The random witterings of Jonathan Morris, writer.

Sunday, 10 September 2017

The Age Of Revolution

Another deleted scenes blog, this time with a script written way back in May 2011, Jago & Litefoot: The Age of Revolution. The brief for this story was to write the introductory episode of a new series of Jago & Litefoot placing them in the swinging late 1960s, in a format akin to Adam Adamant Lives, with Jago acting as the compère of a TV show along the lines of The Good Old Days. The brief also included the opening ‘pull-back-to-reveal’ gag.

(By the way, the story is still available here. Obviously, don’t read any further if you haven’t heard it.)

The finished story has a few obvious inspirations. The Kinks’ Village Green Preservation Society serving as a kind of anti-swinging London manifesto. There’s the vogue for Victoriana, the idea of treating it as a ‘golden age’, art galleries like the Indica and the Go-Jos from Top of the Pops, while the Timothy Vee character was a cross between David Frost and Simon Dee (brilliantly played by Horrible Histories’ Ben Willbond). The Victorian Values Preservation Society was also inspired by Mary Whitehouse’s National Viewers and Listeners’ Association and – more overtly – the short-lived Nationwide Festival of Light movement. The plot was deliberately a fairly typical Avengers-type affair – a puritanical cult intending to force Victorian values onto the Swinging Sixties – in order to provide a neat thematic counterpoint to our heroes’ out-of-time predicament - while the climax of the story was inspired by an edition of the David Frost show that was invaded by hippies:


And the title was taken from a Duckworth Lewis Method song.

Anyway, deleted scenes. My first bash at the story came to 13,000 words, way over, so here’s stuff I cut out before it became the ‘first draft’ (obviously there were lots of little cuts, this is the substantial stuff).


To begin with, from Scene 2, in the art gallery:

SACKER: (NARRATION)
I noted that many leading figures in the so-called counter-cultural scene were present - including several well-known pop singers, writers, artists and fashion designers... Including Timothy Vee, host of the television chat show, The TV Show.

...

TIMOTHY:
Please, call me Timothy, everyone does.

SACKER:
I’d rather keep things formal, if it’s all the same to you. You wouldn’t happen to know who those two gentlemen are?

TIMOTHY:
Which two gentlemen?

SACKER: (NARRATION)
I indicated towards the two men standing in the corner of the gallery, trying not to attract attention. Unlike the rest of the guests, who were in their twenties and thirties, these two gentlemen were in their fifties and were dressed in a curiously old fashioned manner, with top hats and capes.

TIMOTHY:
Ah. No idea. Never seen them before.

SACKER:
I thought you knew everyone who was everyone.

TIMOTHY:
I do. So if I don’t know them... they can’t have been on the guest list...

Then scene 3 ends in a car chase...

(FX: SACKER’S CAB PULLS UP.)

SACKER:
How much?

TAXI DRIVER:
For that? You can have that gratis, mate, never had so much fun in me life!


In scene 5, Jago is interviewed on the Timothy Vee show:

JAGO:
Ah, no. It’s a traditional vaudeville, authentic in every detail, just as it would have been performed in the days of good Queen Vic.

TIMOTHY:
So it’s a nostalgia thing? Because let me tell you, the whole Victorian nostalgia thing is very ‘now’.

JAGO:
I suppose so, though I’d say it was just good old fashioned entertainment and entertainment never goes out of fashion!

Followed by Sacker meeting Jago backstage – all this was cut:

(FX: LINK MUSIC BECOMES END THEME, AUDIENCE APPLAUDING, MUFFLED AS WE MOVE THROUGH DOORS.)

AUBREY:
I’m sorry, sir, you can’t go through there, guests only.

SACKER:
I am a guest. By personal invitation of Timothy Vee.

AUBREY:
Yes, I’m sure you are –

SACKER:
Detective Sergeant Sacker of Scotland Yard.

AUBREY:
Why didn’t you say? In you go. The dressing rooms are down the corridor on the right.

