Expedition to Lake Pahoe

As featured in Monty Python's Flying Circus - Episode 32

The cast:

John Cleese
Graham Chapman
Eric Idle
Terry Jones
Graham Chapman
Eric Idle
Michael Palin
Eric Idle


The sketch:

(Cut to a familiar landscape. Preparations for an expedition are underway, with equipment being piled into land-rovers etc. An interviewer walks into shot.)

Interviewer: Hello. All the activity you can see here in progress is part of the intricate--plaaaagh! (he steps into a man-trap, but continues bravely) preparations for the British Naval Expedition to Lake Pahoe. The leader of the expedition is Sir Jane Russell. (the interviewer in slightly different spot with the admiral; we now see that the interviewer has a wooden leg and a crutch) Sir Jane, what is the purpose of your expedition?

Sir Jane: Well this is a completely uncharted lake with like hitherto unclassified marine life man, so the whole scene's wide open for a scientific exploration.

Interviewer: (now with a parrot on his shoulder) One can see the immense amount of preparation involved. Have there been many difficulties in setting up this venture?

Sir Jane: (with 'naval-lib' badge) Well the real hang-up was with the bread man, but when the top brass pigs came through we got it together in a couple of moons. Commodore Betty Grable, who's a real sub-aqua head, has got it together diving wise and like the whole gig's been a real gas, man.

Interviewer: (now with Long John Silver hat) Thank you. (and eyepatch) Lieutenant Commander Dorothy Lamour.

Parrot: Pieces of eight.

Interviewer: (now with Long John Silver jacket) Dorothy - you're in charge of security and liaison for this operation.

Dorothy Lamour: Right on. (he is smoking something and is really cool)

Interviewer: You've kept this all rather hush-hush so far.

Dorothy Lamour: Yeah, it's been really heavy man with all these freaks from the fascist press trying to blow the whole scene.

Interviewer: (to camera) There's no doubt about it, this expedition does have some rather unusual aspects, Jim lad. For a start, why does the senior personnel all bear the names of Hollywood film stars of the forties and female ones at that, shiver me timbers 'tis the black spot, and secondly, I be not afraid of thee Blind Pew ... why do they talk this rather strange stilted, underground jargon, belay the mainbrace Squire Trelawney this be my ship now Ha Ha!. (he is hit by a dart) Argh! A tranquilizing dart fired by the cowardly BBC health department dogs ... they've done filled me full of chlorpromazine, damn! Aaaaaaaaagggh!

(He falls. A second interviewer comes into shot and catches the microphone.)

Second Interviewer: I'm, um sorry about my colleague's rather unconventional behaviour.

Sir Jane: (running towards the camera) The navy's out of sight man! Come together with your RN - it really is something other than else.

(Animated psychedelic advertisement for the Royal Navy.)

Animated Voice: You dig it, man?

(Cut back to second interviewer.)

Second Interviewer: Hello. I'm sorry about my colleague's rather unconventional behaviour just now, but things haven't been easy for him recently... trouble at home, rather confidential so I can't give you all the details... interesting though they are... three bottles of rum with his weetabix, and so forth... anyway... apparently the girl wasn't even ... anyway the activity you see behind me... it's his mother I feel sorry for. I'll start again. The activity you see behind me is part of the preparations for the new Naval Expedition to Lake Pahoe. The man in charge of this expedition is Vice Admiral Sir John Cunningham. Sir John, hello there.

Sir John: Ah, hello. Well first of all I'd like to apologize for the behaviour of certain of my colleagues you may have seen earlier, but they are from broken homes, circus families and so on, and they are in no way representative of the new modern improved British Navy. They are a small vociferous minority; and may I take this opportunity of emphasizing that there is no cannibalism in the British Navy. Absolutely none, and when I say none, I mean there is a certain amount, more than we are prepared to admit, but, all new ratings are warned that if they wake up in the morning and find any toothmarks at all anywhere on their bodies, they're to tell me immediately so that I can immediately take every measure to hush the whole thing up. And, finally, necrophilia is right out. (the interviewer keeps nodding but looks embarrassed) Now, this expedition is primarily to investigate reports of cannibalism and necrophilia in ... this expedition is primarily to investigate reports of unusual marine life in the as yet uncharted Lake Pahoe.

