Thursday, April 27, 2006

The Penny Dreadful - a comedy for radio

SOUND: Tiptoe through the tulips with me. Fades

SOUND: The bell in the shop doorway chimes as the paperboy enters.

JIMMY: Mister Matthews, Mister Matthews!


JIMMY: Mister Matthews I’ve told you before my names Martin.

MR MATTHEWS: You look like a Jimmy to me. Besides what kind of name is Martin?

JIMMY: Erm, I have no idea what you mean by that Mister Matthews.

MR MATTHEWS: Have you finished your round?

JIMMY: No, you forgot the supplements again! I’m going to have to go back out.

MR MATTHEWS: You’re not expecting extra pay for that?

JIMMY: There’s no point expecting it is there?

MR MATTHEWS: As it happens…no. Now you wait there, I’ll get the supplements ready.

JIMMY: Have you got my comic in yet?

MR MATTHEWS: Look in that pile over there.

SOUND: Magazines being piled upon one another.

JIMMY: Right, here we are, okay, celebrity gossip magazine, another celebrity gossip magazine, another celebrity gossip magazine, ladies hair magazine, ladies hair and celebrity gossip magazine, what’s this – How’s it going? Oh, just another celebrity gossip magazine.

MR MATTHEWS: It a roaring trade, I just hope they all keeps behaving real bad, the longer they do the more glossies I sell.

JIMMY: What’s this one?

MR MATTHEWS: Hold it up so I can see. Oh yes that’s new in.

JIMMY: Doesn’t look new. Why’s it called Penny Dreadful? That’s not a very catchy name.

MR MATTHEWS: Ah, you see your Penny Dreadful was a magazine from the turn of the century.

JIMMY: 2001?

MR MATTHEWS: No 1901 you idiot.

JIMMY: You said turn of the…

MR MATTHEWS: Are you listening?

JIMMY: No, I do enough of that at school thanks.

MR MATTHEWS: Now you just listen and you might just learn summit. The Penny Dreadful was a magazine that contained all sorts of tales, mostly nonsense of course, and more often than not badly written nonsense at that.

JIMMY: Were they popular?

MR MATTHEWS: As popular as your celebrity gossip magazine is today.

SOUND: Jimmy flips through the magazine.

JIMMY: Wow… It doesn’t look like much, and it’s mostly text, with a few scratchy drawings. Look, this one’s a devil lobbing someone’s head off.

MR MATTHEWS: That’ll be for one of the stories, what’s it called?

JIMMY: Erm… Ah, The Frimpton Menace.

MR MATTHEWS: Read us bit Jimmy me lad.

JIMMY: Owwwwaaa!

MR MATTHEWS: Stop bellyaching, this is educational.

JIMMY: It looks so stupid though.

MR MATTHEWS: Just get on with it.

JIMMY: All right all right. Where’s the start, oh here we go.

CUTTS: (VERY SERIOUS VOICE) The name’s Trevor Cutts. I work the late night News Desk at the Daily News. It’s a godforsaken job. (PAUSE) I know that… for a fact.

MR MATTHEWS: My word Jimmy you’ve got a terrific reading voice there lad.

JIMMY: Thanks, now where was I?

CUTTS: There’s more to this world than most of you simple people would ever believe. For those that have briefly glimpsed… something of what is (SLOWLY) really going on… well, you choose to ignore it, to save your sanity… It started like another night at the Daily News, with me hard at work.

JIMMY: Right, that’s the introduction. Can I stop now?

MR MATTHEWS: No, keep reading!


MR MATTHEWS: ‘Cause. And besides I’ve hardly started getting the supplements ready. Go on get on with it.

JIMMY: Hold on a sec I’ve lost my place.

CUTTS: It started like any other night at the Daily News, with me hard at work.

MR MATTHEWS: Heard that bit, move on.

SOUND: Phone ringing in background.

CUTTS: (On the phone) Come on Pete…no… I’ve got that covered… Good. Now I want two on the nose for Dead Celebrity Girlfriend running at Haymarket. Got that? Hold on Pete, got someone calling on the other phone…

SOUND: Takes a drag on his fag and picks the other phone up


BOON: Cutts?

CUTTS: Hold on a sec, I’m on another call.

BOON: It’s just a…

CUTTS: No hold on, (PAUSE) Pete mate? Pete? (PAUSE) Damn it.

SOUND: Phone slamming back down on its receiver


BOON: I wouldn’t want to interrupt anything important, Mr Cutts

CUTTS: Bit late for that now. (HELPFUL) Night Desk, can I help?

BOON: Unlicensed gambling is still illegal in this country Mr Cutts.

CUTTS: What?

BOON: My name is PC Boon, I’m a Officer of her local constabulary down here at Frimpton Bellows.

CUTTS: How can I help you PC Boon?

BOON: That’s Officer Boon if you don’t mind!

CUTTS: You said you were PC Boon.

BOON: That’s right. Patrick Cufbert Boon.


BOON: Now listen Cutts, I’m doing you a favour here, and in return I don’t expect to be kept up half the night on this ruddy phone, understand?

CUTTS: Right.

BOON: The thing is… how shall I put this?

CUTTS: In as few words as possible?

BOON: The fact of the matter is we’ve had a couple of murders committed in our small village of Frimpton Bellows.

CUTTS: (SUSPICIOUS) I haven’t heard about this?

BOON: That’s cause we haven’t told anyone about it.

CUTTS: What? Intentionally suppressing information…?

BOON: It’s what we do best.

CUTTS: But that’s illegal…

BOON: Now then, we’re the police, we say what’s illegal and what’s not.

