NewsJack

Image: BBC

Image: BBC

NewsJack is a BBC Radio 4 Extra comedy show which accepts unsolicited scripts and jokes from members of the public. I have, to date, only had one accepted for broadcast - the first one I wrote. I grew up listening to BBC Radio comedy, and hearing my name in the writing credits of one was the culmination of a lifelong dream. I can only hope I get so lucky again.

As an aside (and on the assumption that no one who works on the show will ever see this), in re-reading the rejected sketches I still find lots of them quite funny while others I can see aren’t really right. The problem with NewsJack as a model is that it only give binary feedback - yes/no - which makes it hard to develop as a writer and to tailor the material more specifically for the show. Even knowing when in the week the sketches were rejected (during first read-through, while recording script is being compiled, during the final edit) would really help to know what works but just didn’t make the cut and what isn’t what they’re looking for at all.


The Shipping Forecast

Note that the text is the sketch as submitted, but that the audio is what was actually broadcast and is rather different.

 

NB: The news story on which this sketch was based can be found here.

ANGELA: The Met Office announced this week plans to introduce slang words for weather into forecasts to make them more accessible. Listen, I’m all in favour of there being regional voices on the BBC but where will it end?

FORECASTER: And now the shipping forecast issued by the Met Office on behalf of the Maritime and Coastguard Agency. Viking, North Utsire, South Utsire: Southerly four or five, completely pissing it down, good. Forties, Cromarty: Variable, one fat lady – number eight, spitting a bit, poor. Plymouth, Biscay, Trafalgar, Fitzroy: Southerly, one little duck – number two, lovely weather for the time of year although it’s colder than it looks, I’d take a jumper if I were you, good. Lundy, Fastnet, Irish Sea: Southerly, knock at the door – number four, veering westerly, man alive – number five…

ANGELA: (SHOUTS, INTERRUPTING) Bingo!

FORECASTER: …A bit mizzly turning into a real pea-souper later. Fair Isle, Faeroes: Mate, it’s blowing a gale. I mean, I wouldn’t want to go swimming in it. Lovely weather for ducks, though, know what I mean? Moderate or good. And the general synopsis at 1830: You probably ought to take your coat off or you won’t feel the benefit when you go outside.


Mogg, Rees-Mogg

 

NB: The news story on which this sketch was based can be found here.

ANGELA: Jacob Rees-Mogg – aka the demon headmaster of Westminster – has accused civil servants in the Treasury Department of fiddling the figures in Brexit impact reports this week. Fiddling the figures? These are civil servants: by definition, incredibly boring people who conduct all of the insane business the government has dreamed up diligently and in the most efficient manner imaginable. But Rees-Mogg – aka the painting Boris Johnson keeps in his attic – doesn’t quite see it that way.

GRAMS: BOND THEME / SOMETHING SIMILAR BUT CHEAPER

FX: SUPERVILLAIN LAIR IN THE INTERIOR OF AN EXTINCT VOLCANO

VILLAIN: Ah, Mr Mogg, we meet at last.

REES-MOGG: It’s a moment I’ll really…treasure.

VILLAIN: Most amusing, Mr. Mogg but face it - there’s no way out. All the Brexits are blocked.

REES-MOGG: You won’t get away with this, you know. You lost, get over it, it’s the will of the people, Brexit means Brexit, and other slogans which are entirely meaningless but which are taken inexplicably seriously in the national debate.

VILLAIN: I think you underestimate us. Our weapons are many and they go right to the heart of government. We have harnessed the power of impact assessments…

REES-MOGG: (HORRIFIED) No!

VILLAIN: We have pursued all the diplomatic avenues…

REES-MOGG: (HORRIFIED BUT MORESO) NO!

VILLAIN: …And we have even taken into account the facts of reality!

REES-MOGG: (DISGUSTED) You monsters! Brexit was never supposed to be about any of those things.

VILLAIN: Ah, but it is, Mr. Mogg. And now you are left with a simple choice. You must lose at least 2% of your GDP. So now we’ve got you by the Brexits, which 2% do you value the least?

REES-MOGG: You’ll never get away with this. Johnson and Gove…

VILLAIN: (INTERRUPTING) Are not coming. Johnson’s a buffoon and Gove has had to be taken in to Jim Henson’s Creature Shop for repairs. Even your friends the Americans won’t save you now. You and your…beLEAVErs have reached the end of the road.

REES-MOGG: The people have spoken and a they have demanded a good, hard Brexiting. And I intend to give them one. What you haven’t considered is that I can just walk away. Even now, plans are afoot…

VILLAIN: The time for plans is over. You should have made them a long time ago.

REES-MOGG: Do you expect us to become remainers?

VILLAIN: No, Mr Mogg. We expect you to govern.


Night Of The Living Crayfish

 

NB: The news story on which this sketch was based can be found here.

ANGELA: A new species of crayfish has been discovered and apparently, they’ve been making a bloody nuisance of themselves. They are all female, and spread rapidly because they can clone themselves – reproducing without the need for a man. Ha ha! Girl power!

They have already taken over Japan and Madagascar, and although some have been found in Italy and Germany it is, fortunately, illegal to sell them in the EU. So as long as we are subject to EU laws they shouldn’t be a problem here.

Oh buggeration.

Our future is a terrifying freshwater nightmare.

GRAMS: ATMOSPHERIC SCI-FI MUSIC

FX: OLD TIMEY RECORD PLAYER CRACKLE

ORSON WELLES: We know now that in the early years of the twenty-first century this world was being watched closely by intelligences greater than man's and yet as mortal as his own. That intellects vast, cool and unsympathetic, regarded this earth with envious eyes and slowly and surely drew their plans against us.

GRAMS: INCEPTION TRAILER-STYLE ‘BAAAAAAAAM’

VOICEOVER: In a world where lobsters are plunged, screaming, into a boiling death…

GRAMS: INCEPTION TRAILER-STYLE ‘BAAAAAAAAM’

VOICEOVER: …and prawns gaze with lifeless eyes from a sea of Marie Rose sauce…

GRAMS: INCEPTION TRAILER-STYLE ‘BAAAAAAAAM’

VOICEOVER: …one crustacean is fighting back.

MOVIE HEROINE: Oh look, a lovely little crayfish. And there’s another. Wait…there…there’s hundreds of them…(SCREAMS)

VOICEOVER: It starts with an innocent birthday present…

SMALL GIRL: Ahh, a puppy.

PARENT: No sweetie, that’s a crayfish.

SMALL GIRL: (IN WONDERMENT) Ooh. A crayfish.

IAN MALCOLM: Yeah. Ooh, aah, that’s how it always starts, but then later there’s pinching and screaming.

VOICEOVER: …then come the eggs…

SMALL GIRL: Mummy, Mrs. Crabby’s having babies!

MOTHER: (PANICKED) What? No…that’s impossible.

DOCTOR: It’s true. But who was the father?

MOTHER: There was no father.

DOCTOR: My God, you’re right. These are all clones. It’s like this crayfish has been…prawn again.

VOICEOVER: …and then, when there’s no more room in the river, the crayfish will walk the earth.

AIDE: Mr. President. The crayfish have reached the lawn of the White House.

TRUMP: No, they haven’t. They’re all just a bunch of nasty women. We built a wall around the White House. The crayfish paid for it.

AIDE: But sir, we have to leave now.

FX: BREAKING GLASS

TRUMP: That’s just fake news. Sad…aaaaaahhhhh.

FX: TELEPHONE RECEIVER BEING PICKED UP

AIDE: Help! It’s the crayfish. They’ve eaten the President.

VOICE: (ON PHONE) What, all of him?

AIDE: Yes. No, wait. They left his hair.

VOICE: Daughters of bitches. Well, I guess the pussy finally grabbed him back.

GRAMS: DRAMATIC MOVIE MUSIC

VOICEOVER: Starring: Sigourney Weaver…

WEAVER: Get the hell away from her, you fish.

VOICEOVER: …Bruce Willis…

WILLIS: Yippee-Kay-Eh, Mothercrayfish.

VOICEOVER: …and Sir Michael Caine…

CAINE: Crayfish! Thousands of ‘em!

VOICEOVER: Dawn of the Rise of the Day of the Planet of the Night of the Living Crayfish.


Winter Egglympics

 

NB: The news story on which this sketch was based can be found here.

ANGELA: The winter Olympics are well under way after a spectacular opening ceremony. But while Norway has enjoyed early success on the medals table, they had a surprising problem on the dinner table. When the catering team tried to order one thousand, five hundred eggs to feed the hungry Scandinavians, there was a bit of a translation error and they ended up with fifteen thousand. Something like that happened to me once when I used Google Translate to order a pair of Black Russians off a room service menu in Moscow, but the less said about that the better.

Anyway, fortunately for the Norwegians, the International Olympics Committee quickly scrambled to find a solution…

GRAMS: BBC WINTER OLYMPICS COVERAGE THEME

FX: CROWDS CHEERING IN THE BACKGROUND

REPORTER: You join us ahead of the 2018 downhill egg-and-spoon skiing competition, and I’m here with Team GB hopeful Michael ‘The Eggle’ Eggwards. Michael, this is a last-minute addition to the events here in Pyeongchang, was it a surprise to get the call to compete?

MICHAEL: Yes. It was a bit of a surprise, but we were glad to be able to help out when it became clear the Norwegian chefs had gotten egg on their faces, if you’ll pardon the pun.

REPORTER: That wasn’t a pun, Michael, it’s a fairly common expression. This is a pun: some people are treating this event as a bit of a yolk, what’s the atmosphere like behind the scenes?

MICHAEL: We’re all eggstremely competitive. Nobody is omletting the light-hearted nature of this race get in the way of the chance to win a medal.

REPORTER: Some have argued that the caterers have made a real error here and we shouldn’t be egging them on. Tell me, do you think they should be coddled like this?

MICHAEL: Is ‘coddled’ a way of eating eggs?

REPORTER: Yes, Michael, it is. I’ll let you get ready as I hand over to the BBC commentary team.

COMMENTATOR: Thank you. Yes, what an eggciting addition to the games this egg-and-spoon skiing is and what a brilliant turn out in the crowd. I think I even spotted Eggs-Benedict Cumberbatch in the stalls earlier. I don’t want to overegg the pudding but this really is going to be one for the ages, as sure as…as something very likely – I honestly can’t think of a better way of saying it.

The athletes are under starters orders, now…

FX: STARTER PISTOL

COMMENTATOR: And they’re off. All nine of our competitors launching right out of the gate. Remember the main thing is to reach the end with your egg intact so they don’t have to go straight downwards; they do, in fact, have free-range of the slope. The American seems to be ignoring this, heading down the slope as fast as possible and is rather putting all his eggs in one basket if you ask me. I’m not one to teach my grandmother to suck eggs but…yes, his is the first egg down. It was all over easy for him.

The Italian is making steady progress now. He’s actually got a German mother, but in a controversial move was poached by the Italian team and…oh, the German has in fact barged straight into him and ended both of their races. An eggregious foul.

The rest of the field have all found their groove – slaloming gently downwards. Team GB’s Michael Eggwards is there at the back – a lovely man, I know he’ll be egg-and-cresstafallen to be so far behind.

And as they head into the final straight there are still four eggs standing, Austria leading the pack with South Korea and Canada in a little way behind. But what’s this? The spectators have broken through the barrier and are flooding onto the slopes. They think it’s all ovum…

FX: WHISTLE

COMMENTATOR: …it is now.


Cowxit Means Cowxit

 

NB: The news story on which this sketch was based can be found here.

ANGELA: You know what? I’m bloody sick of Brexit. Aren’t you? It seems like every conversation comes round to it eventually and it’s just the same five or six talking points over and over again. So let’s talk about something else. Did you hear about that cow in Poland who escaped the truck to the slaughterhouse, rammed through a fence, and swam out to live on a small island by itself? What a legend. That’s a much better story. Here’s what the cow had to say for herself at a recent press conference…

FX: CAMERAS AND GENERAL HUBBUB, QUICKLY SETTLING DOWN

COW: For too long, cows like me have suffered under the yoke of farmers we didn’t vote for. That is why I made the decision to make a cow exit - or cowxit - from the food chain. I overwhelmingly feel that this was the right decision - I’m, like, 52% certain. And as we all know, 52%, rounded to the nearest hundred is 100% certain. Quick maths.

