away? Why on earth did you send them away? They were my revenge!
CAROLYN: Yes! Why else did you think I told them where she was staying?
MARTIN: You told them?
CAROLYN: Of course I told them, as soon as the studio paid up. No-one calls me ‘dearie’ and gets away with it. And then I specifically booked this table for us to survey the mayhem. Douglas, didn’t you explain this to him?
DOUGLAS: I ...
MARTIN: Douglas explain it?
CAROLYN: Yes! It was his idea in the first place!
DOUGLAS: ... Mixed nut?