CUTTS: (INCENSED) No you don’t! Parliament decides on the legislature and then it’s passed to…

BOON: (CUTS - TO HIMSELF AS IF COMPOSING AN ARREST SHEET) …Mister Cutts fell whilst resisting arrest, I tried to grab hold of him, but his huge mass, caused by over drinking and stuffing his fat face with meat pies and crisps every lunchtime, propelled him down the steep back stairway…

CUTTS: What are you doing?

BOON: I’m composing the arrest sheet

CUTTS: For whom?

BOON: Guess.

CUTTS: Right.

BOON: Good. Now may I continue…?

CUTTS: Please, be my guest.

BOON: Ahem (PAUSE) So we’ve been having a spot of bother recently here at Frimpton Bellows…

CUTTS: I’d hardly call a couple of murders a spot of bother!

BOON: A couple… er… strings…of particularly grizzly murders. We have not as yet arrested the culprit, due to the fact that, (PAUSE) we haven’t the foggiest who’s been doing it.

CUTTS: Oh dear.

BOON: Indeed. We do however, have an eyewitness to the last murder here in Frimpton Bellows

CUTTS: Do you?

BOON: Yes.

CUTTS: So, how many murders have there been then, you say a couple…?

BOON: Well over the past few weeks Frimpton Bellows has seen a total of thirty-two murders committed…


MR MATTHEWS: Did you say thirty-two murders?

JIMMY: That’s what it says here, thirty-two murders.

BOON: Well, thirty-three if you count the first one.

CUTTS: And why wouldn’t you count the first one?

BOON: Well, because it was Slim Jeffries, the dry cleaner, and no one much liked him.

CUTTS: Unbelievable!

BOON: Not really, he was a sarcastic man with quite a mean streak.

CUTTS: No I mean, oh forget it. Now tell me something, how have you managed to cover up thirty-two…three murders?

BOON: As I said we’ve been at this game a long time.

CUTTS: Why are you telling me this now Officer Boon?

BOON: Unfortunately that’s classified information.

CUTTS: Classified? Classified by whom?

BOON: Again, classified.

CUTTS: Okay. (PAUSE) So what is it you expect me to do about this?

BOON: Classified.

CUTTS: But your name is Officer Boon? And these murders have been committed at Frimpton Bellows?

PC BOON: That’s also, very classified

CUTTS: I think I better get myself to Frimpton Bellows.

PC BOON: Good.

CUTTS: Right.

PC BOON: Frimpton Bellows will be expecting you shortly Mister Cutts.

CUTTS: (INTRIGUED) Before you go Officer Boon…

BOON: Whatever it is make it quick.

CUTTS: Where is Frimpton Bellows?

PC BOON: That’s classified, Good evening Mr Cutts.

SOUND: Phone goes dead on the other line.

CUTTS: My decision to travel to Frimpton Bellows to investigate the story further, made me feel somewhat (PAUSE) uneasy… Because I’m not a very confident driver and I imagined Frimpton was a long way away.

SOUND: Birds twitter and there is the distinct sound of a gentle brook babbling in the distance. A car can be heard coming towards us. It pulls up and the engine is left ticking over.



CUTTS: I said, excuse me.

DONALD: No need, no need…

CUTTS: Which way is it to Frimpton Bellows?

DONALD: Th’Bellows?

CUTTS: Frimpton Bellows?

DONALD: I ‘eard ya.

MR MATTHEWS: You wouldn’t be taking the mikey out of me would you Jimmy?

JIMMY: (GUILTY INNOCENCE) Erm… in what way Mister Matthews?

MR MATTHEWS: You know rightly enough you little tyke. This Donald character sounds somewhat like me.

JIMMY: Oh, erm no, look it says right here, Donald had a thick regional accent, (UNDER HIS BREATH) just like old man Matthews.

CUTTS: Sorry, I’m a bit lost, there doesn’t seem to be any signs for Frimpton Bellows.

DONALD: There’s a reason for that, I’m betting you wanna know what it are?

CUTTS: Why is it then?

DONALD: Frimpton be down that way, turn right at the Hanging Man and then left at the Mutilated Child.

CUTTS: They’re pubs are they?

DONALD: (SLOWLY) If you like.

CUTTS: Well, thanks for your help.

DONALD: Huh huh huh.

CUTTS: By the way, why are there no signs for Frimpton Bellows?

DONALD: ‘cause I ate them.


DONALD: No, not really, ministry of transport not got round to us yet.

CUTTS: How long have you been waiting?

DONALD: Long time, oh yes, a long time…

CUTTS: Riiiiiggghhht, (PAUSE) Okay thanks for the help.

SOUND: Cutts drives off into the distance.

DONALD: Not saying goodbye then Mister Trevor Cutts?

SOUND: The high street in a busy market town. The sound changes to that of an Office environment. Then a door to the street opens then closes again as Cutts enters the local Cop Shop. Cutts rings the bell on the counter for attention.

MR MATTHEWS: Get that Jimmy, I’m tired up back here.

JIMMY: No that bell was in the story Mr Matthews.

MR MATTHEWS: Silly me, carry on lad.

BOON: (SURLY) Can I help you, Sir?

CUTTS: Is there an Officer Boon working here?

BOON: No Mr Cutts, there is not.

CUTTS: How do you know my name then?

BOON: An educated guess?

CUTTS: Educated? How?

BOON: (QUICK) Lucky guess then?

CUTTS: Oh come on Officer Boon, you want me to do some poking around for you using my journalistic skills. That’s why you did the ‘deep throat’ call to my paper last night, correct?

JIMMY: What does he mean by ‘deep throat’.

MR MATTHEWS: (EMBARRASHED) I don’t think you need worry about that Jimmy, move on.

JIMMY: Is it anything to do with that book by Leonard Bernstein, All the Presidents Men?

MR MATTHEWS: (OF COURSE) That’s right, keep going, I’m nearly done with the supplements.

