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The Wrong Bus

The Royal Gelatin Hour

The Wrong Bus

May 13 1937



CAST:


The Royal Gelatin Team:

HOST, Rudy Vallee

ANNOUNCER, Christopher Stone; British

LOCAL ANNCR, American


Dramatis Personae:

JOHN

ELSIE

CONDUCTOR


NOTE: A version of this sketch, originally written under the pseudonym Martin Hussingtree, aired on the BBC in September 1927. Another version was issued on record in 1931.





SOUND: ... APPLAUSE


HOST: What English people call the wireless is quite as much a part of home life here as of the radio in America with us. And so we have an example of British radio fare for you tonight, a short sketch originally written for [the] BBC repertory company and the author is Mr. Oliver Baldwin, brilliant son of Prime Minister Stanley Baldwin. Title, "The Wrong Bus." The actors, Lilian Harrison, Geoffrey Sumner, and Philip Wade. And the scene, a street corner in an English city. The theaters have just let out for the night and a suburban couple stand under a street lamp waiting for the homebound bus. The man speaks.


JOHN: Tired, Elsie?


ELSIE: Yes, very. I shall be glad to be home.


JOHN: Ah, it was good though, wasn't it?


ELSIE: I enjoyed it, I must say.


JOHN: (YAWNS) I wish that bus would hurry up.


ELSIE: They only run it once a week -- for those who've been to the theater.


JOHN: Mm, it's useful. It's better than walking or biking.


ELSIE: Yes. It's a lonely road down by the cliff.


SOUND: BUS APPROACHES ... THEN DRIVES BY DURING FOLLOWING--


JOHN: Here we are.


ELSIE: No, it doesn't stop. That one only goes to the end of the town.


JOHN: (DISAPPOINTED) Oh. (BEAT) What's the time?


ELSIE: Just on eleven.


JOHN: Well, it ought to be here any minute now.


ELSIE: Yes.


JOHN: (YAWNS) I do feel so sleepy.


ELSIE: Well, you've had a heavy week of it.


SOUND: BUS APPROACHES SLOWLY IN BG


JOHN: There's a bus.


ELSIE: Where?


JOHN: Coming along.


ELSIE: That'll be it. We shall be the only ones, it seems.


JOHN: Mmm. Going on top?


ELSIE: It'll be too chilly.


SOUND: BUS PULLS TO A STOP 


CONDUCTOR: (ANNOUNCES PLEASANTLY) Town End, Great Coombey, Redrock, and Little Coombey.


JOHN: Come on, Elsie. All aboard.


CONDUCTOR: Anyone else? (NO ANSWER) Straightaway.


SOUND: CONDUCTOR RINGS BELL TWICE ... BUS PULLS AWAY ... BUS INTERIOR BACKGROUND ... JOHN MOVES AROUND INSIDE THE BUS IN AGREEMENT WITH THE FOLLOWING--


JOHN: Elsie, are you in--? (STOPS SHORT, DOESN'T SEE HER) Elsie, where are you? (NO ANSWER, CALLS AT STAIRS) Gone upstairs? (NO ANSWER, CALLS) Elsie?! (NO ANSWER, SEARCHES BUS, PUZZLED) Elsie, where are you? (BEAT; TO HIMSELF) Not there. (UP, TO CONDUCTOR) Conductor, did you see a lady follow me in?


CONDUCTOR: (AN EDGE IN HIS VOICE) No, sir.


JOHN: Then I must get out. We must have started before she got on. Will you stop the bus, please?


CONDUCTOR: No.


JOHN: What do you mean? I want to get off.


CONDUCTOR: Ya can't get off!


JOHN: (SHOCKED) Good heavens, man! What's the matter? Your - your face is all covered with blood!


CONDUCTOR: (AS IF HE'S HEARD THIS MANY TIMES BEFORE) I know.


JOHN: Well, what's the matter? You look ghastly.


CONDUCTOR: I'm used to it.


JOHN: Here, stop the bus; I must get off.


CONDUCTOR: Ya can't get off!


JOHN: Then I'll stop it myself.


SOUND: JOHN RINGS THE BELL FOUR TIMES


CONDUCTOR: (COUNTING THE RINGS, TO HIMSELF) One, two, three, four! (MADLY, TO JOHN) Other people have pulled it six times! But it's all the same!


JOHN: Why doesn't he stop?


CONDUCTOR: Because he can't!


JOHN: Don't be a fool. (YELLS, TO DRIVER) Stop, man! Stop!


SOUND: JOHN RINGS THE BELL A FEW TIMES


CONDUCTOR: Go and tap on the window! Perhaps he'll hear and - perhaps he won't. I've never asked him if he ever hears 'em do that.


SOUND: JOHN TAPS URGENTLY ON THE WINDOW BEHIND--


JOHN: (YELLS, TO DRIVER) Stop! Stop! I want to get off!