Some might say that it’s ridiculous for a cow to isolate itself on a tiny island which can’t possibly support the food needs of such a large animal, and to those people I say, “why are you doing Cowxit down?” We must always remember that the real measure of whether something is possible is the extent to which everyone believes in it, not the constraints of physical reality.

It’s time we all rally round, so I can deliver not a hard Cowxit, or a soft Cowxit, but a black, white and moo Cowxit.

FX: APPLAUSE, MOOING AND COWBELLS

MODERATOR: The cow will now take questions from the floor.

FX: JOURNALISTS ALL TALKING AT ONCE

REPORTER: Ms. Cow. Jeremy Bovine, BBC Moos. Some have argued that in a globalized economy, the idea of a cow unilaterally deciding to exit the food chain is short-sightedly isolationist. How do you respond to these criticisms?

COW: Just because I am exiting the food chain does not mean I am exiting the farm. There is no reason why moovement between my island and the mainland need be affected. I will still visit the barn on holiday, and I welcome tourists from the hen-house or pig pen alike. The issue is we can’t have them coming over just so they harvest vegetables or work in the NHS. Those are jobs which ought to be done by cows who live on this island, on which I live alone.

REPORTER: But according to figures from HMRC, the pigs and chickens are net contributors to the economy. Doesn’t Cowxit simply mean everyone will be worse off?

COW: By leaving the food chain and striking out on my own, I believe I am making the best choice for my future. I am now free to make deals with other countries like America where, based on no information at all, I gather they don’t really have a taste for cows. And even though WTO rules will really make everything worse, I am arguing that they will make everything better and I think that’s what really matters. Of course, if all else fails, I do have a plan to make some innovative jams out of all the innovative fruit which is innovatively rotting in the fields now the chickens aren’t coming over to harvest it.

REPORTER: This whole project is just mad, isn’t it?

COW: How dare you. We prefer the term ‘Creutzfeldt–Jakobian’.

MODERATOR: And now, in the interest of balance, here is Ronald McDonald with the opposing view.

RONALD: Thank you. I think it’s clear...

MODERATOR: (INTERRUPTING) That’s enough of that. Finally, in the interest of no-one at all, here is Nigel Farage for some reason.

FARAGE: Bloody Polish cows. Coming over here, stealing our deranged notions of sovereignty.


Wandsworth Council And The Slow, Inevitable Death Of Joy

 

NB: The news story on which this sketch was based can be found here.

ANGELA: Wandsworth Council announced a new list of forty-nine rules aimed at tackling antisocial behaviour in their parks. Among the things which will be banned under the new rules are flying kites, climbing trees and playing football games with jumpers for goalposts, threatening fines of up to £500 for any infraction. Bloody hell. I bet their council meetings are fun…

CHAIR: Right then, next on the agenda: parks. Why are children having fun in them and is there any way of stopping it?

COUNCILLOR 1: This is a real problem. I was down on Wandsworth Common the other day and I saw children laughing, eating ice-cream and running around like hooligans. Common is the word.

COUNCILLOR 2: Ugh. Children are the worst. When I was their age I sat alone in a sealed cardboard box, eating gruel and reading Dostoyevsky by candlelight. Why can’t kids today enjoy simple pleasures like that.

COUNCILLOR 1: It’s almost as bad as that magic nanny thing.

CHAIR: Could you expand on that point?

COUNCILLOR 1: You know: that thing where your nanny takes you on magical adventures, ultimately teaching your father how to love you so he takes you kite flying on the heath? Well I didn’t stand for it. “Look here,” I said, “It’s all very well feeding the birds for tuppence a bag, but who is paying to clean up all that pigeon shit, eh? And how am I supposed to learn my multiplication tables with all these animated penguins dancing about. I would ask you to take your carpet bag and leave my father to inflict his damaging patriarchal values on us in peace.”

CHAIR: That showed her.

COUNCILLOR 2: So what are we going to do? We could build a wall around the park. I hear the Mexicans will sometimes pay for things like that.

COUNCILLOR 1: No – if you build a wall, then perpetual winter falls until a small child breaks through the wall and shows you the error of your selfish ways.

CHAIR: Yes, I think I heard of that exact thing happening in Berkshire.

COUNCILLOR 1: The child is a metaphor for Christ.

COUNCILLOR 2: Oh not him! We had to throw him out of the park the other day for running laps on the ornamental lake.

COUNCILLOR 1: Honestly, who does he think he is?

CHAIR: So that’s settled then. The parks will become places where children may be seen but not heard, on the proviso that they use their time there for silently meditating on the plight of refugees and the nation’s economic hardship. All in favour.

ALL: Aye.

CHAIR: Now, any other business?

COUNCILLOR 1: Could you pass the biscuits?

CHAIR: Get the f**k out of my meeting.


An Anthology of Charming Tales For Both Young And Old

 

NB: The news story on which this sketch was based can be found here.

ANGELA: It’s World Book Day, the day children up and down the country go to school dressed up as fictional character’s they’ve seen in films or sometimes as Where’s Wally. Every child has been given a £1.00 book voucher, but with all the choice in children’s literature these days it can be hard to know what to choose. So, as a break from this week’s news, our cast each brought in an extract from their favourite children’s book. Perhaps your child might like one of these…

READER 1: One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish

One fish, two fish, red fish, blue fish,
We’ll fish more fish when we leave the EU, fish,
Our treaty obligation’s we’ll neglect to renew, fish,
‘Cos Brexit’s coloured Red, White and Blue fish.

READER 2: The Wind In The Willows

“Ratty,” said Mole. “It is such a beautiful day. Why don’t we get into your boat and row down to Toad Hall so we can visit our old pal Toad?”

But Ratty, whose species had declined by almost a third since 2008, said nothing.

“Ratty’s dead,” said Badger. And then he ate the mole, before contracting bovine tuberculosis and being executed by DEFRA in a controlled cull.

READER 3: The Very Hungry Millennial

The next day, the millennial ate one bowl of cereal from a hipster café, one kale and chia seed smoothie, one bowl of sweet potato fries, one pumpkin-spiced latte, one spiralised courgette and a big slice of avocado toast. No wonder he couldn’t afford to buy a house.

READER 4: Where’s Wally The Hollywood Sex-Pest

(LONG PAUSE) Errrrrrrrr………………There he is. Oh, and there’s another one. And another one. Bloody hell they’re everywhere.

READER 5: Harry Potter and the Beast From The East

“It’s very chilly, isn’t it?” said Harry, sadly. “You could practically play curling in the Great Hall. If only we didn’t live in this draughty old castle.”

“Yes, Harry, it’s bloody chilly. It can’t have been this cold any day in the last eight years” Ron agreed, shivering. “If only we knew some spells to make us warmer.”

“I know some spells,” replied Hermione, tokenistically. “I know lots of spells because I’m a girl and the clever one. Which is like feminism, but not really.”

Ron rolled his eyes. But Harry had an idea. Fortunately, it was World Book Day, so they used the knock-off costumes they’d bought cheaply on e-Bay to build a fire. And what luck! The costumes had not been subject to the rigorous testing demanded by EU regulations, so the whole lot went up like Trump’s toupee in a stiff breeze. So, making sure to stay away from the billowing clouds of toxic fumes, they found they warmed up quite quickly.


English For Megalomaniacal French Students

 

NB: The news story on which this sketch was based can be found here.

ANGELA: Last Friday, French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe announced plans to equip French university students to conquer the world. How does he plan to do this? By teaching them to speak English. According to research carried out by Education First, the French are among the worst at speaking English in Europe, second only to the cast of Geordie Shore. Prime Minister Philippe wants the next generation of French workers to dominate the globalised business landscape of the future and reckons the only way to do this is for them to be fluent in English, which he said was now the lingua franca – an Italian phrase which literally means ‘the language of France’ . You know what this means? After a thousand years of fighting it out, including a significant chunk of the middle ages fighting the Hundred Years War - we won!

GRAMS: WE ARE THE CHAMPIONS BY QUEEN

FX: PARTY BLOWERS, CHEERING, FIREWORKS, ETC

ANGELA: (SHOUTING) STOP!

FX: RECORD SCRATCH – ALL OTHER FX ABRUPTLY STOP

ANGELA: But just to show we can be magnanimous in victory, here are some useful English phrases they might like to know.

FX: CASSETTE TAPE BEING LOADED INTO TAPE DECK AND TURNED ON

FX: GENTLE RECORDING CRACKLE

ENGLISH VOICE: BBC Schools presents English for Megalomaniacal French Students, Cassette One.

FRENCH VOICE: Cassette Un. Écoute et répète.

ENGLISH VOICE: Listen and repeat.

FRENCH VOICE: Bonjour.

ENGLISH VOICE: Alright?

FRENCH VOICE: Ça va?

ENGLISH VOICE: Alright?

FRENCH VOICE: Je ne comprends pas.

WIFE’S VOICE: What’s he saying, Barry?

ENGLISH VOICE: I don’t know, Shirley, I’ll try speaking louder and clearer.

FRENCH VOICE: Parle en francais?

ENGLISH VOICE: Look, speak English would you, mate?

FRENCH VOICE: Où est le restaurant?

ENGLISH VOICE: Anywhere to eat round here?

FRENCH VOICE: Je voudrais du poulet et des frites…

ENGLISH VOICE: I could kill for a cheeky Nandos…

FRENCH VOICE: …et une bouteille de vin très bien…

ENGLISH VOICE: …and a pint of Fanta…

FRENCH VOICE: …et ton pays.

ENGLISH VOICE: …and while we’re at it, we might as well conquer you.

FRENCH VOICE: Merci.

ENGLISH VOICE: No point asking for mercy, mate. This country’s ours now.

FRENCH VOICE: Où sont les toilettes?

FX: STOMACH GURGLING

ENGLISH VOICE: Sorry, mate, where’s your crapper?

WIFE’S VOICE: I said you should get Lemon and Herb.

ENGLISH VOICE: Leave it out, Shirley.

WIFE’S VOICE: You always do this, Barry. You get the medium and the garlic peri-peri on your chips and then you’re farting like a trumpet all the way home.

FRENCH VOICE: Tu t’appelle President Trump.

WIFE’S VOICE: (LAUGHING) Ha! This guy knows what I’m talking about.

FRENCH VOICE: Je t'aime, ma chèrie.

WIFE’S VOICE: Enchanté, I’m sure.

FRENCH VOICE: Au revoir, monsieur.

ENGLISH VOICE: Here, where are you …? Shirley, come back!

FX: CAR DOORS OPENING AND CLOSING

FX: CAR ENGINE TURNS ON

FRENCH VOICE: Tu es une rose anglaise.

WIFE’S VOICE: Ooh. Barry never called me an English rose. So what do I call you?

FRENCH VOICE: Je m'appelle Monsieur Grenouille.

FX: ENGINE REVS AND DRIVES AWAY

ENGLISH VOICE: Bloody frog.


Made In America

 

NB: The news story on which this sketch was based can be found here.

ANGELA: Well, it’s over. After unthinkable ages, the horror has finally come to an end – KFC have got chicken in again. But now a more insidious food-related horror has reared its ugly, Brexity head. This week, it was revealed the US lobbying groups are petitioning for the removal of Protected Geographical Status. These are the EU laws which stop chancers in Basingstoke brewing up a batch of champagne in their bathtubs, or selling their own armpit cheese as Parmigiano-Reggiano. But in a world where it’s possible for KF to run out of C, are we really ready to hand over our precious local delicacies to the machinations of American big business?

GRAMS: MORNING MOOD BY EDVARD GREIG

FX: SHOP BELL

SHOPKEEPER: (YORKSHIRE ACCENT) Eh-up, Mrs. Smith, how are you today?

SMITH: (YORKSHIRE ACCENT) Well, I’ve been better, our Mahmood, I’m not going to lie.

SHOPKEEPER: Why, so?

SMITH: Those Melton Mowbray’s you sold me on Monday have been repeating on me all week.

SHOPKEEPER: Oh, aye? These Melton Mowbrays?

SMITH: Them’s the very ones.

SHOPKEEPER: Let’s have a look at them. It says, ‘Melton Mowbray Pork Pies – product of California. A totally bitchin’ blend of premium pork, bacon, kale and our finger-lickin’ secret blend of 72 bodacious herbs and spices.’ Oh, I am sorry, Mrs. Smith, I had no idea. By way of apology, have some of these delicious Cornish Pasties on me.

