Tales of Rubovia
For your own enjoyment or to share with your children


1) The Treasure Hunt by Gordon Murray (originally printed in a now very rare BBC Children's annual)
The Unreliable Wand by Gordon Murray (a transcript of the LP version of the stop-motion episode)
Tunnel Trouble by Gordon Murray (a transcript of the LP version of the stop-motion episode)

BBC PUPPET THEATRE Printer-friendly version

by Gordon Murray
Television Yearbook for Boys and Girls, pp. 37–40
Copyright © Gordon Murray
Reproduced here courtesy of Gordon Murray

In the Front Room of Rubovia Castle all was peaceful.  The Queen’s pet baby dragon, Pongo, slept silently in front of the flickering log fire and the only sound was the mellow tick of the gilt clock on the mantelpiece.
  His Majesty King Rufus XIV, Ruler of Rubovia, sighed contentedly.  He beamed at the draughtboard in front of him, then glanced at the puckered face of the Lord Chamberlain.
  “Come on, Chamberlain, don’t hover!  You’ve been three minutes on this move already!”
  The Chamberlain knew that he was cornered.  He took a deep breath and moved one of his men.
  “Ah! I huff you!” cried the King. “You should have taken this man, so that I would then be able to take this man and this man . . . and win the game!”
  “B-but your Majesty, I . . .”
  “Now don’t start trumping up excuses, Chamberlain!  Why not be a good loser for a change?”
  “I am not trumping up excuses, sire! I was merely going to point out that your coat-sleeve happened to move one of your men—by accident, of course—into a more advantageous position.”
  “Nonsense, nonsense!  Now we’ll play another game! Bags I the first move!”
  The Chamberlain was just about to forget his manners and say what he really wanted to say, when a familiar voice rang through the room.
  “Ah, Rufus, there you are!”
  It was the Queen.  With a flurry of silk she was upon them.
  “Stop playing that silly game!  Don’t you know that today is Thursday?”
  “Oh no! . . . Oh, how awful!”
  Thursday was the day on which Rubovia Castle was open to the public—on payment of a small entrance fee.
  “Hurry up, Rufus, or you’ll be caught!  It would be most undignified for you to be found playing tiddlywinks!”
  “It’s not tiddlywinks, it’s draughts—a game which needs a great deal of . . .”
  But the Queen wasn’t listening.  She was already half-way to the door.
  “Pongo! Pongo! Come along Pongopongopongo!”
  The baby dragon uncurled himself from the hearthrug and tottered sleepily after his mistress.  The King and the Chamberlain watched until the pointed tail disappeared through the doorway.
  “Never any peace around here,” complained the King.  “Just as we were about to . . .”
  “Ssh!”  interrupted the Chamberlain. “Listen!”
  A murmur of voices was coming through the open library door.
  “It’s them!” cried the King.  “They’ll be on us at any second! Sound the retreat!”
  The two men dived through the French windows with amazing agility as a group of about twelve people entered the room.
  “And here, ladies and gentlemen, is the famous Front Room of the castle.   Occupying the whole of the ground floor of the South Wing, it was built by King Rufus the Sixth, known as ‘Rufus the Ruffian,’ a hundred and fifty years ago.”
  Mr. Albert Weatherspoon, official guide, was in good form.  The visitors, however, paid very little attention to the information he was giving them.
  “Notice particularly the Grand Fireplace, over which is the famous Weatherspoon portrait of our present king in full regalia.  Don’t finger the curtains, please!”
  The sightseers, mainly tourists from Borsovia and Humperstein, milled half-heartedly round the room. Rubovia Castle, falling rapidly into neglect, was not particularly interesting and there had already been some ugly mutterings about demanding entrance money back.
  “That completes the tour of the castle, ladies and gentlemen.  I hope that you have enjoyed your visit.
  May I call your attention to the excellent souvenir guide-book, price three crowns each or thirty crowns a dozen, obtainable from the bookstand on your way out.”
  Weatherspoon hastened to take up his position behind the bookstand, an up-ended soap box by the French windows.  He straightened the pile of guide-books and opened the lid of a small cash box.
  The crowd made a hurried exit.
  Weatherspoon resisted the temptation to call out something rather rude after the disappearing figures.  He looked sadly at the empty cash box and started to pack up.  It was some time before he realised that not all the visitors had left.
  “Excuse me, but I’m afraid the tour is over.  The way out is. . . Oooh!”
  The white clad figure who he was addressing bowed and smiled.  Weatherspoon then recognised one of Rubovia’s strangest characters.
  MacGregor, the Indian with the Chinese accent! The biggest rogue in Rubovia!
  “Good mlorning! Vellee pleasant day, yes?”
  “Er, yes . . . yes! Er, can I help you in any way?” Weatherspoon enquired.
  “No tank you vellee much!  Me go vellee soon!”
  MacGregor turned and, to Weatherspoon’s surprise, started to measure one of the walls with a tape.  He then paced the floor, stopped, stood on tiptoes, then trotted outside.
  “Hm!” thought Weatherspoon.  “There’s something odd going on! I must tell his Majesty.  We don’t get a visit from Macgregor for nothing!”
  Picking up his soapbox full of unsold guidebooks, he hurried out of the room.   Being official guide was tiring work and he just had to have a nice cup of tea.  Then he would be able to think more clearly.

