The Cause

A sketch from A Bit of Fry & Laurie

Hugh and Stephen are in a London club sort of place.

Stephen Freddy.

Hugh Oh, good heavens, Jack, I didn't see you there.

Stephen Good evening, Freddy.

Hugh Well, good evening, Jack.

Stephen Now then, Freddy you're a decent sort of chap.

Hugh Well, I, yes, I think so Jack, yes, I try to be a decent sort of chap, yes.

Stephen Mmmm. Can I ask you a question, Freddy?

Hugh Ask away, ask-a-bloody-way.

Stephen Are you one of us?

Hugh Am I one of us?

Stephen Yes.

Hugh Am I one of us?

Stephen Yes.

Hugh Not entirely sure I understand your question, Jack.

Stephen Let me put it another way.

Hugh Oh, would you Jack, yes, well, I'd be enormously grateful.

Stephen Do you believe in the cause?

Hugh The cause ...

Stephen The Cause of Freedom.

Hugh Well, Jack I suppose, generally, yes, yes, I do. If anyone's passing the hat round for freedom, I'll bung in a quid or two, Jack, yes.

Stephen I thought so, I thought so from the first.

Hugh Yes, I'm one of us Jack, if you want to put it that way.

Stephen Excellent.

Hugh Phew, well, we got there in the end, Jack, sorted that one out.

Stephen It gets a bit more complicated now.

Hugh Oh, Lord.

Stephen Would you be prepared to do something in the cause of freedom?

Hugh What sort of thing, Jack? Jumble sale, hand out leaflets? What?

Stephen Put a bomb in a restaurant.

Hugh Put a bomb in a restaurant. Ah Crikey. And leave it there, you mean?

Stephen Leave it there. That's right.

Hugh Yes, yes. You don't mean put it there, have a spot of lunch and then take it out again?

Stephen No, I mean leave it there.

Hugh Um, until it goes off?

Stephen Precisely. Do you think you could manage that in the cause of freedom?

Hugh Oh, Jack, Jack, I wonder if you wouldn't mind, sort of, joining up the dots for me, if you like.

Stephen If it'll make it easier for you.

Hugh I think it will, Jack, I think it will, because unless I've fainted and missed a whole chunk of the conversation, um, we've been sitting here, you and I, having a nice old chat, putting the world to rights and so on, and then suddenly you're asking me to put a bomb in a restaurant.

Stephen That's right.

Hugh Those are the two dots I'd like you to join up, Jack. The nice chat and the bomb in the restaurant. Join them up for me, there's a good fellow.

Stephen All right then, Freddy. There are certain people who do not believe in the cause.

Hugh Don't believe in freedom, you mean?

Stephen That's right.

Hugh Oh, utter swines, and they eat in a particular restaurant, do they Jack?

Stephen Some of them will be eating in a particular restaurant on a particular day.

Hugh Ah, well, Jack, sorry to stop you, but, I've an idea, um, well, you know who these people are, Jack.

Stephen Yes.

Hugh And you know which restaurant they'll be in?

Stephen Yes.

Hugh Right, well, so here's the idea. We go in there, you and I, Jack and we sit down at their table and we hammer it out with them face to face. What do you say?

Stephen Fight them, you mean?

Hugh No, no, no, Jack, no: argument. You're a persuasive fellow, Jack - I bet we could sit down at their table over the soup, and you could talk and I'll back you to the hilt and I bet you anything we could have them believing in freedom by the time the pudding arrives. What do you say Jack?

Stephen I don't think that'll quite do.

Hugh It won't quite do. Well, all right Jack. How about this (Laughs) we pretend to put a bomb in the restaurant.

Stephen Freddy ...

Hugh Yes, Jack?

Stephen I think perhaps ...

Hugh Yes.

Stephen I think perhaps that I was wrong about you.

Hugh No, Jack, no. No you were absolutely right, Jack. Right as bloody rain, you were.

Stephen Well, then.

Hugh Well Jack, it's just ... I'm just the most awful duffer at this sort of thing.

Stephen The restaurant is called the Etoile d'Or in Maddox Street. I suggest you put it behind the lavatory cistern. But it's up to you.

Hugh Oh, Hell. Stephen (Gordon) and Hugh (Stuart) are at a restaurant with their wives.

Hugh They've got a bigger table than we have.

Girl 1 Come on Stuart, this is fine.

Hugh Look, there are two of them and they've got a bigger table. There are four of us and look at this. (Bangs table)

Girl 2 Oh Stuart for heaven's sake, a table's a table!

