Bottom Exam: From Script To Screen (Contest)

You know that opening shot, the one that’s gorgeous, from Contest, the pilot (but third broadcast) episode of Bottom? Yeah, this one.

It’s in the script. On the page these opening moments play ever so slightly differently.

SCENE ONE – THE FLAT – KITCHEN

Richie is looking out of the window. It is wet. He sighs. He turns the gas on, opens the oven door and puts his head in. He reaches for a piece of paper and pencil.

Richie signs note. He goes through an elaborate rehearsal of killing himself – putting his head in the oven, taking it out. He acts out the scenario, with himself as Eddie.

Bottom: The Scripts, page 59

I still contend that this is a pretty bold and bleak opening to a pilot script.

Richie’s little silent ‘shit’ on the plan’s failure is not on the page.

The next five minutes unfold verbatim from the script, until they sit down to eat their found and foraged din dins.

EDDIE: What’s wrong with these beans?

RICHIE: What do mean wrong? [They’re fresh. I grew those in the window box. I’ve decided for the very highest moral and ecological reasons that we are going to be vegetarians.

EDDIE: What, were you banned from the butchers again?

RICHIE: Yeah, and the greengrocers – but it’s amazing what you can find in the park.]

EDDIE: But they’ve got black bits all over them.

Bottom: The Scripts, page 63

There’s no visual cut here, so this bit was excised before recording. I wanna know the story of how Richie was banned from the shops – again.

A moment later, the moment with Richie fishing out the wood from the cup, while mentioned in dialogue is not written down.

Interestingly, the sounds from the TV are scripted word for word, including the timing around Richie and Eddie’s lines.

I should have mentioned this in my watchthrough, but the line ‘hide the fags’ is an odd one. I don’t recall seeing either character actually smoke on screen, though I could be wrong.

Rik’s amazing wank build up is simply referred to on the page thusly.

Richie rights the TV and furtively switches it on to Miss World. He starts gettting sexy.

Bottom: The Scripts, page 67

But the perfectly executed ‘Shh’ is in the script.

As Richie tidies away the dinner, the moment when he rediscovers his note is not scripted, nor the moment when he tucks it away by the window.

Our next big missing moment comes as Richies sits down to watch Miss World.

RICHIE: That’s what I’m missing from life.

EDDIE: What, a quick nasty?

RICHIE: No Eddie, love. The love of a good woman. An English rose. A Scottish heather. A Welsh … dragon.

EDDIE: A German sausage.

RICHIE: Yeah, an Irish … woulfhound.

EDDIE: A Chinese takeaway.

RICHIE: A Spanish … omelette – any of those’d do for me, except the Irish wolfhound obviously.

EDDIE: But all right with a German sausage then?

RICHIE: All right Eddie, let’s skim over the details, it’s only a metaphor. Give him an inch and he makes a porn movie. Tcch. (Sighs.) Why haven’t I got a girlfriend? I wish I had a girlfriend – it’d be someone to listen to me. All I’ve got is you Eddie.

EDDIE: Careful.

RICHIE: I wonder what sort of great bird’d suit me.

Bottom: The Scripts, page 70

Again, this isn’t something removed and hidden by a cut, it wasn’s shot. I really like it, it has some nice wordplay in it, and it’s unusual to hear Richie talk about love more than sex. And his idea of a girlfriend just being someone who would listen to him is rather telling.

When Richie stands up later, mashing the organ chord is not in the stage direction. Likewise, Eddie kicking the TV in is unscripted, it’s meant to explode a few moments later when the fuse box gives out.

When Richie comes back from the dead, this short moment has also been excised.

EDDIE: Richie! You’re alive!

RICHIE: Yes. The amount of pain I’m in would suggest so.

[EDDIE: Oh dear. All right, well hang on then, I’ll get you a Band Aid.

RICHIE: Take your time Mother Teresa!]

Bottom: The Scripts, page 79

Except, Ade says Richard here, not Richie.

When Richie heads for bed, it’s interesting to note that the pilot script says he heads for the bedroom door. I wonder how they were picturing the set at this stage (a description of it is absent on the page).

Richie hits Eddie.

Freeze.

Fin.

Bottom: The Scripts, page 79
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