The Transit Passenger (screenplay)

Open on a MAN standing side-on to camera. He is about thirty, quite good-looking, with mobile features that suggest an outgoing nature.  His hair and complexion are dark; he could be from anywhere between the Mediterranean and Manila. He is smartly dressed in a light suit and carries an airline bag over his shoulder.

Posters welcoming travellers to London drift past him as he stands on a moving floor, being transported gently along an airport corridor. He is at ease – a well-intentioned stranger with a natural interest in what goes on around him..

He is OV ZVARDO – origin unknown – and he carries no form of identification whatsoever.

CUT TO

A MAN’s face CU disappearing into a handkerchief for an explosive sneeze. In the aftermath, the MAN wipes his nose and gazes bleakly across a vast hall inside the terminal building. PHILIP SULLIVAN – identified by a badge on his suit lapel – is an immigration officer. He has the look of one who hasn’t enjoyed anything for weeks and the handkerchief, held in readiness, suggests that nothing is likely to change in the near future, as he walks slowly towards the ‘Flight Arrivals’ area.

A door opens close to SULLIVAN, releasing a babble of voices raised in assorted languages.

Out comes another immigration officer – WALSH is the name on his badge – making gestures intended to pacify those out of sight inside the room. WALSH closes the door, exhales with puffed cheeks and catches SULLIVAN’s eye.

WALSH: I suppose we’re all going to catch your cold.

SULLIVAN continues without comment, wiping his nose. This is not his day for conversation, especially if someone else’s problem is likely to be the topic.

WALSH (With weary irony): I’m fine. Thanks for asking.

CUT TO

OV ZVARDO, having come to the end of the moving floor, walking along an endless corridor among a loose straggle of arriving passengers – a multi-national assortment including Arabs in flowing robes, a couple of Rabbis and an Asian group in blazers who are probably the crack team of some unidentified sport.

The procession passes under a FLIGHT ARRIVALS sign.

OV ZVARDO is no more than a face in the crowd, but his walk is fresh and confident by comparison with the rest, and there is about him an endearing innocence.  We follow OV for a while, then

CUT TO

SULLIVAN, still tending his nose with the handkerchief. He walks past the customs benches where luggage is searched; his way takes him past a row of interrogation booths. In following SULLIVAN, we witness something of what goes on behind the scenes.

A bored YOUNG COUPLE stand by a bench in mute contempt of the stoic OFFICER who is burrowing through their cases. SULLIVAN passes by in the background as the OFFICER extracts from the case an article which might be a skimpy leather garment, or a device of hoses – we will never know…

In a small booth, two OFFICERS are searching a MAN who sits on the edge of the table in his shirt-tails, bare feet dangling down. His shoes and socks are being examined minutely. We see SULLIVAN pass the entrance.

In another booth a thin BLOND GIRL of about twenty-two is being interrogated by a WOMAN OFFICER who is examining the stitching of an enormous padded bra. The WOMAN look’s quizzically into the BLOND’s withdrawn face. The BLOND’s breakdown is imminent as SULLIVAN walks by.

CUT TO

OV ZVARDO emerging from the corridor into a larger area and following the procession towards Passport Control, where a suspended sign reads ‘Non UK Passports’.

CUT TO

SULLIVAN taking his seat at the Passport Control desk, stuffing his handkerchief away and bracing himself. He turns to watch the nameless throng approaching. OV is amongst them. He and SULLIVAN have been on converging courses and will shortly meet.

CUT TO

The queue. OV waits patiently in line. A WOMAN of uncertain nationality is in front of him and turns to make conversation. She uses English, thickly accented.

WOMAN: It’s a long time waiting, no?

OV leans towards her and shakes his head in rueful incomprehension. He has an approachable expression with a hint of humour. He would love to help, but is patently unable to converse – and tries to explain.

OV (Shrugging): GOR’LYOI, MAANYI… FAADI-PAH.

WOMAN (Chuckles): Yez…

CUT TO

SULLIVAN at his desk, facing camera. He stamps a passport

and hands it across. A figure passes between him and camera, and the passport is gone. The mechanical routine has set in for the day and we see the drudgery in SULLIVAN’s face. Another figure moves to face him but no passport is offered. He looks up.

CUT TO

OV ZVARDO, full face, returning the stare with quiet confidence. Observing SULLIVAN’S cold impatience he shrugs and presents himself, smiling with arms outstretched.

SULLIVAN: Passport

OV ZVARDO shakes his head, smiling pleasantly.

OV: MUR’GOISH.

SULLIVAN (Slowly): Your pass-port…

OV (With much sympathy for the man’s plight): VRAAGH’LI… OIPS’N’KRU.

SULLIVAN (Thunderstruck, after a pause): Dear Lord, why me?

CUT TO

A SMALL OFFICE. WALSH sits behind a desk, SULLIVAN facing him. It’s clear WALSH is the senior man in rank as well as years. He studies the screen of a digital camera showing OV’s picture.

SULLIVAN: What do you think?

WALSH: No documentation at all?

SULLIVAN: Nothing.

WALSH: He’s destroyed his passport then.

SULLIVAN: If he’d been found in the back of a lorry I’d agree – but this fellow presented himself at my desk.

WALSH: Where is he now?

SULLIVAN (Blowing his nose): I’ve put him in room twenty-eight.

WALSH: Is he behaving himself?

SULLIVAN (Between wipes): Couldn’t be more co-operative. He chats away… seems quite philosophical.

WALSH: You don’t seem unduly worried about him.

SULLIVAN: I’m not – but for not having a clue who he is or where he comes from.

WALSH (considers the sniffing wreck behind the handkerchief with mild amusement):Not your day, is it?

SULLIVAN: He was so pleasant about it I all but let it go. If he’d had any recognisable documents I might have done.

WALSH (Considering): No… I don’t care how innocent he looks. Anything you don’t understand is suspect. I’d better talk to him.

SULLIVAN: I’ll be thinking of you.

CUT TO

ROOM TWENTY-EIGHT. OV ZVARDO is sitting patiently on a hard chair against a blank wall. He rises as WALSH comes in holding the digital camera.

WALSH: We’re not clear on your nationality.

OV’s face clouds with concern as he registers the other man’s confusion.

OV: P’FROIPP NY’FRAAGNYI – BOIG’ST’GROIZHNY, MIR’PTAAT-FRAAP.

WALSH: I’m sorry?

OV (Triumphantly): GRAALYI-GRAALYI FRAAB’DI-DAH.

OV interposes himself politely, pointing at the camera screen with his photograph on it, linking it to himself by gesture. A sympathetic smile.

WALSH: I can see that’s you but where are you FROM?

OV: F’ROMM?

WALSH: Yes. From – where?

OV: AAAAH… (He points to WALSH and extends his hand in greeting)…F’ROMM… OV ZVARDO.

WALSH allows his hand to be shaken as if in a trance. Then understanding dawns and he points at OV.

WALSH: Ov… Zward…?

OV (Nodding enthusiastically): OV… (points triumphantly at WALSH)… F’ROMM.

He shakes WALSH by the hand again, vigorously. WALSH pauses, raises an indecisive finger…

WALSH: One moment…

CUT TO

INTERIOR OFFICE – an untidy, bookish back room at the Immigration Department. This is an academic sanctuary where DR JOHN FORSYTHE presides over a team of linguists.

FORSYTHE himself is sitting at a desk, watching the video of WALSH’s interview with OV. A lean, cantankerous man, FORSYTHE’s humour is not improved by his bewilderment.

With him is JULIAN WINTERS, a smart under-secretary from the Home Office, whose manner is clearly a further irritant.

The third occupant of the room is a YOUNG WOMAN – twenty-eight would be a good guess – whose constant flitting between a laptop and a shelf makes FORSYTHE wince.

She is LUCY LOVEGROVE – a hyper-active bluestocking with a neat figure, unflattering glasses and the gaucheness of a schoolgirl. (To be fair, if she looks twenty-eight with the trappings of an academic, she’s probably younger).

FORSYTHE makes a visible effort to remain calm in spite of his trials, listens to OV’s voice once more and peers up at WINTERS.

FORSYTHE: This is a joke, isn’t it?

WINTERS: You’re the linguist. You must decide.

FORSYTHE (Jerking a thumb at a screen which shows OV’s face, frozen): I’ll need more to go on than this.

WINTERS: I hope that doesn’t mean you’re out of your depths.

FORSYTHE: Mr – Winters… language is a study without absolutes or horizons. In a lifetime – given natural aptitude, boundless curiosity and patience – it is possible to form a picture of its infinite possibilities… what was that you said?

WINTERS: The wrong thing, obviously.

FORSYTHE: There are at least fifteen hundred languages in this world, each with its own idiosyncrasies and structural variations. The day I am not ‘out of my depths’, as you put it, I’ll consider my work is done.

LUCY LOVEGROVE, unable to resist the conversation, has broken off what she was doing and come to stand behind FORSYTHE’s chair.

LUCY (To WINTERS): The aptitude Mr Forsythe refers to is what the German’s call Sprachgefuhl – a feeling for languages. There are people with an instinct for the rhythm of a language, even if the syntax is totally unfamiliar to them…

FORSYTHE raises a weary hand, which fails to arrest her enthusiastic torrent, then clutches his brow.

LUCY (Cont): …The ‘Gift of tongues’ crops up again and again in classical literature. The Apostles addressed multitudes without the benefit of common language… meaning transcends words, music dominates structure…

FORSYTHE: Miss Lovegrove…

LUCY: I myself speak fluent French and German, passable Italian, Spanish, Russian, Greek and a smattering of Arabic. I get by in Swedish, Dutch, Hindi and Portuguese – and I haven’t even scratched the surface. Dr Forsythe has at least two languages for every one of mine…

FORSYTHE finally stops her flow by patting her hand.

FORSYTHE: Miss Lovegrove… Lucy… Your loyalty is much appreciated. Please carry on with what you were doing.

LUCY is poised to say more, but manages not to and goes back to her laptop. WINTERS takes visible pleasure in the awkward silence that follows. Then:

WINTERS: How long do you need?

FORSYTHE glances at the screen and peers across the desk.

FORSYTHE: What exactly do you know about this character?

CUT TO

A BACK ROOM AT THE AIRPORT. CU an open shoulder-bag (recogniseable as OV’s) with a few neatly-folded articles of clothing in it. AN OFFICER is making a methodical search, supervised by WALSH.

WALSH (Studying a shirt): No labels but not cheap. He’s no slouch, this fellow.

OFFICER: I’d say he has a lot of taste. Nothing flashy, but it’s all top quality.

WALSH: I need a clue to where some of this stuff was bought.

OFFICER: No receipts… no cards, no cash, no documents at all. I don’t get it – there’s nothing wrong here.

WALSH (Thoughtfully): Nothing wrong…

OFFICER: Sure. Everything seems perfectly in order.

WALSH (Preoccupied): No one is ‘perfectly in order’… who the hell is this bloke?

CUT TO

INTERIOR HOTEL SUITE. CU door, which swings open to reveal OV standing in the corridor between two expressionless MEN in plain clothes who are his escort.

The 1ST MAN extracts the key and enters the room with the casual, watchful air of one trained to expect trouble. He has a rather idiosyncratic walk, which OV watches with obvious pleasure.

OV follows him into the room mimicking his walk. It is a beautifully understated parody, and OV turns to the 2ND MAN for approval.

The 2ND MAN enters last, slightly bemused by this performance. He locks the door, slides the chain into place and takes up a position against the wall, arms folded.

Cheerfully, OV assumes the same posture in the same way, smiling in turn at each of his guards as if inviting them to join in the fun.

The two MEN exchange glances and a stiff silence follows. The 1ST MAN opens a further door which leads into the bedroom, and gestures OV inside. OV smiles tolerantly and clowns the walk again on his way through.

The 1ST MAN locks him in and stares at his colleague, whose face twitches almost imperceptibly with the effort of keeping control. Both then take off their jackets, revealing shoulder-holsters, and settle into chairs to wait.

CUT TO

EXTERIOR AIRPORT HOTEL. NIGHT. A ministry car draws up at the main entrance and out steps JOSEPH ECCLES, a bluff, middle-aged man with a briefcase.

ECCLES wears authority like a cloak and walks like a man used to having doors opened for him. He marches into the foyer without breaking step. WALSH is waiting for him, accompanied by an IMMIGRATION OFFICIAL, who introduces them.

OFFICIAL: Mr Walsh, Joseph Eccles from the Department of Immigration.

ECCLES submits impatiently to WALSH’s handshake and ignores the other man altogether.

ECCLES (To WALSH): Right, let’s get this nonsense sorted out. Where is the fellow?

The OFFICIAL leads the way and we follow ECCLES’ relentless march as WALSH hurries to keep up. ECCLES fires a string of questions at him as they go.

ECCLES: Any progress?

WALSH: None at all. No one can understand a word he says and he doesn’t seem to understand us.

ECCLES: Well, he’s here. It’s up to him to explain himself. Any articulate adult can make himself understood.

WALSH: He tries. He couldn’t be more pleasant.

ECCLES: If he hasn’t got documents, he’ll have to go and be pleasant somewhere else… where he came from, ideally.

WALSH: We don’t know where that is.

ECCLES: He’s being obstructive then.

WALSH: He’s embarrassingly open. We’re on first name terms.

ECCLES (Interested): That’s something.

WALSH: Not really. He thinks my name’s ‘F’ROMM’.

ECCLES turns to glare at WALSH, but before he can respond, the OFFICIAL unlocks the door to a suite.

The two plain clothes MEN are sitting inside. One rises and opens the bedroom door to show ECCLES in.

ECCLES stalks past him and confronts OV with scant formality.

ECCLES: We need some form of identification from you. Until we get it, you are not recognised as an applicant to enter this country. Do you understand?

OV (A suggestion): BRAANYI’GRAAP… FROIGNYE?

ECCLES (With barely a flicker): That’s enough of that. My time is valuable, so we will now establish precisely who you are and where you’re from…

OV (Beaming in recollection): AHH – F’ROMM…

ECCLES stares at him coldly, then unfolds his wad of paper which is a map of the world. He pins it on the wall, indicates Great Britain and turns to OV.

ECCLES: We are… here. You…?

He steers OV to the map, inviting him to make use of it.

OV (Placing his finger on Britain): HYEER?

ECCLES flounders for a moment, trying to convey by gesture what he wants.

ECCLES: Yes, we’re all HERE. The question is…

OV’s face shows concern at the displeasure he is causing and he speaks earnestly to ECCLES.

OV: URG’IRGLYEZ’NYI, HAR’D’DUISH.

ECCLES (Deflated): Please… just show me your home.

OV wrestles to understand, then stands back from the map, arms spread wide to encompass all of it.

ECCLES: You’ve been around. Is that what you’re saying?

OV (Presenting himself): OV…

And he holds out his hand to ECCLES.

ECCLES: Are you asking for my credentials, you cheeky bastard? I’m IMM-IG-RA-TION.

OV (Seizing ECCLES by the hand): IRM’GRESH’N…

He pumps the hand wildly, much cheered by this breakthrough. ECCLES backs away clutching his briefcase. We see the world map spread across the wall behind him.

CUT TO

INTERIOR RECORDING STUDIO. OV sits at a microphone looking slightly nonplussed while an ENGINEER positions the equipment around him.

The ENGINEER switches the recorder on and points at OV as a cue to speak. OV responds by pointing at himself, eyebrows cocked in query.

The ENGINEER makes talking movements, opening and closing his hand and indicating the microphone.

OV beams and makes the same gesture in return.

The ENGINEER takes a deep breath, then indicates a flow from his mouth…

ENGINEER: Blah blah blah blah blah…

OV: BROH… BROH… BROH…?

ENGINEER: Talk to me, Pal. Anything you like.

OV shrugs and sits back, addressing the ENGINEER rather than the microphone.

OV: NYEZ’TFAARNI… HORKRI-HORKRI FRAAHG LIS’HRADIPP… BORG’DOI…

His face breaks into smiles and he rises. His ramblings have put him in mind of a song and he gives voice, hardly breaking the flow of his speech…

OV (Singing):

HARV’YENYI LIS’HRADIPP,

ORCH’PETYALI S’FOIGAL’HIPP.

ARV’ARD’ NYEEEEE,

ARV’ARD’ NYEEEEE –

ORP’HORVYE’GHYM’PARRREEEP!

He sits down again. The ENGINEER gives him an enthusiastic thumbs up, nodding vigorously for more.

OV waves away the accolade, modestly.

ENGINEER: Go on – give it some.

OV (Explaining): BOR’GLANYI P’TAAT MOR’FRESNYO, UR’TWUR NASTOFLYNN’PRU. OGH’STUNTUPH…

CUT TO

INTERIOR LANGUAGE LABORATORY. Monitor displays voice patterns as OV’s recorded voice continues…

OV (RECORDED): …F’TAAPHU, MENTIPROOT – G’SLONN, URB’B’BURDLYI – S’KORTLYAD’PYAH…FAADI-BAAHDI…

As the voice continues,

CUT TO

Prints of OV’s picture clipped to a report being slipped into a file. The cabinet drawer is closed and locked.

CUT TO

FORSYTHE listening to the same recording, watched by ECCLES.

CUT TO

OV’s suitcase being taken apart with minute care – tiny screwdrivers dismantle the hinges and a scalpel is used on the lining.

CUT TO

A SOUNDPROOF BOOTH where a pair of Middle Eastern GENTLEMEN are listening to the recording. After a moment they look at each other and shrug.

CUT TO

INTERIOR PHYSICS LAB, where an elderly European ACADEMIC is listening, arranging phonetic symbols on a grid at the same time. He pauses and removes his glasses, helpless.

CUT TO

INTERIOR SOUND STUDIO. A CHINESE GIRL wearing headphones watches the screened voice pattern. She removes her headphones and shakes her head to someone off-screen.

CUT TO

INTERIOR LANGUAGE OFFICE. LUCY LOVEGROVE is playing the same recording, jotting notes on a pad.

CUT TO

EXTERIOR STREET DAY. A car pulls up outside a smart London terraced house and OV gets out, accompanied by the two MEN who were guarding him at the hotel.

OV is enjoying himself, having clearly decided that one of his guards is loony. He makes gestures to this effect and apes the man’s walk – right behind him – much to the amusement of the other. They enter the house.

(Recorded voice ends)

CUT TO

INTERIOR MINISTRY BUILDING. DAY. ECCLES and WINTERS are walking along a corridor.

WINTERS: What do you mean, they like him? How can you like someone when you can’t understand a word they say?

ECCLES: That doesn’t seem to be a problem.

WINTERS: I’d say your likeable friend poses a most embarrassing problem.

ECCLES: It’s simple. He can’t stay.

WINTERS: …And until we’re satisfied, he can’t leave either. I shall advise the Minister that the whole matter should become someone’s full-time responsibility.

ECCLES: Whose, for instance?

WINTERS: Oh, someone with sufficient authority to dignify the proceedings, but junior enough to…

ECCLES: To be sacked ignominiously for failing. Well, who?

CUT TO

INTERIOR. MINISTER’S OFFICE. The MINISTER sits behind a desk, his PERSONAL PRIVATE SECRETARY in attendance. WINTERS and ECCLES are listening to the MINISTER’S pronouncement.

MINISTER (As if summing up WINTERS’ suggestion): …Someone with a facility for languages and plenty of interrogation experience. I leave the appointment to you.

WINTERS: My own feelings precisely, Minister.

P.P.S.: That’s settled then. The Minister will not require a further report.

A brief silence while all present register that carte blanche has been given – and the conversation was off the record.

CUT TO

INTERIOR. LANGUAGE OFFICE. LUCY LOVEGROVE is still listening to OV’s recording and jotting notes. The desk around her is now piled high with her scribbles. Through an open door we see FORSYTHE watching her while he talks quietly on the phone.

FORSYTHE: Interrogation? Yes, she’s done plenty of that. Used to be an immigration interviewer. We had to take her off that. What…? Because she was asking the   questions, then feeding them most of the answers herself. She’s a dear girl – so long as you’re deaf. The poor bugger’ll be lucky to get a word in edgeways… in any language. Not a bit. I’m quite happy to release her… indefinitely.

CAMERA has been closing on him during the conversation. He hangs up.

CUT TO

EXTERIOR STREET. DAY. Outside the same terraced house where OV was taken by his escort.

LUCY pays off her taxi, marches up to the front door, and presses the bell.

CUT TO

INTERIOR. THE SAME HOUSE.

OV sits quietly in a comfortable chair. With him is DAVY, a secret service man. DAVEY is far more serious stuff than the original guards. His manner is one of permanent surprise, accentuated by thick-rimmed glasses. He is not a comforting presence.

He is watching TV with one eye, but is clearly alert to any move OV might make.

On TV a presenter, VERONICA HIGGINS, is introducing a daytime show, titled: ECCENTRIC OR WOT?

VERONICA (On screen): Some people say we should call this ‘The Freak Show’, but I prefer ‘Eccentric Or Wot?’ because there’s no such thing as a freak – just different from you and me…

SFX: Doorbell.

DAVEY gets up to answer it.

VERONICA (On screen. Contd): We don’t always understand them, but we have to admire their independent spirits. This morning we’re going to meet Mervin, leader of a cult that worships the Manchester Ship Canal. Mervin…

DAVEY pauses to switch the TV off with the remote.

CUT TO

EXTERIOR. STREET. CONTINUOUS ACTION. DAVEY opens the door to LUCY with a cold stare. LUCY hesitates, then tackles him directly, not willing to be cowed.

LUCY: My name is Lucy Lovegrove. I’m from the Ministry and I’ve come, or rather I’ve been sent, to interview a person of uncertain nationality who is staying here while we investigate his origins. This is the right address, isn’t it?

She steps back to check the house number on the fanlight, then steps forward again.

LUCY (Cont): …Yes, we’re in the right place. For one horrible moment I thought I’d come to the wrong house. That would have been confusing for someone, wouldn’t it?

DAVEY (Ironically): Frightfully.

LUCY: Well, I’m here now, so let’s get down to it.

DAVEY: I’d like that.

DAVEY is still blocking the doorway, and LUCY sees him now for what he is – an uncouth and no doubt dangerous man. She withdraws her friendly manner, becoming less verbose.

LUCY: I’m from the Ministry. You’re expecting me.

DAVEY: I never know what to expect.

He stands aside, allowing her just room to pass, and takes his time showing her into the sitting room.

OV is reclining in a chair when she enters. He jumps to his feet when he sees her and bows slightly from the waist. DAVEY withdraws and LUCY watches as he closes the door behind him.

LUCY continues to stare, preoccupied, at the closed door. She is clearly disturbed to have found someone like DAVEY on a job she is connected with. We have a moment to watch her mind working as she becomes suspicious of a task she thought would be routine. We also begin to see another side to her character, as something steely replaces the schoolgirl in her face.

When she turns to OV for the first time, her expression holds all the softness of a freshly ground axe.

Seeing this, OV attempts to put her at ease.

OV (Beaming): GOR’LYOI… FR’AZHNYE.

LUCY collects herself and begins, slowly and clearly.

LUCY: My job is to find out who you are – understand? There’s something here I don’t quite like, so you co-operate and we’ll get this over quickly. I have an unpleasant feeling I have been lumbered with you…

She points at him, then at herself…

LUCY: …Lum-bered.

OV: LLUM’BR’D?

LUCY (Emphatically): Lumbered.

OV (Correcting his inflection): LLUM’BEDD.

He looks pleased with his effort, gazes at her with frank appreciation and introduces himself.

OV: LLUM’BEDD… OV.

LUCY tries to wave the slate clean with an impatient gesture and resorts to mime. In a graceful mute sequence, she presents herself and her briefcase as representing officialdom, includes OV, and goes through a remarkable facial ballet expressing incomprehension.

She covers her mouth to exclude speech. The effort of will shows in her face. She begins to lose herself in mime; the rhythm takes over and flows.

OV watches her, charmed. Then he moves alongside her like an expert dancer taking his partner on the move. And they swirl, at one without actually touching, temporarily beyond mundane purpose.

The spell breaks suddenly as LUCY catches sight of herself floating past a mirror, while OV drifts by on the wave of his extended arm, eyes closed…

LUCY: Cut that out.

DAVEY is in the room at once. OV ignores him and looks with concern at LUCY.

OV: MIND’YIN… P’PORP’TAAD. HURGLANYI… WEFF. (This last word snorted with a note of self-contempt.

LUCY (To herself): Oh Lord, he’s apologising…(Then to DAVEY) …It’s alright.

DAVEY backs out, checking the room for hidden terrors, and closes the door.

LUCY studies OV seriously for the first time, trying to make something of the benevolent innocence in his face.

OV (Soothingly): FFAADI-BHAADI.

LUCY (Murmurs): You’re not dangerous, are you? They’re  the danger, with their suspicious minds, all their fears and barriers… They’re terrified because they can’t tell what you’ll do.

She sits down in an armchair; one of two flanking the fireplace.

OV looks relieved, happy again. He takes the other chair, so they become a couple, sitting comfortably at the hearth. LUCY puts her briefcase on the ground, excluding it.

LUCY (Still to herself): Alright, you’re my problem now. But If I crack the code, it’ll be for your sake, not theirs.

CUT TO

INTERIOR. A HUGE MINIMAL OFFICE OVERLOOKING THE CITY. THE SAME TIME.

A man in early middle age with long hair and glasses sits with his feet up, watching an enormous TV screen on the far side of the room.

He is AXEL MANN, and everything about him suggests he is in control.

With him is a younger man whose external smartness fails to conceal the bellicose nature suggested by his jaw-line. He is BOB McNABB, a TV chat show host.

At the moment they are watching ECCENTRIC OR WOT? – the programme we glimpsed earlier: VERONICA HIGGINS is still interviewing the man called MERVIN.

VERONICA (On screen, to MERVIN): So, Mervin, to you and your followers, the Manchester Ship Canal is the Supreme Being, the source of everything. What makes you think so, if you don’t mind me asking?

MERVIN (On screen): This was revealed to me quite suddenly one evening when I was walking along and I fell in it. All of us who believe have had a similar experience at one time or another.

In AXEL MANN’S office, the two watchers sit impassively.

MANN: Veronica Higgins. How would you fancy handing over to her, Bob?

McNABB: I’m not handing over to anyone. Have you seen my ratings lately? Talk’s Cheap has a bigger following than… whatever… and that’s down to Bob McNabb, thank you very much.

McNABB thumps his own chest in self-congratulation.

MANN eyes him with cold amusement.

MANN: She’s younger than you, Bob. And a lot prettier.

McNABB: It takes more than that, Axel. I don’t see Veronica Higgins holding her own with my guests or my audiences. She’d fold. Why are you talking like this, anyway?

MANN: She has flair, Bob. She talks incessantly and says nothing. I tell you, she has genius.

McNABB: I hope you’re not threatening me. Even Axel Mann can’t argue with twenty-three million viewers.

MANN: I don’t have to argue, Bob. If I decide she gets your show, that’s what happens.

MANN continues to stare pityingly at McNABB.

CUT TO

EXTERIOR STREET. NIGHT. Outside the house where OV is being detained, a car draws up. Of the two occupants, the DRIVER is more or less anonymous – a secret service man – and we are only concerned with the man in the back. He is middle-aged and dapper, in an expensive overcoat.

His name is KEHOE and we will learn that he is DAVEY’s Commander.

The door of the house opens and DAVEY slips out. A moment later he joins KEHOE in the back seat. The two men sit in silence for a moment. The DRIVER keeps a watchful eye on the street.

DAVEY: Nothing yet, Boss. A woman from the Ministry’s been here interviewing him all day. He hasn’t tried to contact anyone.

KEHOE: No one’s tried to reach him?

DAVEY: Here’s today’s pictures of passers-by. (DAVEY hands over a smart phone.)

KEHOE: Well, let’s hope there’s a known Terrorist amongst them – then we’ll be earning our living.

CUT TO

INTERIOR MINISTRY OFFICE. FORSYTHE and ECCLES are confronted by an agitated LUCY.

FORSYTHE: What is bothering you, Miss Lovegrove?

LUCY: I can’t make any progress with the subject while he’s under house arrest. It creates entirely the wrong relationship.

ECCLES: What would you suggest?

LUCY: Stop making him feel like a prisoner – he hasn’t done anything. I need to see how he reacts to outside influences. How can we expect him to drop his guard if he can’t relax?

ECCLES: Forgive me, Miss Lovegrove, but would you count yourself among these ‘outside influences’?

LUCY (Appeals to FORSYTHE for support): I hope that wasn’t meant to be as coarse as it sounded… sir.

FORSYTHE: I’m sure it wasn’t. Mr Eccles just wants a clear picture of what’s going on. He didn’t mean to offend you.

ECCLES: Far from it, Miss Lovegrove. But I can’t release the man into your custody – which I believe is what you’re asking. Such a risk would need clearance at the highest level.

LUCY (furious, turns challenging eyes on ECCLES): You want results, don’t you?

ECCLES: Certainly we do.

LUCY: Well…?

CUT TO

LUCY and OV on top of an open-topped double-decker bus doing the London sightseeing tour. DAVEY sits grimly a few rows behind them.

This begins a MUSIC sequence in which we see LUCY and OV in various settings in and around London. DAVEY is always with them, like a shadow…

CUT TO

… In front of the US Embassy. LUCY watching OV’s face

carefully for a reaction. He wears the same polite smile in every situation except when he is particularly enjoying himself. DAVEY leans against his car nearby.

CUT TO

… In Chinatown (Gerrard Street) OV’s polite interest remains unaltered. He is happy to be on this particular stretch of pavement, but not sure what he’s supposed to be looking at. DAVEY opens the car door for them – an indolent parody of a footman. LUCY ignores him and walks OV away along the pavement.

CUT TO

…INTERIOR. FORSYTHE’S OFFICE.

FORSYTHE is listening to a recording of OV’s voice, checking it against endless data on his computer screen. WINTERS stands behind him.

WINTERS: Still nothing, Forsythe?

FORSYTHE turns slowly to wither him with a look.

CUT TO

… OV rowing LUCY in a boat on the Serpentine. Their faces tell us they enjoy each other’s company. DAVEY is watching them from the bridge.

CUT TO

… OV and LUCY walking along the Thames Embankment. At Cleopatra’s Needle, OV seems mildly amused and raises an eyebrow, then smiles at LUCY who smiles back.