*           *           *

  “Come on now, own up!”
  It had taken a great deal of effort to trace MacGregor, but at last he had been found and, by a mixture of bullying and cajolery, was now standing before the King and Queen in the Front Room of Rubovia Castle.
  “We know you’re doing something rather–er–fishy,” continued the King. “Now, if you tell us exactly what it is, we won’t be cross with you.”
  It was a shot in the dark and the King surreptitiously crossed his fingers as he said it.
  “Me find clue to seclet tleasure!” lisped MacGregor.  “Me find parchment in book in Public Liblaly.”
  “Secret treasure!. . . Public Library!. . . Do you mean to say that you have found some sort of information about valuable lost property?”
  “Yes! Valuable ploperty is clown jewels!”
  “Crown jewels!” exploded the King. “B-but they’d be mine!  We’ve been searching for them for years! One of my ancestors hid them when the Castle was being attacked three hundred years ago.  Then the fool couldn’t remember where he’d put them!”
  MacGregor removed a yellow square from the folds of his turban.
  “Here is parchment!  Full instluctions for finding clown jewels!” he announced.
  “Show it to me!” cried the King, eagerly.
  “Oh no!  Vellee solly! Vellee solly indeed!  But parchment is my ploperty! Vellee seclet!”
  For a moment the two men eyed each other in silence.  Then the King took a deep breath.
  “How much?” he enquired bluntly.
  “Half the ploceeds for you; half the ploceeds for me.” The reply was equally blunt.
  “B-but that’s monstrous!” cried the King.  “This is crown property!”
  “Me vellee solly,” beamed MacGregor.  “No half-tleasure for me; no parchment for you!”
  The King turned to the Queen and the Lord Chamberlain.
  “He’s got us, I’m afraid!” he whispered.
  “We’ll have to agree, Rufus!” sighed the Queen. “But I hope it’s not a trick of some sort!  We’ve had trouble with him before!”
  “It probably is genuine, ma’am!” interjected the Chamberlain.   “If he had faked the parchment he would have wanted to sell it for cash!”
  “Quite right, Chamberlain!  A very good point!” The King turned to MacGregor.  “All right, MacGregor, we agree!”
  MacGregor bowed low.  “Vellee good!”
  “Now let me see the instructions!”
  MacGregor handed him the parchment.  The King peered at the faded spidery scrawl which covered one side.
  “How to find ye Royal Treasure,” he read. “Solve ye this riddle:
             Take four steps from ye box of words
             Towards ye sound of singing birds.
             Eye the roundy hole to see
             The water which do cover me.”
  “Him vellee simple liddle!” said MacGregor.  “Box of words is over here. . . Bookcase!”
  “Yes, yes, of course! That bit’s easy!” said the King.
  “Take four steps to window, where birds are heard!” continued MacGregor.  “And here, honolable Majesty, is loundy hole!”
  He was pointing to a small hole drilled in the frame of the french window.
  “Bags me the first look!” cried the King excitedly.  In a second he was bending down with his eye firmly applied to the tiny aperture.
  “Well, all I can see is the duckpond in old Bottle’s farm!” he said at last.
  “But that must be it, your Majesty!” said the Chamberlain.  “That must be ‘The water which do cover me’!”
  “Yes, I suppose so! It’s a very deep pond.  Fishing up the treasure won’t be easy!”
  “Excluse me, but I suggest using service of plofessional diver!” MacGregor countered.  “Have you diver in Lubovia?”
  “Er, no!  But I’m sure old Weatherspoon will be able to cope with that!”
  “Oh no he won’t!”
  Everyone turned to the door.  Standing there with arms akimbo was an extremely grim-faced Weatherspoon.
  “I’m not diving into Farmer Bottle’s duckpond for anybody!  Not even to bring up the crown jewels or a dustbin full of old boots!”
  “Excluse please! Vellee plessing appointment!  Good mlorning!” MacGregor muttered as, with amazing agility, he darted through the French window into the garden beyond.
  “Hey! Come back!” cried the King. “Weatherspoon, will you please tell me what is going on!”
  “With pleasure, sire It’s quite simple.  He’s been rumbled!”
  “Rumbled?” queried the King.
  “Rumbled?” echoed the Queen.
  “D-do you mean that the parchment was a fake after all?” The King began to turn pale.
  “But of course, sire! I must remind you that one of my Royal Appointments is Household Detective, so I felt that it was my duty to do a bit of detecting on your behalf!”
  “But what was MacGregor hoping to get out of this exploit? I only agreed to give him half the proceeds. If the parchment were a fake there wouldn’t be any proceeds!”
  Weatherspoon smiled.  “Oh yes there would, sire! I overheard a very interesting conversation between MacGregor and Farmer Bottle.  They were going to charge an entrance fee, admitting members of the public to Bottle’s farm, so that they could watch the diving operations for the crown jewels!”
  The King was still very puzzled.
  “But, Weatherspoon, no crown jewels would be found!”
  “No, sire. . . Only a dustbin full of old boots, which was going to be dumped in the pond the day before! And in case any member of the audience felt that he wasn’t getting full value of entertainment they arranged a special ending to the whole show!”
  “What was that—a firework display?”
  “Ooh no, sire!  Something much funnier than that!” and the old man burst into roars of uncontrollable laughter.
  “Weatherspoon! Pull yourself together. . . Immediately!” cried the Queen.
  “Hoo, hoo, hoo! . . . I’m sorry, ma’am,” gulped Weatherspoon, wiping the tears from his eyes, “but they were going to invite you and the King to be present.  Hoo, hoo, hoo!”
  “Go on, Weatherspoon! Go on!”
  “Well, ma’am, you were going to be standing on a specially-built platform at the edge of the duckpond and at a certain moment this platform would. . .”
  “Stop!” cried the Queen.  “I do not wish to hear any more!  Weatherspoon, I must congratulate you on your detective-work!”
  “Thank you ma’am!”
  The Queen turned to the King.  “Rufus, this matter will never ever be mentioned again! Do you understand?”
  But she didn’t wait for his Majesty’s reply; she was moving rapidly out of the room, with Pongo the baby dragon hard at her heels.
  The King, the Chamberlain and Weatherspoon looked at each other and it was a full minute before the King broke the silence.
  “Chamberlain,” he said quietly, “it’s time we played a game of draughts!”
  Everything in Rubovia Castle was back to normal.

