TUNNEL TROUBLE
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. 

RUBINA: Meow.

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

WEATHERSPOON:  Ooh!

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.

WEATHERSPOON:  Ooh.

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!

WEATHERSPOON: Oozita!

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! 

WEATHERSPOON: Ah. Atizoo! 

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)

CHAMBERLAIN: Whoop!

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.

WEATHERSPOON: Ooh, dear!

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?

WEATHERSPOON: Atizoo.

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

WEATHERSPOON: (over) Ooh!

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)