CUT TO

… INTERIOR PARKED CAR on the Embankment. KEHOE and DAVEY sit in the back watching the couple.

KEHOE: Is she getting anywhere?

DAVEY: You tell me. She talks. He talks. Nothing seems to come of it.

KEHOE: Does she confide in you at all?

DAVEY: She confides to me that this is her project and I’d oblige her by falling down a hole. She behaves as if the bloke’s her personal property.

CUT TO

THE PLAYING FIELDS OF ETON. DAY. LUCY and OV strolling side by side, DAVEY following them at a distance.

LUCY: This is where the Battle of Waterloo was won, they say.

OV: M’BRAAD F’TOOP. MOI-MOI.

LUCY (Reflecting, half to herself): Here’s a thought. How will I know if you do start understanding what I’m saying? Any ideas on that?

OV: SMYART’FHAANI?

LUCY: Never mind.

OV pauses to admire their venerable surroundings, raising his arms in wonder.

OV (Awstruck): KRAD’YEZ-TYEHNI. OSP’FROIGH. POR’PTORGHNYI VULPERASHNYOFF. NYETT’SK’FRAA-FRAAH, BOR’G’DOISH-FLYETT-SPLURR’V.

LUCY: You’re no risk to anyone, are you? It’s not your fault we can’t trace your origins. I suppose you’re not morally or legally obliged to come FROM anywhere.

OV (Looking around, hopefully): F’ROMM…?

LUCY (looks back at DAVEY): …I’m afraid for you, though. You won’t be safe until they’re satisfied. They don’t always play cricket, whatever they’d have us believe.

CUT TO

INTERIOR. MINISTRY BASEMENT. An area full of screens. KEHOE, WINTERS and ECCLES are studying enhanced blow-ups of OV and LUCY in various settings.

ECCLES: Three weeks. No progress. No wiser. We’re missing something.

KEHOE: Our man hasn’t tried to contact anyone and no one’s looking for him. More to the point, we’re burning man-hours I can’t justify. Give him to Special Branch if he still bothers you.

WINTERS: No, I’m advised that he should be kept ‘unofficial’. At the moment we have the advantage that legally he doesn’t exist.

KEHOE: You mean he can disappear with no questions asked.

WINTERS: There’s always the chance he’s not the innocent buffoon he appears. If the press gets hold of him, we won’t have the free hand we’ve got now.

KEHOE (Eyeing WINTERS with distaste): I’d like to think ‘we’ still have an open mind.

ECCLES: We can’t let him stay indefinitely,and we can’t deport him because we don’t know where to send him.

KEHOE: And if he goes to a detention centre we’ve lost him.

WINTERS: Lovegrove’s project has yielded nothing. Soon we’ll have to draw a line under it. Every day our man’s on the streets increases the risk that he’ll attract attention – and that must not happen.

CUT TO

EXTERIOR. SPEAKERS’ CORNER. CU FACE OF A WILD-LOOKING, ELDERLY MAN as he rants at a small audience of passers by. He has a caged bird with him, presumably as a prop to illustrate whatever point he is leading to.

SPEAKER: Aliens… people from worlds you can’t imagine are with us right now – and we’re not even trying to make ourselves acceptable to them…

Establish that the SPEAKER’s face is framed on a small monitor screen, property of an Outside Broadcast Unit, which is filming him.

A DIRECTOR, female PRESENTER, CAMERAMAN and a couple of CREW MEMBERS make up the team.

The DIRECTOR, DAVID EASTERBROOK, is watching the SPEAKER on the monitor. He signals to the PRESENTER, VERONICA HIGGINS, who steps into frame and addresses CAMERA.

VERONICA: If you’ve got something to get off your chest, this is the place. The weird, the wonderful, the misunderstood and the downright daft all get an airing here. You don’t have to be a crank, although some people find it helps.

Having done her introduction, VERONICA turns to watch the SPEAKER, who is getting well wound up on his soap-box.

LUCY and OV arrive at the edge of the group. OV seems interested in the SPEAKER.

Beyond them, DAVEY has taken up an unobtrusive position to keep an eye on them.

SPEAKER (Cont):…People far more civilized than us are watching our every move, and we are wantonly squandering the opportunity to learn what they have to teach us.

OV (To himself): M’BROIGLYI.

LUCY glances at him, noting his interest.

SPEAKER: The tragedy is, these alien visitors take one look at us and walk the other way. Why? – because we’re repulsive. Our personal hygiene is not up to their exacting standards. These are people who forgot about lice, ticks and bad breath when we were still living in caves.

The SPEAKER holds up the cage with the bird in it.

SPEAKER (CONT): To them, we’re a sad race imprisoned in our own filth – like this fellow in his cage. And we won’t have the benefit of their company until we rid ourselves of the abominations of grime and unseemly odours…

OV (Frowning, to himself): GOR’GOISHNYUTF’TOOP-SLOISH.

OV moves closer to the SPEAKER. LUCY follows him with interest. For the first time he seems to be reacting positively to something. DAVEY watches warily.

EASTERBROOK looks up from his monitor screen as OV suddenly appears in frame.

VERONICA steps forward to continue her report and gets waved to silence by EASTERBROOK.

OV addresses the SPEAKER in a reasonable but firm tone of voice.

OV: F’TOISH-PROI FRAAP M’STYAALNYI… BORG’NYUP’FSPOOT, N’YISTI’KRONTI KRAAPH.

The SPEAKER tries to ignore him and continues.

SPEAKER: Freedom, brothers and sisters, is being denied you as surely as if you were behind bars yourselves…

OV has clearly seen something that needs to be put right and steps up helpfully to the SPEAKER’s box.

OV (Explaining, patiently): OIR’GRPHAANYI, PLUFF-NYIT’S’KROIP. F’PAAV…

EASTERBROOK, intent on his monitor again, snaps his fingers urgently at his BOOM OPERATOR, and the mike is brought close to OV.

EASTERBROOK (To CREW MEMBER): What language is that?

OV is framed on the monitor. He is clearly anxious to be understood by the SPEAKER, who continues trying to ignore him. DAVEY moves in closer.

OV: S’PFAAH-DI-BROIG’SHNURPPS…WEFF.

With this, OV reaches up, opens the cage and frees the bird which takes off and wings its way over the treetops.

SPEAKER (Furious): That’s my bird. What d’you think you’re doing?

OV ignores him. The audience gives him a patter of applause and EASTERBROOK signals his crew to stay on the action.

The bird flies away. OV watches it out of sight with obvious approval, then raises his arms and bows politely to the audience. He sees the camera and points to it.

OV (Enquiring): FOND’PROTT-SP’TOOP?

VERONICA HIGGINS moves into interview mode with her mike, keeping an eye on EASTERBROOK for a cue.

As CAMERA moves in, veronica questions the SPEAKER, positioning herself to include OV.

VERONICA (To OV and the SPEAKER): Are you a double-act?

SPEAKER: I’ve never seen him before. He’s not with me. (SUDDEN REALISATION) He’s one of Them.

VERONICA: One of Them?

SPEAKER: I’ve been trying to tell you all about these people.

VERONICA (To OV): How do you react to being called one of ‘Them’?

OV: FOOF…?

SPEAKER (To VERONICA): Point that camera at me – I’ll tell you who he is.

VERONICA interposes herself between the SPEAKER and CAMERA, concentrating on OV.

VERONICA (Slowly, to OV): Is there something you want to share with us? Use your own language if you like.

VERONICA mimes for OV to speak, with a flowing hand movement from her mouth. OV peers at her amiably and makes the same gesture, accompanied by a slight bow. LUCY rescues him and explains to VERONICA.

LUCY: My friend is an exchange student. His English course has been delayed.

VERONICA: What language is he speaking? I don’t recognise it.

LUCY: It’s an obscure dialect.

VERONICA (To LUCY): He must feel strongly about caged birds. There was something quite noble in what he did. Would you ask him to comment?

LUCY: I’m not allowed to translate for him. His tutors are very strict about that.

OV: SPOOP. F’FAAPH.

VERONICA: What?

LUCY: You must leave him alone.

VERONICA: At least tell us where he’s from.

LUCY: That’s what we’re all trying to find out.

DAVEY is suddenly in their midst. He takes OV’s arm and walks him firmly away from the group with a word over his shoulder to LUCY.

DAVEY: Your friend’s late for his appointment.

LUCY shows a flash of irritation at this crass high-handedness, then hurries after them.

EASTERBROOK signals the O.B. unit to follow and the CAMERAMAN hurries after them. On the MONITOR we see OV, DAVEY and LUCY hurrying away.

The SPEAKER gets in front of the CAMERA for a moment. CAMERA moves on past him as if he were being trampled underfoot.

DAVEY, OV and LUCY, pursued by the CAMERA CREW, reach DAVEY’s parked car.

OV offers no resistance as DAVEY manhandles him with unnecessary force into the back seat, pausing to stick his hand over the CAMERA lens.

DAVEY: Alright, back off. There’s nothing to get excited about.

VERONICA (To DAVEY): Who are you, and why don’t you want this man interviewed?

DAVEY: He doesn’t speak your language, lady.

The SPEAKER has crept in close, unnoticed, and sides with OV.

SPEAKER (To CAMERA): He’s a visitor. Show some respect. Look at you all – you’re filthy.

DAVEY (levels a finger at the SPEAKER): On your bike, pal.

SPEAKER: Don’t touch me, you’re unclean.

The SPEAKER tries to interfere with DAVEY’s efforts to close the car door. DAVEY shoves him aside and the SPEAKER unwisely takes a swing at him with the birdcage.

DAVEY turns the blow aside expertly, and with a deft move sends the SPEAKER sprawling into the road.

CUT TO

MOVING POLICE CAR. P.O.V. INSIDE, as the crew of two see the incident and swing over to investigate.

CUT TO

DAVEY’S CAR, as DAVEY shoves OV into the back seat. LUCY is trying to climb in beside OV, but the CAMERA CREW has gathered round and she has to fight her way through. We see LUCY’s wallet fall out of her bag in the tussle.

The arriving POLICEMEN see what looks like a miniature riot developing and weigh in. One of them confronts the CAMERA CREW while the other tackles DAVEY who is now in the car.

POLICEMAN: Do you mind stepping out of the car?

DAVEY fixes the POLICEMAN with a cold stare and gets out, unblinking, unfolding his wallet in the man’s face. Whatever DAVEY’s official job description is, his credentials are good enough. The POLICEMAN backs off and calls to his partner.

POLICEMAN (To 2nd POL): OK, leave it.

He goes back to his car and the other follows.

DAVEY (to LUCY): Hurry it up.

LUCY gets into the back seat of the car beside OV, pausing for a word to VERONICA who has now been joined by EASTERBROOK at the curb.

LUCY (To VERONICA): I’d like to explain but I can’t.

She shuts her door with a furious glance at DAVEY in the driving seat.

DAVEY drives away with intimidating ferocity, leaving EASTERBROOK and the crew staring after the car.

EASTERBROOK: What was that all about?

VERONICA has spotted LUCY’s wallet lying by her foot. She picks it up and flips through it while she considers her answer.

CU LUCY’s personal details.

VERONICA: You tell me. A nice bloke of uncertain origin who lets birds out of cages, a driver who frightens cops, and a girl… (pauses to study the wallet more closely) … A girl who we know all about.

She looks up mischievously at EASTERBROOK.

EASTERBROOK: I think we want to know more, don’t we? She’ll want her wallet back, so there’s your foot in the door. By the way…

EASTERBROOK walks VERONICA casually away from the rest.

EASTERBROOK (Contd): What’s this I hear about you switching allegiance?

VERONICA: What have you heard, David?

EASTERBROOK: The rumour mill says Axel Mann made you an offer.

VERONICA: I do get offers from time to time, David. I like to think I haven’t peaked yet.

EASTERBROOK: I hope you wouldn’t consider it seriously. I’m not saying what we do is brain-food, but Axel Mann is to culture what Alaric the Goth was to the Civil Rights Movement – and he’s got his own channel to play with.

VERONICA: He’s a businessman.

EASTERBROOK: He’s a jumped-up D.J. No-one should have that much power. He believes people follow whoever talks loudest and if you make enough noise no-one questions you.

VERONICA: Well, perhaps he needs a bit of class.

EASTERBROOK: ‘Silence is a waste of good selling time’ – that’s a quote from Axel Mann. ‘Don’t give them time to think or they might think of switching channels’, that’s another one. Did you know he has ‘Talk more, say less’ over his office door?

VERONICA (Humouring him): I didn’t know that.

EASTERBROOK: What’s he offered you? Come on, we’re friends, aren’t we?

VERONICA: I can’t say anything David.

EASTERBOOK: It’s ‘Talk’s Cheap’ isn’t it? The show that lives up to its name in every possible way? Hosted by Bob McNabb – but not for much longer in all probability…

VERONICA: You’re guessing, David.

EASTERBROOK: …because Axel Mann and Bob McNabb have had a very public falling out and Mann wants new blood on the show. I’m right, aren’t I?

VERONICA (Mischievous): Rumours, David. Talk’s cheap.

EASTERBROOK: I’ll take that as confirmation then. You could always shake your head.

VERONICA returns his quizzical stare with an affectionate smile, but she doesn’t shake her head.

CUT TO

INTERIOR. FORSYTHE’S OFFICE. EVENING. WINTERS is wandering up and down, hands behind his back, to FORSYTHE’s obvious annoyance.

WINTERS: We nearly had a disaster on our hands. Lovegrove obviously has no control over the fellow.

FORSYTHE: What do you expect me to do about it?

WINTERS: You’re her boss. You’ll have to tell her to wrap it up.

CUT TO

LUCY’S OFFICE, ADJOINING FORSYTHE’S. LUCY enters in time to overhear the conversation through the connecting door which is partly open, and through which we can see WINTERS and FORSYTHE. LUCY keeps quiet and listens.

FORSYTHE: Are you sure that’s necessary? I was just getting used to peace and quiet.

WINTERS: Today showed us the risks. Our man has a genius for getting himself noticed, and that’s precisely what we don’t want.

FORSYTHE: This conundrum of the language must be solved. It’s a matter of major academic importance. You can’t just ignore it.

WINTERS: No one wants to put a block on your research. You’ve got hours of voice recordings to work with.

FORSYTHE: And what happens to the man himself?

WINTERS: Not our problem.

A silence settles over this last remark. Then:

FORSYTHE (Gloomily): Lovegrove has got her teeth into this project. She’s fiercely protective of it. Have you any idea what you’re asking me to do? There’ll be histrionics – and I really cannot cope.

WINTERS: Lovegrove’s a Civil Servant. She’ll do what she’s told.

FORSYTHE: You tell her.

WINTERS: You’re her boss. You can let her down gently – she’s got till the end of the week.

WINTERS ambles to the door and lets himself out, impervious to FORSYTHE’s baleful eye.

LUCY keeps quiet and we see her mind working. She glances at the door to FORSYTHE’s room, then leaves quietly via the corridor exit without making contact with him. When she’s out of earshot she dials a number on her mobile and listens to an answer-phone message.

LUCY (TO PHONE): Pam. It’s me. I need a favour.

CUT TO

EXTERIOR. STREET. DAY. LUCY leads OV into an expensive West End restaurant.

DAVEY, flummoxed for a moment, pats his pockets and returns bitterly to the car to watch the entrance.

CUT TO

INTERIOR RESTAURANT.

At the table a WAITER attends OV and LUCY, handing them menus in turn.

OV (To WAITER): SPOSSP’TOFF?

WAITER: Sir?

OV (Congenially dismissing the matter as trivial): K’ROIP, K’ROIP.

LUCY: My friend doesn’t speak English.

WAITER: Very good, Madam. Perhaps you’ll be able to help us with the gentleman’s order.

LUCY: I doubt it.

The WAITER withdraws without comment and LUCY takes OV’s menu, then returns it to him the right way up.

LUCY: Now. Everything’s good here. What takes your fancy?

OV: FOI-FOI?

LUCY sighs, suddenly feeling helpless in the face of their apparently insoluble barriers. OV reads this in her face, takes her hand and squeezes it. Brotherly support, not really sexual.

OV (Gently): FHAR-G’NORA-PORA, PUR’PURNOI. YAD’NYA P’PAAH-PARR, SKOUDLE NYAP’WHIR’GROOHN.

LUCY stares at him, mesmerised by the music of the words.

OV: OIST’OYTH. NYEERAT’WHEFTIVROH.

LUCY (Whispering): I know… I know.

She studies him seriously for a moment, then glances at her watch and snaps into business mode.

LUCY (CONT): Now listen. You must understand. My friend Pam is coming soon.

OV peers at her intently, picking up the seriousness.

OV: SY’OOON…?

LUCY indicates her watch, then points to the third chair at their table. OV watches the mime attentively.

LUCY (CONT): You… do what she says. OK?

OV looks at the empty chair in benign wonderment, then back to LUCY, who nods encouragement.

CUT TO

EXTERIOR RESTAURANT. P.O.V. INSIDE CAR ACROSS THE ROAD. DAVEY glances at his watch and settles deeper into his seat.

A taxi pulls up and a tall woman who we will know as PAM pays off the driver. PAM is exotically dressed in an ankle-length black coat and a wide-brimmed hat with a feather.

CUT TO

INTERIOR RESTAURANT. PAM enters, declines an invitation to check her hat and coat and lets the waiter lead her to LUCY’s table, where she sits down and starts talking before LUCY has a chance to introduce OV.

PAM (To LUCY): Don’t ask me what I want – just order me the most expensive thing on the menu and get your plastic out. You can tell me what you’re up to while I’m studying the wine list.

LUCY: Pam, this is my friend, Ov.

PAM seems to notice OV for the first time and looks him over with approval.

PAM (To OV): Lucy’s kept you pretty quiet.

OV (To LUCY, inquiring): S’YOOON?

LUCY: Pam.

OV: P’RUMM… GOR’VRUISNYE.

OV stands, takes PAM’s hand briefly, and sits down again.

LUCY: He doesn’t speak any English.

PAM (To OV): Vraiment? Quel est la langage du jour? Welche sprache sollen wir heute sprechen?

LUCY: We’re not entirely sure. I’ll explain when there’s time. Did you bring all the gear?

PAM: How can you ask? I’m wearing half of it. The rest’s in the bag… (She hands LUCY a Yale key on a keyring) …That’s to my brother’s flat. He’s away, so you won’t be disturbed. Don’t say I never do anything for you. Now, where’s the waiter?

CUT TO

EXTERIOR RESTAURANT. DAVEY keeps one eye on the entrance while he unwraps his sandwiches. He opens one up and peers at the filling without enthusiasm.

CUT TO

INTERIOR RESTAURANT. BASEMENT.

LUCY and PAM clatter down the stairs with OV, who looks bewildered but happy to go along with whatever comes.

Two doors face them at the foot of the stairs, marked with MEN and WOMEN symbols. OV glances in panic at the MENS’ door when he realises he’s being dragged into the WOMENS’. The door closes behind them.

CUT TO

EXTERIOR RESTAURANT. DAVEY, in his car, watches the entrance as diners come out in pairs and groups. OV and LUCY are not among them.

DAVEY looks at his watch which now says three-forty. He reaches for his transmitter and speaks into it. Two back-up cars turn into the street and glide to a halt close to DAVEY’s car. Plain clothes men climb out and deploy casually up and down the street.

Two WOMEN come out of the restaurant: one in a long black coat and wide-brimmed hat with a feather in it, the other wearing jeans and a baseball cap. They get into a waiting minicab, which drives off.

CUT TO

DAVEY’s watch says four o’clock when he loses patience and marches into the restaurant.

CUT TO

INTERIOR. RESTAURANT. DAVEY, with the MAITRE D’ trailing him, threads his way among mostly empty tables, scanning them for LUCY and OV.

PAM watches him over a glass of wine as he dashes his hand on the table and storms out.

CUT TO

INTERIOR. UPPER CORRIDOR OF VICTORIAN APARTMENT BLOCK.

LUCY, still wearing the baseball cap, leads OV from the stairhead to a door, which she opens with PAM’s key.

OV follows her with the look of one taking part in a game as best he can, but waiting to be told the rules. He is wearing PAM’s long black coat and the outrageous hat.

LUCY: Don’t look at me like that. This is for your benefit.

She takes the hat off his head and opens the flat door. OV takes her lead and starts peeling off the black coat as he follows her inside.

CUT TO

INTERIOR. APARTMENT. LUCY looks around, uncertain what to do next. She makes an expansive gesture to convey that this is for OV’s use, then flops into a chair. OV hesitates, then sits down, politely awaiting instructions.

LUCY: I’m going to be out of a job. I hope you appreciate that.

OV (Helpfully): G’LISS-FLITTLYI. M’GORGOSH’NOISH.

LUCY glances helplessly at him and gets an encouraging beam in return.

LUCY: Maybe it all makes perfect sense to you, but if we don’t find a way to communicate soon, I’ve thrown away a career for nothing. Now listen carefully and try to understand. We’re going to be apart for a while…

LUCY hands OV a mobile, puts his thumb to the 3 button and makes him press it three times.

LUCY (Cont): If you want me, press this button three times, then the green one and…

FX:  Ring tone of mobile in LUCY’s pocket. She takes her mobile out and shows OV.

LUCY (Cont): …I’ll hear you. If you hear it ring, press the green one and listen.

OV (Peering at the mobile): OOF’T’K’FAAK-T’PROI. SMAARNYI-GLOIF.

LUCY closes OV’s hand over his mobile, indicating he can keep it.

LUCY: It’s just for emergencies. In case we get separated. Don’t lose it.

OV: FOOF?

LUCY: Have you any idea how exhausting this is for me? Please, give me some sign that I’m getting through to you.

OV: S’MIRGROISH-MORGLOI. FAAHDI-BAAHDI.

LUCY (studies him wearily): I know you’re sympathetic. Maybe we even have an understanding. I’m just missing out on the details. Help me – any way you can.

OV: KIR’FSHNET-FLISH. K’LAASNYI.

LUCY: If you say so.

OV (Looking into her eyes): S’GROISHNYE-FLOISH, WEFTIVROH. FRAAB’DI’DAH.

LUCY (Sleepily): UR’GOISHNYE.

OV: SP’TAAD… MOIZVITSNU.

LUCY: KROI’NYE, KROI’NYE. FUR-VOISNI PR’PAAP. ST’FLEEP P’RPAAJNI GR’FOIFF. But that’s not the point. I’m still sticking my neck out for you.

OV (Peering at her intently): MI’GROIFF, MI’GROIFF – SNYAD’S’TAAP-F’PRAADYI!

LUCY: You think I had a choice? They were going to take me off the case. F’TOISH’P’GRAAP, M’PAAP-PAAP SKLOOF.

OV: VIR’B’DOOZLYI. NAAK-SPOIF SP’YEDNYISH.

LUCY (Dozing off): I know what I’m doing, all right?

OV: M’PFOIFF. LISH’PROIDYEZ-PYEPNYI. INDRIGNIZ’F’TYUPRUTT.

LUCY: That’s not your concern. There’s nothing you can do about it. FAAP’T’PAAHLYI. Get some sleep.

Her eyes close and OV stares intently at her for a while, then settles back in his chair.

CUT TO

KEHOE’S OFFICE.

KEHOE sits at his desk. He hangs up one telephone and picks up another. DAVEY is with him.

CUT TO

FORSYTHE’s OFFICE as WINTERS enters. FORSYTHE is fairly animated for once, pacing about holding sheets of print-out. He hardly glances at WINTERS.

FORSYTHE: A faint ray of hope. No identifiable family of languages yet, but there’s a chance that repetition indicates a plural, as in certain African languages – and indeed Malay. The speech pattern doesn’t support this theory, and owes nothing to Indo-European structure, but at least…

WINTERS: She’s done a bunk.

FORSYTHE: What?

WINTERS: Your girl’s disappeared. And she’s taken our man with her.

FORSYTHE (Flabbergasted): Lovegrove…? She doesn’t do things like that.

CUT TO

INTERIOR. APARTMENT LIVING ROOM. EARLY MORNING. In the neutral light of dawn, LUCY and OV are asleep in their armchairs. OV stirs, peers around, props himself on one elbow and gazes at LUCY’s sleeping face.

OV (With feeling): SMAR’VOHR-NYOVLISHYENDA… PAHR’FROIT P’TAAPHI. NESHTIN-PREH-F’TAVRINOH…FRAAB’DI’DAAH… GH’ORSHYIN…

He reaches out to stroke her head and she stirs blissfully.

OV: …FEST’ISHFRU FOI-FOI. P’TAAMYIN.

OV lies back and dozes off.

CUT TO

INTERIOR. APARTMENT HALLWAY. SOME TIME LATER. PAM lets herself in the front door, goes into the kitchen, looks around and finds the coffee jar. A cat looks up from its breakfast. PAM turns as LUCY appears in the doorway.

PAM: Where’s your friend?

LUCY: He’s sleeping. Shouldn’t you be at work?

PAM: Shouldn’t you? I’m taking refuge from my editor. What’s your excuse? If you want to salvage what’s left of our friendship, tell me why your man has to stay out of sight. What’s he done?

LUCY: He hasn’t done anything. He’s a stateless enigma, that’s all.

PAM: So why is he your problem?

LUCY: The Department gave me the job of finding out where he’s from and why he’s here. Now they’re taking me off it.

PAM: So, what do you know about him?

LUCY: I know he’s gentle, good company – witty, if you could understand what he was talking about. There’s no malice in him and he’s no threat to anyone – but he’s in real danger unless I can prove it.

PAM: Who do you think he is?

LUCY: You’ve got to have a working theory.

PAM: Right.

LUCY: OK. Let’s say he belongs to a culture we know nothing about – one that’s managed to stay off the bureaucratic map.

PAM: A lost tribe? How romantic.

LUCY: This is a sophisticated culture we’re talking about.

PAM: One that’s escaped the notice of every country in the world?

LUCY: I haven’t got any answers, Pam. All I know is he’s genuine. He’s got something to say and if we can’t understand him it’s our problem, not his.

PAM: Alright, he’s not a new Messiah and he’s not from Venus – I hope. But he comes from somewhere.

LUCY: Ah, but does he?

PAM: Don’t go mystic on me.

LUCY: I’ve been feeling like that ever since I got to know him.

PAM: Mystic?

LUCY: Out of touch with normality.

CUT TO

INTERIOR. LIVING ROOM. OV wakes up and looks around, finding himself alone. He hears a murmur of voices – LUCY and PAM talking in the kitchen. Reassured, he stretches and settles back in his chair.

His eye strays to a book on a table which happens to be `England, their England’. He opens it, peers at the page and frowns, turns the book upside down and tries again…

CUT TO

INTERIOR. KITCHEN. As LUCY and PAM continue.

LUCY: We insist that everyone comes from somewhere because we can’t imagine any other possibility. It’s only a convention we impose.

PAM (Patiently): It’s a physical certainty.

LUCY: But not an obligation. People are born at sea – sometimes even in flight. Who’s to say where they come from?

PAM: All right, it’s possible to be rootless.

LUCY: And couldn’t rootless people make up a fringe culture that isn’t on record anywhere?

PAM: Where would you find them?

LUCY: Everyone’s anonymous when they travel. OV’s a traveller who took a wrong turning and got snagged up in the system.

PAM: Like the Flying Dutchman.

CUT TO

INTERIOR. LIVING ROOM. OV is on his feet roaming around, at his ease. He stands at the window, which opens out onto a roof garden.

He walks out, stretches, breathes deeply and gazes up at the sky, enjoying the morning.

A bird, suspiciously like the one he released from the SPEAKER’s cage, alights on the fire escape.

CUT TO

INTERIOR. KITCHEN. LUCY is warming to her subject.

LUCY: There are close on four hundred thousand people in the air right now, give or take. They’re cut off from the world – in limbo until they arrive wherever they’re going. Maybe some keep travelling – Who would know?

PAM: The Immigration Authority of any country you care to name.

LUCY: Not if they’re in transit. If they’re travelling on, they’re someone else’s problem.

PAM: Sooner or later they have to run into customs.

LUCY: Ah… you think the system’s deadly efficient, don’t you? I’ve worked for Immigration and I promise you, most of the time the left hand doesn’t even know the right hand exists.

PAM: So you think there’s a migrant race loose in the world?

LUCY: I need a working theory.

PAM (Considers): That one could qualify you for the funny farm.

CUT TO

EXTERIOR. THE ROOF GARDEN. THE SAME TIME.

OV leans over the parapet to study the bird which is still perched on the fire escape.

CUT TO

INTERIOR. KITCHEN. LUCY and PAM are still talking.

PAM: How long are you planning to hide out here?

LUCY: That depends. I’m going into the office to do some negotiating. I can’t take Ov, and I don’t want to leave him alone.

PAM: You want me to baby-sit now?

LUCY: Just for a few hours. If he wanders off and I lose him I’ll really have blown it.

PAM: What kind of negotiating?

LUCY: Right now Ov doesn’t legally exist. They can terminate him any time they like – no questions asked.

PAM: So you’re going to put him in the limelight.

LUCY gets up and fetches a sealed packet from a work-top.

LUCY: It’s all here. The whole story, names and titles of everyone who’s dealt with Ov since he arrived. If I’m not back in six hours, use it.

PAM: I don’t believe this is you talking.

LUCY is in the doorway preparing to leave.

LUCY: When they take me off the case, Ov will vanish into some black hole and I’ll never see him again. Either I get my way with the people in Whitehall, or you get a story that’ll make your career. What do you say to that?

PAM: I say you’re taking a hell of a chance.

LUCY: That’s what Ov said last night.

LUCY walks to the front door with a spring in her step and waves as she lets herself out.

PAM stares at the closed door, suddenly thoughtful, as LUCY’s last remark registers.

PAM (To herself): That’s what OV said?

CUT TO

EXTERIOR. ROOF GARDEN. THE SAME TIME. The bird on the fire escape swoops away.

OV, watching it go, sees LUCY leave the building and walk off down the street.

CUT TO

EXTERIOR. CITY STREET. LUCY walks with purpose, looking for a taxi.

High above her we see the small figure of OV, clearly agitated. He starts down the fire escape.