Points of interest: This is an earlier Rubovia story written during the reign of the marionettes, since MacGregor is an Indian (from India) who wears a white robe and turban. In the stop-motion stories MacGregor was a feather headdress-wearing native North American (red) Indian. As heard from Gordon Murray, the change was made after a complaint from a black person as to why the villain of the piece was a black man. Since no complaints were received from the Scots or the Chinese, the new MacGregor was allowed to keep his Scottish name and Chinese accent. ;o)

This story bears a great deal of structural similarity to a Rubovian Legends script, and may originally have been written with that in mind. It is about the right length. It was never produced as a television puppet play, however.

BBC PUPPET THEATRE Printer-friendly version

by Gordon Murray

Narrated by Gordon Murray
Voices by Roy Skelton
Puppets & production by Gordon Murray
Animation by Bob Bura & John Hardwick
Music by Freddie Phillips (duet arrangements on classical guitar)

Stop-motion series, 1976
(Transcript from BBC LP Record, REC 282, length 20:13)

Court magician, Mr. Weatherspoon,
 practices some dicey magic
 on King Boris of Borsovia.

MUSIC: (signature tune, classical guitar, 0:37)

F.X.: (as music fades, garden birdsong starts and continues in the background)

NARRATOR: In the garden of Rubovia Castle, the sun was shining and the birds were singing. The King of Rubovia came out onto the terrace after a most satisfactory breakfast. He beamed, took a deep breath, and beamed again. It’s just the sort of day, he thought, for sitting on the garden seat and quietly reading the newspaper. Yes, that’s exactly what he would do. He descended the terrace steps and headed for the particular garden seat that he had in mind. As he approached, he noticed a green forked tail sticking out from under a nearby bush. The Queen’s pet dragon was beetle watching.

KING RUFUS: Helloo, Pongo, mind if I join you?

NARRATOR: Pongo’s head emerged from the bush. He blinked at the King, flapped his tail in welcome, then continued with his occupation. The King sat, beamed, unfolded his newspaper, and settled down to read.

QUEEN CAROLINE: Rufus, I must have a word with you!

MUSIC: (short classical guitar interlude) (continues in background)

NARRATOR: The King stopped beaming, and there was a quick scruffily sound as Pongo withdrew his tail from sight.

QUEEN CAROLINE: A serious situation has developed, and I’m very worried.

NARRATOR: The Queen sailed down the terrace steps, clutching a letter in her hand.

QUEEN CAROLINE: You remember that your cousin, King Boris of Borsovia, is coming to stay with us on Thursday night, Rufus. Well Mr. Gellati of the Gellati String Quartet has hurt his finger in a mouse trap and can’t play for us after dinner.


QUEEN CAROLINE: We really must amuse Boris, so find something else.

KING RUFUS: Ooh, but a...Ooh, my dear I....

QUEEN CAROLINE: (interrupts) I-I want no excuses. Do something, Rufus.

MUSIC: (background music ends with dramatic emphasis)

NARRATOR: And with that she was off.

MUSIC: (background music restarts with a smoother rhythm)

NARRATOR: The King stood motionless for a few seconds, then sank slowly onto the seat. Pongo’s head emerged.

KING RUFUS: Well, any suggestions, Pongo?

NARRATOR: Pongo tilted his head and flapped his tail. Then the Lord Chamberlain arrived.

KING RUFUS: Ahh, you’re just the man I want.

