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This episode was kindly transcribed by an anonymous someone else...

Note - the two "Marquee" episodes were the only two to be narrated by Jim Sweeney instead of Lee Simpson.

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)

JS - Good evening ladies and gentlemen and welcome to The Masterson Inheritance, an improvised historical saga of a family at war with itself. We follow the Mastersons through the many trials and tribulations over the years and find ourselves in the exciting, if mysterious world, of a travelling Victorian circus and funfair. Tonight, our team of performers will attempt to spontaneously dramatise such a story, based entirely on the suggestions of our studio audience. No script, no rehearsal, just an audience and a couple of microphones. Our team of performers are: Phelim McDermott, Josie Lawrence, Paul Merton, Caroline Quentin, Lee Simpson and Jim Sweeneeeeeey! (taking the mick a bit there I think - 'tess)

(audience applause)

JS - Right, I've moved into our studio audience now....just to....worry them slightly (laughter)...... to ask them for the suggestions around which we'll be improvising tonight so, ermmm, the first sort of thing we need as this is a Victorian, travelling Victorian fairground thing is a reason why somebody might run away from home, to join a circus.

A - Their wife.

JS - OK, so they ran away from home because of their wife......from the Guardian reader.....any errr? That's the first suggestion. Now what we'll also need, this Victorian circus as well as having the main circus tent, also it's surrounded by lots of sort of odd side shows so what we need is an unusual talent, an unusual skill or ability that somebody might have, that they might show off at one of these side shows.

A - Growing novelty carrots. (laughter)

JS - Oh, alright then......Growing novelty carrots. And a reason now why somebody would really hate the circus.

A - Their mother was stood on by an elephant. (laughter and applause)
JS - Their mother was stood on by an elephant. And what we need now is a title for this weeks show, a title that incorporates somehow the name of the Masterson family, so 'The Mastersons Do Something' or 'The Something of the Mastersons'.

A - 'The Masterson Magical Marquee'

JS - The Masterson's Magical Marquee. So the suggestions we have tonight are: Running away from wife, growing novelty carrots, their mother was stepped on by an elephant, The Masterson's Magical Marquee'


JS - The Masterson Inheritance. This week, The Masterson's Magical Marquee'. The village of Ampleforth lay in darkness and silence that chill winter's night. Not a soul was stirring. The doors and the windows were shutted bolt against the wind. (laughter)

PM - 'Ere, 'ere, have you shutted bolt that door? It's windy out there you know, it's no good just closing it you know.

LS -Oh no, it's been shutted and bolted.

CQ - (wails)........It's the wind.

PM - I thought it was the Salvation Army come round.

LS - We're safe indoors though.

PM - Oh arr now we're shutted and bolted.

JS - To the north of the village lay Ampleforth Field which was bathed in light, from the many torches and bonfires because the circus was in town. Their brightly coloured caravans were gathered all around and they sat round the bonfire to keep themselves warm from the cold chill air. Sitting close to the flames were Katrina and Irena, both wrapped in a blanket, both hugging a cup of hot soup to keep them warm and both impossibly beautiful.

CQ - (in Russian accent) Oh Katrina!

JL - (also in Russian accent) Oh Irena!

CQ - Oh Katrina, how beautiful the circus looks tonight.

JL - Yes, almost as beautiful as we are but that would be...

JL & CQ together - Impossible.

CQ - Do you want another sip of chocolate?

JL - Oh, please! (slurps)

CQ - I made it just like Mama used to make back in the old country.

JL - Aaaaa... don't mention Mama!

CQ - I'm sorry, I shouldn't have I know.

JL - But, we must make sure that tonight.....

CQ - Yes?

JL - ......we perform for the people of Ampleforth the trick that our mother and father taught us.

CQ - (Surprised gasp) But we have never performed that trick in front of an audience without a safety nyet! (laughter)

JL - There will be nyet nyets we must do this properly Irena.

CQ - Yes.