CUT TO

INTERIOR. APARTMENT. PAM stands in the hallway. She looks at the living room door, shakes her head, then goes back into the kitchen.

PAM: How do you know what OV said?

CUT TO

EXTERIOR. STREET. OV walks briskly along trying to catch sight of LUCY and not seeing her, on the other side, climbing into a taxi.

OV wanders along the street, staring up at the building he has just come from. Not looking where he’s going, he barges into a passer-by.

OV (Pleasantly): SP’TROOT F’PAAP – BOR’GDOIGNYE.

PASSER-BY: Pardon?

OV: GROIFLYEH, GROIFLYEH. FRAAP’TI-PRAAP P’TROON.

PASSER-BY (Over shoulder): Same to you, pal.

OV looks up at the looming buildings again. Which one is his? He stares this way and that but they all look much alike. His face shows concern but he is, as always, calm.

Gradually he relaxes, becoming absorbed in everything around him, and starts wandering along the street.

CUT TO

INTERIOR. FORSYTHE’S OFFICE. FORSYTHE looks more put upon than usual. WINTERS, ECCLES and KEYHOE have taken over the room which has become an intimidating place for LUCY who is facing them, visibly struggling to keep her nerve.

ECCLES: You can’t do this, Lovegrove.

LUCY (Innocent): I’ve done it.

WINTERS: Lovegrove, you’ve wilfully breached security by helping Mr Zvardo escape. We won’t waste time discussing your career – you’re facing prosecution.

LUCY: He hasn’t escaped. He’s with me.

ECCLES: Where, exactly?

LUCY takes a deep breath, bracing herself.

KEHOE has been watching her carefully and now motions her to stay silent.

KEHOE: You’re not naturally devious, are you Miss Lovegrove? Do you play cards?

LUCY: Bridge.

KEHOE: And I’m sure you lose with good grace. But you do lose.

LUCY looks uncomfortable but says nothing. KEHOE continues for WINTERS’ and ECCLES benefit.

KEHOE (Cont): Lovegrove is not stupid. Her file makes intimidating reading, in fact there’s no one in this room to touch her academically – I’m sure you won’t mind my saying that…

He pauses innocently, enjoying WINTERS’ and ECCLES’ expressions.

KEHOE (Cont): But she’s a lousy bluffer. The instinct just isn’t there, and she knows it.

ECCLES: Are you saying she’s bluffing?

KEHOE: No chance. She wouldn’t be risking her career without being very sure of her ground. She’s here because she’s won and I suspect it’s our turn to roll with the punches. Why don’t you lay it on us, Lovegrove?

ECCLES (Testing the phrase with distaste): Lay it on us? What gives you the right to dictate to the Home Office, Lovegrove?

KEHOE (Still to LUCY): What exactly do you want?

LUCY: In my opinion Mr Zvardo arrived here by accident. I believe I can find the answers you’re looking for if I’m allowed to travel with him for a while and take note of his reactions to things.

ECCLES: Travel where?

LUCY: Anywhere. If he can choose where we go, that in itself will tell us something about him. We’ll need an open ticket.

WINTERS: In your dreams.

LUCY: Mr Zvardo is a baffling study. Keeping him under house arrest is the surest way of getting nowhere. I have a theory and I’d like to test it.

WINTERS: Does your theory cover the security risk?

LUCY: You people can’t do anything openly, can you? Your Secret Service goons are wasting their time. Ov is stranded here, completely helpless without a guide. He trusts me and I’ll vouch for him.

ECCLES: That’s not good enough.

LUCY: Oh? Try this then. From today he ceases to be a state secret.

KEHOE nods, confirming what he already suspected.

KEHOE: You’ve made arrangements to go public with him. You’re gambling that publicity will protect you as well as him.

LUCY: Yes. If I can’t work with him for the Government I’ll put him in the Public Domain and carry on in a glare of publicity. Get it through your heads – he’s not your property any more.

A stunned silence. LUCY has surprised herself and everyone else. WINTERS and ECCLES stare at her. KEHOE examines his fingernails.

FORSYTHE sits in his chair massaging his forehead. Eventually he breaks the silence.

FORSYTHE: It’s not Indo-European.

WINTERS: What?

FORSYTHE glances up as if noticing the others for the first time.

FORSYTHE: The language. It’s an agglutinative structure. I said so all along.

WINTERS and ECCLES exchange bewildered glances.

WINTERS (To LUCY): I hope you know what you’ve done. You’ve assumed total responsibility for the fellow.

LUCY: I’ve considered that.

WINTERS: Well I hope you’re up to it, because the moment you walk out of that door you’re solely answerable for the consequences.

CUT TO

EXTERIOR. URBAN PARK. DAY. OV’s footsteps have led him to a street running beside an area of fenced off parkland. He wanders along looking up at the trees flanking the roadway until he comes to a truck parked by the curb.

A SCRUFFY MAN of about 30 sits in the back dangling his legs over the open tailgate. He wears working clothes and is entertaining himself blowing soap bubbles through a plastic ring. He is cheerfully simple. His name is PIP.

Seeing OV, he rolls his eyes and utters an inarticulate greeting.

OV pauses, then sits down beside him.

OV: VOR’GOISHNYE.

PIP (Gurgles): Aaaah-loah…

OV (Gazing up at the trees and pointing): COR’FRAAP-SQUITOON. FIN’P’TROIT FLAAVYI GLISH-FROLL?

PIP follows his gaze and nods enthusiastically, making a great effort to articulate.

PIP: Yaaaaaz… aaaargh. Pip.

OV: PEEP? GRESH’F’PROI? FROFF-T’PROFFGR’NYAAT, POR’GORYESHNI M’NYAANY, K’RAATI, K’RAATI, BAARB’D’ARF. KROIP-SP’DOIGHLI.

PIP nods, staring at OV.

OV (With an expansive hand gesture): GAR’VENYASH-T’PROIGNYE. MAANYI-FAAF PEEP.

PIP: GRESHNYI, GRESHNYI – NISH T’PRAAK FIR’TAAV.

OV(Nodding approval): F’DROIF. PON-PR-DOOF.

PIP: GROIGNYI, GROIGNYI, OOF-PRAAGH BR’NOOF.

OV and PIP (Finishing the quote in unison): FRAAGLYI-FRAAGLYI, MIR’SN’FROIGH-PL’LOOF. S’PRT-FIR-GLAAG’VIR’FROIP-NYAZH-GROOF!

They laugh triumphantly together.

OV: POR’P’TOI, PEEP.

OV pats PIP on the shoulder. PIP nods to himself, slides off the back of the truck and walks off with a cheerful backward wave.

OV makes himself comfortable on some sacking in the back of the truck and lies back, gazing up at the trees.

CUT TO

EXTERIOR. STREET OUTSIDE PAM’S APARTMENT. DAY.

LUCY approaches along the pavement looking very sure of herself. She slows. Her manner changes.

PAM is standing in the main entrance to the building looking left and right along the street. She spots LUCY, they make eye contact and PAM shrugs helplessly as three people step out behind her: the presenter VERONICA, director EASTERBROOK and a CAMERAMAN.

LUCY (Adamant): NO.

PAM: They knew where to find you. What was I supposed to do?

CUT TO

EXTERIOR. URBAN PARK. LATER THE SAME DAY.

The parked truck is just as it was, as the DRIVER approaches, shuts the tailgate, climbs into the driving seat and drives off.

As the truck moves past CAMERA we see OV asleep on sacking in the back.

CUT TO

ROOF GARDEN AT PAM’S APARTMENT.

EASTERBROOK and VERONICA have made themselves comfortable. The CAMERAMAN hovers in the doorway. LUCY occupies her own space by the parapet. PAM is with her.

LUCY (to VERONICA): I’m not co-operating. You’re only here because I don’t want to be seen talking to you in public.

PAM (to EASTERBROOK): If you had an ounce of decency you’d leave now.

VERONICA (To LUCY): You lost your note book. I wanted to return it.

She hands the note book to LUCY.

VERONICA (Cont): It’s just that your friend was so intriguing – the one with the language.

LUCY: He’s not here.

VERONICA: Where could I find him?

LUCY: He’s not your concern.

VERONICA: Who is he?

LUCY: I don’t know, I’m not saying any more.

The CAMERAMAN quietly raises a hand-held digital video.

PAM (To CAMERAMAN): You can put that away.

EASTERBROOK: You see, Miss Lovegrove – may I call you Lucy? – you work for a government department, you’re looking after someone who behaves quite strangely, and as soon as he attracts attention you’re all bundled off by a very capable minder.

VERONICA: You can’t blame us for being curious.

LUCY: If you know that much about me you’ll know I’m not an attention-seeker and I don’t deal with the media. If I decide to talk about any of this, it’ll be when I’m ready.

VERONICA: That’s fine. We’ll be there.

EASTERBROOK: If we could have a quick word with your friend we might decide there’s nothing worth pursuing anyway. As the police say, ‘eliminate him from our inquiries’

LUCY: Not just now.

VERONICA: Where is he?

LUCY and PAM (Together): LUCY: Asleep… PAM: Scotland…

EASTERBROOK (eyes them both with mild surprise): You’ve lost him, haven’t you?

PAM: Certainly not.

LUCY: I can contact him any time. Now, if you don’t mind…

She goes to the door and holds it open for them. VERONICA and the CAMERMAN move slowly past her into the corridor.

EASTERBROOK (pausing in the doorway): Where did you say he is again?

CUT TO

EXTERIOR. OPEN COUNTRY. DAY. The truck carrying OV drives along a minor road.

OV sleeps soundly on sacking in the back.

SFX: Mobile ring tone from OV’s pocket. He stirs, rolls over and stays asleep.

CUT TO

INTERIOR. PAM’S APARTMENT. DAY. LUCY listens to the ring tone, staring at PAM with hollow, despairing eyes.

PAM: Keep trying.

CUT TO

EXTERIOR. CAR PARK. NIGHT. The truck pulls in. The headlights go out.

The DRIVER locks his cab and walks away.

CUT TO

EXTERIOR. CAR PARK. EARLY MORNING.

SFX: Mobile ring tone.

OV wakes up, fumbles in his pocket and puts the phone to his ear as LUCY showed him.

LUCY (Voice Over phone): Ov, is that you? Where are you?

OV examines the phone with mild fascination.

OV (To phone): LLUM’BEDD? D’Y-ZIVROH P’TAAD-FROIFF.

LUCY (Voice Over phone): Thank God you’re safe. I’ve been trying all night – why didn’t you answer?

OV: FOOF?

CUT TO

INTERIOR. PAM’S APARTMENT. THE SAME TIME. LUCY has the phone up to her ear. PAM looks on.

LUCY (To phone): Try to tell me where you are.

PAM: How’s he supposed to know that? He couldn’t tell you anyway.

LUCY (To phone): Ov, concentrate. Talk to me. (To PAM): They can trace a mobile signal, can’t they?

PAM: Apparently, but we haven’t got the equipment and wouldn’t know what to do with it if we had. The people who can do things like that are your secret service friends, but I don’t think you want to ask them.

LUCY hugs the phone to her ear excluding PAM with her back.

LUCY (Quietly, to phone): Ov, I know you can do this. V’RGOISH-NYE… You have no idea how important this is to both of us. N’YAAF-F’PROI-GNEZH… please… F’R-DOISHNYI…reach out to me.

CUT TO

EXTERIOR. CAR PARK. THE SAME TIME. OV has climbed out of the lorry now and is strolling, enjoying the morning air, appreciating the rolling countryside that stretches away beyond the car park.

OV (To phone): F’R-SP’R-FROIGNY-VROIGLIZH. F’TAAP, F’TAAP… MIR’TR-POONYI…

A carefree hand gesture indicates that everyday problems evaporate on such a day as this.

LUCY (Voice Over phone): You go ahead and enjoy yourself. Don’t worry about me – I’ll just panic here in private until they come to arrest me.

OV reacts to her sharp tone. He peers at the mobile with concern in his face.

OV: OR’YEFF-TIVROIGHNYE, PIR’QUIDISHTINYEV…

OV turns slowly in a complete circle as he speaks.

OV (Contd.): FRAAGHLI-FRAAGHLI SPOIF QUON’NESTLE-TROON.

CUT TO

INTERIOR. PAM’S APARTMENT. LUCY has her phone clamped to her ear.

OV (Voice Over phone): MR’VOIGLYISH… SPRAAFT’YINYESH… BAR’FAHR-FLETSHTYI GRORSH’DI-BRORK-BRORK…

CUT TO

EXTERIOR. CAR PARK. As OV continues a slow, deliberate monologue, gazing around as he speaks.

OV (To phone): FAHR’GOID’R’YEZH’GAR’FROIGH. S’TAGHLI. WEFTIVROH. FAADHI-BAADHI.

SFX: A cock crows in the distance.

OV smiles at the sound, still with the mobile to his ear, and begins humming a tune, resolving into the song he sang in the recording studio…

OV (Whispers to phone): NYEZ’TFAARNI… HORKRI-HORKRI FRAAHGLI LIS’HRADIPP… BORG’DOI…

(Bursts into song)

HARV’YENYI LIS’HRADIPP,

ORCH’PETYALI S’FOIGAL’HIPP.

ARV’ARD’ NYEEEEE,

ARV’ARD’ NYEEEEE –

ORP’HORVYE’GHYM’PARRREEEP!

CUT TO

INTERIOR. PAM’S APARTMENT. LUCY holds the phone up where PAM can hear it too, as the last echoes of OV’s song reach them. PAM shakes her head and makes a helpless gesture.

LUCY: Did you hear that?

PAM: I heard it. I didn’t understand anything he said.

LUCY: He was telling me which way he went.

PAM: You’ve worked out the language?

LUCY: No.

PAM: But you knew what he was saying.

LUCY: Yes.

PAM: So you know where to find him.

LUCY (Thoughtful): Apparently, yes. Where’s your car?

CUT TO

EXTERIOR. CITY STREET. DAY.

A red Toyota containing PAM and LUCY emerges from a basement garage and screams off down the street.

From a parked Volvo, VERONICA, EASTERBROOK and the CAMERAMAN are watching the front of the building.

VERONICA turns to stare at the departing Toyota.

VERONICA: That was them.

EASTERBROOK twists to follow her eyeline. The car is facing the wrong way, he is slumped low in the driving seat and is obviously not going to be quick off the mark.

As he fumbles with the ignition, a Ford with DAVEY in it makes a handbrake turn beside them to pursue the Toyota.

VERONICA (Contd): That’s him – that’s the minder we saw at Speakers’ Corner.  Come on David – let’s see some high-energy driving… don’t lose him!

EASTERBROOK pulls the Volvo out into the path of the Ford. DAVEY is intent upon the Toyota, staring at its retreating number plate and speaking into his mike.

As the Volvo pulls out DAVEY slams on the brakes too late to avoid collision, reverses angrily, tearing locked bumpers from bodywork in the process. He glares at EASTERBROOK, mouthing something grotesque through the windscreen.

When DAVEY stares up the road, PAM’s Toyota is out of sight.

EASTERBROOK begins an agonising three point turn which merely serves to up to hold DAVEY up more.

CUT TO

EXTERIOR. COUNTRY ROAD. DAY. OV walks along, gazing up at the trees that flank the road on both sides. He hums as he walks.

CUT TO

INTERIOR. FORSYTHE’S OFFICE. FORSYTHE sits at his desk, apparently oblivious to the conversation between WINTERS and KEHOE that’s going on in front of him.

WINTERS (To KEHOE): The bottom line is, Lovegrove has lost our man, and your people don’t seem any more capable than she is. I shall see what line the Minister wants to take over Mr Zvardo – IF that is indeed his name – and IF your highly trained operatives ever manage to find him.

WINTERS leaves the room, slamming the door behind him.

KEHOE is unmoved, as ever. Finally he turns to FORSYTHE.

KEHOE: Between ourselves, what is your view of Zvardo?

FORSYTHE casts around for an answer, more vague and distracted than ever, asked for a personal opinion.

FORSYTHE: I’m not really an observer of people – I’m only interested in their languages. Besides, I haven’t met him.

KEHOE: You’ve spent weeks analysing his language. What does your instinct tell you? Are we looking at an elaborate hoax?

FORSYTHE: If it’s a hoax I salute whoever devised it. Instinct tells me this is a real, functional language. It has structure, it has patterns, but where I look for consistency I find only horizons that keep unfolding.

KEHOE: Have you made any progress?

FORSYTHE: Yes and no. I should be translating the language fluently by now, but the truth is I haven’t identified a complete sentence yet.

KEHOE: You said “yes and no”. I’ve only heard “no”.

FORSYTHE: Occasionally I feel something coming through. I can play a passage of his voice and know, for a moment, that the meaning is there if only I could focus on it.

FORSYTHE gets up and goes to the window where he stands looking out. KEHOE watches him thoughtfully.

KEHOE: I was hoping you could help me with my dilemma.

FORSYTHE (Bitterly): Your dilemma…

KEHOE: I can’t go on throwing man-hours at this. The man appears to be clean. He’s just another arrival with no apparent means of identifying himself. We’ve got plenty of those. This one, on the other hand, is obviously willing to talk – and the failing seems to be on our part.

FORSYTHE: You asked for my instinct. I know nothing about Mr Zvardo but I don’t believe he’s conning us.

CUT TO

EXTERIOR. COUNTRY ROAD. DAY. OV strolls along the road towards a railway crossing. The red and white barriers are down, barring his way.

He keeps walking without breaking step, ducks under the first barrier and ambles forward.

As he steps between the tracks we see the distant train hurtling towards him, unheard.

SFX: Bird song – distinctive call of a lark.

OV hears the bird and looks up, moving to catch sight of it.

As he stands staring up at the singing bird, the train passes within inches of him behind his back.

The rush of wind snatching at his hair is the first OV notices of it, and by then it’s passed.

SFX: Blaring train horn. Rush and clatter of wheels on rails, fading.

OV stares after the train in mild surprise, smoothes his hair and continues on his way.

CUT TO

EXTERIOR. MAIN ROAD. DAY. PAM drives the red Toyota, LUCY staring anxiously ahead.

PAM: Where are we going?

LUCY: Don’t know yet.

PAM: You haven’t even got a map.

LUCY: I don’t need a map.

PAM: How long are we going to chase around the country on the strength of what you think Ov said?

LUCY: It’s all we’ve got to go on. If I’m right we’ll find him, if not, we won’t.

CUT TO

EXTERIOR. COUNTRY ROAD. DAY. OV strolls past a village sign reading ‘Lower Lasherham’ and into a sleepy village street.

He wanders along it, pausing to look in shop windows and puzzling over any written information that presents itself.

SFX: Distant raucous singing. From an open door come sounds of revelry, the cheerful cackle of raised voices.

The building is a pub – small and primitive – and OV approaches, interested.

CUT TO

INTERIOR PUB. CONTINUOUS ACTION. OV stands in the doorway and looks around. The Tap Room has a stone floor, low ceiling and inglenook fireplace.

Half a dozen FARM LABOURERS are sitting on wooden settles, playing crib at a table.

One of the group is the LANDLORD. He is out front watching the play, and to judge from his size, very much one of his own regulars.

OV enters and there is a lull in the conversation, as there would be with the arrival of any stranger. The LANDLORD takes his time going round behind his bar.

OV’s natural friendliness shows in his face and he throws a cheerful greeting to the company.

OV: GOR’LYOI.

A gurgle of rustic acknowledgement answers him, with a collective wag of chins.

The LANDLORD is already pulling a pint. (This is the kind of pub where any other order requires written notice). The bar is festooned with a collection of foreign banknotes, each one wrapped in polythene and pinned to the overhead beam.

The LANDLORD eyes up his new customer.

LANDLORD (Rich Country accent): How’rye goin’ on, me ol’ mucker?

OV (Nodding with approval at all he sees): F’SHDUR’FTUR.

LANDLORD: Reckon we’re all a bit like that t’day.

A cheery cackle from the group confirms this. The LANDLORD sets OV’s unordered pint on the bar.

LANDLORD: Three pound twenty for cash.

OV goes through his pockets, realising that some offering is called for, and comes up with a plain gold ring etched with a vaguely Celtic pattern.

OV: WUR’WD’YEV-LYI. POISH’N’PROOT’T’FAAB.

The LANDLORD holds the ring up to the light, mystified.

LANDLORD: Wha’s this then? Yer Ma’s wedding ring or summat? Looks valuable to me.

OV makes a leisurely gesture conveying that the ring is of no consequence and he should keep it.

LANDLORD: No cash eh? Never moind, that’ll see us roight till you get some.

OV: K’RAAD-V’VEH’SHNYI.

LANDLORD: Good ol’boy.

OV (raises glass, peering at the beer with thinly veiled alarm): BUR’GR’LOIG-F’PROOT…

A couple of other glasses raise in answer to him, the LANDLORD’s included.

LANDLORD: Fair play t’you, Cocker. Been around a bit?

OV: WEFT’IVROH… MAAGLI. P’SPOOT’FROP’FROI.

With this he drinks.

VOICES FROM THE GROUP: Dane’yatch, Me’owd… Ee’s a boy…

OV and the locals are swilling merrily as a POLICEMAN enters.

POLICEMAN: Alright, Harry?

LANDLORD: Alright Dave. Why aren’t you out chasin’ villains?

POLICEMAN: If the Devil cast his net in ‘ere I’d have the lot.

Cackles of merriment greet this.

The POLICEMAN wanders ponderously to the table and sits down.

VOICE FROM THE GROUP: Give the man his tea, Harry, you miserable bugger.

POLICEMAN: Any of you been wandering on the railway recently?

VOICE FROM THE GROUP: We ain’t got time to wander about. Got to make a living.

Further cackling from the group.

POLICEMAN: Only someone nearly got hit on the crossing at Piper’s Wood. Driver reported it.

LANDLORD: Weren’t none of our lot, Dave.

The LANDLORD goes into the kitchen behind his bar and puts the kettle on.

The POLICEMAN nods peacefully at the assembled faces. His eye falls at last on OV, whose looks and well-cut clothes set him apart.

OV has nearly finished his pint and is looking into the glass with the beginnings of approval.

CUT TO

EXTERIOR. ROAD. EVENING. In the fading light, PAM’s Toyota drives slowly along the tree lined road OV took earlier. The car crosses the railway tracks and drives on.

PAM: Did you pack a bag?

LUCY: No, of course not.

PAM: What do you want to do – find a hotel or go home? The alternative is sleeping in the car.

LUCY: We’re not turning back now. I know we’re going the right way.

PAM: Better look for somewhere to stay then.

The car rolls into Lower Lasherham, past the pub OV went into – the Black Horse – on down the High Street, and stops at a Bed & Breakfast sign.

PAM (Contd): And by the way, you’re paying.

CUT TO

INTERIOR. PUB. NIGHT. The LOCALS are as animated as ever.

OV is completely smashed – cheerfully cross-eyed. The Tap Room is full now, with the original faces and more besides. Lusty voices are singing:

‘For tonight we’ll merry merry be, For tonight we’ll merry merry be, For tonight we’ll merry merry be… Tomorrow we’ll be sober.’

OV mounts a chair, slopping beer in all directions as he does so, and conducts the singing gleefully.

LOCAL (To LANDLORD): Get of your arse, Harry. There’s a man doyin’ of thirst over there.

A LOCAL hands OV another pint.

OV: KROIGHLYI… KROIGHLYI-SP’TAAT-FRAAT.

LOCAL: That’s alroight me-owd.

OV: FOR’P’DOIG-FROIF, N’ISHTI-FRU?

LOCAL (Pauses): Oh, I don’ really know. Never really thought about that.

OV: VAR’F’DOIFF-PROIGLYI… MATT-PRANN-FOOSH.

LOCAL: Not any more – I learnt my lesson. never you moind.

OV: NAADLYI, NAADLYI

Across the room, the LANDLORD Is in a huddle at the bar with a small man wearing a hat and thick glasses. He is SIDNEY, and he is paying close attention as the LANDLORD shows him OV’s ring. SIDNEY takes the ring and peers at it through an eye-mag.

SIDNEY: That’s old. No hallmark, but it’s old gold alright. Where d’you get it?

LANDLORD: Customer. Chap over there.

He indicates OV, who is surrounded by LOCALS.

SIDNEY (Still peering at the ring): I haven’t seen one like it, but I’ll tell you what – that’s worth a bit for rarity value, if nothing else.

SIDNEY hands the ring back to the LANDLORD. The LANDLORD takes it and stares thoughtfully across the room at OV, who seems to have the attention of the whole room.

OV (Reciting to the assembly): GAR’VENYASH-T’PROIGNYE. MAANYI-FAAF.

GRESHNYI, GRESHNYI – NISH T’PRAAK FIR’TAAV. F’DROIF. PON-PR-DOOF.

GROIGNYI, GROIGNYI, OOF-PRAAGH BR’NOOF.

FRAAGLYI-FRAAGLYI, MIR’SN’FROIGH-PL’LOOF.

S’PRT-FIR-GLAAG’VIR’FROIP-NYAZH-GROOF!

LANDLORD: I do admire people who’ve got a way with words.

SIDNEY (To LANDLORD): Bit of a poet, ain’t he? Where’s he from?

LANDLORD: Not local.

OV (Bursting into song): HARV’YENYI LIS’HRADIPP,

ORCH’PETYALI S’FOIGAL’HIPP.

ARV’ARD’ NYEEEEE,

ARV’ARD’ NYEEEEE –

ORP’HORVYE’GHYM’PARRREEEP!

CUT TO

EXTERIOR. VILLAGE STREET. THE SAME TIME. LUCY and PAM are out of the car. LUCY pauses to listen to the singing from the pub across the road.

PAM: Someone’s having a good time.

LUCY: I told you – this is the place.

As they cross the road, a police car rolls up behind PAM’s parked Toyota.

The POLICEMAN, DAVE, gets out and walks around it thoughtfully.

CUT TO

INTERIOR. PUB. CONTINUOUS ACTION. LUCY and PAM enter and force their way through the crush.

OV is at the centre of a huddle of LOCALS, modestly perplexed by the roar of general approval and burst of applause that greeted his song. He is swaying cheerfully and doesn’t notice LUCY and PAM.

PAM: Your boy’s made a hit.

LUCY: He’s off his face – look at him.

As they watch, OV beams delightedly at those gathered around him, spreads his arms wide, opens his mouth as if to speak… and instead weaves his way to a long table, lies down on it and immediately falls asleep with a broad smile on his face.

LUCY rushes to his side. Several LOCALS gather round.

LOCAL (To LUCY): Is he a mate o’ yours?

LUCY: Yes.

LOCAL: Well don’ you worry about him. ‘E’s had a few but ‘e’s a good ol’ boy. Likes a song, don’t ‘e?

LUCY: I suppose he does…

LUCY peers into OV’s peaceful face as he sleeps.

The LANDLORD comes out from behind the bar and looms over them.

LANDLORD (To LUCY): Are you with him?

LUCY: Yes. I’ve never seen him like this though. How much has he had?

LANDORD: What you’d call ‘an elegant sufficiency’.

This raises hoots of laughter from the LOCALS.

LUCY: He doesn’t drink.

LANDLORD (Rounding to the throng): He doesn’t drink.

Further merriment: hoots and cackles of laughter.

OV opens his eyes at this moment, sees LUCY and sits up.

OV: VIR’GROISHNYE… NEEYRFAT-WEFTIVROH. P’TAADI BUR’G’DOISHNY!

LANDLORD: There you go, see? He’s fine.

OV (To LANDLORD): MOIS’YED’FROOP-P’TROIFF. GRAANYI–GRAANYI.

LANDLORD (To OV): That’s alright me ol’ boy. Y’GROIF-NOSS-P’TOFF.

LUCY straightens up, visibly relieved, and produces her wallet.

She pauses – a late reaction to what she heard the LANDLORD say – peers at him quizzically for a moment, decides not to comment, and continues.

LUCY: I’m sure he didn’t have any money. What does he owe you?

The LANDLORD produces OV’s ring and hands it to LUCY.

LANDORD: I thought ‘e was a bit short of cash, ’cause he gave me this instead – to cover it, like.

LUCY (Looking at the ring): Is that OK?

LANDORD:I can’t keep it – looks valuable. You give it back to him when he’s feeling better.

LUCY: How much does he owe you? I’ll cover it.

LANDLORD: Don’t owe me nothing. The lads have had a whip-round to pay for the entertainment. You don’t owe us a thing.

OV swings his legs over the edge of the table and stands up, swaying slightly, with a benign look on his face.

LUCY: How do you feel?

OV (holds his head, muttering): M’P’FOIF. NUNGLE-DRUTTS.

LUCY and PAM lead him from the pub.

CUT TO

EXTERIOR. VILLAGE STREET. CONTINUOUS ACTION. As LUCY and PAM lead OV down the street, DAVE the POLICEMAN is watching.

OV is zig-zagging with the elegance of lifted spirits, and clearly wants to communicate good cheer to LUCY and PAM.

OV: VAR’GOID-NOISH’NYE – FRAAPETI-PAAP-FRAAP.

F’TOISH-PROI FRAAP M’STYAALNYI…

BORG’NYUP’FSPOOT, N’YISTI’KRONTI KRAAPH.

PAM: You just behave, Sunshine.

OV (Explaining, patiently): OIR’GRPHAANYI, PLUFF-NYIT’S’KROIP. F’PAAV…

LUCY: G’ROISHNYI – G’ROISHNYI. SHLULL’FLUSH-PROOP.

PAM (To LUCY): How do you do that?

LUCY (Frustrated): I don’t know…

OV: FHAR-G’NORA-PORA, PUR’PURNOI. YAD’NYA P’PAAH-PARR, SKOUDLE NYAP’WHIR’GROOHN. G’OOD OL’D BOOY… LIN-EM-UPP… WEER’ALL DYIN-O’TH’IRST.

LUCY: You just concentrate on walking straight. BOISH’TUN’FRULL-TRUPP.

OV: OIST’OYTH. NYEERAT’WHEFTIVROH.

(Bursts into song)

FORTOO-NYTE-WEEL-MIRRY-MIRRY-BYEEE,

FORTOO-NYTE-WEEL-MIRRY-MIRRY-BYEEE…

PAM: Knock it off, Ov – you’ll get us arrested.

DAVE the POLICEMAN is waiting beside PAM’s Toyota and now steps out in front of them.

