Graeme's new advertising agency merrily churns out its wares as Tim and Bill watch the commercial breaks on television, but Tim then yells "Quick, switch it off" and complains that "The sooner they get rid of those silly programs, the better. They ruin the commercials!" A rather Bolshevik Bill laments that Graeme has caught the "disease of capitalist decadence", while the Tory Tim sings the praises of PM Margaret Thatcher and her policies ("She is a nice woman trying to make a nice country and we don't need any smutty pups like you, you ... worker!") This sets off a heated political discussion between "capitalist embarrassment" Tim (singing "Mao is making eyes at me!" and "I'm Lenin on a lamppost ..." while mocking two of Bill's Commie poster boys) and "common oik" Bill ("I tell you, swankpot, when the revolution comes, we'll have you up against the wall!" to which Tim suggestively replies "Promises, promises!") until they race back to the TV to tune in to the next commercial break.
The advertisements are interrupted by an important BBC newsflash (from Corbet Woodall in his final guest appearance) which reports that "the Prime Minister has just discovered a splendid loophole in the government's new tax laws and has retired to the Bahamas". Subsequently the remaining government and opposition MPs have voted themselves a massive pay rise and have gone to join her, so Britain has no government at all (which actually causes the pound to rise on world markets and striking unionists to willingly go back to work!) Bill answers the phone and tells the frantic caller to "belt up, you old gasbag!" before he hands it over to Tim, who is shocked to find that it is the Queen on the other end of the line. After a rather informal chat with the Queen (in agony aunt-style – "no more gossips on a Friday afternoon over tea and scones ... scOnes, really?"), Tim finds out that the Queen wants another PM (rather than another scOne!), but after he initially refuses politely (then answers "No, I don't particularly want to be beheaded at the moment ...!"), he offers to find a new leader for the country.
Graeme busily pinstripes his shirt (with a blue texta!) as Tim enters his agency ('Snaatchi & Snaatchi', with Graeme listed as holding all positions in the company from Director through to Secretary) dressed like Margaret Thatcher. Graeme initially thinks that Maggie has returned from abroad and is delighted to see her back (as he tells 'her' that she should aim to be "Empress of the World" and sticks a Hitler-style moustache on the stunned and silent Tim), insulting her repeatedly before he eventually realises that it's actually Tim, who wants to be the next Prime Minister. Graeme rescreens his successful campaign ad for Margaret Thatcher ("And they bought it! Thirty-five majority! What fools! Fools, the lot of them!"), but tells Tim that he is "gonna have to do some work on that voice" if he wants to be elected. Tim's normal voice is quickly canned by Graeme as being "too human!", so he adopts Maggie's cold, drawn-out tones and cringes at the thought of having to talk and shake hands with "real people". Graeme tells Tim that he will "just have to practice on one of them – now who's the grottiest, scruffiest, commonest ..." before they both answer "Bill!" in unison.
Bill enters Graeme's office right on cue in a long-haired wig, glasses, brown jacket and dress (while having a great deal of trouble staying upright on a pair of stilts) and asks a puzzled Graeme to "Kindly address me as Vanessa." Bill has taken on the identity of Vanessa Redgrave and states "I am the leader of The Worker's Revolutionary Party (as he points to the badge on his jacket) … not just A Worker's Revolutionary Party; but The Worker's Revolutionary Party!" An unimpressed Tim notes that the acronym is "Twerp!", while Graeme tells Bill "You don't make a very good woman!" (to which Bill cheekily replies "Well neither does she!") Despite this, Bill tells Tim that "I'm standing against you, with difficulty I admit!" (ad-libbing brilliantly as he almost topples off his stilts!), and wants Graeme to sell him to the nation too (although ad man Graeme initially plans to sell Tim as "a roll-on deodorant" and Bill "as a lavatory brush"!)