BOON: These murders are of a sensitive nature, Mr Cutts. I hate to admit it, but we’re stumped and seeing as how you cover some of the more ‘unusual’ cases…

CUTTS: You said that there was a witness to the last murder. That’s where I should start, and then work backwards.

BOON: (PAUSE) That may be a little bit difficult.

CUTTS: Why is that then?

BOON: The witness, he’s an (PAUSE). He’s an odd character, Mr Cutts.

CUTTS: Don’t worry about that, I’ve dealt with some odd characters in my time.

BOON: (PAUSE) Such as?

CUTTS: Just some… and they were all very odd

BOON: (PAUSE) In what way?

CUTTS: In a very (PAUSE) odd way. Look are you coming with me or not?


SOUND: The music from ‘Starsky and Hutch’ plays out directly and then from a car stereo.

CUTTS: (SHOUTING) Can you turn this down, please?

SOUND: The music goes down but is still audible

BOON: There’s our man, sitting over there on top of that five bar gate.

CUTTS: Oh dear.

SOUND: The same birds twittering and babbling brook as earlier

DONALD: I never seen nuthin’ ever, and even if I did, which I ain’t saying nuthin’ about to you, then that’s the same and that’s how it’ll always be.

BOON: But you saw the man dressed as a Devil?

DONALD: Or t’were it a Devil that were dressed as a man?

BOON: That’s what I just said!

DONALD: No, it t’weren’t.

BOON: When I spoke to you yesterday you quite clearly said that you saw a man leave the home of our Parish Vicar, and that this individual had… hold on…

SOUND: PC Boon rustles in his pocket to get his pocket book.

(VERY FAKE RENDITION OF DONALDS ACCENT)…He were dressed in red, be it with red horns ana pointin’ tail. (BACK TO ORDINARY VOICE) And that Sir is the statement you made to me yesterday.

DONALD: That’s roight.

BOON: And that sounds like a typical Devil to me.

CUTTS: Were you drinking at the time Mister...?

DONALD: They call me (DRAMATIC PAUSE) Donald.

CUTTS: Were you drinking the night that you saw this Devil, Donald?

DONALD: Devil Donald? How do you know that were ‘is name?

CUTTS: No I meant, were you drinking the night that you saw this Devil (PAUSE) Donald? Meaning you.

DONALD: I never drink.

BOON: Right, so what’s that there, in your pocket?

DONALD: That be old Scrumpin’ George.

BOON: That’s a drink.

DONALD: (ANGRY) Awwww… I ain’t lived to this terrible old age, through plague and blight to be agitated and accused for no right reason, when all I’m saying is that I saw Old Nick and the tricks he’s been up to… watch Old Nick…

CUTTS: What me…why?

DONALD: He knows you, huh huh huh

CUTTS: (PAUSE) He knows my, what?

DONALD: No no you damn foolage. (SLOWLY) He knows, you! Ha ha ha

CUTTS: What’s so funny?

DONALD: I just remembered a joke I ‘eard whilst I were in the Naked Wench last noight.

BOON: I don’t recall a public house in Frimpton Bellows, by that name.

DONALD: Who said it were a pub?

BOON: Donald, have you remembered which direction the man went in, after you saw him come out of the Vicar’s house?


CUTTS: I don’t think this man can help us any further.

DONALD: No he can’t.

CUTTS: Not Officer Boon, you.

BOON: Thank you for your assistance. We’ll bid you good day Sir.

SOUND: Footsteps as Cutts and PC Boon walk away from Donald.

BOON: I’m sorry Sir, but as I said he’s a little difficult.

CUTTS: He’s off his bloody rocker that’s what he is.

BOON: I really don’t know how he got elected.

CUTTS: Elected?

BOON: Sorry Mister Cutts I didn’t tell you, Donald is Frimpton Bellows Mayor.

CUTTS: How the hell did he get elected as…


SOUND: Donald runs up to Boon and Cutts

CUTTS: Well?

DONALD: You see, you see…I know, I know, they say ol’Donalds a mad ol’coot, but I know.

BOON: So you saw something else?

DONALD: Erm…no.

BOON: Thank you Sir, now if you’d be on your way.

SOUND: Boon and Cutts getting into the car. Doors open and shut.

DONALD: Follow the words and that’ll do, for he will not see you coming.

BOON: Stand back please, Mr Mayor, I don’t want to run over you.

DONALD: You writer, beware the eyes.

CUTTS: Yeah right, thank you.

SOUND: Cutts and Boon drive off into the distance.

DONALD: The fame will be mine, you’ll see.


JIMMY: What?

MR MATTHEWS: What was the joke that Donald heard?

JIMMY: What?

MR MATTHEWS: Donald said he heard a joke in the Naked Wench.

JIMMY: There isn’t a joke. I think it was just a sexual innuendo.


JIMMY: Have you finished doing the supplements yet Mr Matthews?

MR MATTHEWS: Yes all done.

JIMMY: Are they in the same order as the papers I’ve already delivered?

MR MATTHEWS: Erm… perhaps you’d better carry on with the story.

SOUND: The music from ‘Hawaii 5O’ plays out form the car stereo.

BOON: I’m sorry about that Mr Cutts, crazy old Donald hails from a time when the village was ruled by superstition and fear.

CUTTS: And how long ago was that?

BOON: About six months back. However since I was posted to Frimpton Bellows law and order has been brought to our small rural community. We’re all very proud of Frimpton Bellows Mr Cutts. Frimpton Bellows is a good place to live, a family town that has managed to stave off the more insidious vices and vile corruptions of our modern world.

CUTTS: There have been thirty-three murders committed!

BOON: Well obviously it’s going to take time for law and order to permeate ever level of society. Rome wasn’t built in a day Sir.

CUTTS: Right. I think our next port of call should be the scene of the first victim.

