» Kitten Kong 1971 St...
KITTEN KONG: 1971-STYLE
by Andrew Pixley
(from C&G #61 January 2001)
As confirmed in internal memos at the BBC and via an interview with the Goodies in Radio Times, the 1972 Montreux edition of Kitten Kong which we all know and love had a number of differences from the original 1971 recording which seems to have ascended to that great electromagnet in the sky some time during the mid-1970s. Fortunately, sufficient material does exist in the form of scripts, production notes, memos and - indeed - dim and distant memories to reconstruct in the following article what this long lost instalment was like. Some of it sticks very closely to the 1972 version (mainly the studio sequences and some of the early film scenes) while the tail end of the show diverges significantly. (For further information on the production of the show rather than the plot, I would refer you to the 'Fantasy Flashback' article on the episode which appeared in Issue 133 of 'TV Zone' in November 2000).
The opening scene of Graeme and Tim returning from the Grabowski chess match and meeting up with Bill who is preparing a gourmet meal for Bunter the guinea pig is virtually identical. However, in some minor dialogue changes, Bill says that Bunter was brought in by Lady Hamilton Bridge. "Bloody hell!" exclaims Tim when he sees the meal Bill has prepared for a "bleeding" guinea pig (which upset Michael Mills, BBC Head of Comedy) - both these blasphemies were removed from the later recording.
After the argument when the idea of collecting looney pets was arrived at, the CSO "thinks bubble" which leads into the film sequences was a 1972 idea. Originally after saying "What a good idea," Tim turns to Bill and says "You're very clever". "I'm sorry I shouted at you," says a regretful Bill. "Oh no, it was my fault," says Tim. Taking control of the situation, Graeme says "Gentlemen ... please eat up your potato peelings ... we are starting a business!" "Wahey...!" yell the Goodies.
This then leads into the 3'15" film sequence of Tim and Bill collecting the looney animals which was retained for the 1972 version. Back at the office, the 1972 mongoose gag was replaced by another item. "What are you doing?" Bill asks Graeme. "Mending a rattlesnake," says Graeme, whereupon a snake with a baby's rattle tied on its end sticks out of the box he is working on and rattles. Graeme sees that Tim has entered carrying a padded birdcage: "Well, what have you brought?" Tim explains "This is Anona the budgie. She's very depressed." "What are you giving her?" asks Graeme. "The stuff that makes budgies bounce," says Tim as he throws the budgie on the floor; the bird bounces out of shot but the Goodies' eyes follow it as it bounces around off-screen until it hits the floor with a splat. "That's solved her problem," says Bill. "Another satisfied customer," agrees Graeme, before he goes into the bush baby routine.
After the vampire bat business comes a sequence with a sheep - substituted by Jim Franklin's singing dogs film from "Broaden Your Mind" in the 1972 version.! Bill indicates a crate with its back to the camera and asks, "Hey, what's this sheep here for?" "It sings," explains Graeme. "Singing sheep?" says Bill incredulously. "Yes," confirms Graeme, "they can't stop it singing." "Can't stop it?" says Bill, "It hasn't even started. Hey, come on sheepy, give us a song. How about a nice duet?" He counts the sheep in: "One, two, three, four ..."
Byface, you've got the cutest little
by face, and there is no-one else could t-
-ke your place,
poor heart is jumping,
You really started something,
"All right, that's enough," says Graeme, as Tim spots the - un-named - kitten, and the script returns to that of the remake for a few moments. However, as Graeme opens the door to take the kitten out for his exercise, there is a loud barking and he slams the door shut again. "What's that?" he gibbers, "What's that monster on the landing?" "That's a Great Dane," says Tim. "It's as big as a horse!" protests Graeme, adding "I'm not going out there - it looks fierce." "Well it isn't," Tim assures him, "In fact that's its problem. It's not terribly butch." "Isn't it?" asks Graeme. "No," confirms Tim, "As a matter of fact it's ..."; he whispers in Graeme's ear. "It's not is it?" asks an amazed Graeme. "As a row of pink tents," assures Tim. "You mean a Great Dane that's ..." says Graeme, and Tim completes the sentence, "A bit of a gay dog!" "Will you get off ..." says Graeme as Bill says he will toughen up the dog: "Grab your animals - it's time for Walkies." This leads into the same 5'52" film sequence of exercising the pets and the two fake commercials.
Af!ter the film sequence, the scene between Graeme and Bill is generally the same as the Montreux version, except that Graeme explains that Twinkle "is still too little ... you can't have the metabolism of a Rhino in something six inches long. He'll burn himself out." "Well, he's certainly growing fast," says Bill, before Tim comes in.
After the subsequent scene in which Bill reveals he has put the cat out, the show starts to diverge significantly. A 1'17" location film sequence opens with the Goodies cycling on the trandem down a suburban street calling "Kitty! Kitty! Puss puss puss!" They then find an overturned milkfloat with a terrified milkman pointing into the distance. Next they arrive at a fish shop which has been emptied of its stock, and the fishmonger emerges from his establishment as a gibbering wreck. A pack of terrified dogs scurry around a corner away from something past the Goodies. The trio then find a massive paw print on the ground ... and look up to see the massive cat climbing the GPO Tower.
