Bottom Exam: From Script To Screen (Smells)

A few caveats before I begin. Nowhere in the Bottom: The Scripts book does it say what version of the scripts are being presented. They’re certainly not transcripts, and are most likely the shooting scripts, but who knows. I wish there was an introduction from Rik & Ade accusing me of being a sad pathtic winker for wanting to read these scripts, alas there’s not.

Anyway, let’s start with the first episode aired (though not the first one shot), that being Smells.

And immediately, with the first line, something fascinating.

SCENE ONE – FLAT

Richie and Eddie enter flat.

Bottom: The Scripts, pg 6

There’s no talk of the handheld shot tracking the boys in from the front door and along the hallway. That’s all Ed Bye. British sitcom directors get little recognition (Alan J W Bell does some shots worthy of Spielberg), and here Bye is adding something to the page. The blocking, with Richie turning on the light on his first big gag is great.

And I’ve just noticed the gorgeous shot out of the window, rain lashing at the glass.

I doubt I will pick up on every little difference between script and screen, but Rik drops a word from his first punchline. As written, he says ‘looking for some action tonight?’. On screen, there’s no tonight.

The stage direction for this moment …

… reads as:

He withdraws copious amounts of toilet paper from his flies.

Bottom: The Scripts, pg 6

There are lines dropped for Richie’s speech out of the window.

What a waste of time. [Why won’t they do it with me? Why] If only I could just get one of them to do it with me. Anybody. Just to do it with me. Just once. Just to find out out what it’s like. [I mean just a snog’d do … no it wouldn’t. I need to go the distance.] I mean look …

Bottom: The Scripts, pg 7

After Richie drops the binoculars, he says ‘hit that dog again’, which is not on the page. Then moments later, this moment is excised.

Talk about the Green Line! [(Showing his scalp.) Look, there’s still some of it there.] Oh Eddie … I’m just so depressed.

Bottom: The Scripts, pg 9

There’s no visible cut here, so this line was dropped before shooting.

Just after Eddie says ‘one of ’ems bound to do it with you sooner or later’, we jump nicely to Richie’s line ‘but there must be some way I can get a woman to sleep with me’. Here’s how it goes as written.

EDDIE: … sooner or later. You just need to take a more scientific approach. Now, what have you got going for yourself? … Nothing. OK, so you’re going to have trick them into doing the nasty with you.

RICHIE: What? You mean say, ‘Ooooh, look over there at that big spider’ and then quickly do it to her while she’s not looking? I think that’s called rape isn’t it Eddie? Oh good plan, so I end up doing twenty years in prison getting loads of the wrong kind of sex, and you get to keep the flat. Very crafty. There must be some way …

Bottom: The Scripts, page 9

Seems obvious why that bit was cut.

On the page, this line is ‘I think I’ve cracked it.’ and comes after Eddie ‘quaffs mightily and has an idea. Snaps his fingers.’

RICHIE: Well you shouldn’t have gone like that then. I’ll get a splint.

EDDIE: Why don’t you pay me to come up with a good idea?

RICHIE: All right then, you’re on.

EDDIE: How much?

RICHIE: Your half of the taxi fare you owe me.

EDDIE: What – so you give me one pound sixty and I fix you up with a fabulous orgy of slidy pump-pump?

RICHIE: Yes.

EDDIE: You’re on. Right, give us the money.

RICHIE: I’ve already given it to you.

EDDIE: No you haven’t.

RICHIE: Yes I have. I’m letting you not give me one pound sixty, that’s how I’m giving it to you.

EDDIE: Don’t start getting all clever just cos you know I’m drunk.

RICHIE: I’m not, I’m not! Look, you owe me one pound sixty right?

EDDIE: I do not! You owe me one pound sixty! And I’ll thank you to hand it right over!!!

RICHIE: All right, all right, don’t get a bee in your bonnet, here you are. God, how did this happen?

EDDIE: Thank you!!

Puts money in his pocket.

EDDIE: Hey! I’ve just had a fantastic idea.

Bottom: The Scripts, page 9-10

Then the lonely hearts ad bit opens slightly differently on the page too.

RICHIE: That is absolutely brilliant. Suave, sophisticated, witty … no come on, come on, let’s be honest. Balding, sweaty, crusty … no hang on, we’re going to have to be economical with the truth. Em, something buck … hot young buck … um, well nearing middle age, ageing buck, tepid ageing buck, no that’s not quite right.