BOON: Harcourt Court.


BOON: (AFFIRMING) Harcourt Court.

SOUND: Gunshot, then squawk of the shot bird, followed by barking and then the rustle of leaves in a gentle breeze.

HAMPTON: (SHOUTING) Go fetch that Monroe…good boy!

MONROE: (DISTANCE) Yes Sir, right away Sir.

HAMPTON: He’s a good man is Monroe, been with the family for donkeys. Sorry Officer Broom what was it that you were saying?

BOON: That’s BOON, Lord Harcourt-Burrows, Officer Boon.

HAMPTON: Isn’t that what I said?

BOON: No Sir you said Officer Broom.

HAMPTON: Oh well, close enough?

PC BOON: I was saying that this is Mr Trevor Cutts from the Daily News.

HAMPTON: Oh that’s right. So what brings you to sleepy Frimpton Bellows Mr Cutts?

CUTTS: (MATTER OF FACTLY) The string of grisly murders that have been committed over the last few weeks.

HAMPTON: Of course, of course, terrible business. If I can help at all please let me know.

CUTTS: Officer Boon informs me that the first official victim, following the dry cleaner was found here at your stately home Lord Harcourt-Burrows

HAMPTON: Oh for goodness sake, no need to stand on ceremony here Trevor, my name is Hampton.

CUTTS: And where in the house was your employee found, Hampton?

HAMPTON: (ANNOYED) Lord Hampton, if you don’t mind!

CUTTS: (TAKEN A BACK) Oh, sorry.

HAMPTON: We found what remained of Jenny in the scullery.

CUTTS: What remained?

BOON: There were a number of her body parts missing Mr Cutts.

CUTTS: Which parts exactly?

HAMPTON: All of them bar her head, which was a shame because her head was far from her most pleasing feature, if you know what I mean.

BOON: Might I remind you Sir that a young lady has died here, a little more respect for the recently departed I think is due.

HAMPTON: Of course, of course, quite right too. It is a relief now that we have you here Officer Boon, is it not? Otherwise where would our moral standards be? It is rather a shame however about all the deaths that have occurred since you arrived, I do not imagine that that will look good on your record, hmm?

BOON: I’m not concerned about my record Lord Harcourt-Burrows, just law and order.



HAMPTON: (QUIET) Ah, Our local historian.

AGATHA: (UP TO THE GROUP) Good day gentlemen, Lord Harcourt-Burrows.

BOON: Morning ma’am

CUTTS: Good morning

AGATHA: My name is Agatha Pentonville, as in the famed crime novelist and prison.

BOON: There isn’t a Prison called Agatha is there?

HAMPTON: What brings you out this way Agatha?

AGATHA: A favour actually, Lord Harcourt-Burrows

HAMPTON: Agatha here, is currently undertaking a comprehensive history of our little town of Frimpton Bellows.

CUTTS: Really?

AGATHA: Oh yes, Frimpton is a fascinating and most unusual community, with a history that is rich in intrigue and drama. In fact did you know Frimpton was once gripped by a satanic sect in the 18th century, there were many murders committed, all of a highly ritualised nature.

In what way? Such as?

AGATHA: Decapitation mostly, and the bodies were never found.

MR MATTHEWS: Hold on, hold on.

JIMMY: What?

MR MATTHEWS: Have you skipped a bit?

JIMMY: No, why?

MR MATTHEWS: I dunno, it seems a bit of a coincidence that this blokes met a historian that may have a clue as to what is going on.

JIMMY: I don’t know, do you want me to stop?

MR MATTHEWS: No no, carry on, it might get better.

HAMPTON: (RUSHING ON) Oh Agatha you are so excitable, Officer Boon and his friend really don’t have time to hear about Frimptons rather squalid past. Now what was this favour I can help you with?

AGATHA: Oh yes I must apologise, I do so get carried away by the frantic bloodletting and Satanic orgies that happened right here at Harcourt Court.

HAMPTON: Indeed.

AGATHA: My favour was this, I have a reason to believe I may have traced the leader of this 18th Century Satanic cult, I was wondering if it would be possible to use your library to verify my findings.


AGATHA: Yes, I assume your library holds a registry of Frimpton Bellows towns’ people through many generations?


AGATHA: And may I…

HAMPTON: Of course, unfortunately (PAUSE – AS IF TRYING TO COME UP WITH AN EXCUSE) I am having (PAUSE) the entire library redecorated and it will be quite impossible to gain access to the books for a number of weeks. (CONFIDENT – POST LIE) I will of course notify you the instant the work has been completed. You do understand I hope?

AGATHA: Oh that’s a damn shame, never mind. I’m sure I can find an alternative source. Anyway thank you for your time Lord Harcourt-Burrows, Good day Officer, and oh I’m sorry I didn’t catch your name?

SOUND: Pencil scratching across paper as Cutts writes up his notes

CUTTS: (NARRATION) I arranged to meet with this local historian for an afternoon drink at The Savaged Pensioner in the village. It was clear to me that this 18th Century crime wave had more than a little to so with the current epidemic of ritualised murders, that Frimpton Bellows was presently suffering. It was also clear to me that I needed to have a little ‘chat’ with Officer P.C. Boon about our working relationship.

SOUND: The music from ‘The Sweeney’ plays out directly and then from a car stereo. After a few moments the stereo is turned off.

BOON: Is there a problem Mr Cutts?

CUTTS: Well not exactly a problem as such…

BOON: Do you think we should compose a list of all the victims and see if we can chart any patterns that may be present in the murders?

CUTTS: Haven’t you done that already?

BOON: Well yes… but I have just got a new set of felt pens…

CUTTS: Look Officer Boon, I appreciate you chaperoning me around town like this but you know I do my best investigation work on my own.

BOON: What are you saying Sir?