MUSIC: (background music ends)

CHAMBERLAIN: Your Majesty?

KING RUFUS: The orchestra can’t come on Thursday, and we’ve got to think of something else.

CHAMBERLAIN: Ahh... Err, how about a firework display, Sire.

KING RUFUS: Ooh, no no, the Queen wouldn’t allow it. Remember the garden fête?

CHAMBERLAIN: Ahh, oh yes, Sire. The Chinese cracker.

KING RUFUS: In the Queen’s best hat. (laughs)

CHAMBERLAIN: (joins with King’s laughing, and both laugh on for a bit)

KING RUFUS: (over Chamberlain’s laughter) No, no fireworks, I’m afraid, Lord Chamberlain.

CHAMBERLAIN: (still collecting himself) Er...Weatherspoon, the gardener, is court magician too Sire. He could give a display of magic.

KING RUFUS: Ahh-yes, good idea. Better give him a Royal Command. Straight away.

NARRATOR: He picked up his newspaper, and with a certain amount of effort, he beamed.

MUSIC: (classical guitar interlude, 0:40)

F.X.: (scraping sound of garden hoe)

NARRATOR: Mr. Weatherspoon had many jobs to do in Rubovia Castle, but the most important one was head gardener. He was busy hoeing cabbages, and his cat, Rubina, was drowsily watching him, when the Lord Chamberlain approached, carrying a large parchment scroll.

CHAMBERLAIN: Ah,... Weatherspoon, His Majesty has asked me to deliver this Royal Command to you.


NARRATOR: With a clank of the hoe, Weatherspoon stood smartly to attention.

CHAMBERLAIN: It is the command of his gracious majesty, King Rufus of Rubovia that Albert Obadiah Weatherspoon, Court Magician, does attend the Castle on Thursday to entertain the King of Rubovia with a display of magic. Long live the King.

WEATHERSPOON: Long live the King. Thank you, Lord Chamberlain.

NARRATOR: The old man was delighted. He’d quite forgotten that one of his many official appointments was court magician.

WEATHERSPOON: Come on puss. Let’s find my magic outfit.

NARRATOR: And with Rubina following, he hurried up the rough stone stairway to his office in the West Tower.

MUSIC: (short classical guitar interlude, 0:12)

F.X.: (garden birdsong fades out as music ends) 

NARRATOR: Mr. Weatherspoon kept all sorts of things in his office. And it did look rather untidy. But he could usually find something he was looking for within an hours or two. With Rubina’s help he uncovered his magician’s hat and the magic wand in its own special box, with instructions in the lid.

WEATHERSPOON: Ah, this is an old friend, puss. Haven’t used it for years. Let’s try it out. I’ll make it rise in the air. Levitation, you know. That was always a good trick.

NARRATOR: He looked round the office and the eye was caught by an old tailor’s dummy on a stand. “Just the thing,” he thought. He pointed the wand at the dummy and took a deep breath. Rubina hid behind a pile of books, and peeked over the top.

WEATHERSPOON: Witches’ brew and camel’s hair. Abracadabra. Rise in the air.

F.X.: (sharp chord played on harp, followed by a rumbling sound)

NARRATOR. There was a bright flash and a loud rumbly noise. The dummy turned into a small round table bearing a pot plant.

WEATHERSPOON: Oh dear. How did that happen? Something’s gone wrong.

NARRATOR: The magic wand was obviously worn out. Weatherspoon had bought it second hand many years before. It was no longer reliable. It was positively dangerous. Something had to be done. He suddenly remembered a book in his library called, Hints and Tips for Professional Magicians. Within seconds he had found it and was peering through the index.

WEATHERSPOON: Toads, trolls, trumpets, umbrellas, unicorns, wands. Ah! Here we are. Wands; worn out; revival of; page a hundred and eighty-nine. 

F.X.: (sound of large page being turned)

NARRATOR: Quickly he found the page.

WEATHERSPOON: Recipe for ye revival of worn-out wands. Take equal parts of common duck weed, hedge parsley, and soap-wort, and boil them in a bucket. Allow ye wand to soak in ye mixture over ye night. Please note: After ye treatment, ye revived wand will do only two good spells, after which it will be quite unreliable. Hmm... Yes, I can do that, but I must be careful not to do more than two spells. Come on puss (fading), let’s get everything ready.

RUBINA: Meow. Meow (fading). Meow. 

NARRATOR: The following Thursday, King Boris of Borsovia visited the King and Queen. The dinner was a great success. 

MUSIC: (classical guitar interlude, 1:04)

KING BORIS: Caroline, my dear, that is absolutely delicious.

RUFUS: Hear, hear! Now Boris, you’re going to see a performance by our Court Magician. He’s rather good, you know. Start your performance, please, Weatherspoon!

NARRATOR: Weatherspoon bowed low, and his hat fell off. He picked it up quickly, and addressed his audience. 

WEATHERSPOON: Your Majesties. I am now going to perform two mystifying illusions, which I hope you will find entertaining.

