Brownlegg on Tour: September 2003 

1 September 2003

We present…

Captain T Brownlegg, DSO, RN (Rtd), H.U.T.T.O.N.

He knows. And he knows that you know. And so forth.

Gloria Gaumont

Cunny funt.

Jean Morton

With hair of iron.

Gus Brownlegg-Fearn

The man your mother warned you about. Using an advert in The Sun.

Carlton Gaumont


Leslie Harblo


John Spencer-Wells

A4 on a bad day.

HRH Muriel Young, DSO

From County Durham. Keep for future reference.

Yet again, the speed bumps on the road displaced the pieces on the Cross Over The Bridge set, creating not a little confusion amongst Jean Morton, Gloria Gaumont, Muriel Young and John Spencer-Wells. They had reached a critical point in the game, with almost all of the girls down to their undercrackers and Spencer-Wills revealing his Savile Row boxer shorts in finest silk, with the logos of every ITV company on them, visible even from inside Tray 4 of the photocopier, his home since ITV1 (no relation) sacked him. But who was next to be undressed?

This is a test of the emergency broadcasting system

This question, like so many others, was on the mind of the man sitting in the seat opposite, one Captain T. Brownlegg RN (retd), but his eyes could not lie. Gus sat next to him, also transfixed, taking occasional gulps from a bottle of Angostura bitters and bites from a cola flavoured Arrow bar. Carlton lay sleeping in his cot, below the picture of the Man in the Moon…well, to him it was the Man in the Moon, but everyone else was sure it was actually Paul Adorian…

Had this been a real emergency, we would have fled in panic and you would not have been informed

Meanwhile, Leslie Harblo, rejuvenated by a course in Pilates and basket weaving, was driving the happy wagon away from Scotland at a frightening pace. This would have been more frightening if any of the passengers had known that Leslie was blindfolded and gagged, and was doing a blindfold drive as a bet…with himself. (Leslie thought the stunt was less of a risk than losing a bet).

Still the game went on, and Brownlegg, flushed with Scotch and cheese and onion crisps, breathlessly said, “Look, if you’ve got to strip, do it soon, because we’re passing the AA road sign saying ‘Yorkshire TV and tripe, 2 miles’ – they won’t mind if the ladies are disrobed, but Spencer-Wells might just cause an attack of sheep boredom”. Carefully, Gloria put one of her perfectly formed bosoms back in the twin parachute she referred to as a bra (Gus was sure that he’d helped hold it still once while Mad Jack did an Adastral tattoo on it) and Jean put her Tree House Family sweatshirt back on. As for Muriel, she’d gone up front to pick weevils out of the crew’s supplies – how they got into bottles of Watney’s Pale Ale was an absolute mystery.

What was even more frightening, more so than the antics of Leslie Harblo, was that they were heading for the headquarters of a company that had been taken over more times than Poland, and yet possessed a fleur-de-lys logo also present on the derriere of Spencer-Wells boxer shorts… The logo seemed to work in two ways by telling you the name of the company, but also possessed a subliminal message, telling the Indefensible Television Authority something with those two prominent uprights…

We present – TROUBLE UP T’MILL, or Who Needs Leeds?

The coach passed a number of motorway service stations, with a variety of facilities but all seemed to be called Grandad. Before they could ponder on the significance of this, they had reached their destination. Gus groaned as they pulled into Kirkstall Road. “Oi, Unc! You say this is a TV studio, well, where’s the staff? Not one car in this carpark, only three butcher’s bikes! And ‘oo’s this fella?”

Poking her head out of the window, Jean took a look at the distinguished figure putting on his YTV issue bicycle clips, donning on a cloth cap and mounting his bike.

“He looks familiar to me”, she whispered to the BMG gang, “but I don’t know where from”.

However, El Capitan took another look and was surprised and pleased. He shouted to Leslie, “Hey! Stop this bus!” Leslie, still rather in the dark about this mysterious individual (literally) pulled up just in time to knock the bike rider and his satchel off and into a handy ditch at the edge of the car park.

Gloria immediately grabbed her first aid kit – one plaster, two lipsticks and some nail polish – and dashed to attend the casualty. “Hello, luv! Are you all right? Can I get you anything?” The man took off his cloth cap, and said, “I’m fine, but the bike’s a write off. Thank you for asking AND ASSOCIATED TRANSMITTERS OF THE INDEPENDENT BROADCASTING AUUUUTHORITY.”

“REDVERS!” shouted everyone in chorus. “Yes, it’s me, a little concussed but fine.

