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This episode was kindly transcribed by Liz Knowles.


LS - Lee Simpson
PM - Paul Merton
CQ - Caroline Quentin
JL - Josie Lawrence
JS - Jim Sweeney
PD - Phelim McDermott
A - Audience
C - Cast in general

" - This is used when one person is doing more than one character at once, e.g. having an argument with themselves!
(Italic in brackets) - This marks where I have felt the need to make some kind of explanatory comment, such as sound effects, accents, possible explanations for unexplained laughter, and mistakes made by the cast! (Nobody's perfect)

(Audience Applause)

LS - Good evening ladies and gentlemen, and welcome to "The Masterson Inheritance", an improvised historical saga of a family at war with itself. The Masterson family's lust for life is matched only by their lust for power. And the centre of power for the ancient world was Imperial Rome. Tonight our team of performers will attempt to spontaneously enact the story of the Mastersons in those heroic days. A story based entirely on the suggestions of our studio audience. No script, no rehearsals, just and audience and a couple of microphones. To bring you this story of terror, tyrants and togas tonight we have Josie Lawrence, Phelim McDermott, Paul Merton, Caroline Quentin, Lee Simpson and Jim Sweeney!


LS - Right, I'm actually going into our studio audience now. The first thing I'd like our audience to suggest is something that a Roman patrician might do to relax.

A - Milk bath.

LS - A milk bath. Good, good. That would relax you wouldn't it! Good. The next thing we'd like our audience to suggest is why would you plan to assassinate someone?

A - They're getting friendly with your wife.

LS - They're getting friendly with your wife. Very good. The next thing we'd like our audience to suggest is a new Roman God, so suggest the name of.....the God of what?

A - Spelling.

LS - OK, we'll take that, the God of Spelling. And the last thing we need our audience to suggest is a title for this week's episode, and as usual we'd like you to include the word Masterson in the title, so the something of the Mastersons or...

A - "Beware the Ides of Masterson".

LS - "Beware the Ides of Masterson". Very good. So we have - milk bath, friendly with wife, God of Spelling, "Beware the Ides of Masterson".

(Theme music)

LS - The Masterson Inheritance - "Beware the Ides of Masterson". Ancient Rome. The first century AD. At the height of its power, Rome was also the centre of decadence and sensuality. In his milk bath, Atticus Aurelius was entertaining Septimus Masterson.

JS - Bring that cow over here!


JS - Grab a handful! (Sloshing noise) Ah, Septimus, are you enjoying your stay here in Rome?

PD - I find it very relaxing. (Nail brush sound) I've heard Rome is.... Excuse me, just cleaning my fingernails.

JS - Do what you want.

PD - I've heard one can entertain oneself here in Rome.

JS - Indeed one can, everything is available here at Rome. And it doesn't matter if you find yourself drunk one night, loltering, or loitering...

PD - Loltering?

JS - I've been drinking obviously...

PD - Is that a Latin word?

JS - If you like! If you put 'us' on the end it probably is. Lolteringus.

PD - Do you know how to spell that word?

JS - Damn! I've been sissed... sussed!

PD - I see!

JS - Alright, my spolling isn't all that gad!

LS - Elsewhere in the house, on the beautiful balcony that overlooked the gorgeous ornamental garden, two ladies sat and enjoyed the view. Vespasia and Alumnia. Two sophisticated Roman ladies, with sophisticated tastes.

JL - Alumnia!

CQ - Yes dear? (laughter) Tell me...

JL - Yes?

CQ - What plans do you have for this evening?

JL - Well first I will go to the small voys bestry, no - the small boys vestry, I have terrible trouble with my spelling lately, to have my hair plucked. They nibble them out with their teeth, you know.

CQ - Really?

JL - Ooh, yes!

CQ - From what part of your delectable white-skinned body?

JL - Well, not the top bit, let's just say! Then I'm going to a banquet.
CQ - With your big hairy armpits apparently!

JL - And then Flaximus Maximus...

CQ - Oh, how is Flaxi?

JL - Oh, Flaximus is.... well....

CQ - Still Maximus?

JL - Yes! Terribly maximus! Better than Slimmium Minimum! And then I wondered if you fancied coming to an orgy?

CQ - Do you know I would love to!

JL - Well! I'll meet you at the forum at 12 of the clock.

LS - Back at the milk baths, Atticus was still having trouble with his spelling.

JS - Now losten to me!

LS - He had news for Septimus.

JS - There's a woman, just arrived here in Rome.

PD - Really?