Stephen Darling ...

Hugh Well, Jill, there we differ. To me there are tables and there are tables. Am I right Gordon?

Stephen Well you know me, Stuart, table is as table does.

Girl 1 At least it's snug, poppet.

Hugh What it is, poppet, is cramped. You should've used my name when you booked.

Girl 1 Well I did.

Stephen What, Mr Poppet? (They all laugh at Hugh) (Hugh enters the restaurant as the character from the club, clutching briefcase with bomb in it)

Waiter Good evening, sir.

Hugh Good evening. A table for bomb please.

Waiter Excuse me?

Hugh (Laughing hysterically) A table for one. Sorry ... bit nervous. I've never actually eaten a meal before.

Waiter Well, you have chosen the perfect place to start. Follow me please. (Cut back to Gordon and Stuart)

Stephen So what did we think of the show?

Girl 1 Loved it. Thought it was really nice.

Stephen Me too. High quality entertainment.

Hugh I'm going to come right out and say it. To me, Jeffrey Archer is the finest playwright this country's turned out since William Shakespeare.

Stephen That's a hell of a statement, Stu.

Hugh Well let me go one further, Gordon. To me, Jeffrey Archer delivers.

Stephen Oh the guy can write, no question.

Girl 2 Delivers, does he?

Hugh I beg your pardon, Jill?

Stephen Come on darling, you know what he means.

Hugh No, it's all right thank you, Gordon. I can fight my own battles. What he delivers, Jill, to my mind, is quality drama ... OK it's a little dangerous ... OK it's not something that your average Joe punter is going to find all that accessible, but in the market he's working to he delivers and Gordon will tell you that's a compliment I use very sparingly indeed.

Stephen It's true actually Jill, it's true. Stuart is not the kind of man to bandy the word "deliver" around the place.

Hugh Thank you Gordon.

Girl 1 Thought the sets were marvellous. They were really clever. Weren't they poppet?

Hugh Yes, and the costumes were fantastic.

Girl 2 Sorry, they were wearing suits weren't they?

Hugh Well, this is where Jeffrey Archer is so strong you see ... in his observation. He's observed that in an office a large number of people wear suits. Isn't that right, Gordon?

Stephen Absolutely, Stu.

Hugh Well, he's observed that, you see. I mean the guy's got an eye for detail like well, there's no one like him in my book.

Stephen To be fair to myself, Stu, I'd observed that people in offices wear suits too.

Hugh No, no, no you hadn't, Gordon. You can only say that after you've seen the play. If I'd asked you before the play what people wear in offices you wouldn't have had a clue.

Stephen I think I would've said suits.

Hugh No you wouldn't, Gordon.

Stephen I think I would. (Hugh clicks his fingers at the waiter)

Hugh No you wouldn't. Now wait a minute, look, that bloke came in after us and they're taking his order. (Hugh is the character with the bomb, still clutching the briefcase)

Waiter What would you like, sir?

Hugh Crikey, yes.

Waiter Something the matter, sir?

Hugh Well, how many lavatories have you got here?

Waiter Just one, sir, over there.

Hugh Yes, I've tried that one, it's no good. No bloody good. It's the cistern, it's too close to the wall ... you can't get anything between the cistern and the wall. Oh hell.

Waiter Are you ready to order, sir?

Hugh Order yes, well, to be perfectly honest I'm not awfully hungry.

Waiter Well may I recommend a salad? Perhaps a smoked chicken salad? It makes a perfect light meal.

Hugh Yes that sounds awfully good. Tell you what though, instead of that I think I'll just have a glass of water.

Waiter Just a glass of water, sir?

Hugh Lord no, make it a bottle. Or tell you what, half a dozen bottles. I mean you only live once don't you.

Waiter Very good, sir.

Hugh Oh hell. (Stephen is a waiter. He goes to a table where a man sits alone)

Stephen Good evening, sir.

Man Good evening. I'd like to order some soup to start.

Stephen Wait a minute, good Lord, you're Keith Bennett aren't you? The government minister?

Man Well, as a matter of fact I am.

Stephen I thought so, I knew it. Oh Mr Bennett, this is wonderful. I have to say I'm a great admirer of you and your policies.

Man Really?

Stephen Definitely. Can I recommend the halibut by the way. It comes with a nice black butter sauce.

Man Thank you.

Stephen You steered that broadcasting bill through the House of Commons didn't you?

Man I did indeed.

Stephen Brilliant, quite brilliant.