CUTTS: (PAUSE) I think we should split up.

SOUND: BOON pulls the car over to the side of the road and cuts the engine.

BOON: Was it something I said?

CUTTS: No, you’ve been great, honestly. It’s me… I find it difficult working with others.

BOON: Is it the uniform Sir? I can go undercover in plain clothes if you’d like?

CUTTS: Doesn’t everyone in Frimpton Bellows already know you?

BOON: Yes…

CUTTS: Then that won’t work. Look I never meant for you to get the wrong idea. I thought we both knew from the beginning that this was only meant to be a short-term arrangement.

BOON: (DESPERATE) Please Sir, give me a second chance. I haven’t got a partner. Its just me…alone…in that big old Police Station. I thought I could be your Danno or Hutch or Carter or Lewis or Michael Douglas…

CUTTS: Look I don’t know…my minds kind of already made up.

BOON: It’s a lonely thankless job this…please Sir, I need your help.

CUTTS: Can’t they send you more officers?

BOON: I don’t think we need to involve the Police in this do you Sir?

CUTTS: But you are the Police!

BOON: Be that as it may…

CUTTS: Okay, okay… Look, we’ll stay together for a little while longer, but I’m warning you, I need my space.

BOON: Oh thank you Sir.

CUTTS: Okay, now this ‘Savaged Pensioner’, that is a pub right?

SOUND: A busy local pub, lunchtime.

CUTTS: …and a pint of Cats blood for you Ms Pentonville.

AGATHA: Call me Agatha, Trevor.

BOON: Did you get the plain crisps Mr Cutts?

CUTTS: Oh I’m sorry Officer Boon I forgot.

AGATHA: Are you sure you won’t have a drink Officer Boon?

BOON: I am still on duty Ms Pentonville.

CUTTS: Can you tell us more about these Satanic murders Agatha?

AGATHA: Of course, what would you like to know?

CUTTS: Well, how many murders were committed?

AGATHA: That’s the queerest part of the story, thirty-four people were killed and then the murders stopped. Just like that.

CUTTS: Did they catch the murderer?

AGATHA: Never, although there were sightings. But I put this down to the superstitions of the time…


AGATHA: The sightings were of a man, dressed all in red with horns and a tail.

CUTTS: My God!

AGATHA: No, more like a Devil actually.

CUTTS: Are you getting all this down Officer Boon? Officer Boon?

PC BOON: Sorry Sir, I lost concentration for a moment, must be due to the blood sugar level in my body reaching zero what with my increased hunger.

CUTTS: Oh for goodness sake I’ll get some crisps in a moment, did you hear what Agatha just said?

BOON: Yes I heard, all very fascinating, but how does that help us with our enquiries?

CUTTS: Thirty-four murders, a sighting of a man dressed as the Devil!?!

AGATHA: And what enquiries are these then, if you don’t mind me asking?

BOON: I’m terribly sorry Ms Pentonville, but it’s classified.

AGATHA: Doesn’t have anything to do with the strange death of Lord Harcourt-Burrows cook does it?

CUTTS: Maybe.

AGATHA: Because it’s a queer coincidence. Jenny was the great great great granddaughter of Jenny Tailor, the first victim in Seventeen hundred and one

CUTTS: Jenny’s ancestor was the first victim of the…

AGATHA: They called it the ‘Frimpton Menace’. Frimpton was not then joined with the neighbouring town of Bellows.

CUTTS: This is remarkable.

BOON: Not really Sir, you’ll find a lot of towns join up and become one, look at Stoke, that’s five smaller towns that make up Stoke on Trent.

CUTTS: No that’s not what I meant, the similarity with…y’know?

AGATHA: You don’t think that the Frimpton Menace has anything to do with poor Jenny’s unfortunate demise do you?

CUTTS: I don’t know. All I do know is that we need the names of all thirty-four victims of the Frimpton Menace.

AGATHA: Of course, I have them back at my rooms at the Vicarage. Hmm…that’s another coincidence….

CUTTS: In what way?

AGATHA: The final victim of the Menace was a gentleman by the name of Jesspers McArthur.

CUTTS: Jesspers?

AGATHA: Yes, Jesspers McArthur, himself an ancestor of our own Parish Vicar, Denzil McArthur.

SOUND: Fade out. Birds twittering, a gentle breeze rustles the trees. Added to this is the sound of BOON munching a packet of crisps.

BOON: (MOUTHFUL) Marfter ow Mizz Pentonfill.

AGATHA: Are you coming Mr Cutts?

CUTTS: We’ll be in a moment Agatha, Officer Boon and I just need to have a short meeting.

BOON: What’s going on here then Mr Cutts?

CUTTS: Can’t you see all the pieces are here? A satanic cult is carrying out a series of ritualistic murders just as they did three hundred years ago. I‘m willing to bet that if we matched all the victims of the Frimpton Menace to our latest crop of mutilated casualties then they will all be related, murder for murder. They’re already up to thirty-three, one more and the cult will disappear for another three hundred years. The Vicar is obviously the final victim; if we follow him we may well be able to stop them in their tracks.

BOON: Well obviously I knew that, but who is behind it all?

CUTTS: I don’t know.

BOON: Oh I see, not so clever after all, are we?

CUTTS: I’ve only been here a morning and I’ve already got a pretty good idea about what’s going on. How’s your performance to date?

BOON: Let’s not worry about my performance thank you very much.

CUTTS: Quite.

BOON: Although we do have some positive news don’t we Mister Cutts?

CUTTS: Do we, what?

BOON: If Jenny was indeed the first victim of this new wave of ritualistic horror that means that we can rule the murder of Slim Jeffries out of this investigation.

CUTTS: Well that’s true, but it’s not actually good news for you is it?

BOON: How so Sir?

