Wonderful Life

A sketch from A Bit of Fry & Laurie

Rolling violins. Hugh is standing at a bridge in the snow, red-eyed, hopeless waves of despair rolling and breaking over him. He is unshaven and a trail of blood comes from his lip. He stares into the swirling waters below, shaking his head. He has an Australian accent.

Hugh It's over. It's all over. Just end it. The whole bloody thing's gone, finished, over with. Face it, the world would be a better place without you. I should never have been born. Oh, Jesus. He bites his knuckle in despair. Stephen approaches him in the background. Hugh climbs over the bridge.

Stephen Don't do it, son. Oh my.

Splosh! Hugh has jumped in. Stephen sighs and jumps in after him. Cut to: Cabin. John, as a hugely double-taking old man is staring and gulping and starting in the background.

Hugh Who? What? I ... what the? I ... who? But ... I never ... oh God ... what the ... how many?

Stephen There now, there now. Take it easy.

Hugh But I ... I should be dead. How the hell did I ... ? Who are you?

Stephen Me? Clarence Cosy, angel, second class. And your name is Rupert.

Hugh How did you know that?

John's goggling takes and double-takes propel him backwards. He looks at his tea-pot and shakes his head.

Stephen I've granted your wish. You've never been born.

Hugh Oh Jesus. That's all I need. Hey! He rubs his chin and is amazed to discover that he is no longer unshaven and he no longer has a cut coming from his lip. Well shag me twice.

Stephen What's that?

Hugh Water must have healed my cut.

Stephen What cut? There's never been any cut. You were never born.

Hugh Look, angel, do us a favour, will you? Fly away, for Chrissakes.

Stephen Can't. Haven't got my wings yet.

John (goggling) Doh!

Hugh I'm getting out of here. Hugh runs out into the street. Hugh looks with amazement at an empty parking space. Oh great. That's all I need. Now some cockwit has stolen my sodding car.

Stephen (coming up behind) But you haven't got a car. You were never born, Rupert.

Hugh Look, I don't know who you are, and I don't know under what law you have been released into the community, but just frig off will you?

Stephen Angels don't frig, Rupert. We don't have the training.

Hugh Look. Get this, tiny Tim. I own the largest conglomeration of newspaper and satellite television companies in the world, and right now I have better things to do than stand here talking to a chocolate cake like you.

Stephen Oh dear. Don't you understand? I am your guardian angel. I'm going to show you what this town would have been like if you hadn't been born. That way I'll show you that your life is worth living after all. The countless differences you've made to people's lives, the joy you've spread, the difference you've made.

Hugh I'm going home. Where's a bloody mini-cab?

A black London taxi cab pulls up and John, the cheery driver, pulls down the window.

John Where to, guv?

Hugh Wapping High Street ... wait a minute ...

Stephen See? What a difference you made? Inside the cab. If you'd never been born, there would still be black cabs like this, with drivers who actually know where they're going. But you came along and told everyone that black cabs were a wicked monopoly, and that everyone had better use mini cabs belonging to the company that you own. Knackered old Datsuns with no brakes and drivers who've just escaped from Pentonville.

Hugh I did that?

Stephen Exactly. You see? You made a difference.

The cab pulls up and Stephen and Hugh get out. Stephen pays off the driver, who departs with a cheery wave. Hugh looks round the street.

Hugh Wait an arsing second here. Where the hell are all the satellite dishes?

Stephen There aren't any.

Hugh What the ... ?

Stephen You haven't been born, I keep telling you. People don't have satellite television, they don't have the chance to watch World Wrestling and Wheel of Fortune and Video Bloopers twenty-four hours a day. They're still forced to sit and watch BBC and ITV, with all those drama and sport and news programmes. You did away with all that.

Hugh I did?

Stephen Swept it away. You pretended it was to give people more choice, but it was actually just to make you fabulously rich.

Hugh Wow.

Stephen Come on.

Inside a pub. Black and white patrons, standing shoulder to shoulder.

Hugh Steady on. Not my kind of place.

Stephen What do you mean?

Hugh Black people.

Stephen Don't you like black people?

Hugh Well, I mean, I don't think they're gonna like me much ...

Stephen No, no, no. I keep telling you. Because you've never been born, the Sun newspaper has never been able to tell anyone to hate their neighbour because they're black, or gay, or left-wing. Without you, people might have grown up liking each other. And liking this country. They might even like you.

Hugh is leafing through a tabloid paper, while Stephen orders a couple of drinks.

Hugh Jesus mothering arse! Where the hell are the tits?

Stephen They're on the front of women's chests. I think the editor probably thought it wasn't much of a news story.

Hugh Yeah, but you've got to have tits to sell a paper ...

The barman brings the drinks.

Stephen Well apparently not. Apparently, without the Sun debasing people's view of the world with every sentence it produces, people turn out to be interested in all sorts of other things. Strange, isn't it?

The drinks arrive and Hugh pushes aside Stephen's offer to pay.

Hugh I'll get these. He brings out some coins and stops. Bloody hell. Who's this? He holds up a coin showing the Queen's head.

Stephen It's the Queen. They still have one, you see.

People start singing a carol in the background.

Hugh Christ, get me the cock out of here. Stephen and Hugh walk through the street back towards the bridge. (looking over the bridge) It's brilliant. Totally bloody brilliant. Big red buses, free hospitals, an amusing royal family, proper taxis, decent newspapers, best television in the world. People getting on with each other ...

Stephen You like it? You really like it?

Hugh It's fantastic. It's paradise. Help me Clarence, please, I want to live again. Jeez.

Stephen Well, Rupert, this is marvellous news I must say.

Hugh Just think of the money I could make in a world like this. I could introduce big tits, I could break up the broadcasting monopolies, I could destroy The Times, the BBC, the Royal Family, I could make a bloody fortu- Stephen pushes him over the side and watches him fall.

Stephen Twat.

Vox Pop

Hugh My wife was pulled down the other day and rebuilt just north of Leicester. Damn shame.

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