SOUND: JOHN STOPS TAPPING WITH--


JOHN: (HORRIFIED) He-- Oh, no!


CONDUCTOR: What's the matter?


JOHN: (STUNNED) There's no one in the driver's seat.


CONDUCTOR: Isn't there? He's late. (CONFIDENTLY) He'll be there before Redrock!


JOHN: But he must stop at Town End.


CONDUCTOR: We've passed that.


JOHN: Well, then at Great Coombey.


CONDUCTOR: We're passing there now! Look out of the window!


JOHN: I don't understand it. There's no driver, man! Do something! Stop the bus or we shall have an accident in a minute.


CONDUCTOR: (KNOWINGLY) Not just yet.


JOHN: I'm gonna climb into the seat from the top.


CONDUCTOR: I shouldn't do that.


JOHN: Why not?


CONDUCTOR: What's the use? If Bill Jenkins can't stop it, no man on earth can!


JOHN: But there's no one there!


CONDUCTOR: (CACKLES MADLY) Are you sure?


JOHN: I just looked! (STARTLED GASP, HUSHED) There is now, though. I could have sworn he wasn't there before.


CONDUCTOR: We're not going fast now, you know. You wait till we start down Redrock Hill -- before we try to take the cliff bend!


JOHN: Are you mad or am I?


CONDUCTOR: Neither!


JOHN: I can't stand this. Make him stop before we come to the hill.


CONDUCTOR: Bill wants to get home quick! You see, his wife is expectin' a baby!


JOHN: That's no excuse for killing us!


CONDUCTOR: It'll be all right if the brakes work! (CACKLES MADLY) But they never do! (MORE CACKLING)


JOHN: (UNNERVED) Don't laugh like that!


CONDUCTOR: Ya'd better prepare for it!


JOHN: For what?


CONDUCTOR: The smash!


JOHN: (INCREDULOUS) You know there's going to be a smash?


CONDUCTOR: Of course! We're going over the cliff!


JOHN: You're mad, that's what you are -- mad!


SOUND: JOHN URGENTLY RINGS BELL AND TAPS ON WINDOW DURING FOLLOWING--


JOHN: (YELLS, TO DRIVER) Stop! For heaven's sake, stop!


CONDUCTOR: There's the hill!


JOHN: Stop! Stop!


CONDUCTOR: He's tryin' to! Watch his face! There! He knows the brakes won't work! It won't be long now! Hold tight!


SOUND: BUS TRIP REACHES CLIMAX DURING FOLLOWING ... HORN HONKS SEVERAL TIMES ... BELL RINGS ... BUS BARRELS TOWARD CLIFF


JOHN: We'll never get 'round that bend! I'm going on top.


CONDUCTOR: They've got it worse!


JOHN: Help! Help! Stop! Stop!


CONDUCTOR: Look at your face in the glass!


JOHN: (BLOODCURDLING DEATH SCREAM) Nooooooooooo!


SOUND: WHOOSH! AS THE BUS LEAVES THE ROAD AND CRASHES! -- LOUD, LONG, AND VIOLENT! ... THEN SILENCE


CONDUCTOR: (ANNOUNCES GENTLY AND PLEASANTLY) Little Coombey.


ELSIE: (CHEERFUL) Come on, John. Here we are. (BEAT, MILDLY SURPRISED) Ohhh. You look quite ill.


JOHN: (SCREAMS, AWAKING FROM NIGHTMARE) Stop!


ELSIE: We are stopped, dear. Come on. Wipe your face; you're all hot.


JOHN: I-- Er-- (REALIZES) Oh! Elsie, it's you. I - I--


ELSIE: (CHUCKLES) You must have been dreaming. 


JOHN: (QUIET UNEASE) Yes. Dreaming.


ELSIE: Come on.


CONDUCTOR: Good night, mum.


ELSIE: Good night.


CONDUCTOR: Good night, sir.


JOHN: Conductor?


CONDUCTOR: Yes, sir?


JOHN: (AFRAID TO ASK) Did you--? Did you ever know a driver called Bill Jenkins?


CONDUCTOR: (SURPRISED) Me? Eh, bless ye, yes. That was 'im wot went over Redrock Cliff some years ago. (POINTEDLY) We're more careful now though. 


JOHN: Yes. (BEAT, QUIETLY) Yes. (UNEASY) Good night.


CONDUCTOR: (PLEASANTLY) Good night, sir.


MUSIC: BIG ACCENT ... FOR A CURTAIN


SOUND: APPLAUSE


ANNOUNCER: "The Rudy Vallee Hour" -- broadcast from London, England -- will continue in just a few seconds!


MUSIC: NBC CHIMES


LOCAL ANNCR: WEAF, New York.


HOST: (PAUSE) I think I've met that charming bus conductor myself, driving a taxi in Manhattan. "The Royal Gelatin Hour," London version, marches on into Act Two. ...


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