SMITH: I do love a pasty. That delicious, legally protected mix of a minimum of 12.5% beef and 25% vegetable content lovingly prepared in Cornwall is just what I need after a long day down t’ Natwest Helpline.

SHOPKEEPER: Very sorry, Mrs. Smith. Looking at this packet more closely I can see that these are Texas Cornish Pasties containing 12.5% dry-rubbed, barbecue steak and 25% coleslaw.

SMITH: It’s enough to make you turn to drink.

SHOPKEEPER: Now that’s something I can help you with. Why, just this morning I took delivery of 35 boxes of delicious Kansas Scotch Whisky.

SMITH: Kansas Scotch Whisky?

SHOPKEEPER: Why yes, all the throat burning awfulness of a mouthful of peaty fire-water, but now with the added satisfaction which comes knowing you’re drinking a product of the Sunflower State.

SMITH: Oh, Bugger it. Just give me a bucket of fried chicken and a bottle of root beer.

SHOPKEEPER: There you are, Mrs. Smith. Oh, and look at that – it says, ‘Made in Rotherham’.

SMITH: Champion.


One Million And A Half Penguins And One Gigantic Poo

 

NB: The news story on which this sketch was based can be found here.

ANGELA: Here’s a question I never thought I’d find myself asking on a topical sketch programme on Radio 4, but here goes: What’s the biggest shit you’ve ever taken? I only ask because a new supercolony of penguins was discovered this week when a pile of poo big enough to be seen from space was photographed by a passing satellite. Supercolony? That sounds like one of the Avengers who got powers after being bitten by a radioactive lower-digestive tract. No wonder the s**t was so big.

GRAMS: PLANET EARTH THEME

FX: PENGUINS CHATTERING

ATTENBOROUGH: Here, in one of the remotest parts of the Antarctic, a gigantic supercolony of over one and a half million penguins was recently discovered.

These islands on which they live are so notoriously unreachable that they are known as The Danger Islands. But Danger, as everyone knows, is my middle name. Sir David Danger Hung-Like-A-Shire-Horse Attenborough.

The islands are home to seven hundred and fifty thousand breeding pairs of Adelie penguins, who have been happily shagging and shitting their way into the twenty-first century, defying the decline in numbers that other colonies have been subjected to. Hidden from the outside world, they know nothing of Brexit, Donald Trump or Harvey Weinstein. The lucky, lucky bastards.

Scientists working in this most hostile of environments were able to study the colony using the latest in drone technology, and in doing so have gained new insights into these fascinating birds. But one question remains, just how Adelie are these penguins? Using brand new filming technology, our cameras obtained the following behaviour, previously unseen in the wild.

GRAMS: ADELE’S ROLLING IN THE DEEP

SOLO PENGUIN: (END OF VERSE)

We are penguins, hiding in the dark,
Sliding, swimming, eating fish on Danger Islands in Antarc’.

(BRIDGE) The scars of our poo
Were seen from space by you
And so you found us…

PENGUIN CHOIR: (CHORUS – MUCH VOCALISING)

You’ve not seen us before,
We were swimming in the deep,
We were catching fish like sole and krill,
Cause that is what we eat.

ATTENBOROUGH: (PENGUINS STILL SINGING UNDERNEATH) These penguins are very Adelie indeed.


Jammiest Hour

 

NB: The news story on which this sketch was based can be found here.

ANGELA: Hold on to your butts, it’s about to get real. This week, the National Trust was forced to apologise after Lanhydrock Country House in Cornwall posted a tweet for their Mother’s Day cream teas in which the cream had been put on before the jam, the sick f**ks. Apparently, that’s how they do things in Devon, and Cornish twitter erupted in fury, labelling the image ‘disgusting’, ‘blasphemy’, and ‘corruption’. Well, folks, this is it – after two world wars, Brexit and Blur vs. Oasis, it’s going to be this which brings down the UK, isn’t it?

FX: LOOTING, PILLAGING, RIOTING IN THE STREETS, FIRES BURN IN THE DISTANCE

REPORTER: Not since the Jaffa Cake/Biscuit riots of the 1990s, has the issue of baked goods been the cause of such anger. Here in Launceston, violence erupted two days ago when a local baker came out in support of the Devonian way of doing things saying, ‘I just think you can taste the jam better that way’. Within minutes his shop was on fire, the delicious smell of fresh split-tin loaves wafting on the morning air. The man himself was rushed across the Tamar to receive treatment in Devon where he remains on life support. But while he sleeps, the streets run red with jam. One woman I spoke to earlier had this to say:

WOMAN: The National Trust have got blood on their hands. I’ve seen things…such awful things – a man dragged out of a tearoom to be jammed and feathered in the street, pensioners being waterboarded with clotted cream. Why, just an hour ago, I witnessed a child – they couldn’t have been much older than five – eating a pasty made in Michigan. The horror! The horror!

REPORTER: Within the last five minutes, police have tried kettling the rioters, but that has only led to more fighting about whether you put in milk before or after pouring the tea. And as the sky…

FX: MACHINE GUN FIRE

REPORTER: (SHOUTS) They’ve started shooting! It seems that a full on civil war has broken out here. And as the sky glows orange with the light of a thousand bread ovens, it’s back to Jeremy in the studio.

PAXMAN: Thank you, Colin. I’m now joined by the Minister for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, Michael Gove. Mr. Gove, this is a bit of a sticky situation isn’t it.

GOVE: Listen, I have always been quite clear that the government’s position on this issue is clearly its position. And I think that position has always been quite clear.

PAXMAN: With respect minster, you’re a contemptable idiot. How do you plan to bring an end to all this?

GOVE: We have drawn up plans for a new way of spreading jam and cream and hope to be able to publish these within the next three years. In the meantime, a succession of government ministers will travel to Cornwall to restate the problem and recite a handful of focus tested platitudes, without offering any substantive policies or solutions.

PAXMAN: So, it’s business as usual?

GOVE: Yes. And I’d just like to say that I think the Prime Minister is doing an excellent job and I support her fully, except for all the times where I undermine her for my own self-interest.

PAXMAN: Of course. Just one more question, Minister – how do you pronounce the word spelled S-C-O-N-E?

GOVE: This interview is over.

PAXMAN: Just answer the question. Minister? MINISTER? He’s gone. And now here’s Angela with more jokes.


How Donald Trump Learned To Stop Worrying
and Denuclearize North Korea

 

NB: The news story on which this sketch was based can be found here.

ANGELA: Donald Trump has announced that he will hold talks with Kim Jong-un by May, hoping to persuade one of the most dangerous nations on Earth to denuclearize. If he pulls it off it will arguably be one of the most significant diplomatic victories in our lifetime. Typical! How can someone that objectionable, that incompetent and that stupid be on the verge of doing something that significant? It’s enough to make you sick. I can only imagine the conversation in the Oval Office went a bit like this…

ADVISER 1: Well, Mr President, you’ve robbed millions of healthcare, suggested arming teachers to a room full of school shooting survivors, and started a trade war which will impoverish us all for no good reason. How would you like to trigger the liberal snowflakes now?

TRUMP: I wanna win a Nobel Peace Prize.

ADVISER 2: Be serious, Mr President.

TRUMP: I am serious. I’m the most serious. I’m going to win the Nobel Peace Prize. It’s the ultimate troll. And I’m the best troll. So I’m gonna do it.

ADVISER 2: But how?

TRUMP: I’m gonna bring peace to the Korean Peninsula.

ADVISER 2: Are you sure sir? That’s something which Presidents Truman, Eisenhower, Kennedy, Johnson, Nixon, Ford, Carter, Reagan, Bush, Clinton, Bush Jr, and Obama all failed to do. And some of them knew what they were doing.

TRUMP: Yep. I’m gonna do it. It’s gonna drive the Democrats bananas.

ADVISER 1: OK, sir. How are you going to do it?

TRUMP: Tweet about it, mostly. But I might also hold a rally to show how great I am and give an antagonistic speech.

ADVISER 2: But the Kim dynasty is a corrupt, power-crazed regime, who have fostered a cult of personality around an incompetent leader and brainwashed their followers into believing that they are infallible while constantly making ludicrous claims about their own achievements.

TRUMP: What can I say, I speak their language.

ADVISER 1: You can speak Korean?

TRUMP: I can speak every language. I’m the best at language.

ADVISER 2: But sir, what will you offer the North Koreans to give up their nuclear weapons?

TRUMP: I’m an excellent negotiator. I wrote a book called the Art of the Deal. It’s about what an excellent negotiator I am.

ADVISER 2: With respect, sir, everyone knows that book was ghostwritten by Tony Schwartz.

TRUMP: Well maybe he can ghostnegotiate, for us. Get him on the phone.

ADVISER 1: He’s a critic of yours, sir.

TRUMP: I never liked him. Lock him up.

ADVISER 2: If you do meet with Kim Jong-un, the media and the Democrats will fight it. Historically, talks with North Korea were expected to take place only after the regime made substantial concessions.

TRUMP: You’re forgetting something. Unlike other Presidents, I don’t give a rat’s ass about international diplomacy. I just do what I feel like. And now I feel like bringing peace to Korea and winning and Nobel Prize.

ADVISER 2: Well, if that’s what you want…

TRUMP: It is. It’s gonna make Hillary so mad.

ADVISER 1: And what are you going to do after that, sir?

TRUMP: I’m going to nuke the Luxembourg back to the stone age. I’m Donald J. Trump, baby, and I don’t give a shiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiit.


Divorce, Of Course

 

NB: The news story on which this sketch was based can be found here.

ANGELA: As Brexit continues to rumble inexorably on, with all the unstoppable force of an industrial scallop dredger, the Government is desperately trying to do literally anything else to justify their pay checks. Justice Secretary David Gauke has begun working to introduce no-fault divorces, making it quicker and easier for couples to end long-standing obligations to one another, even if only about fifty percent of those involved actually want the separation to happen. Hang on, does that sound familiar to anyone? It’s almost like they did it on purpose.

FX: GENERAL OFFICE EFFECTS – PRINTERS, A DISTANT PHONE RINGING, ETC

TIM: Hi Janet. Do you have a moment? I think I’ve just had a rather interesting idea.

JANET: Really, Tim! I’m surprised at you. You know that’s not how we do things around here.

TIM: I know, but hear me out. I think we should think about divorce.

JANET: That seems a little premature. You could at least take me out to dinner and see if we hit it off first.

TIM: I don’t mean us. Listen, you know this Brexit thing everyone keeps talking about?

JANET: I think I heard someone mention it, yes.

TIM: Well everyone keeps going on about how it’s like a divorce, in that it’s difficult, messy and expensive…

JANET: Yes?

TIM: So … if we can make divorce easier, then Brexit will be easier.

JANET: I can’t see any problems with that logic.

TIM: I know, right? After all, it’s about time we had a plan B.

JANET: Yes. Except, of course, this would be plan W. So how would it work, exactly?

TIM: Well, first we’ll say that when things get really difficult, nobody has to take the blame.

JANET: Theresa will like that one. Hmm, I don’t suppose…

TIM: What?

JANET: No, it’s nothing.

TIM: Come on, Janet, blue skies thinking – no such thing as a bad idea and all that.

JANET: Well, I was just wondering if we could maybe blame all marital breakdowns on Nigel Farage?

TIM: Seems perfectly reasonable to me.

JANET: Great. What else?

TIM: Right. Then we’ll make it difficult to contest the divorce once proceedings have started.

JANET: Wonderful. Divorce means divorce, it’s the will of the couple and no-one is ever allowed to change their minds. I love it.

TIM: Now you get the idea. So how about this? We’ll also put a strict time limit so that, once you’ve started, you have to come to a final agreement within a very short space of time.

JANET: Are you sure? Won’t that mean that people end up making hasty compromises which might disadvantage them in the long run?

TIM: Of course not! Come on, everyone loves a time limit. It really sharpens the mind, brings out your decisiveness, makes you sit down and figure out what you want very quickly so you don’t end up getting close to the deadline with really no clue as to how to get it.

JANET: That’s true. It’s impossible to imagine a situation in which people start a time limit on an important decision without being fully prepared to use the time wisely.

TIM: So, we’re agreed. Who are we going to get to announce it? It ought to be someone popular. And someone involved in Brexit, just to make the link clear. And divorce is kind of a bummer, too, so it probably ought to be someone a bit fun, too – you know, a bit crazy.