Interviewer: And, uh where exactly is the lake?

Sir John: Er 22A, Runcorn Avenue. I think. Yes, that's right, 22A.

Interviewer: Runcorn Avenue?

Sir John: Yes, it's just by Blenheim Crescent... do you know it?

Interviewer: You mean it's in an ordinary street?

Sir John: Of course it's not an ordinary street! It's got a lake in it!

Interviewer: Yes but I...

Sir John: Look, how many streets do you know that have got lakes in them?

Interviewer: But you mean... is it very large?

Sir John: Of course it's not large, you couldn't get a large lake in Runcorn Avenue! You'd have to knock down the tobacconist's! (looking off camera) Jenkins ... NO!

(We see a rather sheepish rating about to sink his teeth into a human leg. Sir John puts his hand in front of the lens. Cut to Runcorn Avenue, an ordinary street with houses now turned into flats. The land-rover arrives with the equipment.)

Interviewer: I'm now standing in Runcorn Avenue. Sir John - where exactly is the lake?

Sir John: Um, well let's see, that's 18... that's 20, so this must be the one.

Interviewer: Er, excuse me...

Sir John: Yes, that's the one all right.

Interviewer: But it's an ordinary house.

Sir John: Look, I'm getting pretty irritated with this line of questioning.

Interviewer: But it doesn't even look like a lake...

Sir John: Look, your whole approach since this interview started has been to mock the Navy. When I think that for the likes of you I had both my legs blown off...

Interviewer: (pointing at perfectly healthy legs) You haven't had both your legs blown off!

Sir John: I was talking metaphorically you fool. Jenkins - put that down. (Jenkins returns the leg to the land-rover) Right, is the equipment ready?

Rating: Diving equipment all ready man. (gives hippy salute)

Sir John: (warning finger) Right. Now quite simply the approach to Lake Pahoe is up the steps, and then we come to the shores of the lake. Now, I'm going to press the bell just to see if there's anyone in.

Man: (answering) Hallo?

Sir John: Good morning - I'm looking for a Lake Pahoe.

Man:(Pauses) There's a Mr Padgett.

Sir John: No no, a lake.

Man: There's no lake here, mate. This is Runcorn Avenue. What's that camera doing?

Woman: (coming out) Camera? What's he want? Oooh, are we on the telly? (grins at the camera)

Man: He's looking for a lake.

Sir John: Lake Pahoe.

Woman: Oh, you want downstairs, 22A, the basement.

Sir John: Ah! Thank you very much. Good morning. Come on men, downstairs.

(They walk down to the basement. The interviewer intercepts Sir John.)

Interviewer: Were you successful, Sir John?

Sir John: It's in the basement.

Interviewer: In the basement?

(He sees a parrot on his shoulder.)

Parrot: Awwwwk! Pieces of eight.

Interviewer: Eugh! (he knocks it off)

(Sir John goes to the front door of 22a and rings. Then he looks into the living room through the window. A middle-aged couple are sitting inside. The room is full of water. The man reads the paper and the woman knits, Both wear breathing apparatus. Sir John knocks on the window. The woman looks up.)

Sir John: Hello.

Woman: Ooooh. I think it's someone about the damp.

Sir John: Hello.

Man: Tell 'em about the bleeding rats, too.

Woman: I'll go (she swims to window and shouts out) Yes?

Sir John: Good morning, is this Lake Pahoe?

Woman: Well, I don't know about that but it's bleeding damp. Are you from the council?

Sir John: No. We are the official British Naval Expedition to this lake. May we come in?

Woman: Hang on.

(She submerges and picks up a big sign showing it to the man. The sign reads 'It's not the council, it's a British Naval Expedition to Lake Pahoe or something and can they come in'. The man reads the card as an enormous shark looks over his shoulder appearing from a cupboard. The man sees it and hits it with a newspaper.)

Man: Bloody sharks.

Woman: Get in.

(He holds up a sign reading 'Tell them to go away '. The woman swims to the window and gives a V-sign to Sir John.)

Sir John: Well um... that would appear to be the end of the expedition.

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