JS - She sees things. She appears to have a power. A power to see beyond the next few days but well into the future. And she's got news for you Septimus!

PD - Tell me!

JS - More milk?

PD - Yes!


JS - Grab a handful!

PD -Ah, thank you!

JS - That wasn't the cow actually. So I must thank you!

LS - (Partly obscured by laughter) So the appointment was made... The appointment was made for Septimus to meet this mysterious woman. Elsewhere in Rome, at the Colosseum, the gladiatorial contests were in full swing. Down in the preparation room, two brave gladiators were donning their armour.

PM - This is it then.

JL - (Deep voice) Yep.

PM - We've been friends a long time, me and you.

JL - 23 years is it now?

PM - Yeah, 23 years, but the Emperor says we've gotta fight, it'll be good sport, he says.

JL - It will be good sport, still, we're gladiators.

PM - We've got to fight.

JL - Yep.

PM - That's what we do.

JL - Yep.

PM - And we've got to be glad as we do it.

JL - Yep.

PM - We're not sadiators, we're not miseryators.

JL - No.

PM - We're not even aviators!

JL - We're not even happyators! We're gladiators.

PM - I'm going to look forward to killing you today! Cos I'll tell you something, over 23 years you have really got on my wick! I just didn't want to say it before, because you know the gladiator theme, let's be chums together, the lions are our enemy.

JL - Name one thing I've done that's got on your wick!

PM - Last August.

JL - Last August, yeah, yeah, I remember that.

PM - Yeah. You put a rocket in my pocket, set light to it and I was er... I flew across Rome. With a blaze of stars coming out me arse!

JL - It was your birthday!

PM - Yeah, but it was very difficult to blow my own candle out!

JL - Something else then?

PM - Something else, oh that's not good enough for you!

JL - One thing in 23 years!

PM - Oh, one thing in 23 years, alright, well the other thing was you gave me a funny look the other day.

JL - What kind?

PM - Yeah, like that!

JL - Oh well, I see what you mean. That'd get on my wick.

(Door opens)

PM - Morning.

JS - (Extremely camp voice) 5 minutes please, 5 minutes.

LS - And they knew then, they knew that soon they would face each other in mortal combat. A huge number of the occupants of Rome were not noblemen or free men but they were property of others - slaves. Two such were Julia and Lodus.

CQ - How's it going Lodus?

JS - Not too bad, how are you?

CQ - Knackered.

JS - Those chains aren't hurting you are they?

CQ - They're chafing my ankles a bit, yeah.

JS - I hate the way they chafe your ankles. I wish they could chafe my ankles instead of yours.

CQ - Oh, you sweet man! You sweet, sweet man, I'm so tired. I've been... I've been humping milk up and down stairs to the bathroom all day.

JS - It's a lot of stairs. We'll be above this one day, oh yeah, one day we're going to be free.

(Atmospheric violins)

CQ - May our freedom come soon.

JS - Yes. If we believe in it, it will. One day he'll have to give us our freedom. We don't... we'll be the best slaves he's ever had. We're going to slave ourselves into the ground.

CQ - It's true, it's true! I'm gonna, I'm gonna carry milk up and down that staircase so fast it, it turns to cottage cheese!

JS - You're gorgeous, kiss me!

CQ - Kiss me!

LS - And he held her (Kissing noises), he held her tight but in that sweet kiss was an essence of bitterness, for...

CQ - Oh, that's slightly acrid!

JS - I'm sorry, I've been at the garlic.

LS - But as things were, their love could not be. Septimus was on his way to meet the mysterious woman known only as Drusilla. He went beyond the gates of Rome to a small cave, halfway up a hill.

PD - Good grief, it's dark in here.

PM - (old woman voice) Yes, it's dark, Septimus.

PD - You know my name!

PM - Yes Septimus, I've waited these last five years for you to come to my cave.

PD - Five years you've been waiting for me?

PM - Yes, I don't get out much. Look at this five year diary. Page 1 - stay in in case Septimus comes.

PD - My God, and you can read in the dark!

PM - You learn to do many things in a cave.

PD - I've come here to be taught...

PM - I know why you've come here.

PD - You know already?

PM - Yes, but perhaps you'd better tell me anyway.

PD - No no no, you tell me, you're the clever one!

PM - All right, you have come to ask me what lies in your future.

PD - H-how did you know that?

PM - There's no point in finding out what happened in your past! I have a red book here, it has Septimus written on the front. This is your life!
PD - My God!

PM - Read it a page ahead.

PD - Read it a page ahead?

