THE UNRELIABLE WAND
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. Itís just the sort of day, he thought, for sitting on the garden seat and quietly reading the newspaper. Yes, thatís 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 Queenís pet dragon was beetle watching.

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

NARRATOR: Pongoís 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 Iím 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 canít play for us after dinner.

KING RUFUS: Ooh!

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. Pongoís 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, youíre just the man I want.

MUSIC: (background music ends)

CHAMBERLAIN: Your Majesty?

KING RUFUS: The orchestra canít come on Thursday, and weíve got to think of something else.

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

KING RUFUS: Ooh, no no, the Queen wouldnít allow it. Remember the garden fÍte?

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

KING RUFUS: In the Queenís best hat. (laughs)

CHAMBERLAIN: (joins with Kingís laughing, and both laugh on for a bit)

KING RUFUS: (over Chamberlainís laughter) No, no fireworks, Iím 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.

WEATHERSPOON: Ooh, I say!

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. Heíd quite forgotten that one of his many official appointments was court magician.

WEATHERSPOON: Come on puss. Letís 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 Rubinaís help he uncovered his magicianís hat and the magic wand in its own special box, with instructions in the lid.

WEATHERSPOON: Ah, this is an old friend, puss. Havenít used it for years. Letís try it out. Iíll 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 tailorís dummy on a stand. ďJust the thing,Ē 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: Witchesí brew and camelís 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? Somethingís 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), letís 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, youíre going to see a performance by our Court Magician. Heís 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)

WEATHERSPOON: Sow.

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: Witchesí brew and camelís 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!

KING BORIS: He-elp!

NARRATOR: The King turned to Weatherspoon.

RUFUS: You, know, Iím not so sure that heís all that happy up there. Do you think he might be air sick?

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

NARRATOR: But Weatherspoon didnít answer. Heíd just realised that it would take another spell to get King Boris down. Heíd used up two, so the wand was no longer reliable.

KING BORIS: He-e-ee-elp!

CAROLINE: Put him down now, Weatherspoon. I think heís had enough.

RUFUS: Yes, hurry up, Weatherspoon.

WEATHERSPOON: But Sire, I canít.

KING BORIS: He-eeee-elp!

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

WEATHERSPOON: Yes, Maíam.

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 canít, Sire. My wandís bust.

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

NARRATOR: Suddenly Mr. Weatherspoon realised that heíd 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, letís find out.

MUSIC: (classical guitar interlude, 0:12)

NARRATOR: They rushed over to the West Tower, but they were disappointed. The tailorís 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 donít want. Then, it might do the right thing by mistake.

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

CAROLINE: Yes, itís worth trying. Things couldnít 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 tailorís 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 couldnít quite remember what happened at the end of Weatherspoonís trick.

RUFUS: That was great fun, wasnít it Boris.

NARRATOR: King Boris nodded slowly.

CAROLINE: And you played your part beautifully, didnít 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 wouldnít be needed for some time.

*    *    *  END  *    *    *

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