Bottom Exam: From Script To Screen (Gas)

It was interesting to walkthrough the first episode and compare it to the script last week, and you can read that here. Now it’s time for one of my favourite episodes, not just of Bottom, but of any sitcom.

Gas.

It opens the way it’s written.

SCENE ONE – THE FLAT – LIVING ROOM/KITCHEN

The gas fire is blazing away. In the kitchen all the gas burners are alight. The oven is on with the door open. Richie and Eddie are huddled round the table playing poker. They are both trying to put on poker faces as they gamble.

Bottom: The Scripts, page 31

The game unfolds verbatim from the page, until Richie removes the cards from his underpants. Here, we get some typical Rik miming as he fumbles with himself that isn’t written, and was probably found in rehearsal.

Moments later, Eddie calls his winnings ‘beauties’ even though they are ‘lovelies’ in the script. On screen it cuts directly to the signed photo of Sue Carpenter.

Which means this was cut …

EDDIE: … one cleaning of the toilet, two cleanings of the bath, two months’ tea in bed, thirteen trips to the laundrette, seventeen pence, a book of ‘Victorian’ postcards, a signed photo of Sue Carpenter, and no more washing up until 1993.

Bottom: The Scripts, page 33

The excise is elegantly hidden with a cut to a new angle.

On the page there’s an extra doorbell ring just before Eddie suggests seven card stud.

Ade’s reaction to the Gas Man bending down to look at his little meter is not in the scene description. Also unscripted is Eddie’s reaction to Richie saying they make love. The only reaction in the script is of the Gas Man who ‘looks shocked’.

It only looks like an awkward cut with the script in front of you, but when Eddie says ‘on our own’ they removed this:

RICHIE: … on our own … If you know what I mean … lots.

Richie shrugs in desperation.

Bottom: The Scripts, page 36

The moment where they attack the Gas Man reads pretty simply on the page, highlighting how comfortable and accomplished Rik & Ade are with a slapstick mauling.

Richie punches the Gas Man, who falls to the floor banging his head. Eddie hits him on the head with a frying pan. Richie punches him repeatedly.

Bottom: The Scripts, page 39

Now we come to our first really big chunky cut. The Gas Man lies on the floor, they’re arguing about who killed him, and what they’re going to do next. Richie suggests eating him.

RICHIE: … No, stupid idea. We’re not allowed to use the gas are we?

EDDIE: Now, what do they do in the movies?

RICHIE: They buy a ticket, sit in the dark and watch a film. Now stick to the point for Christ’s sake.

EDDIE: No, I mean in the films themselves. I mean, what does Michael Caine do in Jack The Ripper?

RICHIE: He was the one who caught him wasn’t he?

EDDIE: No, no, no, no, no, no, that was his friend, what’s his name, Mason. James Mason.

RICHIE: No! He was the Ripper.

EDDIE: No he wasn’t!

RICHIE: He was so!

EDDIE: He was not, they never caught the Ripper.

RICHIE: Didn’t they? Well how’d he get away with it then? Because that’s what we need to do. Now.

EDDIE: Well … he …. er … ran off into the night, laughing like a maniac, with his cape flapping behind him.

RICHIE: Did he? Well let’s do that then! Come on, let’s get out of here.

EDDIE: Hang on Richie. What about the body?

RICHIE: What about the body?

EDDIE: Well we can’t just leave it here.

RICHIE: Why not? It’s dead, it’s not going anywhere.

EDDIE: Exactly my point, Moriarty. Leaving a dead body in our own flat would point the finger somewhat don’t you think?

RICHIE: Ok, well, we’ll cut it up. And scatter it round Old London Town. Where’s the scissors?

EDDIE: Yeah yeah. (Thinks). No. Richie, we can’t prance around the whole of London in your Batman cape throwing bits of dead body everywhere. Someone’ll see us.

RICHIE: Nobody’ll see because of the pea soup floating about the place.

EDDIE: Richie, walking around London, flinging bits of dead body around is a non starter. Hey, maybe he’s not dead, maybe he’s just stunned. Why don’t you give him the kiss of life?

Bottom: The Scripts, pages 40-42

I like the lines of stage direction that read ‘Richie kneels in a nursy way.’ and ‘Richie stabs the fork into his goolies.’

Goolies.

Conversation pleasantry in the script becomes English pleasantry.

There’s a line cut before filming.

EDDIE: Exactly. That’s what makes the plan so flawless! [Look, we grab him, and when the next bus comes along we just chuck him onto the roof. Off goes the body. Who knows where.] Nobody’ll find him …

Bottom: The Scripts, page 46

And then this moment, the cut hidden by a change of angle.

EDDIE: … in my hobby of bus surfing.’ [Great. That should do it. Right come on Richie, let’s grab hold of the stiff, avoid the obvious joke, and chuck him onto the next number nine.]

Bottom: The Scripts, page 46

Seconds later, the moment when Eddie removes the fork from the now awake Gas Man’s goolies is not on the page. And as written, Gas Man falls down the stairs, he’s not pushed by Richie. Also, Eddie not being able to tell the time isn’t in the script.

The little fight in the hallway is shorter in the script, with no punch thrown by Eddie. Plus, Eddie having downed half the bottle of Sherry for Rottweiler doesn’t quite read the way it plays.

This time, Richie’s willy gets stuck in the door.

Bottom: The Scripts, page 49.

I like that they continue the arcane language in the stage directions. Could easily have written cock or prick there.

That said, this wonderful Bloody Nora is a more normal, less interesting Bloody Hell in the script.

A single line in the script gives the art department some licence to add to the joke.

Eddie has got a plate and is making a meal for himself from the contents of the fridge. He sits down at the table to eat.

Bottom: The Scripts, page 53

Little else is different from here on out. Except in the very final scene, when Richie says ‘put it right there old pal’, Eddie’s ‘no I will not’ is simply a reaction on the page.

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