Embassy

A sketch from A Bit of Fry & Laurie

Stephen (Singing) But in spite of all temptations
To belong to other nations
He remains an Englishman
He remains an Englishman
For in spite of all temptations
To belong to other nations
He remains an Englishman
He remains an Englishman Hugh enters bearing a piece of paper.

Hugh Ambassador.

Stephen Ah, Witty, isn't it?

Hugh That's right, sir. A message just came through for you from the Vice-Consul in Al Rahad. Marked most urgent.

Stephen A message. Then read it dear boy. Our esteemed Vice-Consul is not the sort of man to bandy the words "most" and "urgent" without that he has cause.

Hugh Right, sir. "Twelve armoured divisions heading south. Infantry build-up along border continues. Every indication, repeat every indication that invasion is imminent repeat imminent."

Stephen Hmm.

Hugh What should we do, sir?

Stephen Good question, Witty. Very good question. My feeling is that we should do The Mikado.

Hugh I'm sorry, sir?

Stephen I know that some of the younger fellows in the chancellery feel that it's time for a Pirates of Penzance, but there isn't a part for me in it, you see.

Hugh I'm sorry sir, but I don't quite ...

Stephen I don't want to seem like a spoilsport, but I do feel that there must be a part for me in it, and The Mikado seems the be the most appropriate.

Hugh Surely sir, there are more pressing calls upon our time.

Stephen The gymkhana? Oh I think we can let our wives sort that one out. I've agreed to pin the winning rosette, Julia is going to have to be satisfied with that.

Hugh The invasion, sir. Unless he is stopped now there'll be the most appalling catastrophe. Surely we must at least issue an ultimatum.

Stephen All right, Witty, all right. Despatch this. "Unless you withdraw soonest your ticket allocation for our next Gilbert and Sullivan production will be severely reduced."

Hugh Ambassador. For heaven's sake.

Stephen Too strong, you think? Perhaps you're right. "Unless you withdraw soonest Derek Nimmo's touring production of Separate Tables will not be cancelled."

Hugh Ambassador, he's about to invade! Within a matter of hours we could be on the brink of a world war.

Stephen You've not been long in the Foreign Office have you, Witty?

Hugh Three years, sir.

Stephen Ah. Really? So you missed our last production of Pirates?

Hugh I'm afraid so, sir.

Stephen Hm. Pity, pity. I wore one of Julia's dresses.

Hugh I'd heard that, sir.

Stephen Little tight under the arms, but otherwise surprisingly comfortable.

Hugh Really, sir? But shouldn't we be ...

Stephen There was the most wonderful moment in the second act when I was supposed to go to the front of the stage and kiss the wife of the second secretary. Well, I tripped on one of the steps going down ...

Hugh Sir, I'm sorry to interrupt you, but we are facing an extremely dangerous situation and it is our duty to inform London that invasion is imminent and request instructions.

Stephen I'll be honest with you, Witty.

Hugh Sir?

Stephen I don't like you.

Hugh Why not, sir?

Stephen Because you're a troublemaker, Witty, that's why. Because you think you know it all.

Hugh No I don't sir. But with respect we are paid an astonishing amount of money, given servants, wine cellars, automatic knighthoods and fantastic privileges just so that when moments like this arise we will be able to avert war. That is our one function, sir and we owe it to the peoples of the world to start earning our money and actually do something.

Stephen A pretty speech, Witty.

Hugh Thank you sir.

Stephen Pretty and convincing.

Hugh Thank you very much sir.

Stephen The Victoria Club in Daar al Rashchid holds a public speaking competition every April, first prize is only a silver sup, but this Embassy hasn't won it for over a hundred years. Think I might enter you.

Hugh But sir, in twenty four hours, there isn't going to be a Victoria Club.

Stephen What are you talking about?

Hugh It's slap bang next to the Sheik's Palace. So if there's a war, sir, it'll be the first target. Bound to be the first target.

Stephen Hell's bells. We must do something. Get me the Foreign Secretary, who's the Foreign Secretary? And how do we get hold of him?

Hugh We signal from the cypher room.

Stephen Cypher room? Where's that?

Hugh It's where we rehearsed The Gondoliers.

Stephen Oh yes, a very attractive room.

Vox Pop

Hugh We had our first child on the NHS, and had to wait nine months. Can you believe it?

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