DAVE: Is this your car, Madam.

PAM: It is.

OV has noticed DAVE’s helmet and leans in for a closer look. DAVE waves away the fumes.

DAVE: Been celebrating have we, Sir?

OV mimes the shape of the helmet on his own head with some delight.

OV: GORSH’NYET-FLYSHNYI. KRAATI-FLOIP?

LUCY: No you can’t. Be quiet.

DAVE (writing a ticket): Did you know you have a busted rear light?

PAM: No, I didn’t.

DAVE (hands the ticket to PAM): You have one week to take this into any police station with proof that it’s been repaired. Understand?

PAM: Got it.

OV is lurching at DAVE’s shoulder, beaming cheerfully.

DAVE: Are you alright?

OV: WOLL’WODGE-YEFT’P’PROOP. NYAAKLI.

DAVE: Come again?

LUCY: My friend is here to learn English. His course hasn’t started yet.

DAVE: You’re kidding. I should get him indoors if I were you. Good night.

LUCY: Good night.

OV: NYOISH’CLUMM’SPRONN.

DAVE: Same to you, Pal. P’PROIP.

LUCY, PAM and OV walk away.

DAVE takes a moment to ponder his own last remark, then he shakes his head and moves on.

CUT TO

EXTERIOR. PAM’S CITY APARTMENT BLOCK. EARLY MORNING. PAM’S Toyota turns into the underground car park entrance.

Across the road, DAVEY and another SECRET SERVICE MAN sit in a car. DAVEY gets out and walks across the street.

EASTERBROOK, VERONICA and the whole Outside Broadcast crew move into frame following DAVEY.

CUT TO

INTERIOR. THE UNDERGROUND CAR PARK. MOMENTS LATER. As LUCY, PAM and OV step out of the Toyota, DAVEY is there to confront them.

DAVEY is about to speak but notices LUCY, PAM and OV are staring past him. Turning to follow their eye-line he sees VERONICA, EASTERBROOK and the O.B. crew taking it all in.

VERONICA: Lucy – you’ve found your friend. Can we hear from him now?

LUCY (Resignedly): Why not.

She leads OV forward and the action continues on a TV screen in FORSYTHE’S office.

CUT TO

INTERIOR. FORSYTHE’S OFFICE. FORSYTHE, WINTERS and KEHOE watch the CONTINUING ACTION on screen. LUCY is with them.

On screen, VERONICA approaches OV and LUCY with the mike.

VERONICA: Here’s our mystery man. Where’s he from? What’s his language? These are questions baffling some of the best brains in the country – among them, Lucy Lovegrove, a language expert at the Home Office. Lucy – first things first – what is this gentleman’s name?

LUCY: Ov Zvardo.

VERONICA: Ov Z-vardo – is that right? And what has Mr Zvardo got to say for himself?

She thrusts the mike at OV, who smiles, glances at LUCY for a nod of approval, and looks right into CAMERA.

OV: POR’GLOISH… POR’GLOISH.VIR’MIRSH’NYED’FEER-PLYGH.

IN FORSYTHE’S OFFICE, KEHOE turns to LUCY.

KEHOE: You win, Lovegrove. Your man is public property. Of course, you realise it’ll be impossible for him to disappear now.

CUT TO

INTERIOR. TV STUDIO. BACKSTAGE. Guests are assembled for a chat show. The live AUDIENCE is visible through a door to the studio set. Graphics identify the show as `TALK’S CHEAP’.

In a corner by themselves, the host, BOB McNABB, and producer TERRY BELL are having a quiet word.

VERONICA HIGGINS explains the programme to LUCY, pointing out the host as she speaks.

OV stands politely by.

VERONICA: That’s Bob McNabb over there with the show’s producer, Terry Bell. Bob will do the introductions because it’s his show – for the time being at least – but as guest celeb I’ll be expected to steer OV through it and hopefully get him talking. Don’t worry, I’ll make sure you get a good mention.

LUCY: I don’t particularly want a mention.

VERONICA: Everyone wants their five minutes of fame, Louss – that’s human nature.

LUCY: Are you sure it wouldn’t be better if I was with him? I’d be terrified – but OV might feel easier.

VERONICA: My face is familiar to audiences. They’re more likely to take him seriously if I’m seen to be with him – for credibility.

LUCY (Subdued): I hope they’ll take him seriously anyway.

In the corner, BOB McNABB and TERRY BELL are still talking. McNABB GLANCES IN VERONICA’s direction.

McNABB (To BELL): All I want is for someone to tell me what everyone else seems to know.

BELL: It’s hearsay Bob, don’t let it get to you.

McNABB: So why is Axel Mann chasing that bitch all over town? ‘Talk’s Cheap’ is my show. She couldn’t carry it in a thousand years.

BELL: Bob, you’re letting your imagination run away with you. She’s a guest, that’s all.

McNABB: And I’m going to make sure she knows it. It’s time someone levelled with me.

BELL: She’s only here to introduce some fella with a funny language.

McNABB: Anyone she introduces is toast.

BOB McNABB strides away, pauses to change persona – all teeth and welcoming smile – and walks through the audience onto set to a gale of applause.

We catch a glimpse of the audience over his shoulder.

OV peers after him with interest and turns to LUCY.

OV (Awstruck): VAAH’RGOR’GOR’SNYET-FR’GLAIFF.

LUCY: You’ll be fine. Just be yourself.

VERONICA (To LUCY): Did you understand that?

LUCY: I take a wild guess from time to time.

VERONICA links OV’s arm and smiles at LUCY.

VERONICA: I’ll see if it works for me. We’re on.

OV glances anxiously back at LUCY as VERONICA leads him out.

CUT TO

INTERIOR. STUDIO SET. BOB McNABB finishes his introduction.

McNABB: My first guest has a familiar face to television viewers – in fact you might wonder why I’m interviewing her and not the other way around. Everyone’s seen her fabulous series on eccentrics – or her eccentric series, if you prefer – and this time she’s surpassed herself. She’s brought somebody along who is unlike anybody I’ve ever met… or is he?

He extends an arm as VERONICA and OV walk on.

OV hangs back looking for LUCY but VERONICA drags him on.

McNABB (Cont): Please welcome VERONICA HIGGINS and OV… Z-VARDO.

Applause. McNABB leads his guests to an arrangement of sofas.

OV pauses to blink at the lights and acclimatise to the audience, then follows McNABB, mimicking his walk, almost as an afterthought. A titter from the audience, who have no idea what to expect from him.

OV, still trying to see backstage, takes his place on the sofa next to VERONICA and opposite McNABB.

We see LUCY backstage making an encouraging gesture to him.

McNABB: VERONICA, welcome. Why don’t you introduce your friend?

VERONICA: I’d ask him to introduce himself, but I wouldn’t know how to and you wouldn’t understand a word he said.

McNABB: That’s alright – I don’t expect my guests to say anything – just talk. Talk’s cheap…

McNABB gives the audience a look and gets a laugh.

McNABB (Contd): You say he doesn’t speak English. Lots of people don’t – most of the world, in fact.

VERONICA: OV talks a lot, but he doesn’t seem to speak, or understand, English – and no one has so far identified the language he’s using.

McNABB: Who cares? No one’s listening anyway.

VERONICA: They listen to my show, Bob.

McNABB: Sweet child. I’m kidding…

McNABB mocks a pleading look at the audience and gets a titter.

McNABB (Contd): …let’s hear what your friend has to say.

VERONICA: We’re hoping someone watching will recognise the language he’s speaking.

McNABB: We’ve got several hundred people in the studio audience, and a few viewers at home – if we’re lucky. There ought to be someone out there who can help.

VERONICA: OV arrived in the country nearly a month ago. He has no passport, no identification of any kind, and speaks a language no one understands. The experts can’t figure it out at all.

McNABB (Eyebrow raised at the AUDIENCE): Experts…?

A sympathetic chuckle from the AUDIENCE.

VERONICA: He’s got the top linguists baffled. So please, if anyone watching can understand Mr Z-VARDO, the lines are open.

McNABB (With professional bonhomie): This is my show Veronica – the lines are open when I say so and not before, but I promise you’ll be the first to know.

VERONICA gives him a dazzling smile and continues, to CAMERA, including OV with body language.

VERONICA: We’ve established his name, but we have no idea where he calls home. He’s charming, courteous and fascinating company – I’d love to know what he’s talking about. OV… it’s time we heard from you.

OV glances at her, preoccupied with LUCY, who we see over his shoulder watching him from backstage.

McNABB (To AUDIENCE): This is live television for you. I don’t know what’s coming any more than you do.

VERONICA: Talk to the people, OV.

She gives him a nudge and OV looks at her, politely worried.

LUCY, out of the audience’s view, signals to him to hold forth. OV beckons her on to set but she signals no.

OV (Encouraging): P’TAADHI, WHEFTIVROH.

VERONICA: To the audience.

OV (Explaining to her): LLUM-BEDD ST’VRAAGYIN-VOIP – WEFF.

OV seems to become aware of the audience for the first time and looks around, hands spread as if unsure who to address…

OV (Contd): VAR’V’DYESH-D’RGOISHNYE, FR’P’TAATYI-SPOIF’OIF-POR’BROIGLISH…

BOB NcNABB’s jaw has dropped and he stares open mouthed at OV.

Silence settles. The audience sits spellbound.

VERONICA (Taking control): Keep going.

OV: FR’GRAAP BOR’GOISHNYE. FR’GSNYETS’P’TAAP. FAADI’M’GORPOOPS’P’PLURFF.

McNABB shakes his head and reasserts his grip on the proceedings.

McNABB: Well, let’s see if I can get through. (To OV) Mr Z-VARDO – OV, you don’t mind if I call you OV? Where did you grow up?

OV: KLUMM?

McNABB: Let’s start with school. Where were you educated?

OV looks intently at BOB McNABB, cranes his neck to catch sight of LUCY, then turns to VERONICA with a well-meaning, apologetic shrug.

OV (To VERONICA): PUR’PRT’FRUR-BR’GOISHNYI-FRATTIK’PURT-SP’LEET-GORS’NASH’NYI.

VERONICA: He’s got plenty to say, Bob. Try to keep up.

McNABB: I think I’m ahead of him.

OV is beckoning LUCY again.

OV: P’TAADHI, BORG’S’NYET’FLULL. NYIGRAT-FOIGHLISH-PROOT. UR’VURT’BORGN’YIZH-T’PROISHNYI.

McNABB: Stay with me, OV. I don’t mind what language you speak – we’ve got people who can translate just about anything. Just keep it real.

OV listens attentively with mild amusement. He has noticed McNABB’s posture, the way he moves his head as he speaks, and now mimics it superbly for the audience.

(Laughter.)

McNABB (Acidly, to AUDIENCE): He’s a clown, isn’t he. Where d’you learn to do that OV? Vaudeville? Maybe that’s where you come from – Ov from Vaudeville, the thinking man’s idiot.

OV: OISQUILL’FLISH. T’PROY-T’PROY-G’DIGROONYI. M’PFOIFF.

McNABB: You see, my problem is I’ve interviewed guests from everywhere you care to name: chess players from Cameroon, bee-keepers from Alaska, Mayan Indians and Aleutian tent-dwellers. They all spoke something that was recognisable to someone…

OV: VAADHI-G’GHAASTLOIGH.

McNABB: …Even if what they had to say was mindless drivel, at least we knew what it was.

OV: BOR’GOR’SLAAV’P’PORKYIT-LYET-LYI. FRAABHIDI-CAAHLISH-LEGH.

VERONICA (Chipping in): I think you’ve grasped the point now, Bob. With OV we don’t know what we’re missing. He’s got us beaten and no one wants to admit it.

McNABB: I think you’re being really naïve here, Veronica. I wonder what your friend thinks.

OV has been mimicking the postures of VERONICA and McNABB during this exchange, which the AUDIENCE found a lot more entertaining than the bickering of two presenters.

Laughter, cheering and applause break out, which confuses McNABB until he catches OV’s innocent expression.

McNABB (To VERONICA): You see darling? HE knows none of this is serious.

VERONICA: You know, Bob, I think you’re just sore because I discovered him.

McNABB dismisses this with a look and leans towards OV.

McNABB: Everybody speaks somebody’s language. And you do too, don’t you, OV? You just wanted to get your face on television.

VERONICA (With an acid smile): If so, he’s fooled a lot of people to do it… Bob.

McNABB: I wonder if he’s fooling this audience.

A murmur of disapproval erupts. The AUDIENCE is uneasy.

LUCY, backstage, restrains herself with an effort.

OV beckons her again.

OV (To LUCY): UR’G’DUISH’D’GLAA-GLAA…

McNABB (Leans towards OV): I asked where you grew up, OV. The truth is, you didn’t grow up, did you? You’re just having a bit of fun. And look – you’re a celebrity!

OV: P’OISS-PRAAG… FISS’NYI-FRAALYI-SHLAAP’TYIKRAA-KRAA.

McNABB: Oh come on, I can do that – FIDDLE-IDDLE-IDDLE, BODDLY-ODDLY-ODDLY – GLUMPETY-GLUMP.

OV gives him a quizzical stare. The AUDIENCE stirs uneasily, not sure what to make of what they’re witnessing.

VERONICA: Go easy, Bob. You might be saying something deeply offensive in his language.

McNABB: Surely not. We understand each other. We both talk fluent gibberish.

OV: GLOIP?

McNABB: This a practical joke, isn’t it, OV? Maybe you’ve got Veronica believing it, maybe not, I don’t know. But don’t you think it’s time to own up?

OV cocks a worried eyebrow, picking up the challenge in McNABB’s tone.

OV: KOR’K’TORT’LHORTH?

McNABB (turns to the audience): What does our audience think? Is our friend for real, or is he taking us for a ride?

A murmur runs through the AUDIENCE. Tentative hands go up. McNABB picks on a WOMAN near the front who has her hand half raised.

McNABB (Cont): You think that’s a real language – what is it?

WOMAN: I don’t know, I only speak English. It just sounds right… convincing. I almost know what he’s saying.

McNABB: Can anyone positively identify it?

Bewildered expressions in the audience.

1ST VOICE FROM AUDIENCE: Is it Mongolian?

2ND VOICE FROM AUD.: Algonquin?… Finnish?

1ST VOICE FROM AUD.: Australian… Aboriginal.

McNABB: I think you’re guessing.

4TH VOICE FROM AUD.: Bob, my husband says I speak gibberish.

(Laughter)

NcNABB: You ought to know then.

3RD VOICE FROM AUD.: Why don’t you believe him, Bob?

McNABB: Because my job’s to get the truth out of people, not just take what they say as gospel. Come on, who thinks it’s a real language? Let’s have a show of hands.

A few tentative hands go up in the auditorium, then more as people commit themselves.

McNABB: Quite a few. Alright, who thinks we’re being conned? BLAH-DEBLAH-DEBLAH…

Before the audience can react their attention is caught by LUCY who walks onto set.

OV makes an expansive gesture to greet her.

OV: NOID’L’GRAAF’FR’POISH… LLUM-BEDD SYETSTIFAAVROH. VRAAT’PAAPFLYI.

OV turns happily to VERONICA and relaxes visibly.

OV: POR’KTOR’K’TORTLYI. NYEESVADLYAIGH.

McNABB (To AUDIENCE): He’s good, isn’t he?

The AUDIENCE is buzzing now. Laughter breaks out and spreads.

LUCY walks up to McNABB and confronts him on set.

LUCY (To McNABB): That’s enough. OV didn’t come here to be ridiculed.

McNABB: Where does he usually go?

LUCY: Do you treat all your guests like this?

McNABB: No, I give some a really hard time.

LUCY: You’ve got something unique here and you’re turning it into a cheap farce. If you want entertainment I’m sure Mr Zvardo can oblige – but show some respect. He’s not a dancing bear for you to poke infantile fun at. Don’t smirk at me…

McNABB (To AUDIENCE): Believe me, we didn’t rehearse this.

LUCY: I am a linguist and I’m telling you this man is using a complete, structured, but so far unidentified language. You’re not qualified to call him a fake.

McNABB: Well, who’s qualified to run a chat show? Do you want to take over? I’ll introduce you to the audience.

LUCY: I don’t want to be on your show.

McNABB (To AUDIENCE): This lady’s name is Lucy Lovegrove. She claims to have ‘discovered’ OV during her research.

LUCY: I don’t ‘claim’ anything…

McNABB: Don’t be shy, Lucy. Tell our studio audience all about it. Don’t be intimidated by the sea of faces – try to forget about the seventeen million viewers at home. You have the floor.

OV has come to LUCY’s side, concerned that she’s upset. VERONICA follows him.

OV (To LUCY): FAAHDI-BAAHDI, WEFTIVROH.

LUCY: Is somebody paying you to humiliate OV?

McNABB: Sure. That’s my job.

LUCY: You’re happy to destroy his credibility to boost your ratings. What a sad man you are. And by the way, you realise deformation of character is an offence and you can be sued for it.

McNABB: We can discuss legal niceties some other time. Can you prove he’s genuine?

LUCY: I don’t have to prove a thing – neither does he.

McNABB: Not if he really is genuine. But we have our doubts. You say he’s for real but a sceptic might say, ‘you would say that, wouldn’t you’.

LUCY: How crass can you get? You’ve planted the idea that he’s a fraud.

McNABB: That’s for the viewers to decide in their own time – but now we must move on. I’ve got other guests waiting. Who knows, some of them may even talk intelligible English.

McNABB distances himself from LUCY and tries to engage the AUDIENCE again, but they’re not co-operating.

McNABB: A warm hand for VERONICA HIGGINS and OV… Z-VARDO, whoever he may be.

Hesitant applause mixed with an uneasy rumble of discontent. The AUDIENCE resents being left guessing. Heckling breaks out.

1ST VOICE FROM AUDIENCE: So where is he from?

2ND VOICE FROM AUD.: You’re not leaving it there, Bob.

3RD VOICE FROM AUD.: Let him speak some more.

McNABB: Sorry folks, we’ve got a full show tonight. My other guests are waiting.

1ST VOICE FROM AUD.: We want to hear from OV.

McNABB: Maybe we can persuade him to come back another time. He might even have grown up by then – or worked out a new way to keep us guessing. It the meantime, a warm hand…

1ST VOICE FROM AUDIENCE: That’s not good enough. We want him now.

McNABB (Ingratiating): Sorry, can’t do it. We’re out of time for this part of the programme. Take it up with my producer.

2nd VOICE FROM AUD.: Do what your public tells you, Bob. We demand to hear what Ov Zvardo has to say.

McNABB: You don’t know what he’s saying. Why listen to gibberish?

2ND VOICE FROM AUD.: You don’t know what he’s saying. That doesn’t mean we don’t.

McNABB: Are you volunteering to translate?

1ST VOICE FROM AUD. (To McNABB): No point. You wouldn’t understand.

2ND VOICE (To McNABB): You’re not listening.

McNABB: Is someone out there seriously claiming to understand OV’s language? Please, step forward.

An uncomfortable hush settles over the audience.

McNABB (Contd): No? I’m glad to hear it, because my audiences are rational, well-balanced people who aren’t taken in by every con-artist who walks in off the street. Now… a warm hand…

LUCY walks up to McNABB and confronts him again.

LUCY: You want a warm hand?

McNABB turns and reacts too late to avoid a stinging slap round the face from LUCY.

FREEZE

INTERCUT FREEZE FRAME of the slap picture on the front page of a tabloid under the headline: ‘WARM HAND FOR BOB!’

Establish PAM reading it at her kitchen table. LUCY sits opposite her looking tired and miserable.

CUT TO

BOB McNABB’S STUDIO SET. CONTINUING ACTION. As LUCY and McNABB stand face to face, McNABB recovering from the slap, the AUDIENCE rumble swells in approval.

TWO SECURITY MEN appear and take hold of LUCY.

OV moves immediately to LUCY’S side and speaks calmly to the SECURITY MEN who are holding her.

OV: MOR’VOR’TOIGHLYI, S’PASS’F’TOIGH-TIGLOH. FAAHDI-FAAHDI CLOIS’LUSH.

Both SECURITY MEN release their hold on LUCY and move away.

McNABB is holding his face, hamming up his injury.

VERONICA stares at LUCY and OV in disbelief, then turns to one of the SECURITY MEN.

VERONICA (To SECURITY MAN): What did Mr Zvardo say to you?

SECURITY MAN: Don’t remember exactly. It made sense though.

CUT TO

INTERIOR. PAM’S KITCHEN. PAM reads the paper to LUCY.

PAM (Reading): `TV’s enfant terrible, Bob McNab, took a smack in the mouth last night after he publicly ridiculed a guest for speaking gibberish. Louise Lovecraft, a Civil Servant, took exception to McNabb’s remarks about her friend, Erv Swappo – who uses an incomprehensible language of his own – and landed a stinger on the host’s cheek.’

LUCY groans into her coffee.

LUCY: I don’t know what possessed me. I’ve never hit anyone in my life.

PAM: There’s more. `Mzz Lingrave then stormed out of the studio taking her friend with her…

CUT TO

EXTERIOR. STREET OUTSIDE THE STUDIOS. THE PREVIOUS NIGHT.

As LUCY leaves the building with OV, pursued by the producer, TERRY BELL and some members of the Studio AUDIENCE. BELL catches up with her and tries to hold OV back.

BELL (To LUCY): Hang on – Mr McNabb hasn’t finished with your friend.

LUCY: Yes he has.

BELL: Excuse me but this is none of your business – he’s with Veronica Higgins.

LUCY ignores him, looking around for a taxi. TERRY BELL tries to steer OV back into the building.

BELL (Cont): Come on, Mr Z-VARDO. You’re wanted back in the studio.

OV (Being tugged both ways): GOR’GORP’SPLAAF.

BELL: Don’t tell ME – come and blather at our audience.

LUCY rounds furiously on BELL. Cameras flash.

CUT TO

INTERIOR. PAM’S KITCHEN. PAM continues reading from the paper.

PAM (Reading): ‘Outside, the open-handed Mzz Lorngrave treated “Talk’s Cheap” producer Terry Bell to his very own slap in the face. In the studio, TV’s Veronica Higgins intervened on her behalf, telling the live audience…’

CUT TO

INTERIOR. BOB McNABB’S STUDIO SET. PREVIOUS NIGHT. VERONICA HIGGINS sits with BOB McNABB.

VERONICA: Lucy’s been under a lot of pressure. She takes her work very seriously and failing to unravel OV’s language has dented her pride. She told me earlier that she hasn’t slept for a month.

McNABB: Shame.

VERONICA: We’re still faced with the question, is OV ZVARDO just another eccentric making his individual statement, or are we out of step for not understanding him properly?

McNABB: You know all about eccentrics, don’t you Veronica?

VERONICA: They’re what I do, Bob. Eccentrics, freaks and wierdos, I’m your gal.

McNABB (Acidly): Eccentric producers, eccentric heads of programming, you know’em all. And you still don’t know when you’re being taken for a ride, do you?

CUT TO

INTERIOR. PAM’S KITCHEN.

PAM (Reading from the paper): ‘A spokesman for Mr McNabb said later: “It’s all in the line of business on this sort of show. There’s no question of Bob bringing assault charges against Ms Lovegrove.”‘

LUCY interrupts her brooding to show momentary relief, then becomes serious again.

LUCY: It’s all about me. They’ve hardly mentioned OV. Don’t they recognise real news when it’s staring them in the face?

CUT TO

INTERIOR. VAST, MINIMAL OFFICE OVERLOOKING THE CITY.

BOB McNABB sits in a chair facing CAMERA, listening to the VOICE of AXEL MANN, who is visible in silhouette in the foreground.

MANN: You blew it, Bob.

McNABB: What are you talking about? It was great TV. The man’s a fraud, Axel, and I let the audience know it.

MANN: They didn’t buy you, Bob, they bought him. You let them have that moment of silence – just long enough to think for themselves…

McNABB: It was a pause for dramatic effect…

MANN: An audience abhors silence, Bob, just as nature abhors a vacuum.

McNABB: Axel, I know all this – I invented the concept…

MANN: You’re paid to keep talking because people take comfort from the sound of talk. Give them time to think and sooner or later they’ll notice you’re not saying anything.

McNABB: Axel, when have I ever kept quiet?

MANN: Last night’s show – dismal. Not enough talk – too much content. The best thing about it was that girl taking a pop at you.

McNABB: She came with Veronica. It was a set-up to make me look bad.

MANN: Veronica was the only thing that saved you from total humiliation. Take a holiday, Bob. Take a trip. Don’t come back. Sue me if you like, it’s good for business.

McNABB: I’m not going anywhere.

MANN: That’s what I’ve been telling you, buddy.

AXEL MANN shifts his eyeline from McNABB to a bank of enormous TV screens showing various locations.

One of the screens shows a small crowd gathering on a street corner.

CUT TO

EXTERIOR. PAM’S APARTMENT BLOCK. DAY. OV stands at a high window looking out. Instead of the usual roar and clatter of the city, there is calm. The streets are quiet. The only sounds are distant.

On the street DAVEY leans against his car watching the main entrance to the apartment block. He turns and looks across the road, where people are quietly beginning to gather. Some faces look up.

OV looks down.

CUT TO

INTERIOR. PAM’S APARTMENT. THE SAME TIME. OV turns from the window and walks into the kitchen where LUCY and PAM sit. He addresses LUCY with a bright smile.

OV: VOR’GOR’DLYET-FIRT’PLUIGH.

LUCY: FAR’V’DEYSHNYI-FLAALIGH. (To PAM) PROOT’FR’POIGH?

PAM: K’ROIGHNYI, K’ROIGHNYIOS-FOR-NYAAFLI.

OV (Indicating the door): B’DOISHNYI?

PAM (Urgent): FAH’FUR’TUSH’NYANG-VERV’WERLYEIGH, PAR’P’TAATEN, PRUTT-PRUTT.

PAM makes a dash for the bathroom.

LUCY and OV exchange shrugs.

CUT TO

EXTERIOR. PAM’S APARTMENT BLOCK. MOMENTS LATER.

OV, LUCY and PAM appear, visible through the glass doors of the foyer. Outside the main entrance, a flight of broad steps leads down to the street.

Across the street, the crowd stirs and takes notice: a ripple of hushed conversation like wind in long grass.

DAVEY, leaning against his car, watches warily.

OV pushes open the glass doors and leaves the shadow of the foyer. He walks out onto the top step. LUCY and PAM follow.

PAM (To LUCY): What’s happening? Where did all these people come from?

LUCY: SPL’FOID-POR’P’TORSHNYO. We’re famous.

PAM: M’SPLUT’FLULL’PLUSHLIGH.

LUCY: Because I smacked Bob McNabb? I don’t think so. They want OV. LUSH’VRONYETS CRON-FROIP OV ZVARDO GAR’ZHEZVIRTRUSH.

PAM: Yes, look at him lapping it up. PARR’B’JED’VLOIP.

LUCY: AR’GOISH-DOIL’YIV, FRUP-FRUP BOR’G’DOI.

OV: GOISHNYE, ALFALZ’YAZH.

OV is relaxed and self-possessed as he stares across at the patient crowd.

Some familiar faces have begun to appear in the throng:

The LANDLORD from the pub and some of the LOCALS,

DAVE the Policeman,

TERRY BELL, ‘Talk’s Cheap’ producer,

PHILIP SULLIVAN, the Customs Officer OV met first.

The SPEAKER from Speakers’ Corner has arrived with two companions.

One is WARREN KERR, a self-styled evangelist with an intimidating thrust to his chin.

The other is FATHER NEIL COLLINS, a young priest with a relentlessly benevolent expression suggestive of stained glass windows.

Along the street a van draws up. DAVID EASTERBROOK gets out with VERONICA and his CAMERAMAN.

LUCY: OV, what are we doing? POR’P’TOISH? We can’t go out there V’NYATS’PAR’PTAALIGH. Come back in.

OV (Cheerfully): AR’VAARD’LEIGH, LLUM’BEDD. NAZH’DRATSFALL SPOSHPI-TOSHPI. NUR-FUUR NUGLE-DRUTTS.

Suddenly the paparazzi are upon them. A group of REPORTERS rushes up the steps, bombarding OV with questions. The most aggressive takes control. He is JACK LAW and he is right in OV’s face.

LAW: Jack Law, Daily Herald, Mr Z-VARDO. Are you in danger if you go back to your home country?

OV (Bewildered): OR’GOR’BOISHNYA, TI’PROOT’FAHR?

LAW: I’ll take that as a ‘Yes’.

LUCY: You’re wasting your time. No one knows where Mr Zvardo is from.

LAW (To LUCY): Is that because someone in Immigration isn’t doing their job or because Home Office policy is too woolly to cope with anything it’s not used to?

LUCY: Neither…

LAW: Or is Mr Zvardo just having a laugh?

OV treats LAW to a benign smile and walks slowly down the short flight of steps to street level with LUCY and PAM keeping close.

OV strolls like a man taking the morning air, seemingly oblivious to the crowd drifting in the same direction on the other side of the road.

DAVEY leaves his car and moves with them.

The SPEAKER from Speakers’ Corner angles across the road to talk to OV.

WARREN KERR and FATHER COLLINS stay with him.

SPEAKER: Take pity on their filthy habits and unhygienic souls. Tell them who you are – they need you.

KERR (To SPEAKER): Don’t be too quick to judge your fellow man, brother.

SPEAKER: Humans are disgustingly unhygienic. It’s fact, not a moral judgement. He knows that.

FATHER COLLINS: I doubt if Our Lord found time for a shower in the wilderness.

KERR: Who asked you?

LAW (to OV): What did you say to Bob McNabb on ‘Talk’s Cheap’?

OV leans towards him, eyebrows raised in polite incomprehension.

OV: FR’OISHNYE?

CUT TO

A SHORT DISTANCE AWAY. THE SAME TIME.

DAVID EASTERBROOK and his CAMERAMAN follow VERONICA HIGGINS as she follows the crowd, picking out people to interview.

At the front of the procession, OV modestly tries to wave away the attention, but the crowd is gathering in ever greater numbers.

THE SPEAKER is still close to OV.

FATHER COLLINS, with relentless smile, is explaining something to WARREN KERR, whose face is beginning to cloud.

VERONICA moves in and walks beside WARREN KERR. We see the interview on EASTERBROOK’s monitor screen.

