“I Love 1980” – Transcript

On January 13, 2001, BBC2 in the U.K. started a new series called “I Love the 80s”. Each episode focused on a different year from the decade and was hosted by a celebrity from that year. Different panelists would comment on fashion, movies, television programs, food, and anything else they could remember from that year. The 1980 program was hosted by Larry Hagman (J.R. Ewing from “Dallas”) and included a segment on “Tales of the Unexpected.” In the transcript below, square brackets [] are used to denote scenes and clips that were shown, while curvy brackets {} describe the speaker’s actions.

Larry Hagman: It’s a cold winter’s night. The wind is howling and the rain is beating on the windowpanes. An old man sits in a big leather chair by a roaring fire and begins to tell his tale. Well, let’s just say… it was never quite what you expected.

[Super-imposed tarot cards, leaves, and roulette wheel.]

Dahl: [episode clip of him in armchair before fire] This is a story about those school days of mine.

Ekow Eshun, writer: Kind of a sophisticated program.

[More cards, leaves, and wheel.]

Paul Spurrier: And it was on a little bit late, so you had to sort of, uh, try and kind of cajole your parents into letting you stay up to watch it.

[Tarot card tacked to a tree covered in ivy.]

Ekow Eshun: It’s like the adult. It’s like the mysterious.

[Tarot card floating down stream.]

Dahl: [same episode clip] “Do you want six with the dressing gown on or four with it off?” the prefects used to say to us down there in the changing room, late at night.

[Spinning roulette wheel.]

Paul Spurrier: It was always something to look forward to, before sort of having to get ready for school the following morning.

[Tarot card on tree.]

Dahl: [same episode clip] And for once, I have not made anything up. It’s all true.

[Intro sequence of show with “Roald Dahl’s Tales of the Unexpected” title card, music, and silhouette of dancing girl.]

Iain Lee, comedian: {dancing} It was good dancing at the beginning. That was nice.

Kelly Marie, singer: {singing theme and dancing} Doo doo doo doo…

[White silhouette of woman super-imposed on spinning roulette wheel.]

Arabella Weir, comedian: {mimicking dance} Now you see, who didn’t do that dance when they were at college?

Gary Shail, actor: {dancing}

Arabella Weir: {dancing} Everyone just thought that was hilarious. You could make a whole room full of people fall about laughing going “doo doo doo doo…”

[Tarot cards seen through woman’s silhouette.]

Emma B, DJ: Who was she?

[Dancing silhouette amidst fire and flames.]

Woman #4 (dancer): {singing} Doo doo doo doo…

[Silhouette dancing, flames, roulette wheel.]

Ekow Eshun: She’s slightly naked and doing this shimmery kind of dance.

Kelly Marie: I suspect she probably was naked.

Woman #4: {laughing} Well it looks as if I am, so they can use their imagination, can’t they?

[Spinning handgun.]

Iain Lee: As a 8, 9-year-old boy, that was… Even I could see that was quite an exciting image.

Arabella Weir: Tales of the unexpected! And the unexpected is the girls have got no clothes on in the opening sequences.

[Tribal mask with eyes that light up, woman silhouette dancing in flames, row of skulls.]

Dancer: In fact, I was wearing about 3 coats of white greasepaint and a white body stocking, which wasn’t the most comfortable of things to wear.

[Many silhouettes of woman dancing over roulette wheel. Title card again.]

Ekow Eshun: The episode I remember most is this episode about royal jelly.

Man #5: Royal jelly.

Man: [episode clip] Royal jelly!

Paul Spurrier: Royal jelly.

Dahl: [episode clip] I’d never heard of the stuff. The shop told me it had magical properties, and it undoubtedly has.

Man #5: I do remember that we had Timothy West, of course, who was the beekeeper who never wore a net when when he was attending to his bees.

Man: [episode clip of beekeeper opening hive without a net and tasting honey] Mmm, I know where you’ve been…

Man #5: I think he ate a great deal of royal jelly.