(FX: KNOCK ON DOOR)

Also losing this (fairly pointless) bit. Well, all deleted scenes are fairly pointless, that’s why I deleted them.

TIMOTHY:
Me neither. I mean, it was a marvellous evening, with some super people, but –

(FX: KNOCK AT DOOR, IT OPENS)

MARION:
Phone call for you, Timothy. Says it’s urgent.

TIMOTHY:
If you’ll excuse me, gentlemen, it’s been a pleasure –

(FX: DOOR CLOSES)

I cut most of this discussion about Litefoot’s bookshop:

LITEFOOT:
- going pretty well. I’m rather enjoying the life of a shopkeeper and it’s turned out to be quite a profitable concern!

ELLIE:
Just you don’t go forgetting who’s shop it is, Professor.

LITEFOOT:
No, not at all my dear. I owe you a great debt. I must say, though, it’s a trifle disconcerting to be selling books as antiques when as far as I’m concerned many of them have only just been written!

ELLIE:
That’s what makes you such an expert. Who better to run a Victorian bookshop than a genuine Victorian gentleman?

And this superfluous over-explanation:

LITEFOOT:
I’m sorry for the subterfuge but you see, we had to be sure you were who you said you were and not...

SACKER:
And not what?

LITEFOOT:
Over the years we have faced and fought many terrors, and along the way we have made enemies. Enemies who would not hesitate to kill us, given the opportunity.

SACKER:
And you thought that’s who I was? Someone sent to kill you?

...

LITEFOOT:
Detective. Surely if we were going to lie to you, we would make the effort to concoct something more plausible?

SACKER:
So the fact that your story is completely unbelievable means you must be telling the truth?

I cut Litefoot’s brief description of his psychedelic ‘trip’ at the gallery:

LITEFOOT:
Indeed we did. A most curious sensation. As though the world had become more vivid, lively and colourful.

In the end, I thought Ellie’s first line here was a better line to end the scene on, so I cut the rest:

ELLIE:
And besides, in case you’d forgotten, I’ve been around for almost a hundred years. I think I know how to look after myself!

SACKER:
Very well, the more the merrier I suppose. Just you don’t go getting yourself into trouble, that’s all.

ELLIE:
Detective Sergeant Sacker. I’ve lived through two world wars, and seen stuff you couldn’t even begin to imagine, so if any of us is going to need rescuing, it isn’t going to be me!

I cut all this stuff from their visit to the Hit Parade studio, probably because it was too say-what-you see:

SACKER:
An hallucination... Yes... just like at the gallery opening. That statue!

LITEFOOT:
Indeed.

ELLIE:
It’s third eye was glowing... but now it’s gone out.

LITEFOOT:
Curious thing... It’s not unlike a religious icon, but is resembles no deity that I’ve ever come across.

JAGO:
Ugly blighter if you ask me, with more arms than it knows what to do with –


Later, our heroes investigate a meeting of the Victorian Values Preservation Society:

LITEFOOT:
So you’re pouring away the champagne into the nearest plant pot?

JAGO:
Well, no, it would be a shame to waste it. I say, this is quite a well-to-do little get-together, isn’t it? All top hats and pearl earrings!

I cut the last bit of Colonel Mandrake’s speech here. Bit OTT!

MANDRAKE:
Back then, a woman’s place was in the home, with their family, instead of taking men’s jobs like today’s so-called women’s liberationists!

Not sure why I cut the next bit. Wordcount, I suppose. Seems quite essential though!

SACKER:
And so now you work for him?

TIMOTHY:
Oh yes. I’m now a fully paid-up member of the society.

(FX: GUN CLICKS)

TIMOTHY:
And you’ve just walked into a trap.


Now this is odd. These speeches are, basically, what the story is all about, and yet I cut them. Maybe I was in ‘kill you darlings’ mode or something. Or maybe the point had already been made elsewhere.