F.X.: (sound of several people clapping, 0:9)

WEATHERSPOON: I have here a tub of earth, a packet of seeds, and a magic wand. I now sow the seeds.

F.X.: (sound of seeds being shaken from packet into the earth)


NARRATOR: With a deft flourish, he scattered the contents of the packet onto the earth and raised his wand aloft.

WEATHERSPOON: Orange grass and violet snow, seeds take root, and flower grow.

F.X.: (sharp rising string arpeggio)

NARRATOR: Immediately, a handsome bush sprang from the tub of earth

F.X.: (clapping)

NARRATOR: laden with pink flowers.

F.X.: (clapping continues for a bit)

KING BORIS: Splendid, splendid! 

RUFUS: Well done, Weatherspoon!

WEATHERSPOON: For my next trick, I will require the services of a member of the audience.

NARRATOR: The Queen turned to the King of Borsovia. 

CAROLINE: Oh, do go Boris.

RUFUS: Yes, yes, go on.

NARRATOR: King Boris allowed himself to be persuaded. He approached Weatherspoon, who bowed low, firmly grasping his hat.

WEATHERSPOON: Thank you very much, your majesty. With the aid of my wand I will now raise you into the air, float you around, and lower you gently to the floor.

BORIS: I-I say, will you really?

WEATHERSPOON: Just stand very still, Sire. Ready?

BORIS: (sounding worried) Ah, yes, yes, ah. (sounding more definite) Carry on.

WEATHERSPOON: Witches’ brew and camel’s hair. Abracadabra. Rise in the air.

MUSIC: (classical guitar interlude, 0:40) (continues in background)

NARRATOR. Slowly, King Boris rose up to the ceiling, and gracefully circled the chandelier.  

BORIS: Splendid! Absolutely splendid.

RUFUS: Congratulations, Weatherspoon.

NARRATOR: King Boris deftly turned a double somersault, swooped down, then rose immediately into a spin with arms outstretched.

CAROLINE: Marvelous, Boris!


NARRATOR: The King turned to Weatherspoon.

RUFUS: You, know, I’m not so sure that he’s all that happy up there. Do you think he might be air sick?

KING BORIS: He-elp! He-e-elp!

NARRATOR: But Weatherspoon didn’t answer. He’d just realised that it would take another spell to get King Boris down. He’d used up two, so the wand was no longer reliable.

KING BORIS: He-e-ee-elp!

CAROLINE: Put him down now, Weatherspoon. I think he’s had enough.

RUFUS: Yes, hurry up, Weatherspoon.

WEATHERSPOON: But Sire, I can’t.

KING BORIS: He-eeee-elp!

CAROLINE: Stop him spinning like that, Weatherspoon, and bring him down!


NARRATOR: Weatherspoon closed his eyes. There was only one thing to do. Go ahead and hope for the best.

MUSIC: (end of background music)

WEATHERSPOON: Eye of toad and pampas paw, abracadabra, go down to the floor.

F.X.: (rumbling sound; followed by string arpeggio, ending with sharp harp-like chord, 0:20)

NARRATOR. King Boris floated down, still spinning. But, as he reached the floor, he unfortunately changed into a small wooden table bearing a pot plant.

CAROLINE: Boris, where have you gone?

RUFUS: Get him back, Weatherspoon! Quick!

WEATHERSPOON: I can’t, Sire. My wand’s bust.

CAROLINE: This is a crisis, Rufus. Do something! Borsovia cannot possibly be ruled over by an aspidistra!

NARRATOR: Suddenly Mr. Weatherspoon realised that he’d seen the plant somewhere before. It was in his office.

WEATHERSPOON: Perhaps King Boris is there in its place.

RUFUS: Oh yes, Weatherspoon. Come on, let’s find out.

MUSIC: (classical guitar interlude, 0:12)

NARRATOR: They rushed over to the West Tower, but they were disappointed. The tailor’s dummy had come back, but there was no sign of King Boris. Suddenly Weatherspoon had an idea.

WEATHERSPOON: As the wand is unreliable, how about asking it to do something we don’t want. Then, it might do the right thing by mistake.

NARRATOR: The Queen considered this suggestion, then nodded slowly.

CAROLINE: Yes, it’s worth trying. Things couldn’t be worse.

NARRATOR: Back they went to the Front Room, and Weatherspoon pointed the wand at the table.

WEATHERSPOON: Snakes and Ladders, Ludo, rummy, abracadabra, a tailor’s dummy.

F.X.: (Complex string arpeggio played backwards, followed by sharp harp-like chord)

NARRATOR: Success! The plant and table immediately turned into King Boris, looking terribly surprised.

CAROLINE: Ahh, there you are Boris.

RUFUS: Have a good flight, Boris?

NARRATOR: King Boris stood blinking, with his mouth wide open. He couldn’t quite remember what happened at the end of Weatherspoon’s trick.

RUFUS: That was great fun, wasn’t it Boris.

NARRATOR: King Boris nodded slowly.

CAROLINE: And you played your part beautifully, didn’t he Rufus.