EDDIE: What about badger?

RICHIE: Tepid ageing badger?! I’m more a sort of a …

EDDIE: Hedgehog.

RICHIE: No, fox, that’s good. No that’s good. No that is good. Tepid ageing fox. No, let’s just forget the age and the heat.

EDDIE: Stoat!!!

Bottom: The Scripts, page 11

The editing to remove the excess here is seamless. The rest unfolds on the page as it unfolds on the screen, until Richie finds the pheromone advert. At first, as written, he reads it as ‘fur-emonie’.

RICHIE… African orchids. Wow! [Listen to this Eddie. ‘One spray of Dr Glucklick’s powerful female attractant and I was fighting women off in the disco.’ Fighting them off!! ‘GS, Stalybridge.’ Stalybridge! ‘Thank you Dr Glucklick, your sex spray certainly changed my life. I now have ten girlfriends – every night!’ This is sensational.]

Bottom: The Scripts, page 12

I love how Richie is impressed by Stalybridge.

The beginning of the sex shop scene is different on the page.

SCENE TWO – SEX SHOP

Richie and Eddie open the door to the sex shop. Richie pushes Eddie in. There are a few dirty old men shambling round it grunting. Richie notices the grunting and motions Eddie that they should do the same. Then …

RICHIE: Are you sure this is the sex shop? Looks more like the plumber’s.

They carry on looking round. The other men grunt a bit more and Eddie and Richie have to up the level of their grunting in response.

RICHIE: Good grief! What on earth’s that?

EDDIE: Looks like a weapon of some sort … Hang on, it’s got instructions on it … bloody Nora!

RICHIE: I think this is the wrong section – I think this is car maintenance.

He holds up a couple of wrenches and other bits of ironmongery.

RICHIE: That’s an orange squeezer isn’t it?

They gradually work their way to the counter.

MR SEX: Can I help you sir?

EDDIE: This is a sex shop isn’t it?

Bottom: The Scripts, page 13

I’ve never quite appreciated the antiquated swearing Eddie and Richie use before now. I mean, yes on the Ferris Wheel, but here you can see how prevalent it is throughout.

MR SEX is a great name for a character.

A little further on, we get another trim, for obvious reasons (namely, redundancy).

RICHIE: … I don’t need anything from a shop like this.

[MR SEX: So you’re not going to buy anything sir?

RICHIE: Certainly not.]

Bottom: The Scripts, page 14

After Richie grabs the dildo (unscripted), there’s a little more trimming.

RICHIE: Now we can continue our experiments. We are men of science.

EDDIE: Are we?

RICHIE: Yes, that’s why we’re so unfamiliar with your depraved world. (To Eddie.) I got him there, Eddie – I’m winning this one.

MR SEX: So you won’t be needing the bumper stash of Girlie World that goes free with the pheromone this week?

RICHIE: Absolutely not.

Privately despairs.

MR SEX: Or these two free life-membership cards to Madame Fifi’s sex palace.

Pause.

RICHIE: Don’t you dangle your filthy baubles in front of me you sex mad quisling. We live our lives on a higher plane …

Bottom: The Scripts, page 15-16

None of that was shot, it seems. Later, just before Eddie sticks his tongue out in the bathroom mirror, the line ‘form a queue girls, there’s plenty for everyone’ also appears not to have been filmed. After Richie comes in, there’s this that’s missing too.

RICHIE: I’ve had em on for three weeks. I’d better freshen them up a bit.

Goes to cabinet and starts pouring talcum powder and spraying deodorant down his pants.

A little bit of this. And a little bit of that.

He is contorting to dab himself all over.

And hey presto, who’s got the loveliest tackle in Hammersmith?

Bottom: The Scripts – page 17

Scene Three on the page takes place in the bathroom, but is blocked on the screen so the fight moves them through the hallway and into the laaaahnge.

I also like the line ‘he flings Richie around the room lke a rag doll. It is extremely violent’.

In the pub, Richie wafting his armpits at the bar is not on the page, nor his his humping motion. And marvel at the stage direction ‘he gives Richie’s bollocks a good wrench’. Also the line ‘he mimes condoms behind the heads of Kate and Jenny’ becomes so much more on screen.

The whole scene with the condom machine plays out word for word as on the page, as does the final scene in the pub.

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