CUTTS: Well it means that you now have a whole new case you’ve been unable to solve.

BOON: Hmm, in which case perhaps it’s best for all concerned if we just lump him with the others.

CUTTS: Best for who?

BOON: Serve and protect Sir, that’s our motto.

CUTTS: That’s not your motto, it’s the LAPDs.

BOON: The Lake Arnold Presbyterian Darts Society Sir?

CUTTS: Yeah if you like, besides which I’m guessing that although you found Slim before Jenny she was probably still the first victim. How much time was there between the discoveries of the their murders?

BOON: About twenty minutes Sir.

CUTTS: Twenty minutes?

SOUND: The door to the vicarage creeks open in a very eerily gothic fashion.

VICAR: (VERY JOLLY) Gentlemen, I have a fresh pot of tea made, why don’t you both come inside? You’ll catch your death out here.

CUTTS: But Vicar, it’s mid-July!

VICAR: I wasn’t talking about the weather.

SOUND: Fade out

AGATHA: What makes you think that Lord Harcourt-Burrows has anything to do with the murders Trevor?

CUTTS: Just a feeling really.

VICAR: I don’t want to believe it, when Tom Potter the organ master was found here yesterday Lord Hampton was terrible helpful in getting the arrangements sorted out.

CUTTS: I still think we need to keep an eye on him.

BOON: Is it because he’s a toff Mr Cutts?

CUTTS: No it’s not.

BOON: Are you sure Sir? Do toff’s get up your nose Mr Cutts?


BOON: Do you have some sort of prejudice towards Lord Hampton?


VICAR: Prejudice is simply hate, but with more syllables Mr Cutts.

BOON: So this suspicion of yours is based on no facts at all?

CUTTS: That never matters to your lot.

AGATHA: I can’t help feeling that we are drifting off the point somewhat.

VICAR: I still don’t know what the point is, is it important?

CUTTS: I think you will find it important.

VICAR: Would someone care to explain it to me?

CUTTS: Well the thing is Vic; there have been, as you know a couple of murders committed…

SOUND: Fade out and then up again as Cutts comes to the end of the story

CUTTS: …and that’s when we realised that these murders match the murders from Seventeen hundred and one, and that you are very likely to be the next and last victim.

VICAR: Oh my, I think I need a drink.

CUTTS: It’s going to be okay, Officer Boon here will be placing you under twenty-four hour surveillance until this is over.

BOON: Will I?

AGATHA: Well you wouldn’t want anything to happen to Mr McArthur would you Officer Boon?

BOON: No not as such…

VICAR: Perhaps I should leave the village for a few days.

AGATHA: The twelfth victim of the Frimpton Menace was Henrietta Tilley the wife of the then village Doctor, Henry Tilley. Her decapitated head was found in the Lime House area of London, where she was staying with her younger sister.

VICAR: Oh my…

AGATHA: So I fear leaving the town is no escape.

CUTTS: How long did the original Frimpton Menace continue?

AGATHA: Well, the first murder was committed on the 1st of February Seventeen hundred and one, with the last murder, that of Mr McArthur’s unfortunate ancestor on the evening of … oh my.

VICAR: Agatha?

AGATHA: Tonight.

BOON: Tonight?

VICAR: Oh my.

BOON: Don’t you worry Sir, the police are here to protect you.

VICAR: No offence Officer Boon but you haven’t done very well so far have you?

BOON: We offer a continually improving service Sir.

VICAR: You must excuse me but that has rather failed to assure me that I will be here to take morning mass (PAUSE) in the morning.

CUTTS: All the murders have been so far committed at night, am right Officer Boon?

BOON: We believe so Sir.

AGATHA: That was certainly the case during the original Frimpton Menace.

CUTTS: Good, I have time to go and check in at the hotel and have a nap.

BOON: A nap Sir?

CUTTS: It’s been a long day. And I intend to stay here all night with the Vicar, as do you Officer Boon.

BOON: Oh…yes, of course, then in that case, we will be back early this evening Mr McArthur.

VICAR: (Weakly) Please, don’t be late.

AGATHA: Don’t worry Denzil, I shan’t be going anywhere.

CUTTS: (ASIDE) Agatha.

AGATHA: (ASIDE) Yes Trevor?

CUTTS: Did you say earlier that you had traced the leader of the Cult that carried out the previous murders?

AGATHA: I have almost solved that riddle Mr Cutts, but with out access to Lord Harcourt-Burrows library, I fear it may be sometime before I am able to conclusively verify who it was that lead that vile pageantry of unholy slaughter.

CUTTS: But who did you think it was?

AGATHA: Well I cannot be certain…

CUTTS: It’s an ancestor of Lord Harcourt-Burrows isn’t it?


SOUND: Fade Out.

SOUND: Fade up on the High Street.

CUTTS: And you’re clear on what you need to do aren’t you?

PC BOON: I am an Officer of the local Constabulary; I believe I am quite capable of following orders.


BOON: The cycle of violence ends here Sir.

CUTTS: I really shouldn’t be getting this involved; I’m just a reporter.

PC BOON: Your efforts are greatly appreciated Mr Cutts.

CUTTS: Well whatever, see you later.

SOUND: Fade out

SOUND: Fade up on the High Street.

CUTTS: Where is this bleedin’ hotel?

DONALD: You fink he don’t know what you and your monkey are up to?

CUTTS: Oh not you, again!

DONALD: Yes yes, Donald the Mayor is everywhere, and I see it all.

CUTTS: I know I’m going to regret asking this. How did you become Mayor?

DONALD: I rigged it.

CUTTS: I’m a journalist y’know, this could well feature in my article about Frimpton Bellows.

DONALD: But not a writer of repute though, eh Mr Trevor Cutts?

CUTTS: I must be going.

DONALD: Remember what I said writer… he knows you.