JL - For the sake of our mother and father who are there buried back in the old land, after they tried it and it failed. (laughter)

JS - And so we leave them by the fire, drifting back into the village where not everyone was asleep, no, a candle still flickered in the village library where Miss Lucinda Scott-Moncrieff, a formidable woman with snow white hair was talking to the Reverend Ashdown.

LS - They're here, Reverend.

PM - Yes Lucinda?

LS - (smirks)

PM - You wanted to see me on a matter of some urgency I believe.

LS - Yes, the circus.

PM - The circus.

LS - They're in Ampleforth Field you know.

PM - I do, I saw the bonfires thisayayay.

LS - Are you pissed Reverend?

PM - Is the Pope a Catholic?

LS - Reverend, you must lay off........

PM - No, is the Pope Catholic? I've genuinely forgotten. Is he on our side or is he with the other lot?

LS - I'll just have a look, Encyclopaedia Bricanica.

PM - Britannica.

LS - P, P, P, errrr Po po po...

PM - P, P, P P po po po...

LS - Pop Pop, Catholic, yes he is.

PM - Oh that puts a entirely different complexion on matters.....

PD- Miss Lucinda can I take this book out?

LS - Hello? Why? What do you want it for?

PD - Well, it's a book about err circus.

LS - I've told you young Johnny, you're not to read about the circus, you're not to think about the circus, you're not to go near the circus, do you hear me? (slap sound effect) That was a stereophonic slap.

PM - Next time it'll be with Dolby. (applause) and you know how vicious he gets when he's had a few.

PD - Miss Lucinda, look what I've found inside the book!

LS - What.....

PM - That's disgusting!

PD - It's a leaflet, it's a leaflet for the circus.

PM - What does it say?

PD - It says, 'Come To The Circus'.

PM - Lord, they've certainly got a publicity machine going there haven't they, who could resist such a tempting slogan?

LS - Well I can almost feel myself weeping myself.......Give me that, young Johnny!

PD - Ahhh, Ow!

LS - I'm going to tear this up... (waiting for sound effect)......now.......(sound effect is feeble).....really quietly I'm going to tear it up. You'll not go near that circus, not while there's a breath left in my body, do you hearrrrr? Do you see, the effect it has on young people?

PM - The youth of today they're going to run wild if they go down to the circus.

LS - Oh yes they arrre!

PM - Yes.

LS - But Reverend we must have a plan, we must destroy them. We must make sure the circus never leaves Ampleforth.

PM - Never leaves?

LS - Yes. I mean destroy it rather than keep it here all the time.

PM - Well, there's, there's two opposing ambitions there. I mean, if you want them to stay I mean I suppose we could have a whip round and pay them the money to stay.

LS - But you don't understand....

PM - .....but that wouldn't get rid of the circus you see, if the circus stays here we're more or less stuck with it. I think we should get rid of it rather than have it stay here. Well we could have half of it go and the other half stay here and then it could swap after six months. What do you think?

LS - Reverend, are you on my side or not?

PM - I don't know, I'm just going where the gags are.

JS - And so, we leave the Reverend Ashdown and Lucinda Scott-Moncrieff, heavy in debate. Meanwhile, by the bonfire, Katrina and Irena had finished their discussion on doing their marvellous trick the next day and were disturbed in their conversation by the arrival of the enormous bulk of Alf Hercules the circus strongman.

CQ - It's the Incredible Bulk approaching.

JL - Doesn't he just fancy himself like nobody's business?

CQ - I know, his pecs make me sick.

PD - (In a small, squeaky voice) Hello girls, it's me, Alf.

CQ - Don't stand too close to the fire Alf, you're loin cloth might catch alight (she cackles)

JL - (cackling) And then we would know that you're not the big hulk you make out to be!

PD - What are you trying to say? I've got an accent.

CQ - Don't stand too close.

JL - He's contagious.

PD - Katrina..

JL - Yeees?

PD - I'm upset...

JL - Why?

PD - Because you use to love me once.

JL - Once, then I found out what was under the loin cloth.

CQ - To be fair, she has loved everybody once.

JL - Yes, (Various 'She loved me' '.....and me' etc. from the cast) boys boys...