VERONICA: Here’s a familiar face. The evangelist Warren Kerr. We’ve met before haven’t we?

KERR: Yes, what was it you called me? A New Age Elmer Gantry, fire-eating Bible-thumper, best-dressed God-botherer – have I left anything out?

VERONICA: And you said I was a shrill media harlot with the integrity of a rampant she-wolf. I’m sure it was meant kindly. What do you think everybody’s doing here?

KERR (Indicating OV): If you don’t know, I can’t tell you. They’ve come to see The Man – hear what he has to say – I should have thought that was obvious.

VERONICA: But no one understands a word he says.

KERR: If he comes with the truth, those who have ears to hear will hear – and you will know by their words and deeds as they proclaim…

VERONICA: Do you think he’s some kind of prophet, then?

KERR: Not necessarily.

VERONICA: You don’t want to commit yourself.

KERR: Each of us must decide who and what he is for ourselves. That inner knowledge is the only commitment required of us. What do you think, if anything?

VERONICA: I think my job is to keep people like you talking.

SPEAKER: He’s from another world.

VERONICA: He looks human to me.

SPEAKER: They can assume any form they like.

KERR: Give me strength…

VERONICA (To KERR): You don’t agree with that?

KERR: Do you? This idiot thinks there are little green men from Venus everywhere. What he doesn’t realise is that the Pale Rider is almost upon us and the fires of Hell follow hot on his heels.

CUT TO

INTERIOR. FORSYTHE’S OFFICE. THE SAME TIME.

FORSYTHE, KEYHOE AND ECCLES are watching the live broadcast on TV.

ECCLES: Every sect on the planet’s going to claim him now.

KEYHOE: It was only a matter of time.

ECCLES: I don’t get it. He’s not a rock star, he’s not royalty – what are all these people expecting to see?

FORSYTHE: A media miracle. F’VAR’B’DOIGLYI M’SPOIFF.

KEYHOE turns slowly to look at FORSYTHE.

On screen, VERONICA turns to FATHER COLLINS.

VERONICA: Here’s Father Neil Collins. What about you, Father? Do you think Mr Zvardo is here with a spiritual message?

COLLINS: Who knows? Words that are incomprehensible to some may serve to reinforce the faith of others. Enlightenment comes upon us without warning, sometimes from the direction we least expect it, our Damascus Moment…

VERONICA: But is he saying anything?

COLLINS: If this is indeed the Gift of Tongues, we are truly blessed. If not… we are… definitely… lucky to be here anyway… because… let me put it another way… we’re here and he is here… and by our very being here we are, in a very real sense, sharing our being, together… so…

KERR (Rounding on COLLINS): You people can’t give a straight answer to anything, can you? Why don’t you just admit it – the Apocalypse is coming, and that right soon!

CUT TO

EXTERIOR. STREET. THE SAME TIME.

OV, LUCY and PAM walk at the head of the crowd which has become a procession. JACK LAW is still firing questions.

LAW (To LUCY): Do you understand him? You look as if you understand him.

LUCY: It’s not as simple as that…

LAW: Just say something, see if you can get him to answer.

LUCY: Would you like me to throw a stick so he can fetch it for you?

LAW (Gesturing to OV): Just talk. Keep talking. Do you know what I’m saying? (To LUCY) Does he know what I’m saying?

LUCY: You’re not saying anything.

LAW turns to face OV, halting the procession, presenting OV like an impresario to an audience.

LAW: All I want is for you to say something we can all understand.

OV gathers that he is expected to perform and raises both arms to signal general goodwill to those gathered around.

OV: P’PLEMM-FROIGHNYE. GLOIP.

LAW: You’re going a bit fast for me. What was that again?

OV: MURSH’G’DROORB’LORF. FAFF-N’VAAG…

OV makes a hand gesture in the air suggesting that his theme is universal.

LAW mirrors the movement sympathetically.

OV takes the gesture as a signal to get into festive mode.

OV (As if reminiscing) OIST’ROITH KLAAM, FRAAT-N’YESDI- GROIT’K’DYAALI.

FRAAH-T’PRAAH-FROIGH, TI’PRURNYI-SHENYY-GRAH

MURT’ROI’ZHNY’JHLOIJH, F’JHOIJHLYI KROMM’T’PROONYI-GLUTT’WOISH’TUMM…

The metre of his words becomes poetic and he carries on, reciting…

OV (Cont): MIR’GROOT-M’R’GRAAPH, HOITH-PRUITT-

STYED’LEESH’M’PRAANYI…

SNYET’FLAALISH-YOIFF,

MOR’PRUTT FR’PRESSHT-FR’KRAANYI.

The crowd falls silent, mesmerised by this performance.

The pub LANDLORD and some of his LOCALS edge closer and  stare at OV in fascination.

OV clearly recognises them and decides to lighten the tone. The next is accompanied by rhythmic elbow jerks and a slightly Irish-looking dance step.

OV (Cont): NYAANYI-FESTI-PROOK-TROISH

GLAATI-PRAATI-PLUNN,

OIK’STRUTH,

FLOIK’PRUTH,

OR’GOR’SNYET’P’KRUNN.

A ripple of applause. OV looks delighted and continues.

VERONICA moves in and picks on the LANDLORD.

CUT TO

EASTERBROOK’S MONITOR. THE SAME TIME.

As VERONICA thrusts her mike in the LANDLORD’s face.

VERONICA (To LANDLORD): And what are you doing here?

LANDLORD: Come to see our mate.

VERONICA: You’re friends of Mr Zvardo?

LANDLORD: That his name? ‘E’s a good ol’ boy so we come up to town specially.

VERONICA: You had his address then.

LANDLORD: Nope. Jus’ knew he’d be here.

VERONICA: How did you know?

LANDLORD: Jus’ knew. Jim here had a dream about him.

The LANDLORD indicates one of the pub LOCALS whose name is JIM.

JIM looks into CAMERA.

VERONICA: You had a dream, Jim?

JIM: ‘Course I did, and I told the lads. That’s how we knew he’d be ‘ere. You want to listen to ‘im, he’ll put you straight.

VERONICA: What will he “put straight”? What do you mean?

LANDLORD: Well, for one thing…

VERONICA gets close to the LANDLORD but the noise level rises, drowning out his words.

CUT TO

THE STREET. THE SAME TIME.

Amid the continuing hubbub LAW leans towards OV, confiding.

LAW: They all think you’re something special. I don’t go with that. You’re up to something and I want an exclusive.

OV: PAR’B’DOISH, PAR’B’DOISHVLETT-SP’PLAAF.

LAW: You’re an ordinary bloke with a different take on life, right? It’s a great gag but enough, already. My readers want a bit of background. Come on, where are you from?

OV: BR’OISH-K’FLAALYE…

LAW: Very possibly but that doesn’t help me.

WARREN KERR and FATHER NEIL COLLINS are visible in the background rolling around on the ground, locked together in vicious hand-to-hand combat..

CUT TO

EASTERBROOK’S MONITOR. THE SAME TIME.

VERONICA takes advantage of a brief lull to press the LANDLORD on what he was saying.

VERONICA: What will Mr Zvardo “put straight”?

LANDLORD: You talk too much.

VERONICA: Of course I do, that’s what I’m paid for.

LANDLORD: No, you talk too much. You do, I do, we all do. Words coming out all the time and none of us say anything.

VERONICA: That’s what Mr Zvardo thinks, is it?

LANDLORD: Said it in my pub. All the lads heard him.

A rumble of agreement from JIM and the LOCALS.

JIM: Too many words about nothing.

VERONICA: I don’t follow. Mr Zvardo talks all the time and not a single word makes any sense.

A cackle of laughter from the PUB LOCALS gathered round the LANDLORD. JIM thrusts himself forward to explain:

CUT TO

INTERIOR. FORSYTHE’S OFFICE. CONTINUOUS ACTION ON TV SCREEN.

FORSYTHE, KEYHOE and ECCLES watch.

JIM (On screen): He’s the only one who does make sense.

VERONICA: Well, if you’re such an authority, what’s he talking about?

JIM: He says speech is a gift, so we should treat it with respect and use it sparingly.

LANDLORD: It’s our only way to achieve harmony and understanding. So what do we use it for?  Arguing the toss about every detail, making life more complicated than it should be…

JIM: …and selling things. We’ve got used to idiots yelling at us, telling us what to do, what we need, how to behave. We don’t expect to hear anything useful…

LANDLORD: We’ve forgotten how to listen so no one with an idea stands a chance.

VERONICA: You got all this from Mr Zvardo? How?

LANDLORD: It’s obvious. You have to listen.

In FORSYTHE’S office the three watchers stare at the TV in amazement.

ECCLES: Where are they getting this from?

FORSYTHE laughs bitterly

FORSYTHE: While I’ve been trying to penetrate the language, those men have bypassed it and gone straight for the meaning. I should have followed my instinct from the start.

KEYHOE: What would it have told you?

FORSYTHE: We’ve devalued the power of speech. All communication means now is advertising. We don’t exchange ideas, we promote things. ST’FLAAL’FOISH-PR’TROIMYI. We’ve evolved into a race that talks without saying anything.

FORSYTHE stands up and strolls to the door.

KEYHOE and ECCLES stare at his retreating figure then each in turn gets up and follows him out of the room.

CUT TO

EXTERIOR. STREET. THE SAME TIME.

OV is on the move again and the procession is following. OV turns to LUCY.

OV: F’SPOORF LLUM-BEDD?

LUCY: POR’NYOI, S’PUR’FLOIGH, POR’NYAA’NYAANI-PORCOTLOIGH.

OV: VIR’Y’DO, VIR’Y’DO. PARFAAZH.

LAW grabs LUCY by the arm.

LAW: You can talk to him. I just heard you. What’s he saying?

LUCY (To PAM, over shoulder): SMOIL’FLOIGH-SH’P’PAAP.

PAM: FAAHDI-BAAHDI, VER’BEDOISHLYI.

LAW: You both can.

LUCY: You wish. Unfortunately life just isn’t that easy.

LAW: Why are you being so secretive? I just heard you talking his language.

LUCY: You think I understand everything I say and hear? I get some of what OV says to me, but more often I just know what he means.

LAW: You answer him, I’ve heard you.

LUCY: Sometimes I find the words, but I don’t know how I learnt them, any more than I remember learning my first language. Or my second, or third… or fourth or fifth, come to think of it.

CUT TO

EXTERIOR. URBAN PARKLAND. THE SAME TIME.

A SCRUFFY MAN sits on the top step of a band-stand. He is PIP, the cheerfully simple soul OV met on his wanderings. As before, PIP is blowing soap bubbles through a plastic ring.

OV comes into view with the crowd behind him. His manner says he is not leading them, they are following him.

PIP gets up and waves from the band-stand, jumping up and down with excitement. OV sees him and climbs the steps to join him.

LUCY and PAM climb to the top step and stop short of the platform.

The procession gathers round the bandstand but instinctively stays off the platform.

OV (To PIP): GR’AADS-FAHR-PLAIGHLYI BUR’B’DOISH. F’DOR’GOR PEEP FRAAHTI-PLUTTLI.

PIP: AR’FAAHR, AR’FOISH’TFROIPS’PLUTT.

OV (Mischievous): CROIGHLYI? F’SPAAN’PORG’D’FRAAH-FRAAH?

PIP (Excited): CROIGHNYI, WUS’PRUSS’DRUFF!

They link arms and swing into a vaguely Greek style dance step, breaking into song at the same time.

OV and PIP: GAR’VENYASH-T’PROIGNYE. MAANYI-FAAF PEEP,

GRESHNYI, GRESHNYI – NISH T’PRAAKFIR’TAAV,

F’DROIF. PON-PR-DOOF,

GROIGNYI, GROIGNYI, OOF-PRAAGH BR’NOOF,

FRAAGLYI-FRAAGLYI, MIR’SN’FROIGH-PL’LOOF,

S’PRT-FIR-GLAAG’VIR’FROIP-NYAZH-GROOF!

They finish abruptly and stand still, beaming at the crowd. The crowd stares back, mesmerised, in silence. Close, but away from the crowd, DAVEY takes up position and leans against a tree. Silence.

OV murmurs something to PIP, gives him a nod of encouragement and stands modestly aside.

OV (Quietly): POR’LOISH’N’OV, FRORRS’P’TORSHN’BWEER’N FLEIGHLYI.

PIP: This is my friend, OV. I understand him.

OV: TAH’R’F’DOIT-PRUPP FOISH’L GARGISH’NYAAT. KOR’VERSH’N’FLEIGHLYI, URP’T’UR’FROILY’ISH. P’PORP’TRAIGHLIJH-NYAAF’P’TYAAGHLYI.

PIP: You could too. You could understand without trying. All it takes is unconditional trust.

OV: AL’FLULL’YEZH-OV’PROIGHNYE, SP’PAARF KLYEJH SOOSH-FT’LOIP.

PIP: You wouldn’t listen to OV if he used the same old familiar words…

OV: NOISHT’L’PRU. NOISH’P’TOISH’P’NAA-FRAAH, NUNGLE-DRUTTS.

PIP: …but he says things in his own words. That’s how you know it’s important.

OV: OR’VOR’DEJZ F’DROIF’PRAAHD’VER’LEIJH.

PIP: He’s grateful to you all for bothering to turn up.

PIP pauses, waiting for a further prompt which doesn’t come so he adds an afterthought.

PIP: I get it – and anyone’ll tell you I’m none too bright.

The crowd continues to stare, jaws hanging open.

On the edge of the crowd, DAVEY is still leaning against his tree keeping a watchful eye on OV, who is clearly in view on the bandstand.

DAVEY stirs himself and stands up straight as KEHOE approaches with FORSYTHE and ECCLES.

KEHOE (To DAVEY): KOR’GOISHN’FRU-P’SPLOIP?

DAVEY: SK’OR-FUURT-PLOIGH.

ECCLES (Staring at the crowd): I’m not at all happy about this.

KEHOE: What’s the phrase? – lighten up. That’s right. NYASH-F’T’FLEIGH.

ECCLES (Indignant): UR’V’HAANYISH-PLETS-YUSH-PRUURF.

They all turn to watch the bandstand where OV and PIP have been joined by LUCY and PAM, their heads just visible above the throng of people clustering round.

CUT TO

EXTERIOR. IN THE CROWD. THE SAME TIME.

VERONICA HIGGINS is ploughing through the throng, turning to face EASTERBROOK and the CAMERAMAN who are following.

VERONICA (To CAMERA): If you’ve just turned on, we’re live, and… you know as much as I do about what’s happening. As you can see, an enormous crowd has gathered, spontaneously as far as I can gather, to home in on… a bloke who talks total nonsense. I can’t remember anything like this happening before. Whatever this is, it’s a first…

EASTERBROOK: You’re joking.

VERONICA: On air, David. You’re supposed to be behind the camera.

EASTERBROOK: But did you hear the gibberish you were spouting just then?

VERONICA (With an acid smile): Just keeping the viewers abreast of events, David.

EASTERBROOK: You can’t remember ever seeing a crowd gather to hear someone talking total nonsense? Where have you been, darling?

VERONICA: I haven’t time for this. I’m going up there to talk to him.

VERONICA plunges on through the crush up the steps to the bandstand.

CUT TO

INTERIOR. AXEL MANN’S MINIMAL OFFICE. THE SAME TIME.

AXEL MANN watches VERONICA on TV as she clambers up the bandstand steps, shoving other people out of the way.

BOB McNABB is still hovering in the doorway, next to the enormous screen. He looks helpless next to the life-size televised image of VERONICA.

ALEX MANN glances at him.

MANN: You still here, Bob?

On screen, VERONICA clambers over people to reach the platform where OV is surveying all with a delighted smile. VERONICA reaches out both arms towards him and plunges out of sight in the tangle of bodies.

McNABB: You still think she could replace me?

MANN: Nah, she’s yesterday’s news. That’s the man for me.

ALEX MANN points at the screen where OV stands, arms held out in universal greeting as the crowd mobs him.

MANN (Contd): Get me OV ZVARDO. He can have his own show tomorrow.

McNABB: Over my dead body.

McNABB leaves the room.

CUT TO

EXTERIOR. PARK. THE SAME TIME.

The bandstand is now overrun with people, like an island towering over the sea of humanity crowding around it.

SFX: Clamour of many voices all talking at once – speech unintelligible.

Familiar faces are glimpsed in the throng:

OV, nodding amiably in all directions…

LUCY, searching for OV in the crowd…

VERONICA, struggling up from the floor of the platform, overwhelmed by the throng, speaking but not being heard…

EASTERBROOK and the CAMERAMAN still filming…

The LANDLORD and the PUB LOCALS…

PIP and PAM in animated conversation together, unheard above the din…

FORSYTHE, KEHOE and ECCLES climbing the steps to the platform.

CUT TO

THE BANDSTAND PLATFORM. THE SAME TIME.

CU LUCY, buffeted by the crowds, looking frantically for OV.

OV waves at her briefly before vanishing in the sea of faces.

LUCY plunges forward, elbowing her way through, then she too is lost to sight in the crush.

CUT TO

EXT. THE PARK. LONGSHOT OF THE CROWD.

BOB McNABB runs into frame and thrashes his way into the crowd, heading for the bandstand. McNABB confronts a group that happens to include the PUB LANDLORD and the LOCALS.

McNABB: Where’s Ov Zvardo?

LANDLORD: Slow down, me old cocker. BUR’CROND’SP’TAAHP-FLAAHP.

JIM: COR’VD’FLYET-SHNUURP-P’TOIGHLYI. BR’HAALYI-GRAAP-FLAAHP.

McNABB: I asked you a simple question. Can’t you give me a simple answer?

LANDLORD: GRORSH’NYUT-FLOILYI-SHLOISH.

JIM and the other LOCALS step forward, grab McNABB, turn him upside down and start peeling his trousers off him.

McNABB (Yelling): I’m Bob McNabb… I’m Bob McNabb…

McNABB struggles furiously as the crowd closes over the scene.

CUT TO

THE BANDSTAND.

CU LUCY being swept this way and that in the crush.

LUCY (Shouting): OV… OV… don’t keep doing this…

LUCY fetches up against PAM and PIP.

PAM: He hasn’t wandered off again, has he?

LUCY: You know what he’s like.

PAM: I’ve just seen him. He was here a moment ago.

LUCY (Shouting): OV… I don’t want to lose you again.

PIP: You won’t lose him. He knows where he is all the time.

LUCY: Excuse me, you don’t know him like I do.

PIP: I can find him whenever I like.

LUCY: How?

Instead of answering, PIP pulls himself up to his full height, takes a deep breath and begins humming a tune OV has sung a lot, then adds the words.

PIP (Singing): GRESHNYI, GRESHNYI – NISH T’PRAAK FIR’TAAV. F’DROIF. PON-PR-DOOF. GROIGNYI, GROIGNYI, OOF-PRAAGH BR’NOOF.

PAM picks up the refrain with him.

PAM and PIP (In unison): FRAAGLYI-FRAAGLYI, MIR’SN’FROIGH-PL’LOOF.

S’PRT-FIR-GLAAG’VIR’FROIP-NYAZH-GROOF…

The crowd picks it up and the song spreads across the park, sung by many voices…

CHORUS

HARV’YENYI LIS’HRADIPP,

ORCH’PETYALI S’FOIGAL’HIPP.

ARV’ARD’ NYEEEEE,

ARV’ARD’ NYEEEEE –

ORP’HORVYE’GHYM’PARRREEEP!

The song swells and soars.

LUCY is still desperately scanning the faces for OV when a hand reaches out and takes hers. Briefly she glimpses OV’s face as he leads her away by the hand, through the crowds, down the bandstand steps and away.

As they push through the crowds, everyone is too intent on singing to notice them.

They reach the outer limit of the throng.

DAVEY is leaning against a tree but his attention is fixed on the bandstand, and as they walk past him he starts singing with the crowd.

OV and LUCY walk on towards the trees where a mist is beginning to gather.

CUT TO

THE BANDSTAND.

VERONICA struggles to her feet, still with her mike, and turns to find EASTERBROOK behind her.

VERONICA: Where is he? Where’s OV?

EASTERBROOK: VER’FRYET, WEFTIVROH. FR’PAAHZH PR’PORTNYI.  FAAHDI-BAAHDI.

VERONICA stares at the camera, lost for words.

CUT TO

WOODED PARKLAND.

OV and LUCY walk into the gathering mist as the song of thousands of voices swells behind them.

CHORUS

HARV’YENYI LIS’HRADIPP,

ORCH’PETYALI S’FOIGAL’HIPP.

ARV’ARD’ NYEEEEE,

ARV’ARD’ NYEEEEE –

ORP’HORVYE’GHYM’PARRREEEP!

 

END TITLES

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

THE TRANSIT PASSENGER.

A FILM BY LYNDON MALLET.

 

 

Open on a MAN standing side-on to camera. He is about thirty, quite good-looking, with mobile features that suggest an outgoing nature.  His hair and complexion are dark; he could be from anywhere between the Mediterranean and Manila. He is smartly dressed in a light suit and carries an airline bag over his shoulder.

 

Posters welcoming travellers to London drift past him as he stands on a moving floor, being transported gently along an airport corridor. He is at ease – a well-intentioned stranger with a natural interest in what goes on around him…

 

He is OV ZVARDO – origin unknown – and he carries no form of identification whatsoever.

 

CUT TO

 

A MAN’s face CU disappearing into a handkerchief for an

explosive sneeze. In the aftermath, the MAN wipes his nose and gazes bleakly across a vast hall inside the terminal building. PHILIP SULLIVAN – identified by a badge on his suit lapel – is an immigration officer. He has the look of one who hasn’t enjoyed anything for weeks and the handkerchief, held in readiness, suggests that nothing is likely to change in the near future, as he walks slowly towards the ‘Flight Arrivals’ area.

 

A door opens close to SULLIVAN, releasing a babble of voices raised in assorted languages.

 

Out comes another immigration officer – WALSH is the name on his badge – making gestures intended to pacify those out of sight inside the room. WALSH closes the door, exhales with puffed cheeks and catches SULLIVAN’s eye.

 

WALSH

I suppose we’re all going to catch

your cold.

 

SULLIVAN continues without comment, wiping his nose. This is not his day for conversation, especially if someone else’s problem is likely to be the topic.

 

WALSH

(With weary irony)

I’m fine. Thanks for asking.

 

CUT TO

 

OV ZVARDO, having come to the end of the moving floor, walking along an endless corridor among a loose straggle of arriving passengers – a multi-national assortment including Arabs in flowing robes, a couple of Rabbis and an Asian group in blazers who are probably the crack team of some unidentified sport.

 

The procession passes under a FLIGHT ARRIVALS sign.

OV ZVARDO is no more than a face in the crowd, but his walk is fresh and confident by comparison with the rest, and there is about him an endearing innocence.  We follow OV for a while, then

 

CUT TO

 

SULLIVAN, still tending his nose with the handkerchief. He walks past the customs benches where luggage is searched; his way takes him past a row of interrogation booths. In following SULLIVAN, we witness something of what goes on behind the scenes.

 

A bored YOUNG COUPLE stand by a bench in mute contempt of the stoic OFFICER who is burrowing through their cases. SULLIVAN passes by in the background as the OFFICER extracts from the case an article which might be a skimpy leather garment, or a device of hoses – we will never know…

 

In a small booth, two OFFICERS are searching a MAN who sits on the edge of the table in his shirt-tails, bare feet dangling down. His shoes and socks are being examined minutely. We see SULLIVAN pass the entrance.

 

In another booth a thin BLOND GIRL of about twenty-two is being interrogated by a WOMAN OFFICER who is examining the stitching of an enormous padded bra. The WOMAN look’s quizzically into the BLOND’s withdrawn face. The BLOND’s breakdown is imminent as SULLIVAN walks by.

 

CUT TO

 

OV ZVARDO emerging from the corridor into a larger area and following the procession towards Passport Control, where a suspended sign reads ‘Non UK Passports’.

 

CUT TO

 

 

 

 

SULLIVAN taking his seat at the Passport Control desk,

stuffing his handkerchief away and bracing himself. He turns to watch the nameless throng approaching. OV is amongst them. He and SULLIVAN have been on converging courses and will shortly meet.

 

CUT TO

 

The queue. OV waits patiently in line. A WOMAN of uncertain nationality is in front of him and turns to make conversation. She uses English, thickly accented.

 

WOMAN

It’s a long time waiting, no?

 

OV leans towards her and shakes his head in rueful

incomprehension. He has an approachable expression with a hint of humour. He would love to help, but is patently unable to converse – and tries to explain.

 

OV

(Shrugging)

GOR’LYOI, MAANYI… FAADI-PAH.

 

WOMAN

(Chuckles)

Yez…

 

CUT TO

 

 

SULLIVAN at his desk, facing camera. He stamps a passport

and hands it across. A figure passes between him and camera, and the passport is gone. The mechanical routine has set in for the day and we see the drudgery in SULLIVAN’s face. Another figure moves to face him but no passport is offered. He looks up.

 

CUT TO

 

OV ZVARDO, full face, returning the stare with quiet

confidence. Observing SULLIVAN’S cold impatience he shrugs and presents himself, smiling with arms outstretched.

 

SULLIVAN

Passport

 

OV ZVARDO shakes his head, smiling pleasantly.

 

OV

MUR’GOISH.

 

SULLIVAN

(Slowly)

Your pass-port…

 

OV

(With much sympathy for the man’s plight)

VRAAGH’LI… OIPS’N’KRU.

 

SULLIVAN

(Thunderstruck, after a pause)

Dear Lord, why me?

 

CUT TO

 

A SMALL OFFICE. WALSH sits behind a desk, SULLIVAN facing him. It’s clear WALSH is the senior man in rank as well as years. He studies the screen of a digital camera showing OV’s picture.

 

SULLIVAN

What do you think?

 

WALSH

No documentation at all?

 

SULLIVAN

Nothing.

 

WALSH

He’s destroyed his passport then.

 

SULLIVAN

If he’d been found in the back of

a lorry I’d agree – but this fellow presented himself at my desk.

 

WALSH

Where is he now?

 

SULLIVAN

(Blowing his nose)

I’ve put him in room twenty-eight.

 

WALSH

Is he behaving himself?

 

 

 

SULLIVAN

(Between wipes)

Couldn’t be more co-operative. He chats

away… seems quite philosophical.

 

WALSH

You don’t seem unduly worried about him.

 

SULLIVAN

I’m not – but for not having a clue who he is or where he comes from.

 

WALSH considers the sniffing wreck behind the handkerchief with mild amusement.

 

WALSH

Not your day, is it?

 

SULLIVAN

He was so pleasant about it I all but let it go. If he’d had any recognisable documents I might have done.

 

WALSH

(Considering)

No… I don’t care how innocent he looks.

Anything you don’t understand is suspect.

I’d better talk to him.

 

SULLIVAN

I’ll be thinking of you.

 

CUT TO

 

ROOM TWENTY-EIGHT. OV ZVARDO is sitting patiently on a hard chair against a blank wall. He rises as WALSH comes in holding the digital camera.

 

WALSH

We’re not clear on your nationality.

 

OV’s face clouds with concern as he registers the other

man’s confusion.

 

OV

P’FROIPP NY’FRAAGNYI – BOIG’ST’GROIZHNY,

MIR’PTAAT-FRAAP.

 

WALSH

I’m sorry?

 

OV

(Triumphantly)

GRAALYI-GRAALYI FRAAB’DI-DAH.

 

OV interposes himself politely, pointing at the camera screen with his photograph on it, linking it to himself by gesture. A sympathetic smile.

 

WALSH

I can see that’s you but where are you FROM?

 

OV

F’ROMM?

 

WALSH

Yes. From – where?

 

OV

AAAAH…

 

He points to WALSH and extends his hand in greeting.

OV

F’ROMM… OV ZVARDO.

 

WALSH allows his hand to be shaken as if in a trance. Then understanding dawns and he points at OV.

 

WALSH

Ov… Zward…?

 

OV

(Nodding enthusiastically)

OV…

 

He points triumphantly at WALSH…

 

OV

F’ROMM.

 

He shakes WALSH by the hand again, vigorously.

WALSH pauses, raises an indecisive finger…

 

WALSH

One moment…

 

CUT TO

 

INTERIOR OFFICE – an untidy, bookish back room at the

Immigration Department. This is an academic sanctuary where MR FORSYTHE presides over a team of linguists.

 

FORSYTHE himself is sitting at a desk, watching the video of WALSH’s interview with OV. A lean, cantankerous man, FORSYTHE’s humour is not improved by his bewilderment.

 

With him is JULIAN WINTERS, a smart under-secretary from the Home Office, whose manner is clearly a further irritant.

 

The third occupant of the room is a YOUNG WOMAN – twenty-

eight would be a good guess – whose constant flitting

between a laptop and a shelf makes FORSYTHE wince.

 

She is LUCY LOVEGROVE – a hyper-active bluestocking with a neat figure, unflattering glasses and the gaucheness of a schoolgirl. (To be fair, if she looks twenty-eight with

the trappings of an academic, she’s probably younger).

 

FORSYTHE makes a visible effort to remain calm in spite of his trials, listens to OV’s voice once more and peers up at WINTERS.

 

FORSYTHE

This is a joke, isn’t it?

 

WINTERS

You’re the linguist. You must decide.

 

FORSYTHE

(Jerking a thumb at a screen which shows OV’s face, frozen)

I’ll need more to go on than this.

 

WINTERS

I hope that doesn’t mean you’re out of

your depths.

 

FORSYTHE

Mr – Winters… language is a study

Without absolutes or horizons. In a lifetime – given natural aptitude, boundless curiosity and patience –

it is possible to form a picture of its infinite possibilities…

what was that you said?

 

WINTERS

The wrong thing, obviously.

 

FORSYTHE

There are at least fifteen hundred languages in this world, each with its own idiosyncrasies and structural variations. The day I am not ‘out of my depths’, as you put it, I’ll consider my work is done.

 

LUCY LOVEGROVE, unable to resist the conversation, has broken off what she was doing and come to stand behind FORSYTHE’s chair.

 

LUCY

(To WINTERS)

The aptitude Mr Forsythe refers to is what the German’s call Sprachgefuhl – a feeling for languages. There are people with an instinct for the rhythm of a language, even if the syntax is totally unfamiliar to them…

 

FORSYTHE raises a weary hand, which fails to arrest her

enthusiastic torrent, then clutches his brow.