PM - A page ahead. Today is Tuesday so read Wednesday, but don't read Thursday until it's Wednesday and don't read Friday until it's Thursday, I think you get the picture. Because otherwise you will be burdened with knowledge that you don't need, or want, or desire.

(Atmospheric music)

PD - Should I take this book? I could see into the future, I could see every day one day ahead. Is this what I want?

PM - Are you talking to me?

PD - I'm talking to the studio audience.

PM - Will you be much longer, I've got to lock up.

LS - Back in Rome, Vespasia had called Lodus to her presence.
JL - Slave Lodus, my toenails need cutting. Bite them off for me.

JS - Anything you say, Mistress.

LS - She had noticed Lodus as soon as he had arrived. He was a strong looking fellow, very strong looking indeed. He seemed like he might have quite a bit of stamina, and that was what Vespasia liked most of all.

JL - Tell me Lodus...

JS - Yeah?

JL - What were you before you were a slave, and what country did you come from?

JS - I come from Britain.

JL - Britain?

JS - Yeah.

JL - Where is this place?

JS - It's in Britain.

JL - Ah, the tiny island across the sea.

JS - Yeah, that's the one, Mistress.

JL - And you wear woad?

JS - Mistress, if you don't mind I'll just do your nails, I don't like being in here alone with you.

JL - Why?

JS - You're mental!

JL - It's not just that though is it Lodus. You've never seen a woman like me before. (Lee laughs in the background) Take a look at this!
(Snake charmer music)

JS - Oh God no!

JL - Touch me Lodus!

JS - No, you don't understand, I have a...

JL - I order you to... you have a what?

JS - I... I have a love.

JL - A love?

JS - Yes.

JL - Is she too a slave?

JS - Yes, she is a slave and one day I shall marry her.

JL - What is her name?

JS - (Pauses) Julia!

LS - ....was the name that was barely from his mind! He could not forget it!

JS - Julia!

JL - I do not believe in parting the company of true love, I myself worship the Goddess of Love. Therefore I will not stand in your way, Lodus. But I want you to bring Julia to the orgy tonight. I would like to see you two dance for me.

LS - She could have done with him what she wanted, and yet she did not, but did she have another reason? Meanwhile, Atticus Aurelianus was speaking to his wife, Alumnia. He'd heard rumours. Rumours that she was seeing another.

JS - Alumnia?

CQ - Yes, husband?

JS - Have you been putting it about?

CQ - Putting it about town that you are a great man, oh yes indeed master!

JS - I have seen the graffiti in the Senate.

CQ - Yes, I'm sorry about that darling, I, I apologise.

JS - Yes, I knew it was you, I recognised the handwriting.

CQ - And it's not true, you've got a lovely bottom.

JS - Thank you. Don't you understand?

CQ - What, darling?

JS - I've heard rumours, rumours that you've been seeing other men.
CQ - How many have you heard about?

JS - Just the twelve!

CQ - Phew.

JS - And will you continue with your adulterous ways?

CQ - I'd like to.

JS - (Dramatic voice) The we shall see how this whole thing turns out!
LS - In the gladiatorial arena the two gladiators faced each other.
PM - What's that over there?

JL - Oh, that's cheating!

(Lots of "Take that"'s, "Ooh"'s and clashing of swords)

JL - Hey, how about this then, eh?

PM - Ooh!

JL - See, you didn't like that, did you? (pause) You're lying on the floor and I've got my sword pointing at you.

(Lee giggles)

PM - Au contraire, I thought you were lying on the floor and I had my sword pointing at you!

JL - No, no, I'm definitely, well, we're both lying on the floor and both our swords are pointing at each other.

PM - But I see your legs are broken by the way they are buckled underneath you. Therefore I win on the broken legs rule.

JL - That's true. Ah, but I see that your neck is twisted horribly so that you're looking backwards when you're coming forwards.

PM - Simply the latest fashion. I feel no pain.

JL - Look...

PM - But I see a doctor next to you writing out a death certificate dated today and two minutes ago. Legally you are dead!

JL - I, I do feel rather faint. I, I, I've got one last request before I go.
PM - It is Matt Monroe singing "Moon River"?

JL - No, not that. I, I never really liked being a gladiator, d'you know that? I always wanted to be a botanist.

PM - Botanist?

JL - I like flowers.

PM - Yeah, flowers like you in their own way.

JL - Yeah, they do. I've got green fingers, me.

PM - Yeah, that's gangrene for you.

JL - I want you to make sure they don't just throw me in the pit.

PM - Yeah?

JL - Like they do with the lions and the Christians and all that.

PM - Yeah?