CUTTS: (DISTANCE) Yeah okay, bye bye.

DONALD: (SHOUTING OUT) The jackal knows you.

SOUND: Street scene fade out

SOUND: A door being unlocked and the opened.

CUTTS: Where’s the bloody light switch?

SOUND: Switch is flicked on

CUTTS: What the hell are you doing here!?!

HAMPTON: Good evening Mr Cutts.

CUTTS: Look here Harcourt-Burrows, I don’t care who the hell you are Lord or not, I want you out of my room right now or I will be forced to call on my friend from the local constabulary.

HAMPTON: And what would you hope to achieve by doing that?

CUTTS: Well, if Boon wasn’t quite so incompetent, plenty.

HAMPTON: I believe that we have unfinished business to address Mr Cutts, and I do not intend to vacate this room until it is settled, in full.

CUTTS: I am not discussing anything with you lying on my bed, like that!

HAMPTON: I have been made aware of a vile rumour that you are spreading regarding my supposed involvement with the murders that are taking place in Frimpton Bellows.

CUTTS: Oh really, and what would that rumour be exactly?

HAMPTON: (OBVIOUSLY) That I am involved.

CUTTS: And is this wrong in anyway?

HAMPTON: It’s absurd; you have based this accusation merely on the fact that I am a wealthy aristocratic landowner, with a double-barrelled surname and a monocle. It’s pure inverted snobbery.

CUTTS: I haven’t seen a monocle.

HAMPTON: I only wear it on special occasions.

CUTTS: Oh right, I can see that suiting you.

HAMPTON: Thank you; you’re very kind now where was I? Oh yes, I insist that you withdrawal these vile accusations immediately, or I will be forced to take action.

CUTTS: Why did you lie about your library?

HAMPTON: I didn’t it is being redecorated (PAUSE THEN SUSPICIOUSLY SLOWLY) as we speak.

CUTTS: Are you sure?


CUTTS: That doesn’t matter anyway.

HAMPTON: I see. Then I am correct, you do believe me to be the perpetrator of these crimes.

CUTTS: Typically in a case like this, yes, the wealthy Land Owner is usually the villain, but as it happens, no I don’t think you’ve done anything.

HAMPTON: I will not rest until I see you dismissed from the bar, I will have your badge, and I will… what did you just say?

CUTTS: I don’t believe you had anything to do with the murders.

HAMPTON: Oh I see.

CUTTS: And for your information Lawyers get dismissed from the bar, and I don’t have a badge.

HAMPTON (CUTS) So tell me, who do you suspect?

CUTTS: Well… this may come as a bit of a shock to you…

SOUND: Fade out

SOUND: Night, a Grand father clock clicks and hums before it strikes on the hour of midnight, it will continual to strike all twelve times throughout the next few lines of dialogue

CUTTS: (WHISPERING) Ready Hampton?

HAMPTON: (WHISPERING) That’s Lord Hampton.

CUTTS: (WHISPERING) Officer Boon, ready?

BOON: (WHISPERING) I was born ready Mr Cutts



VICAR: (WHISPERING) Oh terribly sorry.

CUTTS: (WHISPERING) Right, not another word from anyone until he arrives, do you all understand?

SOUND: Silence – except for the clock.


SOUND: The clock stops striking and the room falls silent. After a second there is a loud scratching noises then a window slowly opens with a dry un-oiled screech. After another second a heavy weight can be heard landing on the floor.



BOON: Stop right there, Mister Sceptimus Monroe! You are under arrest for the murder of a good many of Frimpton Bellows town’s folk.

MONROE: (SCARED - NERVOUS) No… you got it all wrong!

HAMPTON: I can’t help but feel somewhat disappointed Monroe, an employee in my charge, a mass murderer; it’s not going to look good at my London Club.

MONROE: But I didn’t…

BOON: Come along Mister Monroe, I’ve to read you your rights.

AGATHA: How could you Sceptimus?

VICAR: Why me Mister Monroe, was it something I said at Sunday Service?

MONROE: No Sir, I’ve always very much enjoyed your sermons.

VICAR: So why would you wish to do me harm, not to mention the other thirty-three unfortunate souls?

MONROE: That’s not what I done…

CUTTS: Tell us who the others are in your fanatical satanic sect?

MONROE: I don’t know what you’re talking about Sir, what satanic sect?

BOON: Speak up Monroe, time now for the truth, you can’t protect them.

MONROE: What others? It’s just me and this damn, stupid tradition.

BOON: So that’s what you call it, tradition, slaughter your way through half the village.

MONROE: I ain’t hurt nobody Sir, honest.

VICAR: I’m terribly sorry, I fear am about to faint, it’s the shock of it all.

SOUND: A scuffle as the Vicar passes out.

AGATHA: Do you have him Lord Harcourt-Burrows?

HAMPTON: Ooof… yes, got him.

AGATHA: Come on lets take him to the kitchen and get him a glass of water, must have been a terrible shock the poor love.

SOUND: Agatha and Hampton carry the Vicar to the Kitchen, the door shuts behind them.

CUTTS: Why did you do it Monroe, what was it all for?

MONROE: I didn’t kill anybody. I just break into peoples houses see, when they’re asleep and wander about messing up the channels on their tellies, untuning their wirelesses and hiding chequebooks, passports, keys… that sort of thing. I ain’t harmed nobody… just inconvenienced them a little is all.

BOON: What?

MONROE: That’s the truth. See I was coming here to put some curse words into the Vicars Sunday Sermon, that’s all.

CUTTS: What? But why?

MONROE: My family have served for generations, the Harcourts, the Tamperton, the Stranges, the Tamperton-Stranges, the McArthurs, the Taylors.. on and on. From father to son, mother to daughter, we’ve served hand and foot. We ain’t got no dignity to speak of, so we do this.