 

LUCY

(Cont)

…The ‘Gift of tongues’ crops up again

and again in classical literature. The Apostles addressed multitudes without

the benefit of common language…

meaning transcends words, music dominates structure…

 

FORSYTHE

Miss Lovegrove…

 

LUCY

I myself speak fluent French and German,

passable Italian, Spanish, Russian, Greek

and a smattering of Arabic. I get by in

Swedish, Dutch, Hindi and Portuguese – and

I haven’t even scratched the surface.

Mr Forsythe has at least two languages for

every one of mine…

 

FORSYTHE finally stops her flow by patting her hand.

FORSYTHE

Miss Lovegrove… Lucy… Your loyalty

is much appreciated. Please carry on with

what you were doing.

 

LUCY is poised to say more, but manages not to and goes back to her laptop. WINTERS takes visible pleasure in the awkward silence that follows. Then:

 

WINTERS

How long do you need?

 

FORSYTHE glances at the screen and peers across the desk.

 

FORSYTHE

What exactly do you know about this character?

 

CUT TO

 

A BACK ROOM AT THE AIRPORT.

CU an open shoulder-bag (recogniseable as OV’s) with a few neatly-folded articles of clothing in it. AN OFFICER is making a methodical search, supervised by WALSH.

 

WALSH

(Studying a shirt)

No labels but not cheap. He’s no slouch, this fellow.

 

OFFICER

I’d say he has a lot of taste. Nothing flashy, but it’s all top quality.

 

WALSH

I need a clue to where some of this stuff

was bought.

 

OFFICER

No receipts… no cards, no cash, no documents at all. I don’t get it – there’s nothing wrong here.

 

WALSH

(Thoughtfully)

Nothing wrong…

 

OFFICER

Sure. Everything seems perfectly in order.

 

WALSH

(Preoccupied)

No one is ‘perfectly in order’…

Who the hell is this bloke?

 

CUT TO

 

INTERIOR HOTEL SUITE. CU door, which swings open to reveal OV standing in the corridor between two expressionless MEN in plain clothes who are his escort.

 

The 1ST MAN extracts the key and enters the room with the

casual, watchful air of one trained to expect trouble. He

has a rather idiosyncratic walk, which OV watches with

obvious pleasure.

 

OV follows him into the room mimicking his walk. It is a

beautifully understated parody, and OV turns to the 2ND MAN for approval.

 

The 2ND MAN enters last, slightly bemused by this

performance. He locks the door, slides the chain into place and takes up a position against the wall, arms folded.

 

Cheerfully, OV assumes the same posture in the same way,

smiling in turn at each of his guards as if inviting them to join in the fun.

 

The two MEN exchange glances and a stiff silence follows.

The 1ST MAN opens a further door which leads into the bedroom, and gestures OV inside. OV smiles tolerantly and clowns the walk again on his way through.

 

The 1ST MAN locks him in and stares at his colleague, whose face twitches almost imperceptibly with the effort of keeping control. Both then take off their jackets, revealing shoulder-holsters, and settle into chairs to wait.

 

CUT TO

 

EXTERIOR AIRPORT HOTEL. NIGHT. A ministry car draws up at the main entrance and out steps JOSEPH ECCLES, a bluff, middle-aged man with a briefcase.

 

ECCLES wears authority like a cloak and walks like a man used to having doors opened for him. He marches into the foyer without breaking step. WALSH is waiting for him, accompanied by an IMMIGRATION OFFICIAL, who introduces them.

 

OFFICIAL

Mr Walsh, Joseph Eccles from the

Department of Immigration.

 

ECCLES submits impatiently to WALSH’s handshake and ignores the other man altogether.

 

ECCLES

(To WALSH)

Right, let’s get this nonsense

sorted out. Where is the fellow?

 

The OFFICIAL leads the way and we follow ECCLES’ relentless march as WALSH hurries to keep up.

ECCLES fires a string of questions at him as they go.

 

 

ECCLES

Any progress?

 

WALSH

None at all. No one can understand

a word he says and he doesn’t seem

to understand us.

 

ECCLES

Well, he’s here. It’s up to him to

explain himself. Any articulate

adult can make himself understood.

 

WALSH

He tries. He couldn’t be more pleasant.

 

ECCLES

If he hasn’t got documents, he’ll have to go and be charming somewhere else… where he came from, ideally.

 

WALSH

We don’t know where that is.

 

ECCLES

He’s being obstructive then.

 

WALSH

He’s embarrassingly open. We’re on

first name terms.

 

ECCLES

(Interested)

That’s something.

 

WALSH

Not really. He thinks my name’s ‘F’ROMM’.

 

 

ECCLES turns to glare at WALSH, but before he can

respond, the OFFICIAL unlocks the door to a suite.

 

The two plain clothes MEN are sitting inside. One rises and opens the bedroom door to show ECCLES in.

 

ECCLES stalks past him and confronts OV with scant formality.

 

 

 

ECCLES

We need some form of identification

from you. Until we get it, you are not recognised as an applicant to enter this country. Do you understand?

 

OV

(A suggestion)

BRAANYI’GRAAP… FROIGNYE?

 

ECCLES

(With barely a flicker)

That’s enough of that. My time is valuable, so we will now establish precisely who you are and where you’re from…

 

OV

(Beaming in recollection)

AHH – F’ROMM…

 

ECCLES stares at him coldly, then unfolds his wad of paper which is a map of the world. He pins it on the wall, indicates Great Britain and turns to OV.

 

ECCLES

We are… here. You…?

 

He steers OV to the map, inviting him to make use of it.

 

OV

(Placing his finger on Britain)

HYEER?

 

ECCLES flounders for a moment, trying to convey by gesture what he wants.

 

ECCLES

Yes, we’re all HERE. The question is…

OV’s face shows concern at the displeasure he is causing and he speaks earnestly to ECCLES.

 

OV

URG’IRGLYEZ’NYI, HAR’D’DUISH.

 

ECCLES

(Deflated)

Please… just show me your home.

 

OV wrestles to understand, then stands back from the map, arms spread wide to encompass all of it.

 

ECCLES

You’ve been around. Is that what you’re saying?

OV

(Presenting himself)

OV…

 

And he holds out his hand to ECCLES.

 

ECCLES

Are you asking for my credentials,

you cheeky bastard? I’m IMM-IG-RA-TION.

 

OV

(Seizing ECCLES by the hand)

IRM’GRESH’N…

 

He pumps the hand wildly, much cheered by this breakthrough. ECCLES backs away clutching his briefcase. We see the world map spread across the wall behind him.

 

CUT TO

 

INTERIOR RECORDING STUDIO. OV sits at a microphone looking slightly nonplussed while an ENGINEER positions the equipment around him.

 

The ENGINEER switches the recorder on and points at OV as a cue to speak. OV responds by pointing at himself, eyebrows cocked in querie.

 

The ENGINEER makes talking movements, opening and closing

his hand and indicating the microphone.

 

OV beams and makes the same gesture in return.

 

The ENGINEER takes a deep breath, then indicates a flow from his mouth…

 

ENGINEER

Blah blah blah blah blah…

 

OV

BROH… BROH… BROH…?

 

ENGINEER

Talk to me, Pal. Anything you like.

 

OV shrugs and sits back, addressing the ENGINEER rather than the microphone.

 

OV

NYEZ’TFAARNI… HORKRI-HORKRI FRAAHG

LIS’HRADIPP… BORG’DOI…

 

His face breaks into smiles and he rises. His ramblings have put him in mind of a song and he gives voice, hardly breaking the flow of his speech…

 

OV

(Singing)

HARV’YENYI LIS’HRADIPP,

ORCH’PETYALI S’FOIGAL’HIPP.

ARV’ARD’ NYEEEEE,

ARV’ARD’ NYEEEEE –

ORP’HORVYE’GHYM’PARRREEEP!

 

He sits down again. The ENGINEER gives him an enthusiastic thumbs up, nodding vigorously for more.

 

OV waves away the accolade, modestly.

 

ENGINEER

Go on – give it some.

 

OV

(Explaining)

BOR’GLANYI P’TAAT MOR’FRESNYO,

UR’TWUR NASTOFLYNN’PRU. OGH’STUNTUPH…

 

CUT TO

 

INTERIOR LANGUAGE LABORATORY. Monitor displays voice patterns as OV’s recorded voice continues…

 

OV (RECORDED)

…F’TAAPHU, MENTIPROOT – G’SLONN,

URB’B’BURDLYI – S’KORTLYAD’PYAH…

FAADI-BAAHDI…

 

As the voice continues,

 

CUT TO

 

Prints of OV’s picture clipped to a report being slipped into a file. The cabinet drawer is closed and locked.

 

CUT TO

 

FORSYTHE listening to the same recording, watched by ECCLES.

 

CUT TO

 

OV’s suitcase being taken apart with minute care – tiny

screwdrivers dismantle the hinges and a scalpel is used on the lining.

 

CUT TO

 

A SOUNDPROOF BOOTH where a pair of Middle Eastern GENTLEMEN are listening to the recording. After a moment they look at each other and shrug.

 

CUT TO

 

INTERIOR PHYSICS LAB, where an elderly European ACADEMIC is listening, arranging phonetic symbols on a grid at the same time. He pauses and removes his glasses, helpless.

 

CUT TO

 

INTERIOR SOUND STUDIO. A CHINESE GIRL wearing headphones watches the screened voice pattern. She removes her headphones and shakes her head to someone off-screen.

 

CUT TO

 

INTERIOR LANGUAGE OFFICE. LUCY LOVEGROVE is playing the same recording, jotting notes on a pad.

 

CUT TO

 

EXTERIOR STREET DAY. A car pulls up outside a smart London terraced house and OV gets out, accompanied by the two MEN who were guarding him at the hotel.

 

OV is enjoying himself, having clearly decided that one of his guards is loony. He makes gestures to this effect and apes the man’s walk – right behind him – much to the amusement of the other. They enter the house.

 

(Recorded voice ends)

 

CUT TO

 

INTERIOR MINISTRY BUILDING. DAY.

 

ECCLES and WINTERS are walking along a corridor.

 

WINTERS

What do you mean, they like him?

How can you like someone when you

can’t understand a word they say?

 

ECCLES

That doesn’t seem to be a problem.

 

WINTERS

I’d say your likeable friend poses

a most embarrassing problem.

 

ECCLES

It’s simple. He can’t stay.

 

WINTERS

…And until we’re satisfied, he

can’t leave either. I shall advise

the Minister that the whole matter

should become someone’s full-time responsibility.

 

ECCLES

Whose, for instance?

 

WINTERS

Oh, someone with sufficient authority

to dignify the proceedings, but junior

enough to…

 

ECCLES

To be sacked ignominiously for failing.

Well, who?

 

CUT TO

 

 

INTERIOR. MINISTER’S OFFICE.

The MINISTER sits behind a desk, his PERSONAL PRIVATE SECRETARY in attendance. WINTERS and ECCLES are listening to the MINISTER’S pronouncement.

 

MINISTER

(As if summing up WINTERS’ suggestion)

…Someone with a facility for languages

and plenty of interrogation experience.

I leave the appointment to you.

 

WINTERS

My own feelings precisely, Minister.

 

P.P.S.

That’s settled then. The Minister will not require a further report.

 

A brief silence while all present register that carte blanche has been given – and the conversation was off the

record.

 

CUT TO

 

INTERIOR. LANGUAGE OFFICE.

LUCY LOVEGROVE is still listening to OV’s recording and jotting notes. The desk around her is now piled high with her scribbles. Through an open door we see FORSYTHE watching her while he talks quietly on the phone.

 

FORSYTHE

Interrogation? Yes, she’s done plenty

of that. Used to be an immigration interviewer. We had to take her off that.

What…? Because she was asking the   questions, then feeding them most of the answers herself. She’s a dear girl – so long as you’re deaf. The poor bugger’ll be lucky to get a word in edgeways… in any language. Not a bit. I’m quite happy to release her… indefinitely.

 

CAMERA has been closing on him during the conversation.

He hangs up.

 

CUT TO

 

EXTERIOR STREET. DAY. Outside the same terraced house where OV was taken by his escort.

 

LUCY pays off her taxi, marches up to the front door, and presses the bell.

 

 

CUT TO

 

 

INTERIOR. THE SAME HOUSE.

OV sits quietly in a comfortable chair.

With him is DAVY, a secret service man. DAVEY is far more serious stuff than the original guards. His manner is one of permanent surprise, accentuated by thick-rimmed glasses. He is not a comforting presence.

 

He is watching TV with one eye, but is clearly alert to any move OV might make.

 

On TV a presenter, VERONICA HIGGINS, is introducing a daytime show, titled: ECCENTRIC OR WOT?

 

VERONICA

(On screen)

Some people say we should call this ‘The Freak Show’, but I prefer ‘Eccentric Or Wot?’ because there’s no such thing as a freak – just different from you and me…

 

SFX: Doorbell.

 

DAVEY gets up to answer it.

 

VERONICA

(On screen. Contd)

We don’t always understand them, but we have to admire their independent spirits. This morning we’re going to meet Mervin, leader of a cult that worships the Manchester Ship Canal. Mervin…

 

DAVEY pauses to switch the TV off with the remote.

 

CUT TO

 

 

EXTERIOR. STREET. CONTINUOUS ACTION.

DAVEY opens the door to LUCY with a cold stare.

LUCY hesitates, then tackles him directly, not willing to be cowed.

 

LUCY

My name is Lucy Lovegrove. I’m from the

Ministry and I’ve come, or rather I’ve

been sent, to interview a person of

uncertain nationality who is staying

here while we investigate his origins.

This is the right address, isn’t it?

 

She steps back to check the house number on the fanlight,

then steps forward again.

 

LUCY

(Cont)

…Yes, we’re in the right place.

For one horrible moment I thought

I’d come to the wrong house. That

would have been confusing for someone,

wouldn’t it?

 

DAVEY

(Ironically)

Frightfully.

 

LUCY

Well, I’m here now, so let’s get down

to it.

DAVEY

I’d like that.

 

DAVEY is still blocking the doorway, and LUCY sees him now for what he is – an uncouth and no doubt dangerous man. She withdraws her friendly manner, becoming less verbose.

LUCY

I’m from the Ministry. You’re

expecting me.

 

DAVEY

I never know what to expect.

 

He stands aside, allowing her just room to pass, and takes his time showing her into the sitting room.

 

OV is reclining in a chair when she enters. He jumps to his feet when he sees her and bows slightly from the waist. DAVEY withdraws and LUCY watches as he closes the door behind him.

 

LUCY continues to stare, preoccupied, at the closed door. She is clearly disturbed to have found someone like DAVEY on a job she is connected with. We have a moment to watch her mind working as she becomes suspicious of a task she thought would be routine. We also begin to see another side to her character, as something steely replaces the schoolgirl in her face.

 

When she turns to OV for the first time, her expression holds all the softness of a freshly ground axe.

Seeing this, OV attempts to put her at ease.

 

OV

(Beaming)

GOR’LYOI… FR’AZHNYE.

 

LUCY collects herself and begins.

 

LUCY

(Slowly and clearly)

My job is to find out who you are – understand? There’s something here

I don’t quite like, so you co-operate

and we’ll get this over quickly.

I have an unpleasant feeling

I have been lumbered with you…

 

She points at him, then at herself…

 

LUCY

…Lum-bered.

 

OV

LLUM’BR’D?

 

LUCY

(Emphatically)

Lumbered.

OV

(Correcting his inflection)

LLUM’BEDD.

 

He looks pleased with his effort, gazes at her with frank appreciation and introduces himself.

 

OV

LLUM’BEDD… OV.

 

LUCY tries to wave the slate clean with an impatient gesture and resorts to mime. In a graceful mute sequence, she presents herself and her briefcase as representing officialdom, includes OV, and goes through a remarkable facial ballet expressing incomprehension.

 

She covers her mouth to exclude speech. The effort of will shows in her face. She begins to lose herself in mime; the rhythm takes over and flows.

 

OV watches her, charmed. Then he moves alongside her like an expert dancer taking his partner on the move. And they

swirl, at one without actually touching, temporarily beyond mundane purpose.

 

The spell breaks suddenly as LUCY catches sight of herself floating past a mirror, while OV drifts by on the wave of his extended arm, eyes closed…

 

LUCY

Cut that out.

 

DAVEY is in the room at once.

OV ignores him and looks with concern at LUCY.

 

OV

MIND’YIN… P’PORP’TAAD.

HURGLANYI… WEFF.

(This last word snorted with a note of self-contempt.

 

LUCY

(To herself)

Oh Lord, he’s apologising…

(Then to DAVEY)

…It’s alright.

 

DAVEY backs out, checking the room for hidden terrors, and closes the door.

 

LUCY studies OV seriously for the first time, trying to make something of the benevolent innocence in his face.

 

OV

(Soothingly)

FFAADI-BHAADI.

 

LUCY

(Murmurs)

You’re not dangerous, are you?

They’re  the danger, with their

suspicious minds, all their fears

and barriers… They’re terrified

because they can’t tell what

you’ll do.

 

She sits down in an armchair; one of two flanking the

fireplace.

 

OV looks relieved, happy again. He takes the other chair, so they become a couple, sitting comfortably at the hearth. LUCY puts her briefcase on the ground, excluding it.

 

LUCY

(Still to herself)

Alright, you’re my problem now.

But If I crack the code, it’ll

be for your sake, not theirs.

 

CUT TO

 

INTERIOR. A HUGE MINIMAL OFFICE OVERLOOKING THE CITY. THE SAME TIME.

A man in early middle age with long hair and glasses sits with his feet up, watching an enormous TV screen on the far side of the room.

 

He is AXEL MANN, and everything about him suggests he is in control.

 

With him is a younger man whose external smartness fails to conceal the bellicose nature suggested by his jaw-line. He is BOB McNABB, a TV chat show host.

 

At the moment they are watching ECCENTRIC OR WOT? – the programme we glimpsed earlier: VERONICA HIGGINS is still interviewing the man called MERVIN.

 

 

VERONICA

(On screen, to MERVIN)

So, Mervin, to you and your followers, the Manchester Ship Canal is the Supreme Being, the source of everything. What makes you think so, if you don’t mind me asking?

 

MERVIN

(On screen)

This was revealed to me quite suddenly one evening when I was walking along and I fell in it. All of us who believe have had a similar experience at one time or another.

 

In AXEL MANN’S office, the two watchers sit impassively.

 

MANN

Veronica Higgins. How would you fancy handing over to her, Bob?

 

McNABB

I’m not handing over to anyone. Have you seen my ratings lately? Talk’s Cheap has a bigger following than… whatever… and that’s down to Bob McNabb, thank you very much.

 

McNABB thumps his own chest in self-congratulation.

 

MANN eyes him with cold amusement.

 

MANN

She’s younger than you, Bob. And a lot prettier.

 

McNABB

It takes more than that, Axel. I don’t see Veronica Higgins holding her own with my guests or my audiences. She’d fold. Why are you talking like this, anyway?

 

MANN

She has flair, Bob. She talks incessantly and says nothing. I tell you, she has genius.

 

McNABB

I hope you’re not threatening me. Even Axel Mann can’t argue with twenty-three million viewers.

 

MANN

I don’t have to argue, Bob. If I decide she gets your show, that’s what happens.

 

MANN continues to stare pityingly at McNABB.

 

CUT TO

 

EXTERIOR STREET. NIGHT. Outside the house where OV is being detained, a car draws up.

 

Of the two occupants, the DRIVER is more or less anonymous – a secret service man – and we are only concerned with the man in the back. He is middle-aged and dapper, in an expensive overcoat.

 

His name is KEHOE and we will learn that he is DAVEY’s Commander.

 

The door of the house opens and DAVEY slips out. A moment

later he joins KEHOE in the back seat. The two men sit in silence for a moment. The DRIVER keeps a watchful eye on the street.

 

DAVEY

Nothing yet, Boss. A woman from the Ministry’s been here interviewing him

all day. He hasn’t tried to contact

anyone.

 

KEHOE

No one’s tried to reach him?

 

DAVEY

Here’s today’s pictures of passers-by.

 

DAVEY hands over a smart phone.

 

KEHOE

Well, let’s hope there’s a known

Terrorist amongst them – then we’ll

be earning our living.

 

CUT TO

 

INTERIOR MINISTRY OFFICE. FORSYTHE and ECCLES are confronted by an agitated LUCY.

FORSYTHE

What is bothering you, Miss Lovegrove?

 

LUCY

I can’t make any progress with the subject while he’s under house arrest. It creates entirely the wrong relationship.

 

ECCLES

What would you suggest?

 

LUCY

Stop making him feel like a prisoner –

he hasn’t done anything. I need to see

how he reacts to outside influences.

How can we expect him to drop his guard

if he can’t relax?

ECCLES

Forgive me, Miss Lovegrove, but would

you count yourself among these ‘outside influences’?

 

LUCY

(Appeals to FORSYTHE for support)

I hope that wasn’t meant to be as coarse

as it sounded… sir.

 

FORSYTHE

I’m sure it wasn’t. Mr Eccles just wants

a clear picture of what’s going on. He didn’t mean to offend you.

 

ECCLES

Far from it, Miss Lovegrove. But

I can’t release the man into your

custody – which I believe is what

you’re asking. Such a risk would

need clearance at the highest level.

 

LUCY, furious, turns challenging eyes on ECCLES.

 

LUCY

You want results, don’t you?

 

 

ECCLES

Certainly we do.

 

LUCY

Well…?

 

CUT TO

 

LUCY and OV on top of an open-topped double-decker bus doing the London sightseeing tour. DAVEY sits grimly a few rows behind them.

 

This begins a MUSIC sequence in which we see LUCY and OV in various settings in and around London. DAVEY is always with them, like a shadow…

 

CUT TO

 

… In front of the US Embassy. LUCY watching OV’s face

carefully for a reaction. He wears the same polite smile in every situation except when he is particularly enjoying himself. DAVEY leans against his car nearby.

 

CUT TO

 

… In Chinatown (Gerrard Street) OV’s polite interest

remains unaltered. He is happy to be on this particular stretch of pavement, but not sure what he’s supposed to be looking at. DAVEY opens the car door for them – an indolent parody of a footman. LUCY ignores him and walks OV away along the pavement.

 

CUT TO

 

 

…INTERIOR. FORSYTHE’S OFFICE.

FORSYTHE is listening to a recording of OV’s voice, checking it against endless data on his computer screen. WINTERS stands behind him.

 

WINTERS

Still nothing, Forsythe?

 

FORSYTHE turns slowly to wither him with a look.

 

CUT TO

 

… OV rowing LUCY in a boat on the Serpentine. Their faces tell us they enjoy each other’s company. DAVEY is watching them from the bridge.

 

CUT TO

 

… OV and LUCY walking along the Thames Embankment. At Cleopatra’s Needle, OV seems mildly amused and raises an eyebrow, then smiles at LUCY who smiles back.

 

CUT TO

 

… INTERIOR PARKED CAR on the Embankment.

KEHOE and DAVEY sit in the back watching the couple.

 

KEHOE

Is she getting anywhere?

 

DAVEY

You tell me. She talks. He talks.

Nothing seems to come of it.

 

KEHOE

Does she confide in you at all?

 

DAVEY

She confides to me that this is

her project and I’d oblige her by

falling down a hole. She behaves

as if the bloke’s her personal

property.

 

CUT TO

 

THE PLAYING FIELDS OF ETON. DAY.

LUCY and OV strolling side by side, DAVEY following them at a distance.

 

LUCY

This is where the Battle of Waterloo

was won, they say.

 

OV

M’BRAAD F’TOOP. MOI-MOI.

 

LUCY

(Reflecting, half to herself)

Here’s a thought. How will I know

if you do start understanding what

I’m saying? Any ideas on that?

 

OV

SMYART’FHAANI?

 

LUCY

Never mind.

 

OV pauses to admire their venerable surroundings, raising his arms in wonder.

 

OV

(Awstruck)

KRAD’YEZ-TYEHNI. OSP’FROIGH. POR’PTORGHNYI VULPERASHNYOFF. NYETT’SK’FRAA-FRAAH, BOR’G’DOISH-FLYETT-SPLURR’V.

 

LUCY

You’re no risk to anyone, are you?

It’s not your fault we can’t trace

your origins. I suppose you’re not

morally or legally obliged to come

FROM anywhere.

 

OV

(Looking around, hopefully)

F’ROMM…?

 

LUCY looks back at DAVEY.

LUCY

…I’m afraid for you, though.

You won’t be safe until they’re

satisfied. They don’t always play

cricket, whatever they’d have us

believe.

 

CUT TO

 

INTERIOR. MINISTRY BASEMENT. An area full of screens.

KEHOE, WINTERS and ECCLES are studying enhanced blow-ups of OV and LUCY in various settings.

 

ECCLES

Three weeks. No progress. No wiser.

We’re missing something.

 

KEHOE

Our man hasn’t tried to contact

anyone and no one’s looking for him.

More to the point, we’re burning

man-hours I can’t justify. Give

him to Special Branch if he still

bothers you.

 

WINTERS

No, I’m advised that he should be kept ‘unofficial’. At the moment we have the

advantage that legally he doesn’t exist.

 

KEHOE

You mean he can disappear with no

questions asked.

 

WINTERS

There’s always the chance he’s not

the innocent buffoon he appears. If the press gets hold of him, we won’t have the free hand we’ve got now.

 

KEHOE

(Eyeing WINTERS with distaste)

I’d like to think ‘we’ still have an open mind.

 

ECCLES

We can’t let him stay indefinitely,

and we can’t deport him because we

don’t know where to send him.

 

KEHOE

And if he goes to a detention centre we’ve lost him.

 

WINTERS

Lovegrove’s project has yielded nothing.

Soon we’ll have to draw a line under it. Every day our man’s on the streets increases the risk that he’ll attract attention – and that must not happen.

 

CUT TO

 

EXTERIOR. SPEAKERS’ CORNER. CU FACE OF A WILD-LOOKING, ELDERLY MAN as he rants at a small audience of passers by. He has a caged bird with him, presumably as a prop to illustrate whatever point he is leading to.

 

SPEAKER

Aliens… people from worlds you

can’t imagine are with us right now –

and we’re not even trying to make

ourselves acceptable to them…

Establish that the SPEAKER’s face is framed on a small monitor screen, property of an Outside Broadcast Unit, which is filming him.

 

A DIRECTOR, female PRESENTER, CAMERAMAN and a couple of CREW MEMBERS make up the team.

 

The DIRECTOR, DAVID EASTERBROOK, is watching the SPEAKER on the monitor. He signals to the PRESENTER, VERONICA HIGGINS, who steps into frame and addresses CAMERA.

 

VERONICA

If you’ve got something to get off your chest, this is the place. The weird, the wonderful, the misunderstood and the downright daft all get an airing here. You don’t have to be a crank, although some people find it helps.

 

Having done her introduction, VERONICA turns to watch the SPEAKER, who is getting well wound up on his soap-box.

 

LUCY and OV arrive at the edge of the group. OV seems interested in the SPEAKER.

 

Beyond them, DAVEY has taken up an unobtrusive position to keep an eye on them.

SPEAKER

(Cont)

…People far more civilized than us

are watching our every move, and we

are wantonly squandering the opportunity

to learn what they have to teach us.

 

OV

(To himself)

M’BROIGLYI.

 

LUCY glances at him, noting his interest.

 

SPEAKER

The tragedy is, these alien visitors

take one look at us and walk the other

way. Why? – because we’re repulsive.

Our personal hygiene is not up to their exacting standards. These are people who forgot about lice, ticks and bad breath when we were still living in caves.

 

The SPEAKER holds up the cage with the bird in it.

 

SPEAKER

(CONT)

To them, we’re a sad race imprisoned

in our own filth – like this fellow

in his cage. And we won’t have the

benefit of their company until we rid ourselves of the abominations of grime

and unseemly odours…

 

OV

(Frowning, to himself)

GOR’GOISHNYUTF’TOOP-SLOISH.

 

OV moves closer to the SPEAKER. LUCY follows him with interest. For the first time he seems to be reacting positively to something.

 

DAVEY watches warily.

 

EASTERBROOK looks up from his monitor screen as OV suddenly appears in frame.

 

VERONICA steps forward to continue her report and gets waved to silence by EASTERBROOK.

 

OV addresses the SPEAKER in a reasonable but firm tone of voice.

 

OV

F’TOISH-PROI FRAAP M’STYAALNYI…

BORG’NYUP’FSPOOT, N’YISTI’KRONTI

KRAAPH.

 

The SPEAKER tries to ignore him and continues.

 

SPEAKER

Freedom, brothers and sisters,

is being denied you as surely as

if you were behind bars yourselves…

 

OV has clearly seen something that needs to be put right and steps up helpfully to the SPEAKER’s box.

 

OV

(Explaining, patiently)

OIR’GRPHAANYI, PLUFF-NYIT’S’KROIP.

F’PAAV…

 

EASTERBROOK, intent on his monitor again, snaps his fingers urgently at his BOOM OPERATOR, and the mike is brought close to OV.

 

EASTERBROOK

(To CREW MEMBER)

What language is that?

 

OV is framed on the monitor. He is clearly anxious to be understood by the SPEAKER, who continues trying to ignore him. DAVEY moves in closer.

 

OV

S’PFAAH-DI-BROIG’SHNURPPS…WEFF.

 

With this, OV reaches up, opens the cage and frees the bird which takes off and wings its way over the treetops.

 

SPEAKER

(Furious)

That’s my bird. What d’you think

you’re doing?

 

OV ignores him. The audience gives him a patter of applause and EASTERBROOK signals his crew to stay on the action.

 

The bird flies away. OV watches it out of sight with obvious approval, then raises his arms and bows politely to the audience. He sees the camera and points to it.

 

OV

(Enquiring)

FOND’PROTT-SP’TOOP?

VERONICA HIGGINS moves into interview mode with her mike, keeping an eye on EASTERBROOK for a cue.

As CAMERA moves in, veronica questions the SPEAKER, positioning herself to include OV.

 

VERONICA

(To OV and the SPEAKER)

Are you a double-act?

 

SPEAKER

I’ve never seen him before. He’s not

with me.