PD - So, I hear you're going to, errr, go for the big one?

CQ & JL together - Yes.

CQ - Not you.

JL - In memory of our mother and father.

CQ - Our dear parents buried back in the home land.

JL - How we miss them.

CQ - How we cry to them each night. We pray to their photograph to give us strength and courage to do....the trick.

PD - The big trick?

JL - The big trick, that our mother and father taught us.

CQ - The quadruple zippy zoppy jumpy loopy loppy flying lippy loppy loopy lippey!

JL - Yes.

CQ - It loses in....

CQ and JL together - ....translation.

JS - And so Alfie left Katrina and Irena who had decided to do their quadruple......thing, tomorrow. Little Johnny had run back crying from his meeting with the Reverend Ashdown and Lucinda Scott-Moncrieff. He burst back into his house, where his sad old father, crippled with arthritis, sat by the fire.

LS - Ewwww, awwww can't talk very well I've got arthritis in my jaw. What is it Johnny? You seem upset.

PD - I-I-I am upset Dad I-I-I found this leaflet about the circus.

LS - What the one that says 'Come to The Circus?' I nearly ran up there myself when I read that it weakens the soul those fancy words like that.

PD - I was wondering Dad, if you, if you would take me. I know that Mum doesn't like that sort of thing but I wondered if you'd come with me to the circus?

LS - I'd like to son, I'd like to take you very much, there's nothing I'd like more than to make you're little heart glad but you know you're mother......

JL - 'ERE you two talking about me behind my back?

LS - No dear, no dear,

JL - Wos this leaflet son?

PD - Nothing Mum, nothing.

JL - A circus? Do they mean us? They surely do. (aside) sorry. You can't go to the circus it's too expensive.

PD - No, I wasn't thinking of going to the circus Mum, I wasn't thinking at....

JL - Don't you lie to me, and don't you lie either husband.

LS - Why?.....Oh alright then.

JL - Here take that (slap) and you (slap) Now here's one both at the same time (slap) I don't want to hear the like of you going down that circus. If you want to see a freak show Johnny, look at your father.

LS - Here look Johnny, look what I can do with me ears!

PD - You could take off if you could do that fast enough Dad!

LS - I can turn my eyelids inside out as well, look.

JL - I'm just going outside to collect some puddle water to make your soup.

LS - Don't you wanna see me hand drop off?

JL - No, take that (slap) and don't let me tell you again don't you dare go to the circus you've gotta stay 'ere and do your chores. Remember, I'm your mother and I'm your wife and I'm going to make your lives really horrible.

LS - Johnny, come here. Look, heres an half sovereign I've been saving up for many years, now you take that you go up to the circus my lad, you go against your mother's wishes. She hasn't got a bitter heart in her but you've got to fight against it my lad, go up there live out your dreams like I wish I could if my body wasn't racked with arthritis.

PD - You mean, you're not going to come with me Dad?

LS - I'd like to son but my I'd fall apart on the way (laughter) that's a heavy price to pay for an evening's entertainment. (laughter)

JS - And so.....and so Johnny regretfully left his falling apart father whose name was Henry, being sad by that fire. Around the main circus tent the side shows had been set up and one in particular was hoping to gather most of the crowds. The extraordinary banner promised magical things with root vegetables. (music) Charles Hawkins was inside, preparing for his magical act.

PM - Roll up, roll up, see vegetables of all shapes and sizes I've got a.......

CQ - Lets have a look, I'll have a look at your veg.

PM - .....I've got a sprout that looks like a rhomboid.

CQ - Let's have a look Oh...

JL - Oh!

CQ - It's amazing!

PM - It is amazing look at this selection here of famous people's appendages.

CQ - Oh yes look, a parsnip that looks like an.....er......thing!

JL - It's Queen Victoria!

CQ - So it is.

PM - Come and have a look at these carrots, every one carefully shaped by expert craftsmen to give you the silhouette of famous people.

CQ - (gasp) Is that Disraeli?