Man Well I must say this is really most gratifying. So you really do admire my politics?

Stephen Yes well, most people don't like you then?

Man Well, you know how it is, we aren't always the most popular of people, we politicians.

Stephen Yes, you must get used to people calling you a complete dickhead I suppose.

Man No, not exactly.

Stephen That speech you made about deregulating broadcasting ... oh, I cheered for you that night. We must strive to offer the consumer a far greater range of choice, for too long broadcasting has been in the grip of a small elite. We must expand and offer more choice.

Man Good heavens, you've remembered it word for word.

Stephen Well, it was masterly stuff ... oh my God, your cutlery ... a silver knife and fork, I can't believe it. (Removes cutlery)

Man Those are rather nice. They're not dirty are they?

Stephen That this should happen to you of all people. I'm so sorry, I'll be right back.

Man But they were fine ... (Cut back to Gordon and Stuart)

Girl 1 Of course, Moulinex. All the way through I was trying to think where I'd seen that actress before. She's the one in the Moulinex advert.

Stephen Oh that's right, the one about the blender.

Hugh What, the wife?

Girl 1 Sorry?

Hugh The actress who plays the wife? She's in some sort of advert at the moment, is she? Hello! Laura, wake up! The actress in the play who was playing the wife that we just saw tonight - you're saying she's in an advert at the moment?

Girl 1 The wife ...

Stephen Actually she was playing his daughter.

Hugh Hold on, I'm probably getting her confused with someone, wait a minute ... (Looks at programme)

Girl 2 There was only one woman in the play, Stuart.

Girl 1 And she was his daughter, Poppet.

Stephen That was sort of the idea of the entire evening.

Hugh Yes, daughter. What did I say?

Stephen You said wife.

Hugh Did I? This table is definitely smaller you know ... I mean all those other ones ...

Stephen Look, that man over there, he's in the government. Isn't he a cabinet minister or something?

Girl 1 Keith Bennett.

Hugh Got it! Roy Hattersley, you're quite right, Gordon. (Stephen as waiter)

Stephen I do apologise.

Man Apologise for what? The fork and knife were fine.

Stephen Oh it's very kind of you, sir, but I absolutely insist ... (Pours bag of plastic coffee stirrers into man's lap)

Man What's this?

Stephen Your cutlery, sir.

Man But these are plastic coffee stirrers.

Stephen Yes I know, but at least you've got the choice now. I mean they may be complete crap but you've got the choice ... that's what's important, the choice ... (Starting to shout and strangle man) (Cut back to Gordon and Stuart)

Girl 2 That politician man's being strangled by a waiter.

Hugh At least he's got a decent size table.

Stephen Anyway to return to the play I have to say that although the acting was really good ...

Girl 1 Marvellous acting.

Stephen I do think the play would've benefitted from having a Paul Eddington in it.

Girl 2 A Paul Eddington?

Stephen Well ideally, the Paul Eddington.

Girl 1 Isn't he wonderful?

Hugh Well you see the thing about Paul Eddington of course is his timing.

Stephen His timing is just so ...

Hugh Well it's the timing of a master.

Stephen A friend of mine's sister married Paul Eddington's doctor.

Hugh You never told me that, Gordon.

Stephen Well, you know, one doesn't like to boast. Apparently it's well known that Paul Eddington has the second best timing in the business, after Nigel Havers.

Girl 2 What is timing, exactly?

Hugh Well, it's a bit difficult to explain to a woman, Jill, but timing is basically the magic ingredient that Paul Eddington's got. (Paul Eddington comes in)

Girl 1 What is it?

Paul Eddington Yes, I'd like to know that too, I must say.

Stephen I know your doctor's brother-in-law.

Paul Eddington How nice.

Hugh We were just explaining to our wives that you've got about the best timing in showbusiness.

Paul Eddington After Nigel Havers.

Hugh Level with us, Paul, would you class your timing as good, very good, extremely good or immaculate?

Paul Well ... (Cut back to Hugh as the character with the bomb)

Hugh Hello, look, excuse me everyone, sorry to bother you and all that sort of filth ... nearly forgot, long live freedom ... the thing is there's a bomb ... yes I know, rotten isn't it ... the thing is it is about to go off so you might like to leave. (Everyone runs out) That's right, this way. Crikey, my bill! (Bomb explodes)

Cut to Where Eagles Dare.

Vox Pop

Stephen It was just so funny. It was just so bloody funny. I literally died. It was bloody brilliant actually. No seriously, it was really funny, actually.

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