Newscaster: [episode clip of beekeeper watching a newscaster report a story on him] I think Mr. Taylor looks a little bit like a bee himself!

Ekow Eshun: And after a while he started to notice his arms became more hairy… [clip of man’s extremely hairy arm] … and he started puttin’ on, slightly, weight… [clip of man laughing and making “Zzzz” sound] …gettin’ a bit chunkier kind of around the middle. [clip of wife recoiling in horror saying: “You took it, didn’t you?”] What happens is after a few weeks of taking royal jelly… [clip of man saying: “Made me feel marvelous!”] …the man turns into a bee!

[Episode clip of man turning around with obviously fake bee baby in arms. His wife gasps. Freeze frame while the baby’s freaky face flickers. We heard hysterical shrieking.]

Iain Lee: I do remember “Tales of the Unexpected.” I remember it being absolutely rubbish. Even as a kid I was like: {sarcastic} I expected that! There’s no surprise there. Brilliant. You know. Oh brilliant… that’s what’s happened. She’s dead. Huh. He’s turned up. Fantastic. There was no surprise.

Arabella Weir: Towards the end they weren’t that unexpected, were they? The obviously kind of ran out of unexpected ideas. ‘Oh I don’t know, what’s unexpected? If a bus turns up.’

[Spinning roulette wheel.]

Paul Spurrier, actor: I was quite excited when I was chosen to be in ‘The Boy Who Talked With Animals’ [black-and-white episode photo of young boy with lizard], an episode of “Tales of the Unexpected” because it was something we always used to watch at school.[roulette wheel and tarot cards] I spent a lot of time trying to guess where they’d film it. It was set in Jamaica, I think, so would they send us to the Caribbean? You know, it had to be somewhere warm. I don’t think we’d quite reckoned on it being Cornwall. [home video clip of production on cold Cornish beach showing uprooted trees and extras milling about] The plastic palm trees blew over, the beach hut fell down, the extras all got hypothermia. I think it was the most expensive episode of “Tales of the Unexpected” they ever made. [shot of puppeteer extricating himself from large upside down fake turtle on beach]

Boy: [episode clip of boy sitting in wicker chair and talking to lizard]We’ve got to drive into town, but I’ll be back by five o’clock, all right?

Paul Spurrier: The boy who talked with animals was played by me, which was rather ironic ’cause I not only wasn’t very fond of animals, I’m also ALLERGIC to animals. But, um, nevermind.

[Episode clip of men dragging a huge turtle up onto beach.]

Paul Spurrier: On holiday in the Caribbean, a turtle… [clip of woman shouting “It’s a turtle!”] …is beached [clip of man yelling to crowd “Stand well back, please!”]… and all the locals decide whether to sort of turn it into soup or a table or something. [clip of rich man saying “We’ll put it smack in the middle of the living room, now how does that grab you?” His wife: “Bernie, that’ll be fantastic! Hey, don’tcha just love him?”] The boy objects violently to this… [clip of boy screaming “No daddy! Don’t let them! Tell them to let him go!” Random people look on. Woman: “Does that actually float, Denzel?” Man: “Of course it floats! Use your head, baby.” Boy kneels by the turtle and whispers: “Please forgive us.” Various shots of the boy watching turtle swim out to sea at sunset] …At the end of the episode the boy is discovered to be missing and has run away. They don’t know where. [clip of boy’s lizard and empty wicker chair]

Gary Shail: You always could see it coming a mile off.

Paul Spurrier: The final shot is… [clip of fisherman spotting boy on turtle through binoculars] … a fisherman at sea who sees the boy floating out to sea on the back of the turtle. The fiberglass turtle [home video of boy on turtle surrounded by divers holding it up] sank to the bottom of the sea and as far as I know it’s probably still there.

Arabella Weir: {dancing and singing} Doo doo doo doo…

[Title card: “Roald Dahl’s Tales of the Unexpected.”]