PM - That is the great Disraeli, and next to him, you may think that is an onion, that is Lord Palmerston himself.

JL - 'Ere Mister, I thought you were meant to grow novelty carrots for them to grow naturally into people, not to carve them into people. Come on let's go in, it's worth a bob anyway.

CQ - Alright then, here's a bob.

PM - Thank you very mu.....

JL - And here's a bob, and that's three weeks wages where we come from.

CQ - We're not very good at it. (laughter)

PM - In you go..... (music)

JS - Inside the main circus tent, in the circus ring, preparing for her extraordinary act with the tigers was Isabella, a dark haired, green eyed beauty, she controlled the tigers and lions with such passion, that it drew even admiration from Captain Christopher Pearson, the circus owner and ring master (sound of tigers roaring).....He watched from the wings.

CQ - I'm very cross with you, now really, this is the last time I'm telling you, get up on that stool. I'm going to come in the cage in a minute.
LS - Mmmmmmm,

CQ - Oo Captain Pearson!

LS - I like the way you handle those tigers Isabella.

CQ - Why thank you.

LS - Your firm voice...

CQ - Well, one tries.

LS - And a strong will.

CQ - Yes my thighs aren't bad either. (laughter)

LS - Well, that's true, yes, they're not bad at all. Of course, strong thighs are very important to work in the circus. Do you mind if I check them out?

CQ - Not at all, but go gently. (tunefully) OoohhhhhhhAaaaaaaaOOOOOAAAAaaaaaaa thank you.

LS - They don't need tuning at all.

CQ - No, try a bit harder I hit a top A, I ermmmm.

LS - I haven't got the breath control for that, but one day eh?

CQ - What are you doing here?

LS - I am just checking out the acts I like to.....

CQ - Thank you very much.....You like to what?

LS - I like to keep an eye on people you know, I am the owner of the circus after all.

CQ - Yes I, yes I-I know that, you pay me my wages every week.

LS - That's right, you come up with the rest at my cabin. How would you like to come up to my cabin on a day other than pay day? This evening for example, for a spot of sherry and a game of Cluedo.

CQ - I, oh I don't know, I suppose I could but I want you to know that I'm a good girl.

LS - I'm sure you're excellent.

JS - And so we leave them, Isabella planning to meet Captain Pearson that night in his cabin whereas everybody else had caravans. (laughter and applause) Little Johnny was excitedly running round the circus running into each and every side show, barely being able to spend enough time there because he was so excited.

(Sounds of calls from side show proprietors)

PD - Oh I don't know which one to go on first I'm so excited, it's making me dizzy. Wait a minute, this.....

CQ - Come and see the bearded man!

PD - Oh, the bearded man, I'll go and have a look at him.

PM - See the famous electricity man, reads your meter every three months.

PD - The electricity man oh uh.....

JS - It was then that he found himself outside the novelty carrot tent.

PD - The novelty carrot tent. I think I'll go in there and spend some of my money.

PM - What are you doing here?

PD - Oh errr I-I've just come to see some.......

PM - Novelty carrots? I've heard that one before sonny.

PD - Yeah, you work at this circus do you?

PM - The circus is in my blood. (jarring chord) I've got sawdust in me veins, the doctors put me on a low salt diet.

PD - Can you show me some of the things from the circus?

PM - I can show you many things, but you are a young boy, I can show you perhaps too many things, your brain will explode.

PD - My brain will explode?

PM - Yes.

PD - That's what I'm looking for.

PM - Are you? (Paul chuckles)

PD - Yes.

PM - Really, that's interesting. Well, come with me, through this sparkly curtain. (jangling sound).......on second thoughts we'll use the lift. (applause) So, come with me into the inner sanctum.

PD - Ohhhhh I-I've never seen anything like it.

PM - It's beautiful isn't it.

PD - It's magical!

PM - Look at those little spots of light.

PD - They're floating round.

PM - Yes, we haven't got a roof they're the stars.

PD - And what's that?

CQ & JL together - We're Siamese twins.

PM - They'll never keep this up.