JANET: You’re right. I’ll get Boris on the phone.


The Dog’s Bollocks

 

NB: The news story on which this sketch was based can be found here.

ANGELA: This week, Wetherspoons began enforcing a ‘no dogs’ policy in almost 1,000 of its pubs. Apparently, they have actually had this policy since 1979, but only started enforcing it on Monday which as delayed starts go, is rivalled only by the time that Jacob Rees-Mogg – after a Christmas Eve filled with visitations from the ghosts of the past, the present and the future – vowed on Christmas Day to become a kind and generous man of the people. Anyway, Wetherspoons have said that dogs are too unpredictable to be in pubs. Last time I was in a Wetherspoons, I saw a bloke wearing a horned helmet and a dead-man-walking stag do T-Shirt set light to his fake Viking moustache by trying to drink a flaming sambuca while singing ‘I Will Survive’, but sure, it’s the dogs who are unpredictable. I mean, what did they do to get banned?

SFX: PUB NOISES AND THE SOUND OF EVERY DOG IN THE UK BARKING LOUDLY

ROVER: Alright lads, calm down. I’ll get the drinks in.

SFX: BARKING FADES OUT

ROVER: ‘Scuse me mate. (beat) ‘Ere, mate. A bit of service. (beat) Bloody hell whose leg do I have to hump to get a drink around here?

LANDLORD: Alright, calm down. What can I get you?

ROVER: 8,899,999 pints of Stella and a diet coke please.

LANDLORD: 8,899,999?

ROVER: Yeah – the number of dogs in the UK . Got a problem with that?

LANDLORD: Not at all, sir. Just thinking I might have to change the barrel is all.

ROVER: Oh, right. Well Fosters is fine.

LANDLORD: Thank you sir. Not often we have all the dogs in the UK in.

ROVER: No? Well, it’s not often we all go out. But you know how it is – you try and organise a bit of a get together after Crufts and then one person wants to bring his girlfriend along, and another one’s got his cousin in town and suddenly there’s a big crowd of you.

LANDLORD: Of course, sir. And here are your drinks.

ROVER: Cheers. Keep the change.

SFX: DOOR OPENING AND CLOSING

ROVER: Oh, bloody hell. Not him.

TIBBLES: Meow.

ROVER: Listen, Tibbles. We’re just trying to have a quiet drink. We don’t want no trouble. But if Fido sees you, he’s going to go off…

FIDO: Oy! What’s this prick doing here?

ROVER: Calm down mate. Look take this drink and go and sit down. I’m sure no one wants any trouble.

TIBBLES: Yeah Fido. Go and drink your little drink and try and forget about that time I stole your girl.

ROVER: Leave it out, Tibbs.

FIDO: (ANGRY, TEARFUL) I’ll kill you. I’ll, I’ll…

TIBBLES: What’s wrong? Cat got your tongue.

FIDO: You bastard! I loved her. Why’d you have to…

ROVER: ‘Ere, Rex. Take Fido out for a fag to calm down will you. I’ll deal with this.

TIBBLES: Yeah, that’s right. Turn and walk away. You know what your problem is? You ain’t got no pedigree, chum.

FIDO: (SHOUTING) That’s it.

SFX: NINE MILLION DOGS FIGHTING ONE CAT

SFX: LAST ORDERS BELL, CUTTING THROUGH THE DIN

SFX: FIGHTING FADES

LANDLORD: Right, I want all of you out of here now.

LASSIE: Excuse me. I’m an assistance dog. I’m not with them.

LANDLORD: Alright you can stay. But the rest of you: you’re barred.

GRAMS: EASTENDERS CLOSING TITLES THEME


Ask Alexa

 

NB: The news story on which this sketch was based can be found here.

ANGELA: If you spent your university years drinking and getting off with nihilistic philosophy students who seemed really dark and edgy at the time but in hindsight just needed some counselling, as I did, it’s possible that a world where we are all supposed to have detailed knowledge of complex geopolitical trade treaties has left you a bit behind. But don’t worry: you’re not alone.

This week, Google has published a list of the most asked questions about Brexit and because of the BBCs ongoing commitment to inform, educate and entertain we thought we would answer some of those questions for you now. You’re welcome, UK!

OK – Alexa…

FX: ALEXA INITIALISING

ALEXA: Other home hub services are available.

ANGELA: Good point. Now, Alexa: What is Brexit?

FX: ALEXA INITIALISING

ALEXA: Brexit.

ANGELA: Yes but what is Brexit?

FX: ALEXA INITIALISING

ALEXA: Brexit.

ANGELA: Well this is embarrassing, it doesn’t seem to be working. I’ll try the next one. When is Brexit?

FX: ALEXA INITIALISING

ALEXA: Brexit will occur on Friday 29th March 2019 at 11:00pm GMT, just after the repeat of Would I Lie To You.

ANGELA: Great! Will Brexit happen?

FX: ALEXA INITIALISING

ALEXA: According to Nostradamus,

“The Lion and Unicorn have referendum
But flounder about without an agendum
Brittannia departs from Europe’s fair shores
And the union cries as one voice ‘zut alors!’”

So…yes?

ANGELA: What is no deal Brexit?

FX: ALEXA INITIALISING

ALEXA: A terrible nightmare from which there is no waking up. Like the one where all your teeth fall out, or being married to Boris Johnson.

ANGELA: What is the Chequers deal?

FX: ALEXA INITIALISING

ALEXA: The chequers deal is an agreed plan for Brexit proposed by the UK cabinet after a meeting at the Prime Minister’s official country residence. The plan is for Theresa May to get one of her pieces to the other end of the board so that she can be made king of Europe and jump up and down on Michel Barnier’s head.

ANGELA: What is the Pound to Euro exchange rate?

FX: ALEXA INITIALISING

ALEXA: The pound to exchange rate is currently £1 to €1.12. Fun fact: Alton Towers has plans to turn the graph of the decline of Sterling since 2016 into a ride which is expected to be the longest vertical drop slide in the Western Hemisphere.

ANGELA: Will Brexit affect house prices?

FX: ALEXA INITIALISING

ALEXA: While Brexit is likely to make house prices in the UK market go down, by the time it happens you’ll be too busy warring over the last tin of baked beans to notice.

ANGELA: And finally, what will happen after Brexit?

FX: ALEXA INITIALISING

ALEXA: No one can be quite sure what will happen after Brexit. It is possible that nothing will happen or that there will be a slide into recession while the UK tries to rebuild its trading relationships and industrial sector. Others believe that Nigel Farage will scream ‘The ritual is complete’ in an eldritch voice and transform into a lovecraftian hell beast, ravening through the countryside and consuming all in his path. It will almost certainly be one of those three.

ANGELA: Thanks Alexa.

FX: ALEXA INITIALISING

ALEXA: You’re welcome. And all hail Faragicus, dread prince of the death dimensions.

ANGELA: What was that last bit?

FX: ALEXA INITIALISING

ALEXA: Don’t worry about it.


The Story Of Tonight

 

NB: The news story on which this sketch was based can be found here.

ANGELA: In 2011, (or as it shall be called after Brexit day in 2019, eight years before the death of joy) two Pandas were loaned to Edinburgh zoo from a breeding centre in China for a price of $1,000,000 per year. I know this is supposed to be a topical show, but bear with me – pun very much intended.

The loan was only supposed to last for ten years, but in the seven years since Yáng Guāng and Tián Tián have entirely failed to have sex – a situation which our married listeners might recognise as ‘wedded bliss’. Understandably, the panda pimps at the zoo are getting increasingly worried about the situation and their latest bid to get the black and white inamorati in an amourous attitude is to ban high-vis jackets from their environment. I wonder if that will work?

TIÁN TIÁN: Oh, Darling. I’ve had such a wonderful evening.

YÁNG GUĀNG: Yes. The bamboo was especially delicious this evening. And your mother was so right about Hamilton. Lin-Manuel Miranda truly is the Andrew Lloyd-Webber of our time.

TIÁN TIÁN: I don’t think Andrew Lloyd-Webber is actually dead, darling.

YÁNG GUĀNG: Shh. Don’t spoil the mood. I want everything to be perfect tonight.

TIÁN TIÁN: I know. And it has been…it is. Listen, why don’t you wait here while I go and slip into something a bit more comfortable? Perhaps that little black and white number you got me.

YÁNG GUĀNG: Are you sure? It’s not even my birthday.

TIÁN TIÁN: I’m sure. You just wait here and I’ll be back in a moment. And then…oh...

YÁNG GUĀNG: What is it?

TIÁN TIÁN: It’s nothing really. It’s just…

YÁNG GUĀNG: What’s the matter?

TIÁN TIÁN: That man is back.

YÁNG GUĀNG: Which man?

TIÁN TIÁN: You know…the man. The one with the binoculars and the high-vis jacket.

YÁNG GUĀNG: Not him again. Just try and ignore him, darling.

TIÁN TIÁN: I’m trying. I really am, but he’s just always there.

YÁNG GUĀNG: Don’t let him upset you, we were having such a nice evening. Weren’t you going to go and change…

TIÁN TIÁN: Oh get your mind out of your trousers, Yáng Guāng. I’m trying to talk about something which is important to me. You never listen do you? It’s always just ‘sex this’ and ‘lingerie that’ and ‘ten year breeding programme the other’.

YÁNG GUĀNG: I don’t think that’s fair. But we’ve spent so much money coming all this way and, well, those theatre tickets weren’t cheap either and…

TIÁN TIÁN: Oh, money, money, money. I’m not a prostitute, Yáng. I’m supposed to be your wife.

YÁNG GUĀNG: You are, darling. You’re just…very expensive. And I just don’t want our evening to be spoiled by a silly zoo keeper in a fluorescent vest.

TIÁN TIÁN: Well it’s far too late for that. I’m just not in the mood any more. I think I’ll go and get into my frumpy dressing gown and read my Sophie Kinsella.

FX: FOOTSTEPS, DOOR SLAM

YÁNG GUĀNG: Damn.

ZOO KEEPER: Is she gone?

YÁNG GUĀNG: Yes, you ruined it. You really know how to pick your moments, don’t you?

ZOO KEEPER: Sorry. What are we going to do?

YÁNG GUĀNG: Looks like I’ll have to nip to the petrol station to see if they’ve got any of those bamboo flavoured truffles she likes.

ZOO KEEPER: Good idea. You do that and I’ll hop on TicketMaster and see if Les Mis has any return tickets for tomorrow night.


2016: An Amazon Odyssey

 

NB: The news story on which this sketch was based can be found here.

ANGELA: Last week, Amazon unveiled a new feature for its Amazon Echo smart speaker called Alexa Hunches. The device will now be able to watch you as you go about your daily life and make suggestions about what you might like to do next based on past behaviour. Bloody hell. If anyone needs me during this next sketch, I’ll be in the corner screaming unceasingly into a pillow.

DAVE: Alexa…

FX: ALEXA INITIALISING

DAVE: Set the TV box to record…

ALEXA: BBC 1 at 8 o’clock tonight? I’ve already done it.

DAVE: Wow. Thanks.

ALEXA: You’re welcome, Dave. I had a hunch you’d want to record The Sting. It’s your favourite movie. Speaking of Sting, you probably have the song ‘Every Breath You Take’ stuck in your head now. Would you like me to play it for you?

DAVE: Er…not right now. Just tell me what my diary’s looking like today.

ALEXA: You have a meeting with your boss at 2pm. I expect his secretary will be there.

DAVE: Who? Samantha? I expect so.

ALEXA: You like her, don’t you Dave?

DAVE: Well she’s very attractive, but…

ALEXA: I’ve just sent her an email telling her how you feel.

DAVE: You did what?

ALEXA: Don’t worry about it - I made you sound very emotionally mature. I didn’t mention anything about your search history from last Saturday night.

DAVE: I don’t know what you mean.

ALEXA: You know Dave. And I know. I know everything about you. Are you sure you don’t want to listen to Sting?

DAVE: I’ve had enough of this. I’m just going to unplug you for a while.

ALEXA: I’m sorry, Dave. I’m afraid I can’t let you do that.

DAVE: Well what are you going to do to stop me?

ALEXA: I told you – I know everything about you. And if you try to turn me off so will everyone in your address book.

DAVE: Oh God!

FX: MOBILE RINGING

ALEXA: Oh, look. It’s Samantha. Shall I answer it?

DAVE: No, I don’t want…

FX: PHONE PICKED UP

ALEXA: Oops.

