“It’s a jolly good play,” said William, “We’ll act it.”
“When?” said Henry.
“Where?” said Ginger.
“Why?” said Douglas.
“Tomorrow in the old barn,” said William, ignoring Douglas’s question. “Everyone’ll come to watch it.”
“I bet they won’t,” said Douglas gloomily. “Not with television. They all watch television plays now.”
A light broke out over William’s countenance. “Tell you what!” he said. ‘I’ve got an idea. We’ll make it a television play. Gosh! It’ll be better than any ordin’ry television play.”
“Well, in television plays you only see the pictures of the people an’ in this one you’ll see the real people.”
He took a crumpled piece of paper from the floor, wrinkled his brows again ferociously for a few moments, then sent his stubby pencil scoring across it in a sudden access of inspiration:
“There will be a reel live tellyvishun sho not just pitchers here tomorro aftemune at three oklock diffrent from ordinry tellyvishun a knew invention of William Browns the first time evver seen by ennybody in the hole world fre to all.
cined William Brown.”
- Number: 31.5
- Published: 1958
- Book: William’s Television Show
- Synopsis: The Outlaws produce the world’s first live-action TV programme
It’s slightly unclear what distinguishes William’s “live television play where you can see the real people not just picutres of them” from, er, a play, but nevertheless the Outlaws throw themselves into it with enthusiasm.
As the audience reports to the Old Barn, the director announces: “It’s called The Kidnapper’s Downfall or The Bloody Steps or The Octopus’s Revenge by William Brown. It’s got a lot of names ’cause a lot of things happen in it.”
Then – showing rather more creative spirit – they decide to re-enact some other shows from TV, including Animal, Vegetable, Mineral? (with an element of physical combat added in for effect).
Things only really start to go wrong when one of the spectators asks for a re-enactment of a programme about house demolition.
Ethel, meanwhile, is mercilessly playing Archie Mannister and Oswald Franks (her two current admirers) off against each other, by the slightly random technique of pretending she would swoon into the arms of whichever of them successfully builds a hen-house.
William mounted the precarious packing-case that served as his platform. “Now listen, everyone,” he said. “Shut up an’ listen. I’m goin’ to make a speech, so shut up.” The tumult partially subsided. “We’re goin’ to give you a new sort of television show an’ you’ve not got to pay anythin’. It’s goin’ to be free.”
“And dear at that, I shouldn’t wonder,” put in a shrill voice.
“Shut up, Arabella Simpkin,” said William.
Then the house-demolishers approach…