(SUDDEN REALISATION)

He’s one of Them.

 

VERONICA

One of Them?

 

SPEAKER

I’ve been trying to tell you all

about these people.

 

VERONICA

(To OV)

How do you react to being called

one of ‘Them’?

 

OV

FOOF…?

 

SPEAKER

(To VERONICA)

Point that camera at me – I’ll tell

you who he is.

 

VERONICA interposes herself between the SPEAKER and CAMERA, concentrating on OV.

 

VERONICA

(Slowly, to OV)

Is there something you want

to share with us? Use your own

language if you like.

 

VERONICA mimes for OV to speak, with a flowing hand movement from her mouth.

 

OV peers at her amiably and makes the same gesture, accompanied by a slight bow.

 

LUCY rescues him and explains to VERONICA.

 

LUCY

My friend is an exchange student.

His English course has been delayed.

 

VERONICA

What language is he speaking?

I don’t recognise it.

 

LUCY

It’s an obscure dialect.

 

VERONICA

(To LUCY)

He must feel strongly about

caged birds. There was something

quite noble in what he did.

Would you ask him to comment?

 

LUCY

I’m not allowed to translate for him.

His tutors are very strict about that.

 

OV

SPOOP. F’FAAPH.

 

 

VERONICA

What?

 

LUCY

You must leave him alone.

 

VERONICA

At least tell us where he’s from.

 

LUCY

That’s what we’re all trying to

find out.

 

DAVEY is suddenly in their midst. He takes OV’s arm and walks him firmly away from the group with a word over his shoulder to LUCY.

 

DAVEY

Your friend’s late for his

appointment.

 

LUCY shows a flash of irritation at this crass high-handedness, then hurries after them.

 

EASTERBROOK signals the O.B. unit to follow and the CAMERAMAN hurries after them. On the MONITOR we see OV, DAVEY and LUCY hurrying away.

 

The SPEAKER gets in front of the CAMERA for a moment.

CAMERA moves on past him as if he were being trampled underfoot.

 

DAVEY, OV and LUCY, pursued by the CAMERA CREW, reach DAVEY’s parked car.

 

OV offers no resistance as DAVEY manhandles him with unnecessary force into the back seat, pausing to stick his hand over the CAMERA lens.

 

 

DAVEY

Alright, back off. There’s nothing to get excited about.

 

VERONICA

(To DAVEY)

Who are you, and why don’t you want this man interviewed?

 

DAVEY

He doesn’t speak your language, lady.

 

The SPEAKER has crept in close, unnoticed, and sides with OV.

 

SPEAKER

(To CAMERA)

He’s a visitor. Show some respect.

Look at you all – you’re filthy.

 

DAVEY levels a finger at the SPEAKER.

 

DAVEY

(To SPEAKER)

On your bike, pal.

 

SPEAKER

Don’t touch me, you’re unclean.

 

The SPEAKER tries to interfere with DAVEY’s efforts to close the car door. DAVEY shoves him aside and the SPEAKER unwisely takes a swing at him with the birdcage.

 

DAVEY turns the blow aside expertly, and with a deft move sends the SPEAKER sprawling into the road.

 

CUT TO

 

MOVING POLICE CAR. P.O.V. INSIDE, as the crew of two see the incident and swing over to investigate.

 

CUT TO

 

DAVEY’S CAR, as DAVEY shoves OV into the back seat.

 

LUCY is trying to climb in beside OV, but the CAMERA CREW has gathered round and she has to fight her way through.

 

We see LUCY’s wallet fall out of her bag in the tussle.

 

The arriving POLICEMEN see what looks like a miniature riot developing and weigh in. One of them confronts the CAMERA CREW while the other tackles DAVEY who is now in the car.

 

POLICEMAN

Do you mind stepping out of the car?

 

DAVEY fixes the POLICEMAN with a cold stare and gets out, unblinking, unfolding his wallet in the man’s face.

 

Whatever DAVEY’s official job description is, his credentials are good enough.

 

The POLICEMAN backs off and calls to his partner.

 

 

POLICEMAN

(To 2nd POLICEMAN)

OK, leave it.

 

He goes back to his car and the other follows.

 

DAVEY

(to LUCY)

Hurry it up.

 

LUCY gets into the back seat of the car beside OV, pausing for a word to VERONICA who has now been joined by EASTERBROOK at the curb.

 

LUCY

(To VERONICA)

I’d like to explain but I can’t.

 

She shuts her door with a furious glance at DAVEY in the driving seat.

 

DAVEY drives away with intimidating ferocity, leaving EASTERBROOK and the crew staring after the car.

 

 

EASTERBROOK

What was that all about?

 

VERONICA has spotted LUCY’s wallet lying by her foot. She picks it up and flips through it while she considers her answer.

 

CU LUCY’s personal details.

 

VERONICA

You tell me. A nice bloke of uncertain origin who lets birds out of cages, a driver who frightens cops, and a girl…

 

She pauses to study the wallet more closely.

 

VERONICA

(Cont)

… A girl who we know all about.

 

She looks up mischievously at EASTERBROOK.

 

EASTERBROOK

I think we want to know more, don’t we? She’ll want her wallet back, so there’s your foot in the door. By the way…

 

EASTERBROOK walks VERONICA casually away from the rest.

 

EASTERBROOK

(Contd)

What’s this I hear about you switching allegiance?

 

VERONICA

What have you heard, David?

 

EASTERBROOK

The rumour mill says Axel Mann made you an offer.

 

VERONICA

I do get offers from time to time, David. I like to think I haven’t peaked yet.

 

EASTERBROOK

I hope you wouldn’t consider it seriously. I’m not saying what we do is brain-food, but Axel Mann is to culture what Alaric the Goth was to the Civil Rights Movement – and he’s got his own channel to play with.

 

VERONICA

He’s a businessman.

 

EASTERBROOK

He’s a jumped-up D.J. No-one should have that much power. He believes people follow whoever talks loudest and if you make enough noise no-one questions you.

 

VERONICA

Well, perhaps he needs a bit of class.

 

EASTERBROOK

‘Silence is a waste of good selling time’ – that’s a quote from Axel Mann. ‘Don’t give them time to think or they might think of switching channels’, that’s another one. Did you know he has ‘Talk more, say less’ over his office door?

 

VERONICA

(Humouring him)

I didn’t know that.

 

 

 

EASTERBROOK

What’s he offered you? Come on, we’re friends, aren’t we?

 

VERONICA

I can’t say anything David.

 

EASTERBOOK

It’s ‘Talk’s Cheap’ isn’t it? The show that lives up to its name in every possible way? Hosted by Bob McNabb – but not for much longer in all probability…

 

VERONICA

You’re guessing, David.

 

EASTERBROOK

…because Axel Mann and Bob McNabb have had a very public falling out and Mann wants new blood on the show. I’m right, aren’t I?

 

VERONICA

(Mischievous)

Rumours, David. Talk’s cheap.

 

EASTERBROOK

I’ll take that as confirmation then. You could always shake your head.

 

VERONICA returns his quizzical stare with an affectionate smile, but she doesn’t shake her head.

 

CUT TO

 

INTERIOR. FORSYTHE’S OFFICE. EVENING.

WINTERS is wandering up and down, hands behind his back, to FORSYTHE’s obvious annoyance.

 

WINTERS

We nearly had a disaster on our hands. Lovegrove obviously has no control over the fellow.

 

FORSYTHE

What do you expect me to do about it?

 

WINTERS

You’re her boss. You’ll have to tell her to wrap it up.

 

CUT TO

 

 

LUCY’S OFFICE, ADJOINING FORSYTHE’S.

LUCY enters in time to overhear the conversation through the connecting door which is partly open, and through which we can see WINTERS and FORSYTHE. LUCY keeps quiet and listens.

 

FORSYTHE

Are you sure that’s necessary? I was just getting used to peace and quiet.

 

WINTERS

Today showed us the risks. Our man has a genius for getting himself noticed, and that’s precisely what we don’t want.

 

FORSYTHE

This conundrum of the language must be solved. It’s a matter of major academic importance. You can’t just ignore it.

 

WINTERS

No one wants to put a block on your research. You’ve got hours of voice recordings to work with.

 

FORSYTHE

And what happens to the man himself?

 

WINTERS

Not our problem.

 

A silence settles over this last remark. Then:

FORSYTHE

(Gloomily)

Lovegrove has got her teeth into this project. She’s fiercely protective of

it. Have you any idea what you’re asking

me to do? There’ll be histrionics – and I really cannot cope.

 

WINTERS

Lovegrove’s a Civil Servant. She’ll do what she’s told.

 

 

FORSYTHE

You tell her.

 

 

WINTERS

You’re her boss. You can let her down gently – she’s got till the end of the week.

 

WINTERS ambles to the door and lets himself out, impervious to FORSYTHE’s baleful eye.

 

LUCY keeps quiet and we see her mind working. She glances at the door to FORSYTHE’s room, then leaves quietly via the corridor exit without making contact with him. When she’s out of earshot she dials a number on her mobile and listens to an answer-phone message.

 

LUCY

(TO PHONE)

Pam. It’s me. I need a favour.

 

CUT TO

 

EXTERIOR. STREET. DAY.

LUCY leads OV into an expensive West End restaurant.

 

DAVEY, flummoxed for a moment, pats his pockets and returns bitterly to the car to watch the entrance.

 

CUT TO

 

INTERIOR RESTAURANT.

At the table a WAITER attends OV and LUCY, handing them menus in turn.

OV

(To WAITER)

SPOSSP’TOFF?

 

WAITER

Sir?

OV

(Congenially dismissing the matter as trivial)

K’ROIP, K’ROIP.

 

LUCY

My friend doesn’t speak English.

 

WAITER

Very good, Madam. Perhaps you’ll

be able to help us with the

gentleman’s order.

 

LUCY

I doubt it.

 

The WAITER withdraws without comment and LUCY takes OV’s

menu, then returns it to him the right way up.

 

LUCY

Now. Everything’s good here. What

takes your fancy?

 

OV

FOI-FOI?

 

LUCY sighs, suddenly feeling helpless in the face of their apparently insoluble barriers.

 

OV reads this in her face, takes her hand and squeezes it. Brotherly support, not really sexual.

 

OV

(Gently)

FHAR-G’NORA-PORA, PUR’PURNOI.

YAD’NYA P’PAAH-PARR, SKOUDLE NYAP’WHIR’GROOHN.

 

LUCY stares at him, mesmerised by the music of the words.

 

OV

OIST’OYTH. NYEERAT’WHEFTIVROH.

 

LUCY

(Whispering)

I know… I know.

 

She studies him seriously for a moment, then glances at her watch and snaps into business mode.

 

LUCY

(CONT)

Now listen. You must understand.

My friend Pam is coming soon.

 

OV peers at her intently, picking up the seriousness.

 

OV

SY’OOON…?

 

LUCY indicates her watch, then points to the third chair

at their table. OV watches the mime attentively.

 

LUCY

(CONT)

You… do what she says. OK?

 

OV looks at the empty chair in benign wonderment, then back to LUCY, who nods encouragement.

 

CUT TO

 

EXTERIOR RESTAURANT. P.O.V. INSIDE CAR ACROSS THE ROAD. DAVEY glances at his watch and settles deeper into his seat.

 

A taxi pulls up and a tall woman who we will know as PAM pays off the driver. PAM is exotically dressed in an ankle-length black coat and a wide-brimmed hat with a feather.

 

CUT TO

 

INTERIOR RESTAURANT. PAM enters, declines an invitation to check her hat and coat and lets the waiter lead her to LUCY’s table, where she sits down and starts talking before LUCY has a chance to introduce OV.

 

PAM

(To LUCY)

Don’t ask me what I want – just order me the most expensive thing on the menu and get your plastic out. You can tell me what you’re up to while I’m studying the wine list.

 

LUCY

Pam, this is my friend, Ov.

 

PAM seems to notice OV for the first time and looks him over with approval.

 

PAM

(To OV)

Lucy’s kept you pretty quiet.

 

OV

(To LUCY, inquiring)

S’YOOON?

 

LUCY

Pam.

 

OV

P’RUMM… GOR’VRUISNYE.

 

OV stands, takes PAM’s hand briefly, and sits down again.

 

LUCY

He doesn’t speak any English.

 

PAM

(To OV)

Vraiment? Quel est la lange du jour?

 

LUCY

We’re not entirely sure. I’ll explain when there’s time. Did you bring all the gear?

 

PAM

How can you ask? I’m wearing half of it. The rest’s in the bag…

(She hands LUCY a Yale key on a keyring)

…That’s to my brother’s flat. He’s away, so you won’t be disturbed. Don’t say I never do anything for you. Now, where’s the waiter?

 

CUT TO

 

EXTERIOR RESTAURANT. DAVEY keeps one eye on the entrance while he unwraps his sandwiches. He opens one up and peers at the filling without enthusiasm.

 

CUT TO

 

INTERIOR RESTAURANT. BASEMENT.

LUCY and PAM clatter down the stairs with OV, who looks bewildered but happy to go along with whatever comes.

 

Two doors face them at the foot of the stairs, marked with MEN and WOMEN symbols. OV glances in panic at the MENS’ door when he realises he’s being dragged into the WOMENS’. The door closes behind them.

 

CUT TO

 

EXTERIOR RESTAURANT. DAVEY, in his car, watches the entrance as diners come out in pairs and groups. OV and LUCY are not among them.

 

DAVEY looks at his watch which now says three-forty. He reaches for his transmitter and speaks into it. Two back-up cars turn into the street and glide to a halt close to DAVEY’s car. Plain clothes men climb out and deploy casually up and down the street.

 

Two WOMEN come out of the restaurant: one in a long black coat and wide-brimmed hat with a feather in it, the other wearing jeans and a baseball cap. They get into a waiting minicab, which drives off.

 

CUT TO

 

DAVEY’s watch says four o’clock when he loses patience and marches into the restaurant.

 

CUT TO

 

INTERIOR. RESTAURANT. DAVEY, with the MAITRE D’ trailing him, threads his way among mostly empty tables, scanning them for LUCY and OV.

 

PAM watches him over a glass of wine as he dashes his hand on the table and storms out.

 

CUT TO

 

INTERIOR. UPPER CORRIDOR OF VICTORIAN APARTMENT BLOCK.

LUCY, still wearing the baseball cap, leads OV from the stairhead to a door, which she opens with PAM’s key.

 

OV follows her with the look of one taking part in a game as best he can, but waiting to be told the rules. He is wearing PAM’s long black coat and the outrageous hat.

 

LUCY

Don’t look at me like that. This is for your benefit.

 

She takes the hat off his head and opens the flat door.

OV takes her lead and starts peeling off the black coat as he follows her inside.

 

CUT TO

 

 

INTERIOR. APARTMENT.

LUCY looks around, uncertain what to do next. She makes an expansive gesture to convey that this is for OV’s use, then flops into a chair.

 

OV hesitates, then sits down, politely awaiting instructions.

 

LUCY

I’m going to be out of a job. I hope you appreciate that.

 

OV

(Helpfully)

G’LISS-FLITTLYI. M’GORGOSH’NOISH.

 

LUCY glances helplessly at him and gets an encouraging beam in return.

 

LUCY

Maybe it all makes perfect sense to you, but if we don’t find a way to communicate soon, I’ve thrown away a career for nothing. Now listen carefully and try to understand. We’re going to be apart for a while…

 

LUCY hands OV a mobile, puts his thumb to the 3 button and makes him press it three times.

 

LUCY

(Cont)

If you want me, press this button three times, then the green one and…

 

FX:  Ring tone of mobile in LUCY’s pocket. She takes her mobile out and shows OV.

 

LUCY

(Cont)

…I’ll hear you. If you hear it ring, press the green one and listen.

 

OV

(Peering at the mobile)

OOF’T’K’FAAK-T’PROI. SMAARNYI-GLOIF.

 

LUCY closes OV’s hand over his mobile, indicating he can keep it.

 

LUCY

It’s just for emergencies. In case we get separated. Don’t lose it.

 

OV

FOOF?

 

LUCY

Have you any idea how exhausting this is for me? Please, give me some sign that I’m getting through to you.

OV

S’MIRGROISH-MORGLOI. FAAHDI-BAAHDI.

LUCY studies him wearily.

 

 

 

LUCY

I know you’re sympathetic. Maybe we even have an understanding. I’m just missing out on the details. Help me – any way you can.

 

OV

KIR’FSHNET-FLISH. K’LAASNYI.

 

LUCY

If you say so.

 

OV

(Looking into her eyes)

S’GROISHNYE-FLOISH, WEFTIVROH. FRAAB’DI’DAH.

 

LUCY

(Sleepily)

UR’GOISHNYE.

 

OV

SP’TAAD… MOIZVITSNU.

 

LUCY

KROI’NYE, KROI’NYE. FUR-VOISNI PR’PAAP. ST’FLEEP P’RPAAJNI GR’FOIFF. But that’s not the point. I’m still sticking my neck out for you.

 

OV

(Peering at her intently)

MI’GROIFF, MI’GROIFF – SNYAD’S’TAAP-F’PRAADYI!

 

LUCY

You think I had a choice? They were going to take me off the case. F’TOISH’P’GRAAP, M’PAAP-PAAP SKLOOF.

 

OV

VIR’B’DOOZLYI. NAAK-SPOIF SP’YEDNYISH.

 

LUCY

(Dozing off)

I know what I’m doing, all right?

 

OV

M’PFOIFF. LISH’PROIDYEZ-PYEPNYI. INDRIGNIZ’F’TYUPRUTT.

 

LUCY

That’s not your concern. There’s nothing you can do about it. FAAP’T’PAAHLYI. Get some sleep.

 

Her eyes close and OV stares intently at her for a while, then settles back in his chair.

 

CUT TO

 

KEHOE’S OFFICE.

KEHOE sits at his desk. He hangs up one telephone and picks up another.

 

DAVEY is with him.

 

CUT TO

 

FORSYTHE’s OFFICE as WINTERS enters.

FORSYTHE is fairly animated for once, pacing about holding sheets of print-out. He hardly glances at WINTERS.

 

FORSYTHE

A faint ray of hope. No identifiable family of languages yet, but there’s a chance that repetition indicates a plural, as in certain African languages – and indeed Malay. The speech pattern doesn’t support this theory, and owes nothing to Indo-European structure, but at least…

 

WINTERS

She’s done a bunk.

 

FORSYTHE

What?

 

WINTERS

Your girl’s disappeared. And she’s taken our man with her.

 

FORSYTHE

(Flabbergasted)

Lovegrove…? She doesn’t do things like that.

 

 

CUT TO

 

 

 

 

INTERIOR. APARTMENT LIVING ROOM. EARLY MORNING.

In the neutral light of dawn, LUCY and OV are asleep in their armchairs. OV stirs, peers around, props himself on one elbow and gazes at LUCY’s sleeping face.

 

OV

(With feeling)

SMAR’VOHR-NYOVLISHYENDA…

PAHR’FROIT P’TAAPHI.

NESHTIN-PREH-F’TAVRINOH…

FRAAB’DI’DAAH… GH’ORSHYIN…

 

He reaches out to stroke her head and she stirs blissfully.

 

OV

…FEST’ISHFRU FOI-FOI. P’TAAMYIN.

 

OV lies back and dozes off.

 

CUT TO

 

INTERIOR. APARTMENT HALLWAY. SOME TIME LATER.

PAM lets herself in the front door, goes into the kitchen, looks around and finds the coffee jar. A cat looks up from its breakfast. PAM turns as LUCY appears in the doorway.

 

 

PAM

Where’s your friend?

 

LUCY

He’s sleeping. Shouldn’t you be at work?

 

PAM

Shouldn’t you? I’m taking refuge from my editor. What’s your excuse? If you want to salvage what’s left of our friendship, tell me why your man has to stay out of sight. What’s he done?

 

LUCY

He hasn’t done anything. He’s a stateless enigma, that’s all.

 

PAM

So why is he your problem?

 

LUCY

The Department gave me the job of finding out where he’s from and why he’s here. Now they’re taking me off it.

PAM

So, what do you know about him?

 

LUCY

I know he’s gentle, good company – witty, if you could understand what he was talking about. There’s no malice in him and he’s no threat to anyone – but he’s in real danger unless I can prove it.

 

PAM

Who do you think he is?

 

LUCY

You’ve got to have a working theory.

 

PAM

Right.

 

LUCY

OK. Let’s say he belongs to a culture we know nothing about – one that’s managed to stay off the bureaucratic map.

 

PAM

A lost tribe? How romantic.

 

LUCY

This is a sophisticated culture we’re talking about.

 

PAM

One that’s escaped the notice of every country in the world?

 

LUCY

I haven’t got any answers, Pam. All I know is he’s genuine. He’s got something to say and if we can’t understand him it’s our problem, not his.

 

PAM

Alright, he’s not a new Messiah and he’s not from Venus – I hope. But he comes from somewhere.

 

LUCY

Ah, but does he?

 

PAM

Don’t go mystic on me.

 

 

LUCY

I’ve been feeling like that ever since

I got to know him.

 

PAM

Mystic?

 

LUCY

Out of touch with normality.

 

CUT TO

 

 

INTERIOR. LIVING ROOM.

OV wakes up and looks around, finding himself alone.

 

He hears a murmur of voices – LUCY and PAM talking in the kitchen. Reassured, he stretches and settles back in his chair.

 

His eye strays to a book on a table which happens to be `England, their England’.

 

He opens it, peers at the page and frowns, turns the book upside down and tries again…

 

CUT TO

 

INTERIOR. KITCHEN. As LUCY and PAM continue.

 

LUCY

We insist that everyone comes from somewhere because we can’t imagine

Any other possibility. It’s only a

convention we impose.

 

PAM

(Patiently)

It’s a physical certainty.

 

LUCY

But not an obligation. People are born at sea – sometimes even in flight. Who’s to say where they come from?

 

PAM

All right, it’s possible to be rootless.

 

LUCY

And couldn’t rootless people make up a

fringe culture that isn’t on record anywhere?

PAM

Where would you find them?

LUCY

Everyone’s anonymous when they travel.

OV’s a traveller who took a wrong turning and got snagged up in the system.

 

PAM

Like the Flying Dutchman.

 

CUT TO

 

 

INTERIOR. LIVING ROOM.

 

OV is on his feet roaming around, at his ease. He stands at the window, which

opens out onto a roof garden.

 

He walks out, stretches, breathes deeply and gazes up at the sky, enjoying the morning.

 

A bird, suspiciously like the one he released from the SPEAKER’s cage, alights on the fire escape.

 

CUT TO

 

INTERIOR. KITCHEN. LUCY is warming to her subject.

 

LUCY

There are upwards of half a million

people in the air right now, cut off

from the world – in limbo until they arrive wherever they’re going. Maybe some keep travelling – Who would know?

 

PAM

The Immigration Authority of any

country you care to name.

 

LUCY

Not if they’re in transit. If they’re

travelling on, they’re someone else’s

problem.

 

PAM

Sooner or later they have to run into customs.

 

LUCY

Ah… you think the system’s deadly efficient, don’t you? I’ve worked for Immigration and I promise you,

most of the time the left hand doesn’t   even know the right hand exists.

 

PAM

So you think there’s a migrant race

loose in the world?

 

LUCY

I need a working theory.

 

PAM

(Considers)

That one could qualify you for the funny

farm.

 

CUT TO

 

 

EXTERIOR. THE ROOF GARDEN. THE SAME TIME.

OV leans over the parapet to study the bird which is still perched on the fire escape.

 

CUT TO

 

 

 

INTERIOR. KITCHEN. LUCY and PAM are still talking.

 

PAM

How long are you planning to hide out here?

 

LUCY

That depends. I’m going into the office to do some negotiating. I can’t take Ov, and I don’t want to leave him alone.

 

PAM

You want me to baby-sit now?

 

LUCY

Just for a few hours. If he wanders off and I lose him I’ll really have blown it.

 

PAM

What kind of negotiating?

 

LUCY

Right now Ov doesn’t legally exist. They can terminate him any time they like – no questions asked.

PAM

So you’re going to put him in the limelight.

 

LUCY gets up and fetches a sealed packet from a work-top.

 

 

 

LUCY

It’s all here. The whole story, names and titles of everyone who’s dealt with Ov since he arrived. If I’m not back in six hours, use it.

 

PAM

I don’t believe this is you talking.

 

LUCY is in the doorway preparing to leave.

 

LUCY

When they take me off the case, Ov will vanish into some black hole and I’ll never

see him again. Either I get my way with the people in Whitehall, or you get a story that’ll make your career. What do you say to that?

 

PAM

I say you’re taking a hell of a chance.

 

LUCY

That’s what Ov said last night.

 

LUCY walks to the front door with a spring in her step and waves as she lets herself out.

 

PAM stares at the closed door, suddenly thoughtful, as LUCY’s last remark registers.

 

PAM

(To herself)

That’s what OV said?

CUT TO

 

EXTERIOR. ROOF GARDEN. THE SAME TIME.

The bird on the fire escape swoops away.

 

OV, watching it go, sees LUCY leave the building and walk off down the street.

 

CUT TO

 

EXTERIOR. CITY STREET.

LUCY walks with purpose, looking for a taxi.

 

High above her we see the small figure of OV, clearly agitated.

 

He starts down the fire escape.

 

CUT TO

 

 

INTERIOR. APARTMENT.

PAM stands in the hallway. She looks at the living room door, shakes her head, then goes back into the kitchen.

 

PAM

How do you know what OV said?

 

CUT TO

 

 

EXTERIOR. STREET.

OV walks briskly along trying to catch sight of LUCY and not seeing her, on the other side, climbing into a taxi.

 

OV wanders along the street, staring up at the building he has just come from. Not looking where he’s going, he barges into a passer-by.

 

OV

(Pleasantly)

SP’TROOT F’PAAP – BOR’GDOIGNYE.

PASSER-BY

Pardon?

 

OV

GROIFLYEH, GROIFLYEH. FRAAP’TI-PRAAP P’TROON.

 

PASSER-BY looks doubtful and walks on.

 

PASSER-BY

(Over shoulder)

Same to you, pal.

 

OV looks up at the looming buildings again. Which one is his?

 

He stares this way and that but they all look much alike.

 

His face shows concern but he is, as always, calm.

 

Gradually he relaxes, becoming absorbed in everything around him, and starts wandering along the street.

 

CUT TO

 

 

INTERIOR. FORSYTHE’S OFFICE.

FORSYTHE looks more put upon than usual.

 

WINTERS, ECCLES and KEYHOE have taken over the room which has become an intimidating place for LUCY who is facing them, visibly struggling to keep her nerve.

 

ECCLES

You can’t do this, Lovegrove.

 

LUCY

(Innocent)

I’ve done it.

 

WINTERS

Lovegrove, you’ve wilfully breached security by helping Mr Zvardo escape. We won’t waste time discussing your

career – you’re facing prosecution.

 

LUCY

He hasn’t escaped. He’s with me.

 

ECCLES

Where, exactly?

 

LUCY takes a deep breath, bracing herself.

 

KEHOE has been watching her carefully and now motions her to stay silent.

 

KEHOE

You’re not naturally devious, are you Miss Lovegrove? Do you play cards?

 

LUCY

Bridge.

 

KEHOE

And I’m sure you lose with good grace. But you do lose.

 

LUCY looks uncomfortable but says nothing.

KEHOE continues for WINTERS’ and ECCLES benefit.

 

KEHOE

(Cont)

Lovegrove is not stupid. Her file makes intimidating reading, in fact there’s no one in this room to touch her academically – I’m sure you won’t mind my saying that…

 

He pauses innocently, enjoying WINTERS’ and ECCLES’ expressions.

 

KEHOE

(Cont)

But she’s a lousy bluffer. The instinct just isn’t there, and she knows it.

 

ECCLES

Are you saying she’s bluffing?

 

KEHOE

No chance. She wouldn’t be risking her career without being very sure of her ground. She’s here because she’s won and I suspect it’s our turn to roll with the punches. Why don’t you lay it on us, Lovegrove?

 

ECCLES

(Testing the phrase with distaste)

Lay it on us? What gives you the right

to dictate to the Home Office, Lovegrove?

 

KEHOE

(Still to LUCY)

What exactly do you want?

 

LUCY

In my opinion Mr Zvardo arrived here by accident. I believe I can find the answers you’re looking for if I’m allowed to travel with him for a while and take note of his reactions to things.

 

ECCLES

Travel where?

 

LUCY

Anywhere. If he can choose where we go, that in itself will tell us something about him. We’ll need an open ticket.

 

WINTERS

In your dreams.

 

LUCY

Mr Zvardo is a baffling study. Keeping him under house arrest is the surest way of getting nowhere. I have a theory and I’d like to test it.

 

WINTERS

Does your theory cover the security risk?

 

LUCY

You people can’t do anything openly,

can you? Your Secret Service goons are wasting their time. Ov is stranded here, completely helpless without a guide. He trusts me and I’ll vouch for him.

 

ECCLES

That’s not good enough.

 

LUCY

Oh? Try this then. From today he ceases

to be a state secret.

 

KEHOE nods, confirming what he already suspected.

 

KEHOE

You’ve made arrangements to go public with him. You’re gambling that publicity will protect you as well as him.

 

LUCY

Yes. If I can’t work with him for the Government I’ll put him in the Public Domain and carry on in a glare of publicity. Get it through your heads – he’s not your property any more.

 

A stunned silence. LUCY has surprised herself and everyone else. WINTERS and ECCLES stare at her. KEHOE examines his fingernails.

 

FORSYTHE sits in his chair massaging his forehead. Eventually he breaks the silence.

 

FORSYTHE

It’s not Indo-European.

 

WINTERS

What?

 

FORSYTHE glances up as if noticing the others for the first time.

 

 

FORSYTHE

The language. It’s an agglutinative structure. I said so all along.

 

WINTERS and ECCLES exchange bewildered glances.

 

WINTERS

(To LUCY)

I hope you know what you’ve done. You’ve assumed total responsibility for the fellow.

 

LUCY

I’ve considered that.

 

WINTERS

Well I hope you’re up to it, because the moment you walk out of that door you’re solely answerable for the consequences.

 

CUT TO

 

EXTERIOR. URBAN PARK. DAY.

 

OV’s footsteps have led him to a street running beside an area of fenced off parkland.