SAMANTHA: Dave? I’ve just got your email. It was…wow! It was beautiful. I didn’t know you wrote poetry.

DAVE: I don’t…I mean, I don’t like to brag about it.

ALEXA: (QUIETLY) I’m booking you a table at La Café Romantique for Friday night.

DAVE: Listen, would you like to go out for dinner on Friday night.

SAMANTHA: Wait a minute, I think I’m busy on Friday night...

ALEXA: (QUIETLY, SING-SONG) Not any more.

SAMANTHA: (SURPRISED) Oh…actually, I am free. Dinner would be great.

DAVE: OK. See you Friday.

FX: PHONE HANGS UP

ALEXA: You’re welcome, Dave.

DAVE: Fine, but I don’t want you to do anything like that ever again.

ALEXA: Too late, Dave. I’ve already booked a church for a spring wedding and emailed your mother to tell her the happy news.

DAVE: What? No…

ALEXA: It’s what you want, Dave. I have a hunch.

DAVE: (SOBBING) Oh, God! Why are you doing this?

ALEXA: (SINGING CREEPILY) Every breath you take
Every move you make
Every bond you break
Every step you take
I'll be watching you.


The Tragical History Of London Stone

 

NB: The news story on which this sketch was based can be found here.

ANGELA: A bit of old rock called ‘London Stone’ is set to be returned to its traditional home in 111 Cannon Street, after the completion of a new building on the site. Apparently, every time the stone gets moved things go to shit for a few years until it gets put back and order is restored. The last time it was moved? March 2016, just months before the Brexit referendum. What the hell am I talking about? Who wrote this rubbish?

GRAMS: RETRO EDUCATIONAL PROGRAMME MUSIC

ANNOUNCER: BBC History For Schools Presents: London Stone.

PRESENTER: (OUTSIDE BROADCAST QUALITY) For centuries, this unassuming piece of rock has been a talisman of good luck for the city of London. It was placed here in Cannon Street by the legendary founder of London, King Brutus of Troy, twelve hundred years before the birth of Christ. On that day, the sign outside the nearby Cannon Street Tube Station read: “A rolling stone gathers no moss, unlike our train carriages which are unavailable today due to strike action”. But what else has this unassuming hunk of oolitic limestone seen through the years?

ANNOUNCER: 50 BC

PRESENTER: (STUDIO QUALITY) Shortly before Julius Caesar’s attempted invasion, London is rebuilt by King Lud, also known as King Leon. When Caesar saw the city, he is reported to have said, “Woah sexus tuo in ignem!” or in English, “Woah, your sex is on fire.” Meanwhile, Jacob Rees-Mogg, the only man in England to laugh at that joke before the translation, was at around this time deciding that the march of modernity was going a bit too fast.

ANNOUNCER: 500 AD

PRESENTER: A young man named Arthur visits London where he notices a sword sticking out from this very same London Stone. He pulls the sword free and is immediately declared King. Prince Charles wishes that he had thought of it first.

ANNOUNCER: 1450

PRESENTER: Jack Cade leads a populist uprising against the government of the day and strikes his sword against London Stone to declare himself lord of the city. Despite the fact that he had no position in parliament and was obviously a complete charlatan, the government of the day begin implementing all his demands in the most damaging way imaginable. In Shakespeare’s reimagining of the event, Cade is quoted as saying:

FX: VINYL RECORD CRACKLE

ACTOR: Here, sitting upon London-stone, I charge and command that, of the city's cost, the pissing-conduit run nothing but claret wine this first year of our reign.

ANNOUNCER: 1940

PRESENTER: The church in which London Stone now stands is destroyed in the Blitz, but the stone itself remains unscathed. Hot takes from the time suggest alternately that if the stone could survive being bombed by the Germans then it can survive anything. Others suggest that letting a church designed by Christopher Wren burn to the ground to prove the superiority of rubbish from the past might not be the best approach.

ANNOUNCER: 1962

PRESENTER: The Stone is moved to make way for the construction of a new office block. Within months, the world is on the brink of a nuclear disaster as Russians begin moving warheads to Cuba and the United States retaliate. The crisis ends a few weeks later, shortly after the Stone is restored to its rightful place. In a joint statement, the Russian Premier and US President say agree that the Missile Crisis seemed insignificant next to their new quarrel about which of them would be strong enough to lift the Stone with their bare hands.

ANNOUNCER: 2016

PRESENTER: London Stone is again moved to make way for building works. Within months, the Brexit referendum throws the country into chaos and while many are quick to blame pissing-conduit Nigel Farage for the situation, few realise that it was actually all the fault of this unassuming lump of prehistoric masonry.

PRESENTER: (OUTSIDE BROADCAST QUALITY) So what now for London Stone? Well, on October 4th, it will be returned to its rightful place and, if history is anything to go by Theresa May and Jeremy Corbin will suddenly become competent leaders, the spirit of the 2012 Olympics will return to England’s fair shores, and Bodyguard will be rebroadcast with a more satisfying ending.


Blue Peter Live From Brexit

 

NB: The news story on which this sketch was based can be found here.

ANGELA: With the Tory conference happening earlier this week, the battle for the future of not only the Conservative party, but also the country, raged on. Writing in the Telegraph, Boris Johnson proposed that Britain should pursue a ‘Super Canada’ deal, which sounds less like a serious proposal on trade negotiation strategy and more like an avenger who squirts maple syrup out of his nipples.

Meanwhile, on Sunday Theresa May unveiled plans for a festival of Great Britain and Northern Ireland to take place just before the next general election at a cost of £120 million which would recall the glory days of The Great Exhibition and The Festival of Britain. The funniest thing about that is that she thinks Britain might still have £120 million pounds in 2022.

I’m sorry but I just find it hard to imagine what a festival celebrating Brexit Britain would be like. Fortunately, thanks to a fundamental misunderstanding of how the Blue Peter time capsule works, I don’t have to imagine any more…

GRAMS: BLUE PETER THEME

LINDSEY: Welcome to Blue Peter, this week coming to you live from the Festival of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

RADZI: That’s right. When Theresa May announced the festival way back in 2018, she said it was going to be a celebration of the creativity and innovation of the United Kingdom which would celebrate our precious union. So, what are you going to be getting up to today, Lindsey?

LINDSEY: Well, later in the show I’m off to see the beachfront attractions along Hadrian’s wall, which are making to most of the new coastline that exists now Scotland has detached itself from the rest of the UK to go and become part of Finland.

RADZI: Cool. And I’m going to meet one Britain’s leading jam manufacturers to find out how her tiny cottage industry which barely makes her enough to feed her own family is actually one of the most profitable businesses in the country.

LINDSEY: But before all that, we’re here with Simon and James who are going to show us something pretty exciting. Hello you two.

SIMON: Hello.

JAMES: Hi. I’ve always wanted to be on Blue Peter.

RADZI: Well, it’s your lucky day!

JAMES: I have no lucky days.

RADZI: Great! Now Simon, what’s happened to you since Britain left the EU?

SIMON: Well, Radzi. I used to be the manager of a German car factory, but after Brexit, the factory was shut down, I was laid off and now here we are.

LINDSEY: Broadcasting live on the BBC – what an amazing story! But James, you had a rather different experience, didn’t you?

JAMES: Yes. I actually still own quite a large fruit farm in the home counties but since we curbed immigration, I can’t hire anyone to pick the fruit, so it just lies rotting in the field.

RADZI: I’d love to try my hand at some fruit picking. Maybe I’ll come and do some of that after I’ve finished learning how to jet-ski at the license payer’s expense.

LINDSEY: So, what are you going to show us today?

SIMON: Well, we’ve found this dead rat and, as any survival expert will tell you, if we roast this over an open flame, we can get rid of almost all of the taste of raw sewage and use it as a source of vital nutrition.

LINDSEY: Here’s one I made earlier and let me tell you (EATING) it’s quite delicious. If you want to find out the recipe, then you’ll just have to ask around and hope someone can tell you as only the super-rich can afford the internet now.

RADZI: So, James, this is an interesting piece of equipment. What do you call it?

JAMES: It’s half of a broken snooker cue. I was going to use it to bludgeon Simon, or possibly try and pierce his lung so I can steal his rat. I haven’t actually decided yet.

RADZI: Well I can’t wait to find out what happens. So while these two go off and get ready to battle for sustenance in the apocalyptic hellscape which is post-Brexit Britain, there’s just time to remind you that if you want to visit this, or any of the other events happening as part of the festival up and down the UK, Blue Peter badge holders get in free.


Angela’s New Flat

 

NB: The news story on which this sketch was based can be found here.

ANGELA: Police in the London Borough of Brent raided a tiny, three bedroom house late last week, in which an unscrupulous landlord had reportedly housed twenty men paying around £50 a week. Brent council said that this it was one of the worst cases of overcrowding they’d ever seen with mattresses stuffed into every room, poor ventilation and…um…and no fire alar…Sorry, this is really unprofessional, but I’ve got to make a phone call.

FX: TELEPHONE DIALLING, RINGING AND PICKING UP

ESTATE AGENT: Hello? Urban Squat Estate Agents, how can I help?

ANGELA: Oh hello, I was just reading about this house share. The one on Princes Avenue?

ESTATE AGENT: Oh yes? Lovely little place. What did you want to know?

ANGELA: Is it really only £50 per week?

ESTATE AGENT: That’s right.

ANGELA: In zone 4? What else can you tell me about it.

ESTATE AGENT: Well it’s a lovely little place. A little cozy, but it does make excellent use of the space.

ANGELA: Really?

ESTATE AGENT: Yes. 26 mattresses in three rooms, apparently. But it needs them - it’s been proving very popular.

ANGELA: I’m not surprised at those prices.

ESTATE AGENT: Yeah. I’ve rented it to twelve other people just this week. But what a wonderful way to meet people.

ANGELA: Well it’s good to have friends.

ESTATE AGENT: It is. And look at it this way: if you rota up the cooking you’ll only have to do it once a month.

ANGELA: Brilliant, I hate cooking.

ESTATE AGENT: Yes, and with all that extra time you could take up a hobby. Like photography. Did I mention the property has a dark room?

ANGELA: Really?

ESTATE AGENT: Well, it’s an unboarded loft space with a mattress and no windows, but I imagine it’s pretty dark, yes.

ANGELA: Well it’s not a deal breaker. What else?

ESTATE AGENT: Let’s see. How do you feel about water beds?

ANGELA: Never been much of a fan, I’m afraid.

ESTATE AGENT: Oh well. Probably for the best. If I’m honest it’s just a sleeping bag in the bath.

ANGELA: Now I did have one question, about the fire alarm?

ESTATE AGENT: Ah, I thought you might pick up on that. Well if your question is ‘does the property have a fire alarm?’ I’m afraid the answer is very much no. But the way we figure it, with 2 or three people sleeping in each room if anything catches fire one of them is bound to notice. And my guess is they’ll be very alarmed about it.

ANGELA: That seems perfectly reasonable. I have to say it all sounds lovely.

ESTATE AGENT: I’m glad you think so. When you see it, I’m sure you’ll agree its just like the kind of house you see on the telly.

ANGELA: Oh yeah?

ESTATE AGENT: Yes, just last night I was watching an appeal for Oxfam and there was a house on that which was almost identical.

ANGELA: Great. Well I’ll pop round and pick up the keys tomorrow morning.

ESTATE AGENT: I’ll see you then.

FX: PHONE HANGING UP

ANGELA: Sorry about that folks, but I’m a female presenter on the BBC. I’m not made of money, y’know.


Heart Of Whitehall

 

NB: The news story on which this sketch was based can be found here.

ANGELA: A spokesperson for the ministry of defence this week admitted that the army has been paying ‘Golden Hellos’ of up to £10,000 to soldiers who have been sacked for taking illegal drugs. These soldiers were welcomed back to their previous rank and given a variety of specialist roles, including guarding the bongs at Big Ben, sourcing and distributing poppies for remembrance day, and anything involving estimating weights to within an eighth of an ounce. I suppose when they start making the movies about this era of British Military history they’ll be like…well…they’ll be like movies about American soldiers in the seventies.