JL - I want you to give me a proper burial.

PM - Right.

JL - And I want you to take it to a shrine that I pray at sometimes.

PM - Yeah?

JL - It's a particular God that I love, here's the name of it. (Lee laughs) I think that's how you spell it, I'm not sure. I die now, look, he's giving you the thumbs.

PM - Yeah.

JL - It's time to finish me off, old mate.

PM - Goodbye.

LS - And with that...

(Josie makes a constipated groaning sound, followed by a metallic crash)

PM - Chuck her in the pit!


LS - Septimus took the book, took it to his garden. And he flicked the pages through until he reached the day that was now.

PD - "Beware the Ides of Masterson" (Dramatic music) There's a bit of music underneath! Oh God!

LS - It was then that Alumnia walked in. She stroked his hair and held him gently, for the nobleman of her choice was Septimus.

CQ - Oh, Septimus!

PD - Alumnia!

CQ - My husband.

(Snakey music again)

PD - Do you think it's true he...

CQ - He's playing a pipe. He knows about us!

PD - He knows about us?

CQ - Yes! I fear he may want to kill you. I want you to look in your book and find out but I know you can't! What a dilemma!

LS - All he had to do was find out when would be the Ides of Masterson, that day named after himself and his family. When was it?

PD - What exactly is "the Ides"? What does the word mean? Got any ideas?

CQ - Not even one mate.

JL - 'Scuse me mistress.

CQ - Yes, slave girl, all-knowing I believe.

JL - Couldn't help but overhear, mistress and master. If you wish to know what the Ides are, thou must go to the shrine of the God of Spelling. He knows all the words.

LS - Meanwhile, Julia and Lodus had met again.

JS - Good news. Vespasia won't stand in the way of our love, so long as we dance tonight.

CQ - Oh I'm crap at dancing! Darling...

JS - Yeah?

CQ - I think when she said dance...

JS - Yeah?

CQ - She might have been alluding to something else.

JS - What?!

CQ - Oh, you dear, sweet boy, you don't understand, do you?

JS - No.

CQ - You're going to make me spell it out, aren't you!

JS - Yep.

CQ - (laughing) Yes.

JS - She said dance, she said if we danced we might be given our freedom.

CQ - Oh, don't you understand?

JS - What!

CQ - She doesn't mean dance, she means... other business!

JS - No!

CQ - I know! And we said we'd never do that till we were married.

JS - No! (Disappointed) I remember.

LS - What were they to do? They did not know, and then Lodus had a brilliant idea. He had heard... he had heard that his master had trouble spelling but recently word of a new God had come to Rome. The God of Spelling. If he could go to the shrine of this God and pray to him and take the credit for solving his master's grammatical problems perhaps... (slightly hysterically) just perhaps! He could get way with not going to the orgy and marrying his love. What about that, he thought!

JS - Well, what do you think?

LS - Atticus was having a conversation with Darmus, the gladiator who had won the contest. Darmus' spirit had been broken completely by the killing of his friend. He was up for anything. (laughter) No! No! He would have done anything for money. Atticus wanted him... (More laughter) No! Sorry! He, erm, he was there, right? He was there...

PM - So let me get this right, I've killed my best friend and now I've become a tart, that's it?

LS - Yeah.

JS - You fought very well today.

PM - Thank you very much.

JS - A very difficult choice, I know that was a friend you killed.

PM - Yes I know. It was a bit difficult, the ground was a bit soggy underfoot but I picked the right studs and I managed to keep upright. Basically it was a slaughter of two halves as I saw it, er...

JS - Yes, well have a glass of wine anyway.

PM - Thank you.

JS - I have a favour to ask of you, something that could earn you some money, might even possibly earn you your freedom.

PM - You entreat me strangely.

JS - It's the toga, I had it cut short. What do you think, it is too much?

PM - I think you could lose another inch.

JS - There's someone I want you to deal with - Septimus Masterson.

PM - Septimus Masterson?

JS - I suspect he's having an affair with my wife.

PM - Really? And where does Septimus Masterson live?

JS - In his house.

LS - Atticus knew...

PM - So, yes, then I shall go there.

JS - Good plan! If you do I'll pay you enough money to make you happy for the rest of your life and I'll grant you your freedom.

PM - Lovely!

LS - Septimus was not at his house. He was in fact...

PM - Septimus! Septimus!

PD - (Funny voice) He's not here, you just missed him. He's gone to that shrine of the God of Spelling.

PM - Oh right, well, I'll go up there then.

PD - All right then. Bye.

PM - Cheerio.