CQ & JL - Oh yes we will!

PM - Ah, the magical Siamese twins.

CQ - Yes.

JL - Yes.

PM - Ah, there's an echo in here......You ask them any question and the magical Siamese twins will answer as if one. (laughter and applause)

PD - I-I want to escape from home and I want my Dad to be happy.

CQ & JL - (Hesitantly trying to stay together) Join the circus little boy.

PD - Join the circus? But what about my Dad?

CQ & JL - Bring him along too.

PD - But what will we do in the circus? What will we do?

CQ & JL - (LONG PAUSE - much laughter) (slowly) Your father can join the freak show.

PD - My Dad can join the freak show?

CQ & JL - Yes.

PM - Now ask them what the capital of Uruguay is. (laughter)

PD - What's the capital of Uruguay?

CQ & JL - Paraguay (applause)
PM - Now you never knew that the capital of Uruguay was another country did you? That's why they are the famous Siamese twins.

JS - And so......

PM - Montevideo!

JS - And so, Johnny left the tent full of excitement. He was to bring his father back and they were to set up their own circus side show.

PD - (panting)

JS - He went. Meanwhile, outside Captain Pearson's cabin Katrina was waiting. She had, for a long time had something of a passion for Captain Pearson. She knew he would be coming back soon, she prepared herself to entertain him.

JL - Lipstick......put on my jewellweries... (jangling sound) Ah, I'm glad I stole that sparkly curtain from the carrot man. (laughter and applause) And now I am ready for you Captain. (Knocking sound) Hello?

LS - Ah, Katrina I'm just knocking on my own cabin door. I'm a damn polite fellow aren't I?

JL - In some ways, but not in others.

LS - Yes that's right. What are you all dolled up for?

JL - For you my little lipskin!

LS - Lipskin? That's what you have over your lips isn't it?

JL - Yes.

LS - A bit of skin over your lips.

JL - Yes, and I'm going to have you all over my lips soon.

LS - No you're not Katrina I'm tired of you......

JL - What?

LS - ......Tired of you, you may be impossibly beautiful but one tires of the impossible eventually you know. There's a new young filly I've got my eye on, Isabella.

JL - Isabella?

LS - Yes, have you seen her with the tigers?

JL - Yes.

LS - It's magnificent.

JL - I-I can't believe this, no one has ever turned down Katrina Ivanivanovich, I will make sure that you regret this, I will make sure you will rue the day that you ever said no to Katrina whatever I said my second name is.

LS - Ha ha ha ha ha.....so there. (knocking sound) Ah, someone else knocking on my door. Hello?

CQ - Hello?

LS - Ah, Isabella, come in.

CQ - Thank you. I thought I'd take you up on the offer of the Cluedo.

LS - Yes indeed.

CQ - It's lovely in here. I've never seen one with a porthole before.
(knocking sound)

PM - Wanna buy any dusters?

LS - Um, yes I'll have a couple of dusters.

PM - There we are.

LS - Thank you very much, thank you.

PM - Thank you, goodbye.

LS - Now then, I'd like to be Colonel Mustard if you don't mind. What would you like to be?

CQ - Mrs White?

LS - Why not? Mrs White.

CQ - Yes.

LS - To signify your purity and......

CQ - Yes I am, ooo what are you doing?

LS - Haaaa, (knocking sound) Oh damn I'm sorry........oh, it was someone knocking on the door.

PD - It's the um, electricity man I've come to read your meter.


LS - It's on the outside, in the little door by the side there.

PD - Oh right, sorry. Thanks very much.

LS - You're welcome. God, it's damn difficult in your own cabin to get any peace.

CQ - Yes.

LS - Yes (knocking sound)

CQ - Now....

LS - Oh bloody hell!

PM - J-cloths.

CQ - Take some I think we'll be needing them.

LS - Alright then, extra absorbent?

CQ - Yes I am but I still think you'll be needing them. (laughter and applause)

Click here for soundbite

LS - Now we're fully equipped.

CQ - Oh shut up and kiss me.