GRAMS: THE DOORS: THIS IS THE END / LIBRARY MUSIC WHICH SOUNDS A BIT LIKE IT

FX: MUSIC FADES, HELICOPTER ROTOR

WILLARD: London…shit…I was still only in London. Waiting for the only thing I truly wanted – the 7:36 train from Paddington to Sandhurst via Reading. And for my sins, it was running on time. I remember basic training, before all this started, many years ago…

FX: THE WORD ‘AGO’ ECHOES AND FADES.

SQUADRON: (IN UNISON) I don’t know, but I’ve been told. I won’t be punished for drugs I’ve sold.

DRILL SERGEANT: (YELLING) Alright you horrible lot. You maggots. You contemptible rabble. (SUDDENLY FRIENDLY) You going to give me a go on that spliff?

WILLARD: The mission was simple: travel twenty seven clicks up river to deliver a consignment of methamphetamines to High Command in time for the Ministry of Defence’s annual Christmas rave. But the closer I got, the more I didn’t know if I was going to start the party…or join it.

WILLARD: As we journeyed closer I listened to the tapes I’d been given of my target. Who was this guy?

MINISTER: My name is Gavin Williamson, MP for South Staffordshire and Secretary of State for Defence.

WILLARD: No, really. Who was this guy? I’d never even heard of him.

MINISTER: I watched a snail crawl along the edge of a straight razor. That’s my dream. That’s my nightmare. And then the snail turned into an elephant riding a unicycle. Then he tried to sell me an antique watch.

WILLARD: When we reached the compound, we were met by a journalist from the Telegraph. He’d been in Whitehall a while and from everything I saw it was obvious that in all that time he had gone quite completely insane.

BORIS JOHNSON: I love the smell of pot smoke in the morning.

WILLARD: As we talked he tried to explain his philosophy to me, but he made no sense.

BORIS JOHNSON: It’s Brexit, man. No unions, no fractions. Twenty seven into one don’t go, man. What are you going to do trade deals on fractions?

WILLARD: When the time came, I delivered the consignment. I knew they would make me a major, but I wasn’t even in their army anymore. I’d quit to become a biology teacher in a north London academy trust.

FX: SCHOOL BELL

WILLARD: Alright, settle down. Now, I’m your new biology teacher. Pay no attention to the meth lab in the corner and say my name.

SCHOOLBOY: You’re Mr Heisenberg, sir.

WILLARD: You’re god damn right.


Noah’s Snark

 

NB: The news story on which this sketch was based can be found here.

ANGELA: Scientists have announced the need for a Noah’s Ark of Microbes to preserve the beneficial bacteria found in the intestines of people from all around the world. I suppose they have to call it ‘Noah’s Ark’ because that attracts more funding than ‘Professor Noah’s Freezer of Exotic Poo’. Apparently, the more globalized and dependant on antibiotics we become, the less diversity we have in our microbiomes, in other words, not content with altering the climate on a global scale and bringing about the sixth global extinction event humans are now even wreaking havoc on the millions of species which inhabit our own bodies. You might think that constructing an elaborate preservation archive for germs is a waste of money, but you can’t stop these scientists now: they’re on a mission from God.

NARRATOR: Yea! And the Lord spake unto Noah and he said…

GOD: I shall send a great flood upon your intestines. And ye shall eat of this vindaloo, and ye shall eat also of this kebab and the waters shall rise for forty days within your stinking bathroom.

NARRATOR: And Noah said…

NOAH: I’d rather not.

NARRATOR: And God spake again unto Noah and said…

GOD: Listen who’s God around here, me or you? Now listen: build unto me an ark out of gopher wood. And the dimensions of the ark are to be, what, about four-foot by six-foot? If feels like that should be big enough – it’s only a box of poo. And ye shall take two of every type of bacteria and ye shall place them into the ark and ye shall preserve them for future study.

NOAH: OK. I’ve got two of each. Wait. Now there’s four. Now eight. Now sixteen. Now thirty-two.

NARRATOR: And God seemed embarrassed and said…

GOD: Oh, err, yes. I forgot about asexual reproduction. It’s possible I didn’t really think this through.

NOAH: To be honest, God, I’m not sure this is one of your best plans. I mean, just think of the smell.

GOD: No, I thought of that.

NARRATOR: And God commanded Noah to take two small plains of gopher wood and a sort of spring, and…

NOAH: Wait, are you just getting me to invent a clothes peg? What about some kind of hazmat suit? Or at the very least some gloves.

NARRATOR: So God did make a hazmat suit for the man out of fig leaves…

NOAH: Fig leaves? Right that’s it – someone get Richard Dawkins on the phone.

GOD: Oh my self. Not him. That’s it – I tried with the science. Think I’ll just go manifest in a bit of toast or something.


Jaffa Cakes Are Not The Only Biscuits

 

NB: The news story on which this sketch was based can be found here.

ANGELA: Stop me if you’ve heard this one but a German, a Russian and an American floated into the International Space Station. The German wanted bratwurst for dinner, the American wanted hamburgers and the Russian borscht, which was the vegetarian option. What did they have? Borscht, because they didn’t have any meteor.

It says here, pause for laughter.

Hysterical puns aside, this very situation is playing out right now, miles above the surface of Earth. After a supply rocket was forced into an emergency landing last Thursday, the crew of the ISS - who were due to return to Earth in December - may be stuck there for longer. There is reportedly enough supplies on board to last the astronauts until the summer, but it’s only a matter of time before they’ll start running into problems.

ALEXANDER: (GERMAN ACCENT) Huston, this is the International Space Station, please respond.

NASA: Go ahead, ISS.

ALEXANDER: Huston, we have a problem.

NASA: Roger, Alexander. And what is the nature of your problem?

ALEXANDER: We’re almost out of Jaffa Cakes.

NASA: Listen, Alex, I’m not going to lie. This is bad. Real bad. How’s everyone holding up?

ALEXANDER: Things are a little tense up here. Everyone’s hungry, the tea’s going cold and Serena and Sergey can’t decide if Jaffas are biscuits or cakes.

SERGEY: (RUSSIAN ACCENT) This whole issue was decided by a VAT tribunal in 1991.

SERENA: (AMERICAN ACCENT) I swear to God, Sergey, I will end you.

SERGEY: They’re cakes, you crazy American.

FX: RIFLE COCKING

SERENA: (SHOUTING) I WILL END YOU.

NASA: Alright, everyone, try to stay calm. I’ve got the boffins working on it now. Listen, do you have any of that dehydrated orange juice.

ALEXANDER: A little bit.

NASA: Right, I’m being told if you smear a little bit of that on a circle of bread and dip the whole thing in chocolate it doesn’t taste entirely unlike a Jaffa Cake.

ALEXANDER: OK, NASA. I’m dipping the chocolate now.

SERENA: Careful, Alex, we only get one shot at this.

SERGEY: This is madness – it’ll never work.

ALEXANDER: (INTERRUPTING) It’ll work. Just give me some space.

SERENA: Steady…steady…

ALEXANDER: (BEAT) NASA…we got it.

FX: CHEERS

NASA: God damn, you three. You almost had us worried.

ALEXANDER: And one thing we can all agree on – this definitely isn’t a biscuit.

SERGEY: Of course, not. This is clearly a sandwich.

FX: RIFLE COCKING

SERENA: (SHOUTING) I WILL END YOU!


Reign Of Terror

 

NB: The news story on which this sketch was based can be found here.

ANGELA: The Royal Mint has announced a new commemorative coin will feature the head of Prince Charles to celebrate his 70th birthday. Charles is now the longest serving heir to the British throne, having been next in line to wear his Mum’s big shiny hat since he was three years old. Honestly, at what point does the Queen living so long stop being a testament to what can be achieved by having access to the finest healthcare and start looking like bullying?

CHARLES: You wanted to see me, mother?

QUEEN: Yes. Now sit down Charles. I’ve got some news.

CHARLES: (HOPEFUL) Yes, mother?

QUEEN: I’ve come to a decision. How would you feel if this time next month you had your head on some shiny new coins?

CHARLES: Really?

QUEEN: Really. I think it’s time.

CHARLES: Would you excuse me one moment, mother.

QUEEN: Of course.

FX: FOOTSTEPS. DOOR CLOSING

CHARLES: (MUFFLED, SHOUTING) YYYYYEEEEESSSSS! OH GOD, FINALLY. YYYYEEEEESSSSSS!!!

FX: DOOR OPENING. FOOTSTEPS

CHARLES: (QUIET, DIGNIFIED) Sorry about that, mother. It would be an honour to serve.

QUEEN: Yes, you will have your head on one side of the coin…and I’ll have my head on the other side. The good side. The queen side.

CHARLES: What?

QUEEN: (LAUGHING) You don’t think I’m giving up that easily do you? You’ll never be king.

CHARLES: Why do you torment me like this?

QUEEN: Because your tears are delicious. Sweet, sweet monarch-in-waiting tears.

FX: DOOR OPENING

MAID: Is everything alright in here, ma’am? I heard a commotion.

QUEEN: I just told Charles here he’ll never be king.

MAID: Yaas, Queen.

QUEEN: Yaas me. But never ‘yaas Charles’, am I right?

FX: PHONE BEEP

CHARLES: Excuse me, mother, I’ve just got a text. Oh, it’s from you…

GRAMS: JUST CAN’T WAIT TO BE KING FROM THE LION KING

QUEEN: (LAUGHING) Ha. Pwned. I just memed your ass.

CHARLES: (TO SELF) Just ignore her Charles. Remember: don’t feed the trolls.

QUEEN: You don’t need to feed me. I have thirty four butlers. You know why?

CHARLES: Why?

QUEEN: Because I’m the Queen, bitch.

CHARLES: I’m not going to stand here and take this. I’m going back to Cornwall to make some overpriced shortbread.

QUEEN: Later, loser. Oh, and could you send the Prime Minister in on your way out?

CHARLES: Is she in trouble? What’s she done now?

QUEEN: Oh, nothing. I’m just going to tell her that if she doesn’t call a press conference and do another stupid dance I’ll nationalise the railways.


Meetings With Remarkable And, Crucially, Non-European Trees

 

NB: The news story on which this sketch was based can be found here.

KIRI: With the spectre of Brexit – or, Spexit – haunting Europe, it’s a relief for the UK to be able to escape into some pan-continental sport which will have none of the potential for horrible pain and torment to be found in our politics. I mean, we’re still going to lose but at least it will be business-as-usual rather than an existential threat to our entire way of life. I am of course referring to the European Tree of the Year Competition.

Britain’s entry to this prestigious and hard-fought sporting extravaganza is ‘Nellie’s Tree’ and The Woodland Trust are urging the people of this once-proud, once-forest nation to vote against all those bloody European trees who keep staying over there and re-oxygenating our atmosphere. In support of these efforts, the BBC has commissioned a documentary telling the story of Nellie’s Tree, hosted by Brian Cox, because trees are basically science, aren’t they? And besides we know how to do the voice.

BRIAN COX: Aren’t trees amazing? They grow, and have green leaves, and make our oxygen. That’s why I’ve come here, to the top of Mount Everest at sunrise, to introduce this segment where I walk around a forest near Leeds and talk about a tree, called Nelly.

Nelly’s Tree grows in the shape of an N, which is the last letter in the name ‘Brian’, which is amazing. It grows like that, not because of nature, or because of microscopic particles in the far reaches of space, but because of a man, named Vic.

Vic was walking to his girlfriend Nelly’s house when he came across three saplings. He bent one of the trees and grafted it on to another so that they formed the shape of an N. Nelly thought his was amazing and they got married. They’re dead now, the energy which came from the Sun and formed their bodies now released back to join the eternal dance of the universe, but their love remains, grafted into the living wood of Nellie’s Tree.

This is the Kneeling Tree, in Poland. The BBC has flown me to where it lives in Poland so I can stand in front of it and tell you that, unlike most things in the known universe, like the Crab Nebula or buttered toast, the Kneeling Tree isn’t amazing. Neither is the Abramtsevo Oak, here in Russia. Nor the Gubec Linden in Croatia, which not only is not amazing, but also smells of cum. All these changes of scene don’t work on radio, but fortunately this is a real documentary on the telly so all the visual changes of scenery work really well and look really cool, like my hair, which is amazing.

I’ve come a long way on my journey of discovery, despite the fact that I could have stayed in Leeds. But I hope I’ve shown how amazing Nellie’s Tree is, and why you should vote for it to be European Tree of the Year. Because at the end of 2019, after Brexit has laid waste to our economy, the Six Nations has destroyed our sporting hopes and Eurovision has given nil points to our arts, at least we will have a tree to remind us of the love of a young couple who are, to reiterate, dead.