Maggie and Vanessa both provide a vision of their campaign policies, as Maggie firstly states that he sees herself as "an angel heralding in a nicer Britain". Maggie stands for "shiny shoes, ties, smart tweeds, Union Jack waistcoats, tasteful hats and lots of spanking" ("So vote for me for a much nicer Britain. You know it makes sense!") In contrast, Vanessa stands for workers rights, the abolition of "all things posh" (forcing Tim to face a firing squad for wearing a tie, which is shot to bits while the rest of him is unscathed), to make at least one film per year with Jane Fonda and have the chance to turn down an Oscar. However Maggie and Vanessa's boring speeches send Graeme to sleep and after he is awoken by their howls of protest, he refutes Vanessa's strong assertion that "the whole point of planning a campaign is to talk politics!" with a wary "Well I don't think you've got that right! No, puts them right off. If you want to get into Parliament, I should steer well clear of politics!" Graeme reminds Maggie and Vanessa that a successful campaign has nothing to do with policies and everything to do with image (as evidenced by Vanessa recognising Enoch Powell for "immigration control" while Maggie recalls his "evil moustache and big white googly eyes"!), but Vanessa is appalled with this notion and grumbles "This cynical display of manipulative marketeering sickens and disgusts me! I'm going to retire from serious political life. I'm gonna burn my stilts!" and departs in a huff.
Maggie comments "Thank goodness he's gone, common little oik!" and is sent off to Graeme's "make-up and costume department" to pick out his new image. Half an hour later, there is a knock on the door and Bill returns to Graeme's office dressed in green combat gear. Graeme initially thinks that this is Tim's new image ("Very bold, but will it appeal to the men at the Monday Club and the ladies in big hats?") until he realises that it is Bill dressed as the people's revolutionary Che (who sports a variety of punny surnames like "Monyou" and "Kitallabout", causing Graeme to tell him "Che no more!") Bill has abandoned his principles and is also willing to "image my way into power" ("Anything to stop that posh Brooke-Taylor queening his way up to the top!"), only to be completely upstaged by Tim's graceful entry as the stunning Timita (or the "tin transvestite" as Bill derisively calls him after Tim has already said "That's quite enough out of you, Fido Castrol GTX!")
A party political broadcast is screened for the Timita Party (with Timita being lowered from the ceiling on a golden crescent moon to a serenade of "Hello Timita", a line of tap dancers and plenty of showbiz razzle-dazzle), followed by a scene where two "common persons at their everyday places of work" weep at the unfairness of Timita possibly not being elected as PM because she is a woman, only for Timita to make a grand entrance behind them and utter the unforgettable line of "Don't cry for me Marge and Tina!" The spectacularly entertaining election campaign is on in earnest, and it's soon time for 'Election Night Special' with host "David Dimblemblm"; who gradually demolishes a banquet on-camera as he introduces a special comments panel of Tony Hatch, Tony Trinder and Mickey Most ("And we've got David Frost all the way over there in New York … so with any luck we shan't be hearing from him!") The Returning Officer (who is dressed as a pantomime fairy) soon delivers the remarkable news that William Che Oddie (Leftist Loony Party) and Timita Brooke-Taylor (Timita Party) have dead-heated in the general election with a grand total of one vote each. As the campaign has been so exciting (even being nominated for a film and TV Academy Award), nobody else has bothered to leave their TV sets and go out to cast a vote, apart from the two candidates themselves.
The coalition government of Timita and Che doesn't run smoothly however, so the joint Prime Ministers soon hassle Graeme (grumbling "Now look here, I want a word with you!" in unison) and he comes up with the solution to "televise parliament". Graeme gets them to sign a contract (using a joint feather quill set), then camps about as the host of 'The Immigration Game' - a show in which Timita and Che have to find suitable jobs for new immigrants. Meanwhile 'Sale of the Century' (with a sickening close up of a photo of Nicholas Parsons for good measure!) offers a showcase of guns and ammunition to the lucky winner, Timita's wage policy is analysed on 'Call My Bluff' (with Frank Muir - Graeme in disguise again - declaring "I'll pwump for a fweeze!"), and the United Nations General Assembly is turned into a giant game of 'Blankety Blanks'. Host Terry Wogan (a busy Graeme in disguise yet again) poses the question "When (French President) Valery Giscard d'Estaing jumped off the Eiffel Tower, he landed on his [blank]?" and the UN Secretary-General draws laughter from the crowd of delegates with his answer of "his Prime Minister". However Timita's undignified response ("Well at first I wrote he landed on his 'dignity', but then I changed it to his 'bum'!") causes a riot and mass walkout by the other UN members.