LS - But also climbing the hill to the shrine were Julia and Lodus. Two lovers of a different cast altogether.

CQ - (Gasping) Oh, I'm tired out.

JS - I'm tired too, but we've got to get to the top.

CQ - I know. My voice is dropping!

LS - Eventually they reached the shrine of the God of Spelling. Julia and Lodus, and Septimus and Alumnia.

CQ - Oh, what a wonderful view!

PD - Look, here we stand at the doors of the God of Spelling. Hear them rumble as they open!

(Door clicking. Atmospheric music)

CQ - Oh, what's that light?

PD - See how he stands in front of his blackboard!

PM - Who dare intrude on the God of Spellin'?

JS - I am Lodus, a slave.

CQ - I am Julia, a slave girl.

PD - I am Septimus, a Masterson.

PM - Septimus?

CQ - I'm here too.

PM - So, there's four of you.

CQ - Obviously not the God of Maths.

PM - I just do the spelling.

LS - It was Lodus who made...

PM - If you look over in the next cave you'll find the God of Cross-Country Running. But he has a note, so he's not here today. So what can I do for you?

Click here for soundbite

LS - It was Lodus who spoke first, with his request for the favours of the God of Spelling upon his master.

JS - Bless me with the gift of Spelling, so that I might pass this on to my master, that he might give me and my true love our freedom.

PM - You seem a good man.

CQ - Oh, he is!

PM - "I before E, except after C."

JS - Thank you!

PM - Take that mantra, and may it serve you well.

JS - "I before E, except after C"... come Julia!

CQ - Coming!

Both - "I before E, except after C", "I before E, except after C"...

LS - And off they ran, off they ran with hope of their love and hope for the future. It was then that Septimus Masterson stepped up to ask his question of the God of Spelling.

PD - O, great God of Spelling!

PM - Yes?

PD - Look kindly on me, I want to know the meaning of the word "Ides".

PM - Ides?

PD - Yes, Ides.

PM - How are you spellin' that?

PD - Erm, um, er, er...

CQ - Not very well!

PD - Er, er...

PM - But surely you know how to spell it, didn't Drusilla give you the book?

LS - That was it, of course, the book! And so he opened the book and he saw the letters that were written on the page.

PM - And if you look at the very back of the book, you will find a glossary.

PD - Oh!

PM - Read what it says... Ah yes, but I read your thoughts. That is the correct definition.

LS - Yes of course.

CQ - Yes look, it says it. It's the 15th.

LS - Indeed the 15th.

PD - That's today!

LS - He turned, and he saw a gladiator.

CQ - Why do you draw your sword?

PM - I'm a creative artist. Here we are, shadow puppet, bunny rabbit, there we are.

CQ - Septimus.

PM - Yes?... Oh, sorry!

PD - Yes?

CQ - Take care, I think he means you harm.

PD - I think he probably does!

PM - Take this!

CQ - Oh, that's rude!

PD - Uh... (Groans)

LS - And the sword plunged deep into...

(Caroline squeaks)

PM - Sorry, I didn't realise you were standing behind him. It's like a shish kebab.

PD - Alumnia?

CQ - Eeeh.

PD - He has killed us both.

CQ - Eeh, eeh, aah.

PD - We shall die together.

CQ - (Softly) I love you, Septimus Masterson. I'm glad to die, if not in your arms, between your shoulder blades.

PD - Ah, and what is on the next page?

CQ - The End.

LS - And so it was they ended their lives together there, in that shrine, outside Rome. Julia and Lodus ran back to the house of Atticus.

JS - (Gasping) Atticus.

" - Yes?

" - I am too out of breath from the running, Julia must tell you.

CQ - We have spelling news, my Lord.

JS - Spelling news?

CQ - Yes! Lodus, you've got your breath back, tell him.

JS - Thanks a bunch, Julia! Master, these are the words you must take with you! "I before E, except after C".

LS - It was as if a light had been turned on in the brain of Atticus. Suddenly words began to flow through his mind.

JS - I can finally know how to spell the word "friend".

CQ - Yes!

JS - Properly, so it doesn't come out like freind! Bless you, bless you both of you!

CQ - Thank you sir.

JS - Thank you sir.

" - I grant you both your freedom.

CQ - Oh!

JS - Go both of you, enjoy your life. "I before E, except after C", lead your life like that!

LS - And so they went, hand in hand to build a new life, not as slaves, but as free people. Whilst up on a mountain, in the countryside of Rome, lay the decaying bodies of two other lovers. And so it would be with "The Masterson Inheritance"!

(Theme music and applause)