Is that Captain Brownlegg? And Muriel? And Gus? Nice to see you still indulge in the old family outings, what? Last time I saw you you had your daughter with you…”

Blushing slightly, Brownlegg swiftly interrupted the mellifluous tones of Mr. Kyle to say, “Well, this is my staff now, you know I am yet again a media mogul. We’re on a quest, Redvers, and if anyone could tell us, I am sure you could. Is this the seat of ITV’s power? Do we find the Holy Grail of Indefensible Broadcasting here? Is there in fact anyone here at all?”

Looking pensive, Redvers slowly said, “Well, sir, a lot has changed since Associated-Rediffusion THE LONDON STATION OF THE INDEPENDENT TELEVISION AUUUUTHORITY was originally founded. Successive managements simplified and diversified, and now they run the situation using chaos theory and one name. I’ve seen it all change, many times, and it will come right in the end EVERY WEEK FROM MONDAY TO FRIIIIDAY”.

Muriel went and hugged Redvers. “That was a beautiful speech, and so well put. You still have a gift for words, and you use them so well ON BAND THRRRREE”.

“Thank you for your kind comments”, said the veteran announcer, “but they are not my words, they are written for me, and I have to say them correctly or I have to go to bed early, before the Epilogue. I think that the best thing I can do is show you around. Why not follow me BROADCASTING FROM THE EMILY MOO-ER, BELMONT AND ASSOCIATED TRAAAANSMITTERS?”

With scant encouragement from the Captain’s ever-present large and manly whip, the happy band of Brownlegg Media Group staff trouped off in the direction of a former bombsite.

“Welcome to our bombsite,” said Redvers, smiling shyly, “and don’t forget – our studio is our studio, and all of its contents ON BAAAND THREE.”

Gus bristled at the implied comparison with Carton Television, but followed on obligingly anyway.

“This is a very big facility,” intoned Redvers, “so please avail yourselves of the golf buggies we provide, just like Hollywood WHICH BRINGS YOU PROGRAAAAMMES BY ASSOCIATED REDIFFUSION”.

“Reddy, my dear chap,” said a voice from the photocopier that Gus and Gloria were pushing in front of them, “can you drop the authority announcements? The joke’s over and the capitals make the entire thing hard to read.”

“Certainly, John. THIS IS LONNNNDON. But I think it was worth it. Now if you look to your left, you’ll see our authentic Yorkshire programme Countdown, with Authentic Yorkshireman Richard Whiteknee choosing what he would like from Carol Automaton’s numerous wide slots.”

The regular crew all obligingly looked to the left, where Mr Whiteknee was examining Ms Automaton’s slot with interest whilst being partially devoured by a ferret.

“Ah, yes,” said Redvers, “I’m sorry about that. You see, we never actually managed to remove the damn ferret, and it has been slowly digesting Richard for some three decades. But it hasn’t effected his performance – he’s still the consummate professional views have grown to love and stone.”

“On your right is the broom cupboard where we keep our infinite supply of David Jasons.”

Gloria swooned and moved to wrench open the door. “I wouldn’t do that, if I were you,” cautioned Redvers, “as the last time that happened, over a thousand of them escaped. We still find them occasionally, wandering the moors or working as guards on the Keighley and Worth Valley Railway. They’re damn hard to recapture.”

Gloria backed off and remounted the golf cart. It protested slightly, and the convoy moved on.

“Ah, now you reach the heart of our company,” said Redvers, gesturing expansively at hundreds of identical looking doors down a dark corridor.

“Let’s see… we’ve got Calendar, Calendar Lobby, Calendar AM – that’s not been used in a while but we keep a team of researchers chained in there just in case – Calendar Catwalk, Calendar Dogwalk, Calendar London Tonight, Calendar At Large, Calendar Jimmy’s, Calendar LGI, Calendar Little House On The Prairie, Calendar The A-Team, Calendar Prisoner Cell Block H, Calendar EastEnders, Calendar BBC News at Six O’Clock, The Darling Buds of Calendar…”

The list seemed endless. As in fact it was. But the beauty of fiction is that we can flash forward six and a half years, and meet them at the end of the long dark corridor that is YTV’s programme output since 1968.

“Ah,” said a noticeably older Redvers, “we’ve reached The Executive Compound. The authentic heart of Yorkshire. There’s nowt but cobbles, people paying for large purchases in pennies and dark satanic mills here. And it’s quite different from Lancashire. Entirely in every way with no argument. No way, Josie. Notice the lack of statues to anybody who’d ever sung as she’d been. And,” he added with pride, “we’ve actually had Asians here for a few centuries, not, as apparently in Lancashire, just for the last six months and not just as represented by the dopey one from Dinnerladies.”