"A very very serious Ministerial Broadcast" follows in which Britain's joint PMs solemnly announce that "Europe has been plunged once more into conflict" and that "we must steel ourselves for the horrors to come" - a game of 'Guerres Sans Frontiers' (a glorified 'It's A Knockout') hosted by Eddie Waring (a babbling, ever-grinning Graeme) and Stuart (a hideously cackling spring-loaded dummy). The teams consisting of either the Prime Minister or President from six European nations (Germany, France, Italy, Holland, Spain and Britain) compete for the ultimate prize of "six points and the domination of Europe" and although Britain's coalition of Timita and Che is handicapped by having a leg tied together each as in a three-legged race, they do manage to "play the Joker" (a card of MP Cyril Smith) at the start. Eddie explains that he competitors must carry a large piece of cake through an obstacle course of barbed wire and heavy machine-gun fire, then "climb the butter mountain while the tanks try to slow them down a bit by blowing their heads off!", cross the wine lake with its greasy poles, navigate the minefield, scale the Berlin Wall and activate a nuclear attack (as a dolly model hostess sets one off accidentally during the demo!), with the winners being the first team to burst all of the balloons at the finish.
Eddie commentates on the action relentlessly and Stuart unleashes his 'Blackpool sailor' laugh at frequent intervals as the contest gets underway. Timita and Che trail badly right from the start due to their lack of mobility and eventually come to grief in the wine lake (being forced to drink it dry with large straws so that they can eventually escape). In a rather sozzled state, Che and Timita step on a landmine and are blown over the top of the Berlin Wall and into the lead, much to the chagrin of the other competitors (who have all been looking back and laughing at their boozy antics in the wine lake). Although Timita and Che drunkenly manage to pop all of the balloons (to the inspiring and patriotic strains of 'Land Of Hope And Glory'), they turn around to find that everyone else has long finished and gone home (with Germany taking the ultimate prize from France). Great Britain receives just one point for finishing last, plus a special "booby prize" - the return of Margaret Thatcher on an aeroplane, much to the hysterical chuckling of Stuart.
* Tim (praising Graeme's ad agency): "And good luck to him, say I. Good luck Graeme, I say, and whom can he thank? Her. (looks at photo of Margaret Thatcher on the wall. Yes, you Ma'am! You see, she encourages the man with the small firm."
Bill (suspiciously): "Oh yes, the small, firm what?!"
Graeme (when Tim enters his office dressed as Margaret Thatcher): "You're back, thank heavens! Don't tell me, you want to get back in, right? Yes well this time, why stop at Prime Minister?! (roughly ushers Tim into a seat) How about Empress of Europe, of America, of the world?! Here we are, try this on! (sticks a Hitler-style moustache onto Tim) There. No, doesn't suit you, mind you, what did, hey? My God, how did I ever sell you?! Still, I can do it again, I'm so pleased to see you back. I thought I was going to have to go back to flogging washing powders (scoffs), mind you, there's not much difference, hey! (chuckles) I'm sorry, I'm sorry, no offence, no offence. Always remember, rule number one - never offend the client. Rule number two - never forget they're idiots. And rule number three - never let them know that you know. Know what I mean? No, of course you don't, you're an idiot!"
* Tim: "I want you to do for me what you did for Margaret Thatcher."
Graeme (panicking): "How did you know about that?! Blasted 'News of the World'! You haven't told Dennis, have you?!"
* Tim (to Bill, who is dressed as Vanessa): "You don't look a bit like Vanessa Redgrave!"
Bill (indignantly): "Oh yes I do! A bit … that bit (bares his knee) and that bit (grabs his hair) … just haven't got the height for it, that's all!"
Graeme: "You're nothing like Vanessa. You don't make a very good woman!"
Bill (grinning): "Well neither does she!
Graeme: "Vanessa Redgrave does not have a beard!"
Bill (indignantly again): "She would if she could!"
* Tim (discussing the images of prominent politicians): "Oh I see. So you think that if you combine the features of Healey, Heath and Powell, you'd have a winner?"
Graeme: "Possibly, but only at Crufts!"
* Bill (as Che, talking to Graeme): "Hey, you ever heard of the Iron Maiden?" ... (looks at Tim, dressed as Timita) ... "The Tin Transvestite!"
Tim (offended): "Zip the lip, Chairman Mouth!"
* Timita (during her campaign speech): "But you know, it's high time people realised that there's nothing a man can do that a woman can't."
Graeme: "Except perhaps for one thing."
Timita: (in a deep male voice): "Not in my case!"
* Timita (consoling two common factory workers who are worried that she mightn't win the election):
"Don't cry for me Marge and Tina!"
