Bottom Exam: From Script To Screen (Accident)

The first five minutes of Bottom series one’s final episode Accident plays out exactly as it’s written on the page. What’s notable is how flat it reads compared to the brilliant performances by Rik and Ade. So much nuance and reaction is unscripted, it goes to show how comfortable they are with these characters that they don’t feel the need to write all this business in.

The first deviation from the written script is a simple change of the word can to may, when Richie says Eddie may come to his birthday party. Eddie’s response changes from ‘I was going to go out tonight’ to the less tongue-twisterly ‘I was goin’ out tonight’.

Also, this moment is unscripted.

Conversely, there’s a little slapstick moment on the page that doesn’t find its way to the screen.

RICHIE: … It’s a fight.

Eddie shrinks back from Richie’s advance. [Richie swings and misses].

Bottom: The Scripts, page 133

Plus there’s a rare typo a few lines later.

EDDIE: Read it!

He give it to Richie. Richie reads.

Bottom: The Scripts, page 133

This shot is not scripted.

It just move straight to the next interior scene.

Next, when Richie asks Eddie what time it is, Eddie on screen says ‘it’s exactly thirty seconds to seven o-clock’ but as written the line is ‘five to seven’.

This marks the beginning of two or three excised pages.

EDDIE: Five to seven.

RICHIE: Right, that gives us five minutes. OK Eddie, I’m relying on you old chum – you’ve got to finish the decorations, put out the eats, sort out the drink, and everything will be lovely. Now, there’s at least twenty people coming – so you’d better put out both bags of nuts.

EDDIE: Okey dokey.

RICHIE: Now, what about music? Better have something on for when they come in. I know, Chris Montez. If he’s not sexy, I’m a ridiculous old prat.

He wheels himself over to the record player and knocks it off the table with his plastered leg.

RICHIE: Oh bugger! Fix this bloody thing Eddie, why do I have to do everything around here?

Eddie comes over to fix it.

EDDIE: There you go arsehole.

RICHIE: I beg your pardon?

EDDIE: I said, ‘I’ve fixed the record player old buddie.’

RICHIE: All right, all right, well there’s no need to brag about it, anyone could have done it. Go on, skidaddle, you haven’t even got your nuts out yet? Here we go.

He puts on the Chris Montez record, ‘The more I see you’. Richie sinks into reverie. Eddie is dispersing nuts about the room.

RICHIE: Oh, this is great, isn’t it Eddie? Hey! Listen to this bit … Oh! Isn’t that great? It really gets you doesn’t it?

He starts moving about in his wheelchair, embarrassingly.

RICHIE: Ouch, oublyia, oublyia, shake that thang! I could’ve been a dancer you know. They wouldn’t let me into the ballet school – said I was too old.

EDDIE: When was this?

RICHIE: Last week.

He sinks back into the music.

Cor, isn’t this great? No wonder it sends the birds crazy. That reminds me. You’d better change the sheets on my bed in case I get lucky.

EDDIE: What – with the lads from the Ark Royal?

RICHIE: (Hoarse exhalation.) Eddie you old rogue. Oh I’m in a good mood, do I look great? I tell you, by the time I’m finished there won’t be a bird left alive in this place.

EDDIE: (Looking quizzical.) How many birds did you invite then?

RICHIE: None! You don’t invite birds! They just turn up! Put the word about down the pub, ‘Richie’s having a party’ – this place’ll be jammed by midnight.

The record comes to a stop with a huge scratch.

RICHIE: Shall I put it on again or do you want to hear something else?

EDDIE: What else have you got?

RICHIE: I’ve got the flipside!

EDDIE: Ooh no more music for me thanks – I think I’ll go insane with the pleasure.

RICHIE: Can’t take the pace heh? Well I think we’ll have the ‘A’ side again. If you can’t stand the heat get out of the kitchen.

EDDIE: But I’m in the living room.

RICHIE: I know – it’s a Spoonerism. Oh forget it – I was just being fashionable. Christ what time is it?

EDDIE: It’s exactly thirty seconds to seven o’clock.

Bottom: The Scripts, pages 139-141

While there is a clear and visible cut at this excised moment, I don’t think they shot it. Not least because on screen the record player gets knocked for six when they enter the room, and stays there throughout. I did enjoy the Spoonerism line a lot.

There’s a couple of moments of unscripted business now, like Richie’s reaction to Eddie going to fetch the razor blades, and Eddie smashing Richie’s wheelchair out of the way to let Spudgun and Hedgehog in.

Then comes a really interesting typo in the script – no really, it’s fascinating.

un, Hedgehog and Eddie move to the corner of the large empty room.

Bottom: The Script, page 142

Told you.

Richie finding a pube in his mouth is not scripted, as I suspected.

This shot is the final difference between script and screen.

Just a quick note before I go, Mark Williams’ character is named on the page. He is called Boris.

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