The AR crew nodded, but it was obvious that something was going on behind the Captain’s narrowed eyes. It was also obvious that little was going on behind Gloria’s, and the faint sound of fairground music could be heard issuing from Gus.

Jean Morton's Word of the Month - Reading

“And now we reach the main suite of executive offices in The Compound. Please ignore the leftover boomerangs and stuffed wallabies. I don’t know how they got here.” Redvers offered them his most winning smile, almost showing teeth, and the golf carts came to a graceful pile-up.

The crew got out of the carts and stood in front of the managing director’s door.

“I should,” said Redvers, “at this point warn you that, the studio complex being very large, we’re not quite, er, that is to say, we’re technically not in…”

“I know what’s coming next,” interrupted Brownlegg, suddenly forcing his way in front of the photocopier, two continuity announcers, a badly-shaved ape and a slut, “and I’m not happy about it. We’ve been misled. You’ve all been lying to the nation for years!”

“This is ITV,” said Redvers wearily, “we don’t deal with truth! People want to be lied to. That’s why they voted Conservative so often.”

We’ll pause whilst both of the remaining Tories in this country choose a different website to view.

Brownlegg ploughed on. “I’ve worked out what’s happening here. We’ve travelled so far, through so many miles of underground tunnel, there’s only one place we can be.”

“Admit it, Redvers, we’re in LANCASHIRE!”

Redvers went pink. “Tommy, we’ve know each other since I left the mine and joined AR in 1955, when I was only 11 years old. You must realise that… that…”

“Out with it, man!” barked Brownlegg, suddenly seeing the boy he had hired all those years ago to announce programmes to the lookers-in who had nothing better to do. “After all, what could be worse than YTV being based in Lancashire?”

Redvers went from pink to purple and burst into tears. “It’s not just Lancashire that’s the problem… we could all live with that. It’s worse. It’s… it’s… it’s BLACKPOOL!”

The crew recoiled in horror. Jean screamed. Muriel sniffed her smelling-salt-soaked stuffed cat.

“Er,” said Gus, intelligently, “does that mean when you open that door we’ll find…” but even he couldn’t bring himself to finish the sentence.

Gloria was first to regain her composure. “I’ve been to the depths of human slime. Quite often. I know what this means. Behind that door is… is… the illuminations!”

Brownlegg handed her a pile of forged Scottish fivers to blow her nose on. “It’s worse than that, Glo. Behind that door is a quarter of a million common people eating chips, buying ‘Kiss Me Quick’ hats, thinking that a mile and half of sewage-strewn rocks is the same thing as a beach – and The Flying Handbag!”

Redvers suddenly looked pityingly at them. “That’s all true, but you’ve missed the bigger point. Only somewhere so tacky as this could actually hold what you’ve been looking for over the past, oh, how long has this terrible farrago being going on for?”

Surprisingly, Muriel suddenly spoke.

“Reddy, you’ve been misled like the rest of us. Open that door and you’ll find nothing. Nothing at all. I’ve been piecing together the clues whilst planning a return for Lift Off With Ayisha, if she’ll come out of the old people’s home she says she loves working in so much.”

“What do you mean, Mu?” asked Redvers.

Pat Astley's Alternative Tour - Reading

“I’ll tell you, Reddy. You think that ITV is so tacky that it could only be managed from Blackpool. But you’re wrong. ITV is worse than that. I should know, I watched 22 minutes of it in total last week, more than every other graduate in the country put together.

“At least in Blackpool, the commoners are having fun, enjoying what they like best – chips, cheap tat and Chlamydia. But ITV doesn’t provide that anymore. It may well be tawdry and ill thought out, but that’s not because Northerners have had any effect on it. Quite the reverse.

“The only evidence I can find here is that it must be tha’ poncey southerners like who did this like.”

She suddenly clapped her hand over her mouth, appalled at the stream of unintelligible language, also called Geordie, that her passion had worked up in her.

The captain was decisive.

“That’s it, we’re going. I’m sorry, Redvers, but I have to leave you in your misery. I’m not prepared to open that door and see… that place… in all its hellish reality. We will be taking these golf carts and returning to London forthwith. We’ll plan our next move from there.

“Thank you for your hospitality.”

And with a curt nod, Brownlegg motioned the crew back towards the long, long tunnel they had followed to get here.

As the carts departed, they heard Redvers’s cries behind them.

“But Tommy, please, don’t leave me here… take me back to London. I’ll help make TV great with you again…”

Deaf to his appeals, the crew departed for the bus.

Captain Brownlegg would like a disclaimer here that let him download MP3s of military marches.

A Transdiffusion Presentation

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