RUFUS: Yes, yes, my dear.

NARRATOR: The King of Borsovia began to smile. Yes, he was beginning to remember. The upward swoop. The circling of the chandelier. The spectacular dive. The spin!

WEATHERSPOON: I hope you enjoyed it, Your Majesty. You certainly looked as if you did.

KING BORIS: Ahh... yes. Yes, yes I did, Weatherspoon. Splendid trick. First class performance. Well done.

WEATHERSPOON: Thank you Sire.

NARRATOR: The old man bowed, caught the eye of the Queen, then looked sadly at his wand. Somehow he had a feeling that it wouldn’t be needed for some time.

*    *    *  END  *    *    *

MUSIC: (signature tune play out, classical guitar, slow, 1:18)

BBC PUPPET THEATRE Printer-friendly version

by Gordon Murray

Narrated by Gordon Murray
Voices by Roy Skelton
Puppets & production by Gordon Murray
Animation by Bob Bura & John Hardwick
Music by Freddie Phillips (duet arrangements on classical guitar)

Stop-motion series, 1976
(Transcript from BBC LP Record, REC 282, length 21:24)

MUSIC: (signature tune, classical guitar, 0:35)

F.X.: (as music fades, garden birdsong starts and continues in the background)

F.X.: (sound of a concrete trowel being used to lay bricks)

NARRATOR: Outside the gates of Rubovia Castle, Mr. Weatherspoon was very busy laying bricks. His cat Rubina was keeping him company, and progress was most satisfactory.

WEATHERSPOON: It’s coming along nicely, puss. 


WEATHERSPOON: Now a little more mortar here. Good. Only one more run of bricks.

NARRATOR: His Majesty, the King, back from his morning walk, was most interested.

RUFUS: Hello, Weatherspoon. What are you doing?

WEATHERSPOON: I’m building a new post box, Your Majesty. And to save time and money, I’m using this ancient stone as ready made foundations.

NARRATOR: The King stared at the large, square, slab of stone on which Weatherspoon was working. It had been there for hundreds of years, and it didn’t really do anything.

RUFUS:  Splendid, I’m glad you found a use for it at last.

NARRATOR: The Lord Chamberlain arrived.

CHAMBERLAIN: E-excuse me, Your Majesty, but I have a message from the Queen. She wishes to see Weatherspoon on a most important matter.

NARRATOR: The King didn’t like the sound of this at all. She was up to something. She was in a frightful mood at breakfast.

RUFUS:  Go on, Weatherspoon.  Don’t keep her waiting for goodness sake.  Let us know all about it!

WEATHERSPOON:  (off) Very good, Sire.

MUSIC: (classical guitar interlude, 0:23)

NARRATOR: In the rose garden, the Queen was grooming her pet dragon, Pongo.  She was rubbing olive oil into his wings, and making little cooing noises. 

CAROLINE:  (reassuringly) Gooood boy. Gooood boy. 

WEATHERSPOON: (approaching) Excuse me Ma’am, but I understand that you wish to see me?

CAROLINE:  Ah yes, Weatherspoon. I have decided to allow members of the public to visit Rubovia Castle on certain days of the week


CAROLINE:  Entrance will be three crowns, children  half price, special rates for parties. Teas, light refreshments and minerals at popular prices, and for a modest two crowns, an attractive, souvenir guidebook.


CAROLINE:  You are therefore appointed Historian in Charge of Souvenir Guidebook, and as there isn’t much time, Weatherspoon, you’d better hurry along!

WEATHERSPOON:  Yes, Your Majesty.

CAROLINE:  To work, Weatherspoon!

F.X.: (birdsong fades out)

MUSIC: (short classical guitar interlude as birdsong fades out, 0:06)

NARRATOR:  Mr. Weatherspoon went to his office and started searching through his books for information about  the castle.  Work on the new post box would have to wait awhile.

WEATHERSPOON:  Ah, here we are puss. Castles of the World by Alloitious Trample, page four hundred and twenty-six. Rubovia! Ah! Rubovia Castle was built by Rufus the first, known as Rufus the Ruffian, in ten sixty-six!  Hmmm... an important date.  The main entrance was bombarded by the Borsovians in the year eleven hundred and seven and rebuilt the following year by Ampumpo, court magician at the time.  Ooh, that’s interesting! 

NARRATOR: The King came in, and Weatherspoon told him all about the Queen’s guidebook idea. The King was appalled! 

RUFUS: How awful. How very awful. It’s another of her moneymaking ideas. She wants a new dress.

WEATHERSPOON: I’m just reading about the history of the castle, Sire. I’ve just got as far as Ampumpo.

RUFUS: Ah yes, Weatherspoon. He was a very odd character. Wore his hat upside down, and his tunic back-to-front. Extraordinary! Supposed to have built a secret tunnel too, but no one’s ever been able to find it. Pity. A secret tunnel would be very useful, especially if the Queen didn’t know about it! (fading off) Bye, Weatherspoon.

NARRATOR: Weatherspoon looked thoughtfully at the book, then he turned to Rubina.