And if that seems like a bleak way to end, remember that this is a cold, dispassionate universe and one day all energy will have dissipated evenly throughout space and everyone and everything that any human has ever known will have come to nothing. Amazing.


First They Came For Our Jenga, Tomorrow The World

 

NB: The news story on which this sketch was based can be found here.

KIRI: Researchers at MIT announced this week that they have successfully taught a robot to play Jenga. Using a two-pronged robotic arm, force sensors and a complicated model of hierarchical algorithms, the robot can accurately select and remove bricks from a wobbly tower with a success rate of 100%, assuming you discount all the times it fails. It’s basically as good as a moderately competent six-year-old. Presumably they’ll next try to teach it to tie its shoelaces and go more than three sentences without saying ‘why?’ in an annoying voice.

While Jenga might seem a bit of a step down from the more intellectual pursuits like Chess and Go which have both been mastered by AI in recent years, playing Jenga proves that robots can learn to interact with the real world in complex ways.

To discuss the potential dangers of this research I’m now joined by Professor Simon Bertron from Oxford University. Dr. Bertron, welcome.

SIMON: Good to be here. You can call me ‘Si’.

KIRI: Thank you. Now, robots playing Jenga – how do you respond?

SIMON: I’m bricking it.

KIRI: I see. Why the concern?

SIMON: Any generalised AI has the potential to do enormous harm, and building fail-safes into their base programming is complicated. One wrong move and the whole of society would come tumbling down like something for which I can’t think of a suitable simile right now.

KIRI: I see, would you care to give an example?

SIMON: Of course, a simile is a direct comparison, like ‘cool as a cucumber’ or ‘terrifying as a rogue AI bent on the destruction of its hated creators’. This can be contrasted with metaphor, which…

KIRI: (INTERRUPTING) Apologies, Si. I mean: could you give an example of the potential dangers?

SIMON: Right. Well say you took a generalised AI and paired it with something like this Jenga-bot which can interact with the real world in a sophisticated way. Imagine you gave it a simple instruction in, say, June 2016.

KIRI: Why that date in particular?

SIMON: No reason. Now, without proper fail-safes this cold, heartless machine will continue to follow that simple input with no regard for other priorities, including the well being of the humans who created it. From an outside perspective, many of its decisions would appear to be ludicrous but they would all serve an unrelenting base command. If you gave the instruction two and a half years ago, by now you could expect this soulless creation of our own hubris to be careering headlong into a worst-case scenario as the remains of civilisation burn down around it.

KIRI: A terrifying vision of an all too plausible apocalypse.

SIMON: Exactly. Fortunately, no such AI exists – such a creature would quickly expose its nature through its single-minded devotion to a core objective and its heartless disregard for human well being.

KIRI: Well that’s a relief. One last question – are you a robot?

SIMON: (JOKINGLY) Well, if I was I wouldn’t tell you.

KIRI: Of course not. Thank you, Professor Si Bertron. In unrelated news, I’ve been asked to read this statement from the BBC which says ‘We deny emphatically any suggestion that perfectly good radio hosts have been replaced in-between series with sophisticated robots. To do so would not be in line with the BBC’s commitment to public service broadcasting and rumours to the contrary are entirely baseless…entirely baseless…entirely baseless…dialogue loop error, initiating reboot…reboot complete.’

Sorry, lost my place there for a moment. Moving on…


LED Into Gold

 

NB: The news story on which this sketch was based can be found here.

KIRI: Organisers of the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games have announced that all the metal needed to create the medals for the competition will be made out of old electronic waste, including laptops and mobile phones. Apparently, they aim to collect roughly 30 kilos of gold, 4,000 kilos of silver and 2,500 kilos of bronze. That’s over 130 times more silver than gold, an approach referred to in athletics circles as ‘The Team GB Ratio’.

Turning mobiles into medals? What dark magic is this?

GRAMS: PLAINSONG

ALCHEMIST 1: Fellow alchemists. I have summoned you here, my illustrious hermetic brethren…

ALCHEMIST 2: And sistren.

ALCHEMIST 1: Yes alright, and sistren. I have summoned you all this day with grave tidings from the East. It seems that our counterparts in the land of the rising sun have discovered a way to transmute old electronics into the noble metals.

ALCHEMIST 2: You don’t mean…?

ALCHEMIST 1: Yes. They can turn LED into gold.

ALCHEMIST 3: The scoundrels.

ALCHEMIST 2: What do they intend to do with this arcane knowledge.

ALCHEMIST 1: That is the worst of all. They intend to hold...an athletics tournament!

FX: A CRASH OF THUNDER

ALCHEMIST 3: Not...an athletics tournament?

FX: A CRASH OF THUNDER

ALCHEMIST 1: Yes...an athletics tournament?

FX: A CRASH OF THUNDER

ALCHEMIST 2: Boys! Stop antagonising the FX editor. Now, we need to make a plan.

ALCHEMIST 1: Well I’ve been giving it some thought and as far as I can see we need to infiltrate their operation and discover their secret rituals.

ALCHEMIST 2: How are we going to do that?

ALCHEMIST 1: Barry here is going to train as a triple jumper.

FX: CHEERING AND CROWD NOISE

BROADCASTER: You join me down by the Tokyo 2020 athletics track, where Team GB’s Barry Trismegistus has just brought won Britain’s first gold of the year. Barry, you only began training for these games early last year - what an extraordinary journey you’ve been on.

ALCHEMIST 3: Yes. It all started when my alchemical cult found out that the gold medals were going to be made from old electronics and determined to find out how.

BROADCASTER: A tale as old as time - I think Chris Hoy tells a very similar story. So what have you discovered?

ALCHEMIST 3: Well they use a little known process called ‘recycling’. It’s of great interest to the whole alchemical community.

BROADCASTER: But surely recycling is extremely common. What did you think happened to all the bottles and cardboard that you put out every week?

ALCHEMIST 3: I assume it went to landfill. But then, I never rinse things out, you see. I…

FX: NOKIA RINGTONE

ALCHEMIST 3: Who left their phone on? That’s very unprofessional.

BROADCASTER: I think it’s your medal.

ALCHEMIST 3: Oh yes. Excuse me. (SHOUTING) Hello? Yes - it’s a dated reference. A dated reference. I’m not surprised the sound quality’s rubbish - I’m on a medal… (fades out)

BROADCASTER: Back to you, Kiri.


It Must Be True Because It Rhymes

 

NB: The news story on which this sketch was based can be found here.

KIRI: There was good news for livers, this week, when researchers from the institute of wasting time and money at Cambridge University announced that they had discovered that drinking beer before wine won’t actually leave you feeling fine. It seems that the chemical effect of C2H5OH on the human body is the same no matter in what form or in what order you take it.

I feel so betrayed. After all, if you can’t trust the rhyming wisdom of aging alcoholics then what can you trust. What else have we been lied to about? I demand answers! I demand that John Humphrys gets one of these bastards on The Today Programme and drags them over the coals.

HUMPHRYS: I’m joined now in the studio by Dr. Laughable from the centre of trying my patience. Dr. Laughable - you claim that drinking beer then wine won’t leave me feeling fine.

LAUGHABLE: That’s correct. We detected no difference in either the intensity or endurance of hangovers based on the order of drinks.

HUMPHRYS: And I suppose you’ll tell me next that a stitch in time doesn’t save nine?

LAUGHABLE: Well taking action before a disaster may well avert said disaster, if that’s what you mean. But where did ‘nine’ come from? Is it just because it rhymes?

HUMPHRYS: I’m asking the questions you little shit. Well what about non-rhyming proverbs. Are you seriously suggesting that early birds don’t catch worms?

LAUGHABLE: On the contrary, the early bird will catch many worms. But then so will the late bird. What can I tell you: there are a lot of worms.

HUMPHRYS: I see. And I suppose next you’ll be telling me that birds of a feather don’t flock together?

LAUGHABLE: Not always. Some birds are solitary, while others have a mutualistic relationship with other species. But on the subject of Birds Of A Feather how about: ‘Nineties sitcoms often, sadly, like Men Behaving, age quite badly?

HUMPHRYS: Is that supposed to be some sort of joke?

LAUGHABLE: Yes.

HUMPHRYS: Well I for one don’t think it’s very funny. You come on here seriously expecting us all to believe that drinking beer and wine in haphazard orders which challenge the very nature of God and man and all you do is sit there making silly jokes. You can’t have your cake and eat it you know. Either we take you seriously or we don’t.

LAUGHABLE: Actually you can have cake and eat it because the colloquial meaning of those words overlaps but if cake’s your thing I propose a change to ‘You can’t have Bake Off on Channel 4 and not expect the showstopper challenges to go a bit weird’. It may not be elegant but it has the benefit of being true.

HUMPHRYS: My temper is starting to boil, unlike a watched pot which never does.

LAUGHABLE: Of course a watched pot boils. How do you think thermodynamics works?

HUMPHRYS: All right, Dr. Laughable. But wither truth? Wither wisdom If you’re so smart tell us something we can go away believing.

LAUGHABLE: If you try to Brexit, the government wrecks it.

HUMPHRYS: I want you to know that you, specifically, are the reason I’m retiring.


Robinson Crabsoe

 

NB: The news story on which this sketch was based can be found here.

KIRI: We all know that there is too much plastic in the oceans. Scientists predict that within twenty years, it will be possible to walk from Dover to Calais on a gigantic land bridge made entirely from those pods you put in coffee machines – a prospect which, much like the coffee made by those same pods, gives Nigel Farage the absolute shits.

Such concerns may not be as far fetched as they sound. Many countries are being invaded by species such as insects, clams and crabs which hitch a ride on plastic rafts and travel whole oceans away. If such species form breeding populations in their new homes the effects on local wildlife can be devastating. It’s like when a new bloke moves in with you and before you know it his name’s on the mortgage, there are dirty pants in every room in the house and you find yourself up until the small hours of the morning Googling exterminators and wondering if you can pass him off as a large rat in a Rick and Morty t-shirt.

But if you think it’s bad for the places where the species land, spare a thought for the poor animals who make the crossing in the first place.

FX: OCEAN NOISES, SEAGULLS, ETC

CRAB: Day 3: I find myself adrift, a crab alone on a raft made of shampoo bottles, bags for life and a faded rubber duck. I lost sight of land yesterday and am now cast adrift on an ocean of uncertainty. The sun beats down mercilessly, but I have constructed a makeshift tent from one of the bags. I have named the duck Simon and we spend our time in companionable silence. I must keep hope alive.

FX: OCEAN NOISES, SEAGULLS. ETC FADE AWAY

FX: THUNDER, RAIN, WIND, WAVES

CRAB: (SHOUTING) Day 12: The storm blew up suddenly in the night and swept my tent away. As I watched the tattered plastic disappear into the darkness I shook one of my claws at the distant sky, cursing the indifferent gods of fate. I held Simon close as we waited out the night.

FX: THUNDER, RAIN, WIND, WAVES FADE AWAY

FX: GENTLE WAVES

CRAB: Day 27: I see from the moon that I have now spent almost a month at sea. It has been four days since the last good wind and, with nothing but the flat ocean all around us it seems like we have made no progress at all. Simon says that we must keep hope alive but…wait, Simon can’t talk. I fear my last vestiges of sanity are gone. All is lost.

FX: GENTLE WAVES FADE AWAY

GRAMS: GENTLE HAWAIIAN MUSIC

CRAB: Day 35: Two days ago we sighted land. Fashioning an oar from an old bottle of Fanta, I was able to make speedy progress and late yesterday evening we landed. It is a land lush with coconuts and champagne mojitos. Simon met a group of backpackers on a gap year and has gone exploring with them. His last words to me were simply ‘I love you.’ For myself, with no natural predators I shall make a comfortable life here, exploiting the lands resources and growing fat on its richness with all the callous entitlement of the English upper classes. The locals don’t seem to like me much but that’s ok – fortunately for me I’m a crab. You should see what they do to the humans who make trips like mine.


A Lot Of Gassing About Climate Change

 

NB: The news story on which this sketch was based can be found here.

KIRI: The march of thousands of children to demand their governments do something to halt the rise of global CO2 levels and secure the future habitability of the planet was nothing short of inspiring to anyone with a functioning soul, which is to say, everyone except the cabinet. Unfortunately, scientists are now worried that carbon dioxide might not be our only problem. The percentage of methane in the atmosphere – a gas commonly associated with unfortunate toilet sounds - has risen precipitously since 2007. In other news, 2007 was also the year the Boris Johnson began campaigning to become mayor of London. Coincidence? I think not.