MANDRAKE:
I will show them the truth about this age... and I will show them how much better things were in the past.

LITEFOOT:
But your idea of the Victorian age is a myth, just as much as this time being all about pop music and mini-skirts! You think it was some sort of golden age of morality and prosperity, when to most of the people living back then, it was anything but!

JAGO:
Indeed! Your vision of Victorian values bears as much relation to reality as... a biscuit tin lid! You think this age has a monopoly on moral degeneracy? Let me tell you, speaking as one who knows, there’s absolutely nothing you didn’t get up to in this age that we didn’t get up to in the Victorian age. In fact, you name it, we invented it!

MANDRAKE:
How ironic, that two antiquarians should have such antipathy to the past. But let me show you the truth about this time.

Another get-out-of-the-scene earlier – I cut everything after Litefoot’s line:

LITEFOOT:
Yes. They believe us to be dead, which should give us the element of surprise! Come on!

DOORMAN:
Hey, you can’t go in there – you need to show a pass -

SACKER:
Detective Sergeant Sacker. Of Scotland yard. I need to get into that television studio on urgent police business...

DOORMAN:
But it’s in the middle of broadcast!

SACKER:
That’s why it’s urgent. Now, are you going to get out of my way, or do I have to arrest you?

After that, going into the second draft, more stuff was cut. From scene 2 in the gallery:

TIMOTHY:
However we are honoured to have with us the policeman charged with finding her - Sergeant Sacker!

SACKER:
Detective Sergeant, actually.

TIMOTHY:
Detective Sergeant, sorry! Well, there’s nothing left for me to say, except thank you for coming and enjoy the art!

(FX: GUESTS APPLAUD)

SACKER: (NARRATION)
I spent a few minutes examining the so-called ‘art’, a number of avant-garde sculptures of, well, I’m not sure if they were supposed to be of anything exactly.

All of this was replaced by Sacker feeling as though he might collapse and leaving the gallery:

SACKER:
(COLLAPSING) I – I –

(FX: CONCERNED MUTTERS AND GASPS)

TIMOTHY:
Detective Sacker, are you alright?

SACKER:
Detective Sergeant. Just had the strangest feeling...

TIMOTHY:
You fainted?

SACKER:
Did I? Must be the heat... get some fresh air.

SACKER: (NARRATION)
But as I made my way outside, I couldn’t help but glance back at the statue. Its third eye was now just an ordinary crystal. But then I noticed something else. The two gentlemen with the old fashioned clothes had slipped away. But why had they been at the exhibition in the first place? Could they have some connection to the mysterious disappearance of Delilah Samson?

(FX: DURING THIS, WE MOVE INTO NEXT SCENE)

The beginning of the Jago chatshow scene was cut:

(FX: BEFORE A RECORDING, AUDIENCE HUBBUB)

SACKER:
Sorry, not too late am I?

AUBREY:
No, you’re just in time, we’re just about to start. Quiet please, and – cue music!

Later, when he meets Jago backstage, Sacker asks him what he was doing at the gallery:

SACKER:
Can I ask what you were doing there?

JAGO:
Ah, oh, well, I was just popping in and out at the suggestion of the producer of Those Were The Days, he said I should make myself known to young Timothy here.

TIMOTHY:
And when I met him, I invited him to appear in my little show.


Another bit I cut, going straight to Aubrey reading from the diaries:

FX: ATTIC HATCH CREAKS OPEN)

SACKER: (NARRATION)
I returned home, my head spinning with and disbelief, and dug out my grandfather’s old diaries, about the years he spent at St Thomas’s hospital...

A huge chunk cut out, coming immediately after Jago and Litefoot’s account of how they ended up in the 1960s.

10. INT. HIGGIES.

LITEFOOT:
...and so we found ourselves with no recourse but to make new lives for ourselves in this time!

SACKER:
You must think I was born yesterday.

JAGO:
My dear fellow, I don’t believe it, and I was there! The point is we’re here now, seventy years out of date!