WEATHERSPOON: Come on, puss. Let’s go and lay some bricks!

MUSIC: (bouncy classical guitar interlude, 0:33)

F.X.: (background garden birdsong starts again)

F.X.: (sound of cement trowel scraping and tapping on bricks, which continues on for a bit)

NARRATOR: (over brick laying sounds) Mr. Weatherspoon had a whole hour of brick laying before he was interrupted by the King and the Lord Chamberlain.

RUFUS: (over brick laying sounds) Any news, Weatherspoon?

WEATHERSPOON: Yes Sire! I’ve been thinking! If you were a magician, and you had built yourself a secret tunnel, how would you arrange for the entrances to open and close? 

RUFUS: Ah... ooh-ah...

WEATHERSPOON: Well, I’ll tell you! You’d have a magic word, like ‘Open Sesame’, in The Arabian Nights.

RUFUS: Ooh yes, Weatherspoon!

WEATHERSPOON: Well look, Sire! The old stone, opposite Ampumpo’s main entrance. Carved on the corner, a word, do you see!? Could it be the magic word? Carved by Ampumpo so he couldn’t forget it? 

NARRATOR: Weatherspoon pushed aside a clump of weeds and a brick, and pointed out the letters.

F.X.: (sound of weeds being pushed aside, followed by a scraping sound)

WEATHERSPOON: (slowly spelling)  O, O, ‘Zed’,  I, T, A. 

RUFUS: Go on, Weatherspoon! Say it!


NARRATOR: They all looked around. Nothing happened!

RUFUS: It’s not the magic word. What do you think, Chamberlain?

CHAMBERLAIN: Er...perhaps the tunnel entrance isn’t within earshot, Your Majesty. We could try it out all over the castle.

RUFUS: Good idea, Chamberlain! But don’t let the Queen catch us!

MUSIC: (serene and rolling interlude, classical guitar, 0:33)

F.X.: (birdsong stops just before musical interlude ends)

NARRATOR: The King covered the entrance hall, the Front Room, the Pink Room, and the Blue Room.

RUFUS: Oozita … Oozita!… Oozita! Oozita! … (trailing off into the distance)

NARRATOR: The Lord Chamberlain was responsible for the kitchen, corridors, and all the usual offices.

CHAMBERLAIN: Oozita! … Oozita! … Oozita! … (fading) Oozita!

NARRATOR: And Mr. Weatherspoon did the East Tower, the West Tower, the rose garden, and the cabbage patch.

WEATHERSPOON: (echo) Oozita! Oozita!

F.X.:  (outdoor birsdsong)

WEATHERSPOON:  Oozita! Oozita! … (fading) Oozita! Oozita!

NARRATOR: But no secret tunnel was found.

MUSIC: (happy interlude, classical guitar, 0:27)

NARRATOR: The next day, the Lord Chamberlain called at Weatherspoon’s office.

MUSIC: (short linking guitar tune)

CHAMBERLAIN: Good morning, Weatherspoon. I have a Royal Command for you.

WEATHERSPOON: Ooh… Thank you Lord Chamberlain. Stand to attention, puss! Go ahead please! 

CHAMBERLAIN: (clears throat) It is the command of His Majesty King Rufus of Rubovia, that Albert Obadiah Weatherspoon, Court Photographer, does produce a portrait of His Majesty the King for inclusion in a guidebook of Rubovia Castle. Long live the King!

WEATHERSPOON: Long live the King!

CHAMBERLAIN: Be ready to photograph the King in the Front Room in half an hour please. Good day!

WEATHERSPOON: Good day, Lord Chamberlain!

MUSIC:  (short linking tune, classical guitar)

NARRATOR: Weatherspoon crossed to a dim corner of the room, moved aside a pair of bellows, a box of jam-jars, and a knife grinder, and finally produced an ancient camera, complete with tripod.

F.X.: (a variety of things-bring-moved-around sounds in background)

WEATHERSPOON: (approaching) Ah, here it is! One of my favourite pieces of equipment. Do you know, I-I haven’t used it for years, puss!

PUSS: Meow! 

WEATHERSPOON: It’s covered with dust, I’m afraid. Oh well, we haven’t got time to clean it up. We’ll just have to hope that it works!

MUSIC: (bouncy interlude, classical guitar, 0:46)

NARRATOR: In the Front Room, the King took up a suitable, regal pose, and Weatherspoon fiddled with his camera.

WEATHERSPOON: Won’t be long now, Sire! I’m just going to get you into focus.

NARRATOR: Weatherspoon dived under a large black velvet cloth that was draped over the camera.

WEATHERSPOON: I’m sorry to take so long, Sire, but I’m a little out of practice and everything is so dusty! (coughing) Pardon me. Ah, look a little bit to your right please Sire. Good! Ready?

NARRATOR: Weatherspoon took a deep breath of air–and dust! 


NARRATOR: And he sneezed!

F.X.: (‘boing’ sound followed by the sound of a creaking hinge)

RUFUS: (over) Whoops!