The next scene back in the studio is very similar to the remake, except that all three Goodies enter the Quick Change cabinet at the same time (rather than use a double for Graeme). They emerge dressed as mice and set off to capture the cat.
The next sequence is on film and runs to 45"; the Goodies are in the street and fill a huge saucer full of milk. The trio then take cover nearby on a street corner - back in the studio - and wait for the giant feline to come for his lunch. However, as Graeme says, "We'll have to entice him," and starts to go "Eeek!" Bill and Tim join in as massive footsteps approach and there is a huge miaow. Tim is at first triumphant: "It worked, it worked! Well done, men - we've lured the monster out! The monster's coming! Help! Run!" Graeme tells them to hide and they duck down out of site by jumping into the saucer. Then Bill pops up: "Hang on - something's just struck me ... there's a ravenous 100 foot high pussy cat coming this way ... And he wants his dinner, right?" Graeme and Tim agree. "And we're dressed up as mice, right?" Again they agree. "And we're hiding in a bowl of milk, right?" Right, they agree. "Now doesn't that strike you as a bad idea?" asks Bill. "Right!" his colleagues agree, but it is too late to get away. Around the side of a building strides the cat and it towers over them as the trio attempt to shoo it away: "We're not mice - we're Goodies. Remember us? We taste horrible." Unfortunately the cat is not scared of them and they leap out of the bowl and make a run for it.
This leads into a 1'55" film sequence where the Goodies run around a street corner and flatten themselves against a wall. "This is another fine mess you've gotten ..." Tim starts to say, but Graeme tell!s him to shut up. The looney scientist believes that this is their chance: "While it's drinking the milk, we can sneak up and shove in the hypodermic." Tim refuses to go anywhere near it. Graeme says he will check that it is safe and, handing the giant hypodermic to Bill, creeps around the corner and calls back to the others: "It's OK - we're safe!" At that instance, a massive paw slams down and pins him to the ground. Tim suggests that they should run while they can and Graeme pleads for them not to leave him. Tim is unsympathetic: "Why not? It was all your stupid fault in the first place!" Bill agrees that it serves Graeme right, and points out that "While it's eating you, we'll have a chance to get away." Graeme pleads again for rescue, but Tim tells him he is being selfish, with Bill persuading the cat to eat the "Nice mouse." Sprinkling salt and pepper on Graeme, he adds: "Yummy appetising Mouseburger. Eat it all up so we can run away." At this, the paw drags Graeme away around the corner - his yells and screams can be heard. There is the noise of a cat purring and licking its lips ... and then (a dummy) Graeme flies through the air and hits the ground. "Hang on - you didn't give us time to get away," says Bill. Tim agrees: "You go back and get eaten this minute." "He spat me out!" says Graeme, adding, "Apparently, cats don't like salt and pepper." Tim realises they are trapped, but Graeme says that the kitten has gone. Bill feels that it's useless; "We'll never get near enough like this." Then Graeme has his idea: "Then there's only one thing to do - take to the air." Rapidly, Bill pumps up a balloon, Tim ties ropes across the trandem and Graeme fits a propeller.
The next sequence has the Goodies on the trandem CSOed over film in the studio. This is essentially the same sequence as was reshot for Montreux, but af!ter Bill making the dog noises the resolution is far quicker. Graeme simply drops the syringe towards the kitten: "Bombs away!" As the syringe makes a whistling noise while it hurtles down, Tim says: "Oooh - I can't stand the sight of a needle going in." He and the other Goodies look away as the whistling ends with a plonk, there is a miaow and a thud. "Direct hit!" says a triumphant Graeme. The trandem (model) descends to lie beside the sleeping cat. The Goodies dismount the trandem and walk in front of the drowsing colossus, shaking hands.
Back in the office, the Goodies parcel up the pets to send home. "I think we can congratulate ourselves on a thoroughly successful enterprise," says Graeme. "With one notable failure," says Tim, pointing towards the inner room. "I don't count Kitten Kong as a failure," insists Graeme as Bill asks if it's feeding time. "How long since the last meal?" asks Graeme. "Er !er ... four weeks," says Bill, to which Graeme agrees that it is time. Graeme takes a teaspoonful of the food from the vat and puts it on a plate. He then opens the door to reveal the tiny kitten sitting beside a massive collar and chain. "He's nearly back to normal," comments Graeme. Tim thinks he has overdone it, "I reckon he was bigger than that when we got him." Meanwhile, Bill has been looking at the vat, asking how much the kitten gets now. "One teaspoonful every month," says Graeme, "so that's ... er three teaspoonfuls he's had." Bill asks if Graeme has been eating the mixture as the vat is nearly empty ... and this leads to the same conclusion with the giant mice as in the 1972 version.
(c) Andrew Pixley 2000