CUTTS: But if this true…it’s so pathetic.

MONROE: It’s true all right but that’s what generations of servitude do to a family Sir, sends them silly.

BOON: What about the Devil costume?

MONROE: We’re little Devils Sir, that’s what we are.

CUTTS: Arhhh. But you were seen a couple of nights ago coming out of this Vicarage – the same evening Tom Taylor was found murdered.

MONROE: My Grandmother was a cook at the Taylor’s fifty years ago, that’s why I came here, but I swear I didn’t kill Tom Taylor, I didn’t kill no one.

BOON: I think we’d better get you down the station, I’m arresting you for breaking and entering at the very least.

SOUND: Fade down

SOUND: Car door slams

CUTTS: Look at him, sitting there in handcuffs and a rather tight Devils costume, sobbing. Pathetic.

HAMPTON: I tell you, it’s absolutely the last time I take someone on trust. I will ask for references and a curriculum vitae at the very least.

CUTTS: I’m not entirely sure Monroe would have put this on his C.V.

BOON: So… looks like the butler did it.

HAMPTON: He wasn’t the butler he was the grounds man.

CUTTS: Y’know, something doesn’t feel right about this…

BOON: What do you mean Sir?

CUTTS: Well I think it’s quite clear poor pathetic old Sceptimus Monroe here had nothing to do with all the murders, which means that the Vicar is still at risk.

BOON: Are you sure Mr Cutts?

SOUND: Agatha screams from inside the house


CUTTS: Quite, come on.

SOUND: The three men run on the gravelled drive up to the house. Fade out.

SOUND: The three men burst into the kitchen in the vicarage.

CUTTS: (PANIC) Agatha what’s happened?


BOON: Where’s the Vicar?

AGATHA: He’s… he’s

CUTTS: (QUICK) Careful Hampton – the table!!

HAMPTON: That’s Lord…

SOUND: Before he can finish he knocks the table, it scrapes slightly on the floor and then there is a sound like a melon dropping onto flagstones.

BOON: What was that?

AGATHA: Denzil…

HAMPTON: Oh my God!!

CUTTS: That… was… Denzils head… on the table.

BOON: Shall I pick it up?

CUTTS: (UNCERTAIN) I think you should just leave it where it is…

HAMPTON: Where is it?

CUTTS: I think it rolled under that chair.

AGATHA: I left the room for just a moment…

CUTTS: Take it easy Agatha, sit down.

AGATHA: Yes, I think I might just…

CUTTS: Not there!

AGATHA: Oh my, I think I’m going to…

SOUND: The sound of a body hitting the ground.

AGATHA: Oh dear I think it’s all been a bit much for Officer Boon.

SOUND: Fade out

SOUND: Fade out. Birds twittering, a gentle breeze rustles the trees.

CUTTS: Feeling better Officer Boon?

BOON: Thank you Sir, Yes, sorry I blacked out for a moment.

CUTTS: Moment? You were out for eight hours straight!

BOON: Be that as it may, at least we can be proud that we solved the mystery of the Frimpton Menace.

CUTTS: What are you talking about? We didn’t manage to solve anything.

BOON: I think we should look on the positive side Mr Cutts, we did catch Mr Monroe.

CUTTS: Oh yeah big success apprehending a petty criminal whilst failing to protect the local vicar from a brutal murdering. Hurrah for us.

BOON: There is one thing I don’t understand.

CUTTS: Just one?

BOON: Well, maybe more than just one…

CUTTS: Well I think it’s quite clear poor pathetic old Sceptimus Monroe here had nothing to do with all the murders, which means that the Vicar is still at risk.

BOON: Are you sure Mr Cutts?

SOUND: Agatha screams from inside the house


CUTTS: Quite, come on.

MR MATTHEWS: Hold on a sec Jimmy Lad.

JIMMY: What?

MR MATTHEWS: Have you lost your place again?

JIMMY: No why?

MR MATTHEWS: ‘Cause you’ve already read this bit.

JIMMY: Oh yeah, hold on…

MR MATTHEWS: Check the page numbers.

SOUND: Jimmy flicks through the Penny Dreadful

JIMMY: You know what they’ve done don’t you?

MR MATTHEWS: What, what have they done?

JIMMY: They’ve printed this all wrong.


JIMMY: Well look, this last page is a repeat of the previous page.

MR MATTHEWS: Well go on, perhaps we’ll be all right skipping a page.

JIMMY: That’s the last page of the story.

MR MATTHEWS: So who did the murders then?

JIMMY: I dunno.

MR MATTHEWS: Oh well, I suppose that just makes it all the more mysterious.

JIMMY: All the more annoying you mean.

MR MATTHEWS: Besides these supplements are in the right order and ready to go.

JIMMY: Pass the bag over then.

SOUND: A heavy bag pounds on the shop counter.

MR MATTHEWS: Here you go.

JIMMY: See ya later then Mister Matthews.

SOUND: The bell in the shop doorway chimes as Jimmy opens it to leave.


JIMMY: What?

MR MATTHEWS: That magazine needs payin’ for.

JIMMY: You can have it back, I don’t want it.

SOUND: The Penny Dreadful is thrown across the shop.

MR MATTHEWS: Careful I can’t sell it if you damage it.

SOUND: The shop door slams shut.

MR MATTHEWS: Penny Dreadful? It’s all right for a bit but honestly you couldn’t stomach it for more than a half hour or so. What’s this story here called, Invasion of the Buddy Snatchers, what absolute tripe…

SOUND: Tiptoe through the tulips with me


1 comment:

garfer said...

Well, it beats most of the Midsomer Murders scripts at any rate.

Christ, I've just spent twenty minutes reading that and now the pub's shut.

I like to get in a pint or three at the Mutilated Child before they ring the bells.