NARRATOR: Immediately, the square section of marble floor on which the King was standing, descended, depositing His Majesty into the blackness below. Weatherspoon, still under the black cloth, had his eyes closed, and his mouth open.

WEATHERSPOON: Ah... ah… Atizoo! 

F.X.: (sound of a creaking hinge followed by a ‘boing’ sound)

NARRATOR: The marble slab rose up, and fitted itself neatly back into place in the checkerboard floor.

WEATHERSPOON: I’m sorry, Your Majesty, but... Your Majesty? (puzzled) Where have you gone? (miffed) We-ell! Fancy rushing off like that! Just because I sneeze! How very petty!

CHAMBERLAIN: (off) I say, Weatherspoon.

NARRATOR: The Lord Chamberlain’s head was poking round the door.

CHAMBERLAIN: Would you take my photo too? I know you are rather good at it!

WEATHERSPOON: Oh, Lord Chamberlain. Of course I will! I’d be delighted! Just stand over there! That’s right!

NARRATOR: Weatherspoon dived under the black cloth.

WEATHERSPOON: Chin up a bit, Lord Chamberlain! Turn a little this way. Ah... Ah… Achoo!

F.X.: (‘boing’ sound followed by the sound of a creaking hinge)


WEATHERSPOON: Ah… Ah…Ah… Atizoo! 

F.X.: (sound of a creaking hinge followed by a ‘boing’ sound)

WEATHERSPOON: Oh, do forgive me, Lord Chamberlain! There’s so much dust that–  (puzzled) Lord Chamberlain? (becoming miffed) Lord Chamberlain! (miffed) Well re-eally! He’s just as touchy as the King! Didn’t even give me time to say pardon! They don’t appreciate that court photographers are artists! If they’re not careful, I won’t finish the new post box , so there!

MUSIC: (happy interlude, classical guitar, played medium fast, 0:33)

NARRATOR: But Mr. Weatherspoon did finish the new post box...

F.X.: (garden birdsong starts again in background)

NARRATOR: ...and after two hours of brick laying, he prepared to paint the wooden door a delicate shade of pink.

WEATHERSPOON: You know, puss? I really think that this is my best effort so far. A handsome piece of work, if ever I may say so. 

PUSS: Meoow.

CAROLINE: (off) Mr. Weatherspoon! Have you seen the King? 

WEATHERSPOON: Ooh, no Ma’am. I’m afraid I haven’t...

CAROLINE: (approaching) I can’t find the Lord Chamberlain either! They’re hiding from me, I expect! If you find them, send them to me immediately!!

WEATHERSPOON: Very good Ma’am! (Caroline leaves) Ooh, sounds as if the King has found a good place to hide, puss.

PUSS: Meoow.

WEATHERSPOON: Perhaps he’s found the secret tunnel? (thoughtful) Ooh, perhaps he has!

NARRATOR: Weatherspoon started to paint. What a strange character Ampumpo was, he thought. He wore his hat upside down, and his tunic back-to-front! Perhaps he walked backwards too! (almost laughing) And wrote backwards! (sounding more serious) Ooh, then the magic word might be Oozita backwards! Weatherspoon stared at the letters carved into the ancient stone. 

WEATHERSPOON: (slowly spelling)  A, T, I, ‘Zed’, O, O. Atizoo!

F.X.: (extended rumbling sound accompanied by a simple guitar medley, 0:13)

NARRATOR: (over) The earth shook and the new post box swayed.


NARRATOR: The ancient stone, with the pillar box on top, had sunk into the ground!

WEATHERSPOON: My new post box!

NARRATOR: Suddenly, two grimy heads appeared from the gaping hole.

WEATHERSPOON: Your Majesty! Lord Chamberlain!

RUFUS: Help me out, Weatherspoon!

WEATHERSPOON: Are you alright, Sire?

RUFUS: Ooh. We had a terrible time down there, Weatherspoon! What happened? 

WEATHERSPOON: I sneezed, Sire, and a sneeze sounds just like the magic word!

RUFUS: What is the magic word?


F.X.: (extended rumbling sound accompanied by same simple guitar medley, 0:13)


NARRATOR: The ancient stone rose back into it’s place, carrying with it the post box, surmounted by a surprised Lord Chamberlain!. The King frowned at him! 

RUFUS: Stop messing about, Chamberlain! Come down immediately! This is serious! What are we going to do, Weatherspoon! We’ll never be able to sneeze again!

WEATHERSPOON: It’s all right, Sire! I’ll burn a bunch of dried parsley by each entrance by moonlight. Hints and Tips for Professional Magicians, chapter 4. It never fails!

RUFUS: All right, Weatherspoon! (fades off) Do it as quickly as possible, but don’t let the Queen know.

NARRATOR: Weatherspoon watched the King and the Lord Chamberlain go, then turned to his new post box and dipped his brush into the paint.

WEATHERSPOON: You know? This really is my best effort, so far!

*    *    *  END  *    *    *

MUSIC: (signature tune play out, classical guitar, slow, 1:38)