SACKER:
And what about you, Miss Higson? How do you fit into this?

ELLIE:
Me? Well, when they arrived, I was fast asleep, when I was awoken by this dreadful commotion from downstairs...

(FX: INTO FLASHBACK)


11. INT. RED TAVERN. (FLASHBACK)

(FX: CRASHING SOUND, SOMEONE KNOCKING OVER A CHAIR)

LITEFOOT:
For goodness’ sake, Henry, what are you trying to do?

JAGO:
What does it look like? Trying to break out!

LITEFOOT:
Wouldn’t it be simpler for us to sit tight until morning?

JAGO:
Spend the night locked in a pub, you mean? Well, I suppose, needs must...

...then, after they meet Ellie...

JAGO:
By a mysterious fellow, name of the Doctor. It’s a long story.

LITEFOOT:
You see, when we met him, the Doctor claimed to be in possession of a time machine. Naturally we –

12. INT. HIGGIES.

SACKER:
Alright, no need to go through all that again!

ELLIE:
If it’s any consolation, I found their story very hard to believe too, but I’ve found that with the Professor and Mister Jago, it’s best just to let them get on with it. And besides, I had my own incredible story to tell...

(FX: INTO FLASHBACK)


This explanation was cut down to a couple of sentences:

LITEFOOT:
Ah. As we had found ourselves marooned in this time without a penny to our name, we had no choice but to call upon the assistance of young Ellie here to find us employment.

SACKER:
So you found the Professor a job running an antiquarian bookshop. But what about Henry?

ELLIE:
I must admit it took me a while to find something for Mister Jago. There’s not a great deal of call for his particular... talents in this day and age. At least, that’s what I thought, until I heard some producers chatting in my restaurant about this new show they were doing set in a music hall, and how they were looking for somebody to act as compere.

Next, the point where they leave was trimmed down further, losing Jago’s line:

JAGO:
Now, my dear, there is no need to get agitated, you can hardly blame us for being a little out of touch with modern fashions!

ELLIE:
And besides, in case you’d forgotten, I’ve been around for almost a hundred years. I think I know how to look after myself!


Then when they get to the Hit Parade studio and are hypnotised by the dancing girls... oh, it was a shame to lose this:

JAGO:
The female form in all its fulsome finery... a bevy of bounteous beauties! A line of libidinous and lissom lovelies!

LITEFOOT:
Reminds me of that time I was in Cairo...

ELLIE:
But they’re not real! Listen to me! They’re not real!

SACKER:
But I can see them... gyrating.


All of this, from Mandrake’s manifesto, was cut, largely because it was OTT or repeating/spelling out points made elsewhere:

MANDRAKE:
Well now it is time for us to do something about it! Now it is time for us to return to a golden age when the sun never set on the British Empire!

(FX: GUESTS CHEER)

MANDRAKE:
Back then, people knew their place. And they were happier for it! Back then, people were prepared to buckle down and do a decent day’s work, not like today thanks to the trades unions! Back then, a woman’s place was in the home, with their family!

I also cut our heroes’ reaction to the speech:

LITEFOOT:
I don’t think I’ve ever heard such complete rot.

JAGO:
He does seem to have a rather rose-tinted view of the past.

LITEFOOT:
Rose-tinted? The chap is positively blind!

Later, in the climax, I cut the last two lines of this bit:

AUBREY:
What? This control room is out-of bounds! No public allowed!

ELLIE:
You’ve got to pull the plug! Stop transmission!

AUBREY:
Somebody call security, no room for any more lunatics in here!

And this...

JAGO:
Fight it, old chap. This crystal thing should protect us.

SACKER:
No. Go, Henry. Go... before I... can’t resist...

And this...

TIMOTHY:
But how... the statue. It should have killed you.

MANDRAKE:
No. He has... a crystal in his waistcoat that protects him.

JAGO:
Oh, so you know about that now, do you?

...and that’s about it!

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