Hard Man's Record

A sketch from A Bit of Fry & Laurie

Close-up:Car radio, hand on tuning knob.Stephen's hand takes file out of briefcase.Cut to outside of car. Stephen is putting briefcase on back seat of car. Hugh approaches car, opens door.Hugh settles in his seat.

Stephen Thank you for sparing the time for this.

Hugh No problem.

Stephen You admire Gary Davies?

Hugh Don't get much time for that sort of thing.

Stephen You should make time, Alan. A man should unwind. (Stephen turns off radio) Do you mind if I call you Alan?

Hugh Fine by me.

Stephen Good. Good. I just find Sally a bit awkward.

Hugh I quite understand.

Stephen Excellent. Now then Alan, I've got your record in front of me and it makes impressive reading. You've certainly knocked about the world a bit haven't you?

Hugh Well, you know ... I've knocked about the world a bit.

Stephen Sorry. I meant to say "you've done a lot of travelling". You've done a lot of travelling, haven't you, Alan?

Hugh Well, you know, I've knocked about the world a bit.

Stephen Yes, you certainly have. But I'd like if I may to fill in one or two gaps, take a few side bearings, rough out some contours, OK with you?

Hugh Fine.

Stephen OK. '65, '66, you ran guns out of Macao using a refitted Dutch trawler.

Hugh I can still smell those damn herring.

Stephen '68 you popped up on the Ivory Coast smuggling refugees out of Nigeria. The following year there was that nasty caper with the Rhodesian mining company, and then in 1970 you became the reserve team coach for Oxford United. Correct?

Hugh You've done your homework.

Stephen But then, Alan, we seem to lose you. There's a gap, a hole, you appear to have vanished for four years. Four years is a long time in our business.

Hugh You still haven't told me what that business is.

Stephen Nor yet have I. A four year gap, Alan, until we find you cropping up again, this time in Indonesia, playing both ends against the middle in their civil war. From then on it's a series of apparently unrelated appearances, working with Uruguayan customs, a supply teacher in Maidstone, crop- spraying in Rawalpindi, Home Secretary in the last Labour government and then a short spell as Nigel Pargiter in the Archers.

Hugh Someone had to do it.

Stephen Oh yeah, sure.

Hugh All right. Now it's my turn, okay? I've got to tell you I don't like being rung up by strange people I've never met before and having files read out at me. I don't like being asked questions by men in grey suits, yeah? Now why don't you tell me just exactly what is going on and who in blazes you are?

Stephen (Chuckling at the file) Oh it's all true. Insubordinate, impertinent, imprisoned twice for striking a senior officer, a rebel, a trouble-maker, a loner, an independent, a conniver, a misfit, a maverick, a trickster, an inveigler, a shyster, a shuffler, a shammer, an adventurer, a cozener, a thimblerigger, a pettifogger, a bilker ...

Hugh Get to the point.

Stephen All right. We need a man, Alan. We need a man with exceptional abilities, a man with a record of success against all the odds, a man with the courage to try his hand at the impossible.

Hugh Go on.

Stephen We want you, if you can, to sit down and watch an entire episode of The Krypton Factor.

Hugh You're out of your mind.

Stephen Listen to me, Alan. It's never been done. No one has ever watched the programme from start to finish, and we desperately need someone to do it. Sure, we've all seen bits, but no one has ever gone the distance.

Hugh If I don't make it, you'll see that Judy's taken care of.

Stephen Of course, Alan, of course.

Hugh See you in hell. Hugh gets out of the car.

Stephen What a man.

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