* Graeme's opening two ads for his new advertising agency, with him firstly impersonating his ISIHAC colleague Willie Rushton and describing a candy bar that he is munching on as "crunchy ... no, it's chewy ... no, it's crunchy and chewy!", then going on to describe it as "gritty", "soggy" and finally "disgusting" as he finally spews it into a rubbish bin as part of the 'Keep Britain Tidy' campaign. The second ad sees a gentleman wearing a long trenchcoat asking for help from a female ticketing officer to the reply of "I'm sorry Mr Frost, I really don't think I can." He then flashes her and, rather impressed, she remarks "Oh, that'll do nicely" and credits his 'American Excess' card!
* Tim describing his photo montage of Margaret Thatcher's head on Jane Fonda's body as "Just a harmless fantasy!" while him and Bill have been arguing bitterly over their opposing political views between commercial breaks, with Bill's scornful response being "A harmless fantasy?! I only wish she were!"; plus Tim's frenzied panic in hiding this photo before talking to the Queen on the telephone after Bill has answered it and told her to "belt up, you old gasbag!" Also Bill trying to justify that he supports "Power to the people ... real people such as Mao and Marx and ... David Essex!" (while pointing to his poster of Che Guevara) and the cheeky innuendo that he and Tim hurl at each other during their political debate between commercial breaks.
* Graeme, the smooth Snaatchi & Snaatchi ad man, pinstriping his white shirt with the aid of a thick blue texta and then treating 'Margaret Thatcher' with utter contempt when 'she' enters the office, putting a Hitler moustache on her, calling her an idiot and telling her that she's no different to a box of washing powder as she sits there expressionless; only to finally realises that it's just Tim dressed like Maggie by looking under the table (presumably at Tim's knobbly knees!)
* The respective campaign speeches by 'Maggie' (representing the "nice people") and 'Vanessa' (standing up for the "workers), including Maggie promising that "on the glorious twelfth each year, the nice people will be allowed to hold a workers cull (with Bill shown being clubbed like a seal pup as he lays around doing nothing), invoking the death penalty for "people who walk behind the bowlers arm at Lords" (as Bill detonates in a huge explosion for doing just that), abolishing the National Health Service so that "people will be encouraged to save doctors' time and money by treating themselves" (with Bill shown sawing his leg off, stuffing it into a bin and then promptly fainting at the sight of the grisly aftermath!) and treating union officials as "naughty schoolboys" that deserve a good spanking. Vanessa in turn runs on a platform of selling the Queen to Disneyland (as a crate is shipped off with a hand regally waving from it), reducing defence spending by "disbanding the army and buying a white flag", abolishing "all things posh" (like Tim facing a firing squad for wearing a tie) and making at least one film per year with Jane Fonda, as well as snapping an Oscar over his knee after refusing to accept it!
* Several cameos like Tim's stunning entrance as Timita, prompting a stunned Bill to say " Ooh I don't believe it, it isn't … it is! … Miss Piggy!" (which earns him a 'hy yah!' with Tim's handbag for good measure!), the "tin transvestite" and "Don't cry for me Marge and Tina" lines, David Dimblemblm turning 'Election Night Special' into a stylish banquet for one and then converting his desk into a foldout bed (complete with lamp, clock and teddy bear) when it looks as though the election impasse and recounts will go on all night. Also Graeme's lengthy impersonation of Eddie Waring (though perhaps not his funniest takeoff, as you can actually understand what he is saying!) and a purple-faced, rather pissed-looking Timita having a real struggle popping balloons, only to find that everyone else except Eddie has gone home ages ago.
David Dimbleby, Corbet Woodall, Jo Kendall, Nicholas McArdle, Rosemary Faith, Penny Irving, Maria Eldridge, Joan Blackham
Keep Britain Tidy
MY 2 CENTS WORTH
A great first half with a very enjoyable look at the polar opposite political leanings of Tim (who makes a brilliant though scarily similar Margaret Thatcher clone) and Bill (whose ridiculous Vanessa and punny Che characters are also good fun), but the episode loses its way a bit the further it goes along, especially in the lengthy 'It's A Knockout' send-up, though this does still have some funny moments. In any event, political campaigning Goodies-style is certainly far more interesting and entertaining than anything that our real politicians have dished up to us in recent times.
BLACK PUDDING RATING