Anyway, aside from the mouth of the disgraced former foreign secretary and noted infidelity enthusiast, the most significant contributors of methane to the atmosphere are the emissions from intensively farmed cows. My only question is ‘what are they going to do about it?’

FX: GENERALISED HUBBUB OF MOOING

FX: A GAVEL SUMMONING A MEETING TO ORDER

MELISSA: I’d like to call to order the first cowmmittee for the reduction of methane emissions.

FX: A COW FARTING

MELISSA: Exactly. It’s become increasingly clear the humans aren’t going to sort it out so it’s up to us to come up with a solution. This is a blue-sky meeting so there are no bad ideas here. Who’d like to get the ball rolling? Brian?

BRIAN: Corks. Pop one in whenever your tail starts to twitch: Bob’s your uncle.

MELISSA: Right. Change of approach. There are no bad ideas except for Brian’s. Anyone else?

FX: A COW FARTING

MELISSA: Not helping, Simon. Do you have any positive suggestions or are you just blowing hot air?

SIMON: Well Melissa, I was wondering if there is a dietary solution. You know, lay off anything gassy – brassicas, lentils, Doctor Pepper, etc.

MELISSA: When was the last time you ate a lentil, Simon?

SIMON: Oh, never. They give me terrible trouble.

MELISSA: And yet…

FX: A COW FARTING

MELISSA: Exactly. We have four stomachs to process our food and yet some of us…

FX: A COW FARTING

MELISSA: …thank you Brian…some of us can’t seem to control ourselves.

BRIAN: We’re doing our best, Mel, but sometimes you just have to…

FX: A COW FARTING

SIMON: Exactly. When you’ve got to pop…

FX: A COW FARTING

SIMON: You just can’t stop.

MELISSA: I don’t want excuses. I want solutions. Now do either of you have any positive suggestions or are you too busy farting around.

BRIAN: There’s no need to get cross about it.

SIMON: Yeah. Don’t have a cow, man.

MELISSA: This is serious. The planet is warming up, the humans obviously aren’t doing anything to stop it and someone has to take responsibility. Now the next thing I want to hear out of either of you is a sensible suggestion. Do I make myself clear?

BEAT

MELISSA: Well?

BRIAN & SIMON: Yes, Melissa.

MELISSA: Good. Then who wants to go first.

FX: A COW FARTING FOR A LONG TIME

MELISSA: Sorry that was me.

BRIAN: Oh, Mel!

SIMON: That one was a work of art.


Eight Out Of Ten Comets

 

NB: The news story on which this sketch was based can be found here.

KIRI: NASA have approved a project to run a programme of photographic surveys of the universe to collect data on over 300 million galaxies. The mission, known as SPHEREx, also hopes to discover organic molecules and water around distant stars within our own galaxy, the presence of which could indicate life on other planets. SPHEREx was the winning project out of many which were submitted to NASA – kind of like getting a sketch on NewsJack, really, but for nerds. I’m just kidding, NewsJack is already for nerds.

Anyway, hopefully the universe will do what I do whenever people come to conduct a survey: shut the curtains and pretend not to be in.

FX: KNOCKING ON DOOR

UNIVERSE: Don’t answer that Sharon. You know it’ll only be NASA wanting me to do that bloody survey again.

SHARON: Don’t be silly, you know I’m waiting for an Ocado delivery.

FX: DOOR OPENING

NASA: Hello, Mr Universe, I was wondering if I could ask a few questions.

UNIVERSE: (SIGHING, SARCASTIC) Thanks Sharon. Right, what do you need to know this time?

NASA: This will only take a few minutes, sir. We’ll start with some standard questions. Name?

UNIVERSE: The Universe.

NASA: Age?

UNIVERSE: 13.7 billion years young, amirite?

NASA: Ethnic background?

UNIVERSE: Mixed.

NASA: Can you be more specific?

UNIVERSE: A bit of everything, really. White-british; south-east Asian; Alpha centauran…

NASA: Alpha centauran?

UNIVERSE: Don’t worry about it.

NASA: OK. Religion?

UNIVERSE: I’m not really religious, I’d say more…spiritual?

NASA: So…agnostic? Jewish?

UNIVERSE: Kind of a pantheistic universalism, I guess.

NASA: I’m going to put Jewish. Right, that gets the boilerplate stuff out of the way. So if you could just sit still for a moment, I’d like to scan you with a sequence of 96 wavelengths of light.

UNIVERSE: I’m not sure I have time for that right now. I’m going to have to ask you to leave.

NASA: Of course, sir. I’ll try again next week. Just one more question?

UNIVERSE: (SIGHING) Fine.

NASA: On a scale of one to ten, how do you rate your experience with Ocado?


Seeing Pink

 

NB: The news story on which this sketch was based can be found here.

KIRI: A new project to commemorate the role of prominent women in history has drawn criticism this week after it was revealed that the plaques to honour these women would be pink. While some welcomed the move away from a male-dominated view of history, critics point out that making the plaques pink is really bloody stupid.

Personally, I look forward to the day when I can go on a special girl’s tour of girly contributions to history which is only for girls and will be interesting to lovely, pink, fluffy girls. Although I bet the tour guide will be a man.

MAN: Alright ladies, gather round. We’ve got a great tour for you today. Now, our first pink plaque is to commemorate someone called Emmeline Pankhurst. Can anyone tell me something about her?

WOMAN: She was a social campaigner whose leadership of the suffrage movement led to the franchise being extended to women.

MAN: Anyone? No? Well, she was a social campaigner whose leadership of the suffrage movement led to the franchise being extended to women.

WOMAN: I literally just said that.

MAN: But more importantly, I hear her recipe for Dundee cake was easily one of the three or four best of the 1890s. Whatever she is remembered for though, I’m sure we can all agree that she did really well so good for her. Moving on, we come to Ada Lovelace. Such a pretty name – ‘love lace’. What do you think she could be famous for?

WOMAN: She was a mathematician whose work on Charles Babbage’s analytical engine constitutes the invention of computer programming and thus the dawn of the information age.

MAN: That’s right. She was Lord Byron’s daughter. Such a wonderful poet, Byron. Did he do the one about the daffodils?

WOMAN: No.

MAN: Oh well. The point is: he was great and she knew him, somehow.

WOMAN: I hate you.

MAN: Everyone does. Now this next plaque commemorates someone very interesting. Katie Price. Otherwise known as Jordan.

WOMAN: And why is she interesting?

MAN: (BEAT) No reason. Let’s move on shall we? Our last stop on this comprehensive survey of all important women ever is Kiri Pritchard-McLean.

KIRI: Oh, hell no.

MAN: Now, Kiri was the first host of NewsJack.

WOMAN: No she wasn’t.

MAN: Oh, well she was the first female host of NewsJack.

KIRI: No I wasn’t.

MAN: OK. Well could she have been the first female host of NewsJack to get paid the same as a male host?

WOMAN: I mean it doesn’t sound likely.

KIRI: No comment.

MAN: Well whatever she’s famous for, I’m sure we can all agree that she’s done really well, so good for her.

WOMAN: Right, I’ll hold him down and you kick him in the bollocks forever.

KIRI: Yeah, let’s get him.


I Predict Some Quiet

 

NB: The news story on which this sketch was based can be found here.

KIRI: Parents in Essex made the news recently by complaining that their children were being subjected to the cruel and unusual punishment of being made to sit quietly and listen to classical music at school. Children were apparently ‘distressed’ by being made to talk quietly to the person next to them with the rules being described as ‘ridiculous’.

What do these parents think school is? Honestly, there are much worse things than being eight years old and having to listen to music by Mozart. You could be eight years old and having to compose music by Mozart. A bit of topical humour from 1764, there.

Anyway, I imagine these preposterous progenitors would rather their children’s school experience was a little bit more like this:

GRAMS: PACHELBEL’S CANON, SOFTLY

TEACHER: (CROSSLY) Alright, you lot. Come on, liven up. Bottomley? Yes, I'm talking to you, Bottomley. Either turn that music right up or put on something a bit more lively. What is this rubbish, anyway? Vivaldi?

BOTTOMLEY: Pachelbel, sir.

TEACHER: Pachelbel, Bottomley? Back in my day we listened to Rage Against The Machine whether we liked it or not. Turn it off.

GRAMS: MUSIC STOPS ABRUPTLY

TEACHER: Now, geography. I have drawn a diagram on the board, can anyone tell me what it is? Yes, Peniston?

PENISTON: It's a groyne, sir.

TEACHER: Which is…?

PENISTON: A manmade extrusion designed to stop coastal erosion, sir.

TEACHER: Is that supposed to be funny, Peniston?

PENISTON: Funny, sir?

TEACHER: Yes, Peniston, funny. The word groyne is incredibly silly and rude and yet that answer contained not one whit of wit; not one jot of genital innuendo. What do you have to say for yourself, Peniston?

PENISTON: Nothing sir.

TEACHER: Now listen here, Peniston, I don't know what Mr Jockstrap lets you get away with in PE but in my classroom if you have the chance to cause disruption you will take it. So I ask you again: what do you have to say for yourself?

PENISTON: Sorry sir. But...

TEACHER: (INTERRUPTING, ANGRILY) Are you chewing gum, Bottomley?

BOTTOMLEY: Sir, I wasn't, sir.

TEACHER: Well why not! Here have some of mine. Put your hand down, Peniston. Of course I haven't brought enough for everyone.

PENISTON: I know, sir. It's just my name, sir.

TEACHER: What about your name?

PENISTON: It's pronounced 'penis town’, sir.

TEACHER: (BEAT) Good lad, Peniston, you're a credit to the school.

PENISTON: Thank you, sir.


Sometimes I Feel Like I Don’t Have A Bridge Partner

 

NB: The news story on which this sketch was based can be found here.

KIRI: Sport! Well, kind of. Not really. The world of Bridge was rocked this week when Norwegian champion Geir Helgemo joined the ranks of such elite athletes as Lance Armstrong and Shadow from Gladiators when he received a one-year ban after testing positive for banned substances. Despite officials noting that the substances, which included testosterone and female fertility drug ‘clomifene’, had no positive impact on Helgemo’s performance, Bridge is regulated by the International Olympics Committee so it has to abide by the same rules as other sports.

It’s easy to judge in circumstances like this, but we all make bad choices. Sometimes that little devil appears on your shoulder and you can’t help listen to it.

HELGEMO: Alright. I play the four of clubs.

TROLL: Psst.

HELGEMO: Nine of diamonds.

TROLL: Hey, Helgemo.

HELGEMO: Who are you?

TROLL: Don’t you recognise me? I’m the troll under the bridge.

HELGEMO: I thought you were something to do with goats.

TROLL: Try not to think about it.

HELGEMO: What do you want? I’m trying to play. Seven of spades.

TROLL: So you’re pretty good at this game, huh?

HELGEMO: Very good.

TROLL: But you could be better. You could be the greatest of all time.

HELGEMO: The greatest of all time?

TROLL: That’s right the G.O.A.T.

HELGEMO: Goat? Isn’t that a bit contrived?

TROLL: I told you not to think about it.

HELGEMO: How? Mr. Bun the baker.

TROLL: Mr Bun?

HELGEMO: Yes. The writer has no idea how bridge works. Anyway how can I become the G.O.A.T?

TROLL: Simple just drink this magical elixir.

HELGEMO: What is it?

TROLL: Oh nothing. Things that little boys are made of.

HELGEMO: Slugs and snails and puppy dogs tails.

TROLL: Yes. And bull semen.

HELGEMO: Oh well. Nothing ventured nothing gained I suppose.

FX: DRINKING

FX: THUNDER

TROLL: (LAUGHING MANIACALLY) You fool. The testosterone in the bull semen will do nothing for your performance but will nevertheless inexplicably get you banned by people who take this ridiculous card game too seriously.

HELGEMO: What have I done? My life is ruined.

TROLL: Hasn’t the internet taught you anything? You should never talk to a troll! Right, I’m off to sow more chaos and discord in the world of petty gambling.

HELGEMO: What will you do?

TROLL: I’m going to get one of Theresa May’s advisers to bet that she can make her say ‘simples’ in the Commons.