- I can't do both, oh yes I can. I can't talk and kiss you.

CQ - That's all you can do. If I said shut up and kiss me it would go something like this:

CQ & LS - mmmm mmmm mmm mm

CQ - But no no, I said shut up and kiss me!

CQ & LS - Aaaa aaaaa aaaaaa. (I think our transcriber has understated this line a bit - 'tess)

CQ - Ooooo I've just forgotten something.

LS - What's that?

CQ - I've left the bath running.

LS - Isabella!

CQ - Yes?

LS - I-I won't hide from you I've been a fool. I've messed around with several women in fact all the women in circus but there's something different about you. You're so.....I don't know you're.....the kind of girl that could win a man's heart as well as his trousers. Isabella..

CQ - Yes?

LS - How would you like to, to come in with me on the circus that's right, be with me as part of a team running this place. I know I've been a bad fellow and a bad fellow at heart but maybe you could make me a good fellow. What do you say Isabella?

CQ - Yes, yes yes and yes again, oh yes a thousand times yeah oh yes in truth I agree I concur oh yes indeed I will be yours.

LS - A simple nod would have done.

CQ - Alright.

JS - In the dark at the back of the field where no people could see, creeping through the bushes were the Reverend Ashdown and Lucinda Scott-Moncrieff whose very desire was to stop the circus and all that it stood for.

LS - There it is Reverend.

PM - Yes.

LS - There it is.

PM - The tint of iniquity!

LS - The tint of iniquity?

PM - The tent of iniquity.

LS - I thought you meant puce or something. Look at them, look at them they, they are the sort of people that did for my mother...

PM - I beg your pardon?

LS - I haven't told you have I?

PM - No, what happened to your mother? One minute she was in the village shop, buying stamps, the next I looked, she was gone.

LS - That's right, a parade was coming through the town...

PM - I remember that day.

LS - Yes.

PM - 'Come to The Circus' they shouted.

LS - Yes come to the circus they shouted with everything there: lions, tigers.


JL - Oh look Lucinda, the circus is here.

PD - Oh Mummy Mummy, what's that animal?

JL - I don't know, I've never seen an animal like it before.

PD - What's that long thing at the front?

JL - I don't know it looks like a long nose, why, why look, it's written on the side...the elephant, it's an elephant Lucinda can you say that word?

PD - E-elephant. Oh Mummy, what's that under the foot?

JL - I don't know but it's a big foot.

PD - It's some money!

JL - Oh some money for us both Lucinda. Perhaps if I can get the money then we'll have enough to pay to go and see the circus.....wait a minute I'll just bend down under this elephant's foot. (laughter) (elephant noise) Ahhhhhcchhhh.....

LS - And there she was on the floor, shaped like a discus from a Tom and Jerry cartoon. She stood up and was like a concertina for a little while and then she died in my arms.

PM - Ah, I too have a similar story.

LS - Really Reverend?

PM - Yes, I once lost 5 in Piccadilly Circus. Other than that the details are exact in every word. No wonder you hate the circus with a vengeance Lucinda.

LS - Yes, and that is why I want to destroy them and that is why tonight.....

PM - What did you do with your mother in the end?

LS - Well, we folded her up, put her in a little hat box and popped her on the mantlepiece. She's there to this day.

PM - And tell me, if you take the lid off, does she spring up?....with a rather bewildered look on her face?

LS - Yes, but we save it for special occasions.

PM - Put me down for New Years Eve would you? I'll bring the marshmallows.

JS - And so with the dark secret, Lucinda's dark secret of how her mother had been stomped on by an elephant. With young Johnny so full of passion to see if he could join the circus with his father, Katrina and Irena due to try their act tomorrow and Isabella plighting her love for Captain Pearson our story is full this week. Part Two of this episode of the Masterson inheritance will continue next week.


(Apparently Jim mucked this episode up, so they had to extend it to tie up all the loose ends - or maybe it was just because it was full of good bits so they didn't want to cut any out - anyway, the story continued the following week in "The Mastersons Magical Marquee (Part Two)")