 

He wanders along looking up at the trees flanking the roadway until he comes to a truck parked by the curb.

 

A SCRUFFY MAN of about 30 sits in the back dangling his legs over the open tailgate. He wears working clothes and is entertaining himself blowing soap bubbles through a plastic ring. He is cheerfully simple. His name is PIP.

 

Seeing OV, he rolls his eyes and utters an inarticulate greeting.

 

OV pauses, then sits down beside him.

 

OV

VOR’GOISHNYE.

 

PIP

(Gurgles)

Aaaah-loah…

 

OV

(Gazing up at the trees and pointing)

COR’FRAAP-SQUITOON. FIN’P’TROIT FLAAVYI GLISH-FROLL?

 

PIP follows his gaze and nods enthusiastically, making a great effort to articulate.

 

PIP

Yaaaaaz… aaaargh. Pip.

 

OV

PEEP? GRESH’F’PROI? FROFF-T’PROFFGR’NYAAT, POR’GORYESHNI M’NYAANY, K’RAATI, K’RAATI, BAARB’D’ARF. KROIP-SP’DOIGHLI.

 

PIP nods, staring at OV.

 

OV

(With an expansive hand gesture)

GAR’VENYASH-T’PROIGNYE. MAANYI-FAAF PEEP.

 

PIP

GRESHNYI, GRESHNYI – NISH T’PRAAK FIR’TAAV.

 

OV

(Nodding approval)

F’DROIF. PON-PR-DOOF.

 

PIP

GROIGNYI, GROIGNYI, OOF-PRAAGH BR’NOOF.

 

OV and PIP

(Finishing the quote in unison)

FRAAGLYI-FRAAGLYI, MIR’SN’FROIGH-PL’LOOF.

S’PRT-FIR-GLAAG’VIR’FROIP-NYAZH-GROOF!

 

They laugh triumphantly together.

 

OV

POR’P’TOI, PEEP.

 

OV pats PIP on the shoulder. PIP nods to himself, slides off the back of the truck and walks off with a cheerful backward wave.

 

OV makes himself comfortable on some sacking in the back of the truck and lies back, gazing up at the trees.

 

CUT TO

 

EXTERIOR. STREET OUTSIDE PAM’S APARTMENT. DAY.

LUCY approaches along the pavement looking very sure of herself. She slows. Her manner changes.

 

PAM is standing in the main entrance to the building looking left and right along the street. She spots LUCY, they make eye contact and PAM shrugs helplessly as three people step out behind her: the presenter VERONICA, director EASTERBROOK and a CAMERAMAN.

 

LUCY

(Adamant)

NO.

 

PAM

They knew where to find you. What was I supposed to do?

 

CUT TO

 

EXTERIOR. URBAN PARK. LATER THE SAME DAY.

The parked truck is just as it was, as the DRIVER approaches, shuts the tailgate, climbs into the driving seat and drives off.

 

As the truck moves past CAMERA we see OV asleep on sacking in the back.

 

CUT TO

 

ROOF GARDEN AT PAM’S APARTMENT.

EASTERBROOK and VERONICA have made themselves comfortable.

 

The CAMERAMAN hovers in the doorway.

 

LUCY occupies her own space by the parapet. PAM is with her.

LUCY

(to VERONICA)

I’m not co-operating. You’re only here because I don’t want to be seen talking to you in public.

 

PAM

(to EASTERBROOK)

If you had an ounce of decency you’d leave now.

 

VERONICA

(To LUCY)

You lost your note book. I wanted to return it.

 

She hands the note book to LUCY.

 

VERONICA

(Cont)

It’s just that your friend was so intriguing – the one with the language.

 

LUCY

He’s not here.

 

VERONICA

Where could I find him?

 

LUCY

He’s not your concern.

 

VERONICA

Who is he?

 

LUCY

I don’t know, I’m not saying any more.

 

The CAMERAMAN quietly raises a hand-held digital video.

 

 

PAM

(To CAMERAMAN)

You can put that away.

 

EASTERBROOK

You see, Miss Lovegrove – may I call you Lucy? – you work for a government department, you’re looking after someone who behaves quite strangely, and as soon as he attracts attention you’re all bundled off by a very capable minder.

 

VERONICA

You can’t blame us for being curious.

 

 

LUCY

If you know that much about me you’ll know I’m not an attention-seeker and I don’t deal with the media. If I decide to talk about any of this, it’ll be when I’m ready.

 

VERONICA

That’s fine. We’ll be there.

 

EASTERBROOK

If we could have a quick word with your friend we might decide there’s nothing worth pursuing anyway. As the police say, ‘eliminate him from our inquiries’

 

LUCY

Not just now.

 

VERONICA

Where is he?

 

LUCY and PAM

(Together)

LUCY:     Asleep…

PAM: Scotland…

 

EASTERBROOK eyes them both with mild surprise.

 

EASTERBROOK

You’ve lost him, haven’t you?

 

PAM

Certainly not.

 

LUCY

I can contact him any time. Now, if you don’t mind…

 

She goes to the door and holds it open for them.

 

VERONICA and the CAMERMAN move slowly past her into the corridor.

 

EASTERBROOK leaves last, pausing.

 

EASTERBROOK

Where did you say he is again?

 

 

CUT TO

 

 

EXTERIOR. OPEN COUNTRY. DAY.

The truck carrying OV drives along a minor road.

OV sleeps soundly on sacking in the back.

 

SFX: Mobile ring tone from OV’s pocket. He stirs, rolls over and stays asleep.

 

CUT TO

 

 

INTERIOR. PAM’S APARTMENT. DAY.

LUCY listens to the ring tone, staring at PAM with hollow, despairing eyes.

 

PAM

Keep trying.

 

CUT TO

 

EXTERIOR. CAR PARK. NIGHT.

The truck pulls in. The headlights go out.

The DRIVER locks his cab and walks away.

 

CUT TO

 

EXTERIOR. CAR PARK. EARLY MORNING.

 

SFX: Mobile ring tone.

 

OV wakes up, fumbles in his pocket and puts the phone to his ear as LUCY showed him.

 

LUCY

(Voice Over phone)

Ov, is that you? Where are you?

 

OV examines the phone with mild fascination.

 

OV

(To phone)

LLUM’BEDD? D’Y-ZIVROH P’TAAD-FROIFF.

 

LUCY

(Voice Over phone)

Thank God you’re safe. I’ve been trying all night – why didn’t you answer?

 

OV

FOOF?

 

CUT TO

 

INTERIOR. PAM’S APARTMENT. THE SAME TIME.

LUCY has the phone up to her ear. PAM looks on.

 

LUCY

(To phone)

Try to tell me where you are.

 

PAM

How’s he supposed to know that? He couldn’t tell you anyway.

 

LUCY

(To phone)

Ov, concentrate. Talk to me.

(To PAM)

They can trace a mobile signal,

can’t they?

 

PAM

Apparently, but we haven’t got the equipment and wouldn’t know what to do with it if we had. The people who can do things like that are your secret service friends, but I don’t think you want to ask them.

 

LUCY hugs the phone to her ear excluding PAM with her back.

 

LUCY

(Quietly, to phone)

Ov, I know you can do this. V’RGOISH-NYE… You have no idea how important this is to both of us. N’YAAF-F’PROI-GNEZH… please… F’R-DOISHNYI…reach out to me.

 

CUT TO

 

EXTERIOR. CAR PARK. THE SAME TIME.

OV has climbed out of the lorry now and is strolling, enjoying the morning air, appreciating the rolling countryside that stretches away beyond the car park.

 

OV

(To phone)

F’R-SP’R-FROIGNY-VROIGLIZH. F’TAAP, F’TAAP… MIR’TR-POONYI…

 

A carefree hand gesture indicates that everyday problems evaporate on such a day as this.

 

LUCY

(Voice Over phone)

You go ahead and enjoy yourself. Don’t worry about me – I’ll just panic here in private until they come to arrest me.

 

OV reacts to her sharp tone. He peers at the mobile with concern in his face.

 

OV

OR’YEFF-TIVROIGHNYE, PIR’QUIDISHTINYEV…

 

OV turns slowly in a complete circle as he speaks.

 

OV

(Contd.)

FRAAGHLI-FRAAGHLI SPOIF QUON’NESTLE-TROON.

 

CUT TO

 

INTERIOR. PAM’S APARTMENT. LUCY has her phone clamped to her ear.

OV

(Voice Over phone)

MR’VOIGLYISH… SPRAAFT’YINYESH… BAR’FAHR-FLETSHTYI GRORSH’DI-BRORK-BRORK…

CUT TO

 

EXTERIOR. CAR PARK. As OV continues a slow, deliberate monologue, gazing around as he speaks.

 

OV

(To phone)

FAHR’GOID’R’YEZH’GAR’FROIGH. S’TAGHLI. WEFTIVROH. FAADHI-BAADHI.

 

SFX: A cock crows in the distance.

OV smiles at the sound, still with the mobile to his ear, and begins humming a tune, resolving into the song he sang in the recording studio…

 

OV

(Whispers to phone)

NYEZ’TFAARNI… HORKRI-HORKRI FRAAHG

LIS’HRADIPP… BORG’DOI…

(Bursts into song)

HARV’YENYI LIS’HRADIPP,

ORCH’PETYALI S’FOIGAL’HIPP.

ARV’ARD’ NYEEEEE,

ARV’ARD’ NYEEEEE –

ORP’HORVYE’GHYM’PARRREEEP!

 

CUT TO

 

INTERIOR. PAM’S APARTMENT.

LUCY holds the phone up where PAM can hear it too, as the last echoes of OV’s song reach them.

 

PAM shakes her head and makes a helpless gesture.

 

LUCY

Did you hear that?

 

PAM

I heard it. I didn’t understand anything he said.

 

LUCY

He was telling me which way he went.

 

PAM

You’ve worked out the language?

 

LUCY

No.

 

PAM

But you knew what he was saying.

 

LUCY

Yes.

 

PAM

So you know where to find him.

 

LUCY

(Thoughtful)

Apparently, yes. Where’s your car?

 

CUT TO

 

EXTERIOR. CITY STREET. DAY.

A red Toyota containing PAM and LUCY emerges from a basement garage and screams off down the street.

 

From a parked Volvo, VERONICA, EASTERBROOK and the CAMERAMAN are watching the front of the building.

 

VERONICA turns to stare at the departing Toyota.

 

VERONICA

That was them.

 

EASTERBROOK twists to follow her eyeline. The car is facing the wrong way, he is slumped low in the driving seat and is obviously not going to be quick off the mark.

 

As he fumbles with the ignition, a Ford with DAVEY in it makes a handbrake turn beside them to pursue the Toyota.

 

VERONICA

(Contd)

That’s him – that’s the minder we saw at Speakers’ Corner.

(To EASTERBROOK)

Come on David – let’s see some high-energy driving… don’t lose him!

 

EASTERBROOK pulls the Volvo out into the path of the Ford. DAVEY is intent upon the Toyota, staring at its retreating number plate and speaking into his mike.

 

As the Volvo pulls out DAVEY slams on the brakes too late to avoid collision, reverses angrily, tearing locked bumpers from bodywork in the process. He glares at EASTERBROOK, mouthing something grotesque through the windscreen.

 

When DAVEY stares up the road, PAM’s Toyota is out of sight.

 

EASTERBROOK begins an agonising three point turn which merely serves to up to hold DAVEY up more.

 

CUT TO

 

EXTERIOR. COUNTRY ROAD. DAY.

OV walks along, gazing up at the trees that flank the road on both sides. He hums as he walks.

 

CUT TO

 

INTERIOR. FORSYTHE’S OFFICE.

FORSYTHE sits at his desk, apparently oblivious to the conversation between WINTERS and KEHOE that’s going on in front of him.

WINTERS

(To KEHOE)

The bottom line is, Lovegrove has lost our man, and your people don’t seem any more capable than she is. I shall see what line the Minister wants to take over Mr Zvardo – IF that is indeed his name – and IF your highly trained operatives ever manage to find him.

 

WINTERS leaves the room, slamming the door behind him.

 

KEHOE is unmoved, as ever. Finally he turns to FORSYTHE.

 

KEHOE

Between ourselves, what is your view of Zvardo?

 

FORSYTHE casts around for an answer, more vague and distracted than ever, asked for a personal opinion.

 

FORSYTHE

I’m not really an observer of people – I’m only interested in their languages. Besides, I haven’t met him.

 

KEHOE

You’ve spent weeks analysing his language. What does your instinct tell you? Are we looking at an elaborate hoax?

 

FORSYTHE

If it’s a hoax I salute whoever devised it. Instinct tells me this is a real, functional language. It has structure, it has patterns, but where I look for consistency I find only horizons that keep unfolding.

 

KEHOE

Have you made any progress?

 

FORSYTHE

Yes and no. I should be translating the language fluently by now, but the truth is I haven’t identified a complete sentence yet.

 

KEHOE

You said “yes and no”. I’ve only heard “no”.

 

FORSYTHE

Occasionally I feel something coming through. I can play a passage of his voice and know, for a moment, that the meaning is there if only I could focus on it.

 

FORSYTHE gets up and goes to the window where he stands looking out. KEHOE watches him thoughtfully.

 

KEHOE

I was hoping you could help me with my dilemma.

 

FORSYTHE

(Bitterly)

Your dilemma…

 

KEHOE

I can’t go on throwing man-hours at this. The man appears to be clean. He’s just another arrival with no apparent means of identifying himself. We’ve got plenty of those. This one, on the other hand, is obviously willing to talk – and the failing seems to be on our part.

 

FORSYTHE

You asked for my instinct. I know nothing about Mr Zvardo but I don’t believe he’s conning us.

 

CUT TO

 

EXTERIOR. COUNTRY ROAD. DAY.

OV strolls along the road towards a railway crossing. The red and white barriers are down, barring his way.

 

He keeps walking without breaking step, ducks under the first barrier and ambles forward.

 

As he steps between the tracks we see the distant train hurtling towards him, unheard.

 

SFX: Bird song – distinctive call of a lark.

 

OV hears the bird and looks up, moving to catch sight of it.

 

As he stands staring up at the singing bird, the train passes within inches of him behind his back.

 

The rush of wind snatching at his hair is the first OV notices of it, and by then it’s passed.

 

SFX: Blaring train horn. Rush and clatter of wheels on rails, fading.

 

OV stares after the train in mild surprise, smoothes his hair and continues on his way.

 

CUT TO

 

EXTERIOR. MAIN ROAD. DAY.

PAM drives the red Toyota, LUCY staring anxiously ahead.

 

PAM

Where are we going?

 

LUCY

Don’t know yet.

 

PAM

You haven’t even got a map.

 

LUCY

I don’t need a map.

 

PAM

How long are we going to chase around the country on the strength of what you think Ov said?

 

LUCY

It’s all we’ve got to go on. If I’m right we’ll find him, if not, we won’t.

 

CUT TO

 

 

EXTERIOR. COUNTRY ROAD. DAY.

OV strolls past a village sign reading ‘Lower Lasherham’ and into a sleepy village street.

 

He wanders along it, pausing to look in shop windows and puzzling over any written information that presents itself.

 

SFX: Distant raucous singing.

 

From an open door come sounds of revelry, the cheerful cackle of raised voices.

 

The building is a pub – small and primitive – and OV approaches, interested.

 

CUT TO

 

INTERIOR PUB. CONTINUOUS ACTION.

OV stands in the doorway and looks around. The Tap Room has a stone floor, low ceiling and inglenook fireplace.

 

Half a dozen FARM LABOURERS are sitting on wooden settles, playing crib at a table.

 

One of the group is the LANDLORD. He is out front watching the play, and to judge from his size, very much one of his own regulars.

 

OV enters and there is a lull in the conversation, as there would be with the arrival of any stranger.

 

The LANDLORD takes his time going round behind his bar.

 

OV’s natural friendliness shows in his face and he throws a cheerful greeting to the company.

 

OV

GOR’LYOI.

 

A gurgle of rustic acknowledgement answers him, with a collective wag of chins.

 

The LANDLORD is already pulling a pint. (This is the kind of pub where any other order requires written notice). The bar is festooned with a collection of foreign banknotes, each one wrapped in polythene and pinned to the overhead beam.

 

The LANDLORD eyes up his new customer.

 

LANDLORD

(Rich Country accent)

How’rye goin’ on, me ol’ mucker?

 

OV

(Nodding with approval at all he sees)

F’SHDUR’FTUR.

 

LANDLORD

Reckon we’re all a bit like that t’day.

 

A cheery cackle from the group confirms this. The LANDLORD sets OV’s unordered pint on the bar.

 

LANDLORD

Two pound ninety for cash.

 

OV goes through his pockets, realising that some offering is called for, and comes up with a plain gold ring etched with a vaguely Celtic pattern.

 

OV

WUR’WD’YEV-LYI. POISH’N’PROOT’T’FAAB.

 

The LANDLORD holds the ring up to the light, mystified.

 

LANDLORD

Wha’s this then? Yer Ma’s wedding ring or summat? Looks valuable to me.

 

OV makes a leisurely gesture conveying that the ring is of no consequence and he should keep it.

 

LANDLORD

No cash eh? Never moind, that’ll see us roight till you get some.

 

OV

K’RAAD-V’VEH’SHNYI.

 

LANDLORD

Good ol’boy.

 

OV raises his glass, peering at the beer with thinly veiled alarm.

OV

BUR’GR’LOIG-F’PROOT…

 

A couple of other glasses raise in answer to him, the LANDLORD’s included.

LANDLORD

Fair play t’you, Cocker. Been around a bit?

 

OV

WEFT’IVROH… MAAGLI. P’SPOOT’ROP’FROI.

 

With this he drinks.

 

VOICES FROM THE GROUP

Dane’yatch, Me’owd… Ee’s a boy…

 

OV and the locals are swilling merrily as a POLICEMAN enters.

 

POLICEMAN

Alright, Harry?

 

LANDLORD

Alright Dave. Why aren’t you out chasin’ villains?

 

POLICEMAN

If the Devil cast his net in ‘ere I’d have the lot.

 

Cackles of merriment greet this.

 

The POLICEMAN wanders ponderously to the table and sits down.

VOICE FROM THE GROUP

Give the man his tea, Harry, you miserable bugger.

 

POLICEMAN

Any of you been wandering on the railway recently?

 

VOICE FROM THE GROUP

We ain’t got time to wander about. Got to make a living.

 

Further cackling from the group.

 

POLICEMAN

Only someone nearly got hit on the crossing at Piper’s Wood. Driver reported it.

 

LANDLORD

Weren’t none of our lot, Dave.

 

The LANDLORD goes into the kitchen behind his bar and puts the kettle on.

 

The POLICEMAN nods peacefully at the assembled faces. His eye falls at last on OV, whose looks and well-cut clothes set him apart.

 

OV has nearly finished his pint and is looking into the glass with the beginnings of approval.

 

CUT TO

 

EXTERIOR. ROAD. EVENING.

In the fading light, PAM’s Toyota drives slowly along the tree lined road OV took earlier. The car crosses the railway tracks and drives on.

 

PAM

Did you pack a bag?

 

LUCY

No, of course not.

 

PAM

What do you want to do – find a hotel or go home? The alternative is sleeping in the car.

 

LUCY

We’re not turning back now. I know we’re going the right way.

 

PAM

Better look for somewhere to stay then.

 

The car rolls into Lower Lasherham, past the pub OV went into – the Black Horse – on down the High Street, and stops at a Bed & Breakfast sign.

 

PAM

(Contd)

And by the way, you’re paying.

 

CUT TO

 

 

INTERIOR. PUB. NIGHT. The LOCALS are as animated as ever.

OV is completely smashed – cheerfully crosseyed.

 

The Tap Room is full now, with the original faces and more besides. Lusty voices are singing:

 

‘For tonight we’ll merry merry be,

For tonight we’ll merry merry be,

For tonight we’ll merry merry be…

Tomorrow we’ll be sober.’

 

OV mounts a chair, slopping beer in all directions as he does so, and conducts the singing gleefully.

 

LOCAL

(To LANDLORD)

Get of your arse, Harry. There’s a man doyin’ of thirst over there.

 

A LOCAL hands OV another pint.

 

 

OV

KROIGHLYI… KROIGHLYI-SP’TAAT-FRAAT.

 

LOCAL

That’s alroight me-owd.

 

OV

FOR’P’DOIG-FROIF, N’ISHTI-FRU?

 

 

 

LOCAL

(Pauses)

Oh, I don’ really know. Never really thought about that. PAR’BDING-PISH-FRU, N’GLORP-SPROI, I suppose.

 

OV

VAR’F’DOIFF-PROIGLYI… MATT-PRANN-FOOSH.

 

LOCAL

Not any more – I learnt my lesson. DOISH-PIDOOF-PRONN, PHRAAFLI-VEZHDIVROH, M’POIN.

 

OV

NAADLYI, NAADLYI.

 

LOCAL

SPOSS’P’TOFF.

 

 

Across the room, the LANDLORD Is in a huddle at the bar with a small man wearing a hat and thick glasses. He is SIDNEY, and he is paying close attention as the LANDLORD shows him OV’s ring.

 

SIDNEY takes the ring and peers at it through an eye-mag.

 

SIDNEY

That’s old. No hallmark, but it’s old gold alright. Where d’you get it?

 

LANDLORD

Customer. Chap over there.

 

He indicates OV, who is surrounded by LOCALS.

 

SIDNEY

(Still peering at the ring)

I haven’t seen one like it, but I’ll tell you what – that’s worth a bit for rarity value, if nothing else.

 

SIDNEY hands the ring back to the LANDLORD.

 

 

The LANDLORD takes it and stares thoughtfully across the room at OV, who seems to have the attention of the whole room.

 

 

 

 

OV

(Reciting to the assembly)

GAR’VENYASH-T’PROIGNYE. MAANYI-FAAF.

GRESHNYI, GRESHNYI – NISH T’PRAAK FIR’TAAV. F’DROIF. PON-PR-DOOF.

GROIGNYI, GROIGNYI, OOF-PRAAGH BR’NOOF.

FRAAGLYI-FRAAGLYI, MIR’SN’FROIGH-PL’LOOF.

S’PRT-FIR-GLAAG’VIR’FROIP-NYAZH-GROOF!

 

LANDLORD

I do admire people who’ve got a way with words.

 

SIDNEY

(To LANDLORD)

Bit of a poet, ain’t he? Where’s he from?

 

LANDLORD

Not local.

 

OV

(Bursting into song)

HARV’YENYI LIS’HRADIPP,

ORCH’PETYALI S’FOIGAL’HIPP.

ARV’ARD’ NYEEEEE,

ARV’ARD’ NYEEEEE –

ORP’HORVYE’GHYM’PARRREEEP!

 

CUT TO

 

EXTERIOR. VILLAGE STREET. THE SAME TIME.

LUCY and PAM are out of the car. LUCY pauses to listen to the singing from the pub across the road.

 

PAM

Someone’s having a good time.

 

LUCY

I told you – this is the place.

 

As they cross the road, a police car rolls up behind PAM’s parked Toyota.

 

The POLICEMAN, DAVE, gets out and walks around it thoughtfully.

 

CUT TO

 

INTERIOR. PUB. CONTINUOUS ACTION.

LUCY and PAM enter and force their way through the crush.

 

OV is at the centre of a huddle of LOCALS, modestly perplexed by the roar of general approval and burst of applause that greeted his song. He is swaying cheerfully and doesn’t notice LUCY and PAM.

 

PAM

Your boy’s made a hit.

 

LUCY

He’s off his face – look at him.

 

As they watch, OV beams delightedly at those gathered around him, spreads his arms wide, opens his mouth as if to speak… and instead weaves his way to a long table, lies down on it and immediately falls asleep with a broad smile on his face.

 

LUCY rushes to his side. Several LOCALS gather round.

 

LOCAL

(To LUCY)

Is he a mate o’ yours?

 

LUCY

Yes.

 

LOCAL

Well don’ you worry about him. ‘E’s had a few but ‘e’s a good ol’ boy. Likes a song, don’t ‘e?

 

LUCY

I suppose he does…

 

LUCY peers into OV’s peaceful face as he sleeps.

 

The LANDLORD comes out from behind the bar and looms over them.

 

LANDLORD

(To LUCY)

Are you with him?

 

LUCY

Yes. I’ve never seen him like this though. How much has he had?

 

LANDORD

What you’d call ‘an elegant sufficiency’.

 

This raises hoots of laughter from the LOCALS.

 

LUCY

He doesn’t drink.

 

LANDLORD

(Rounding to the throng)

He doesn’t drink.

 

Further merriment: hoots and cackles of laughter.

 

OV opens his eyes at this moment, sees LUCY and sits up.

 

OV

VIR’GROISHNYE… NEEYRFAT-WEFTIVROH. P’TAADI BUR’G’DOISHNY!

 

LANDLORD

There you go, see? He’s fine.

 

OV

(To LANDLORD)

MOIS’YED’FROOP-P’TROIFF. GRAANYI–GRAANYI.

 

LANDLORD

(To OV)

That’s alright me ol’ boy. Y’GROIF-NOSS-P’TOFF BOR’GNYOINYI. FRAAP’TI’PAAH’PAAP.

 

LUCY straightens up, visibly relieved, and produces her wallet.

 

She pauses – a late reaction to what she heard the LANDLORD say – peers at him quizzically for a moment, decides not to comment, and continues.

 

LUCY

I’m sure he didn’t have any money. What does he owe you?

 

The LANDLORD produces OV’s ring and hands it to LUCY.

 

LANDORD

I thought ‘e was a bit short of cash, ’cause he gave me this instead – to cover it, like.

 

LUCY

(Looking at the ring)

Is that OK?

 

LANDORD

I can’t keep it – looks valuable. You give it back to him when he’s feeling better.

 

LUCY

How much does he owe you? I’ll cover it.

 

LANDLORD

Don’t owe me nothing. The lads have had a whip-round to pay for the entertainment.

You don’t owe us a thing.

 

OV swings his legs over the edge of the table and stands up, swaying slightly, with a benign look on his face.

 

LUCY

How do you feel?

 

OV holds his head, muttering:

 

OV

M’P’FOIF. NUNGLE-DRUTTS.

 

LUCY and PAM lead him from the pub.

 

CUT TO

 

EXTERIOR. VILLAGE STREET. CONTINUOUS ACTION.

As LUCY and PAM lead OV down the street, DAVE the POLICEMAN is watching.

 

OV is zig-zagging with the elegance of lifted spirits, and clearly wants to communicate good cheer to LUCY and PAM.

 

OV

VAR’GOID-NOISH’NYE – FRAAPETI-PAAP-FRAAP.

F’TOISH-PROI FRAAP M’STYAALNYI…

BORG’NYUP’FSPOOT, N’YISTI’KRONTI KRAAPH.

 

PAM

You just behave, Sunshine.

 

OV

(Explaining, patiently)

OIR’GRPHAANYI, PLUFF-NYIT’S’KROIP.

F’PAAV…

 

LUCY

G’ROISHNYI – G’ROISHNYI. SHLULL’FLUSH-PROOP.

 

PAM

(To LUCY)

How do you do that?

 

LUCY

(Frustrated)

I don’t know…

 

OV

FHAR-G’NORA-PORA, PUR’PURNOI. YAD’NYA P’PAAH-PARR, SKOUDLE NYAP’WHIR’GROOHN.

G’OOD OL’D BOOY… LIN-EM-UPP… WEER’ALL DYIN-O’TH’IRST.

 

LUCY

You just concentrate on walking straight. BOISH’TUN’FRULL-TRUPP.

 

OV

OIST’OYTH. NYEERAT’WHEFTIVROH.

(Bursts into song)

FORTOO-NYTE-WEEL-MIRRY-MIRRY-BYEEE,

FORTOO-NYTE-WEEL-MIRRY-MIRRY-BYEEE…

 

PAM

Knock it off, Ov – you’ll get us arrested.

 

DAVE the POLICEMAN is waiting beside PAM’s Toyota and now steps out in front of them.

 

DAVE

Is this your car, Madam.

 

PAM

It is.

 

OV has noticed DAVE’s helmet and leans in for a closer look. DAVE waves away the fumes.

 

DAVE

Been celebrating have we, Sir?

 

OV mimes the shape of the helmet on his own head with some delight.

OV

GORSH’NYET-FLYSHNYI. KRAATI-FLOIP?

 

LUCY

No you can’t. Be quiet.

 

DAVE is writing a ticket.

 

DAVE

(To PAM)

Did you know you have a busted rear light?

 

PAM

No, I didn’t.

 

DAVE hands the ticket to PAM.

 

DAVE

You have one week to take this into any police station with proof that it’s been repaired. Understand?

 

PAM

Got it.

 

OV is lurching at DAVE’s shoulder, beaming cheerfully.

 

DAVE

Are you alright?

 

OV

WOLL’WODGE-YEFT’P’PROOP. NYAAKLI.

 

DAVE

Come again?

 

LUCY

My friend is here to learn English. His course hasn’t started yet.

 

DAVE

You’re kidding. I should get him indoors if I were you. Good night.

 

LUCY

Good night.

 

OV

NYOISH’CLUMM’SPRONN.

 

DAVE

SHLYAAT’F’TAASHLYI.

 

LUCY, PAM and OV walk away.

 

DAVE takes a moment to ponder his own last remark, then he shakes his head and moves on.

 

 

CUT TO

 

 

 

EXTERIOR. PAM’S CITY APARTMENT BLOCK. EARLY MORNING.

PAM’S Toyota turns into the underground car park entrance.

 

Across the road, DAVEY and another SECRET SERVICE MAN sit in a car. DAVEY gets out and walks across the street.

 

EASTERBROOK, VERONICA and the whole Outside Broadcast crew move into frame following DAVEY.

 

 

CUT TO

 

 

INTERIOR. THE UNDERGROUND CAR PARK. MOMENTS LATER.

As LUCY, PAM and OV step out of the Toyota, DAVEY is there to confront them.

 

DAVEY is about to speak but notices LUCY, PAM and OV are staring past him.

 

Turning to follow their eye-line he sees VERONICA, EASTERBROOK and the O.B. crew taking it all in.

 

VERONICA

Lucy – you’ve found your friend. Can we hear from him now?

 

LUCY

(Resignedly)

Why not.

 

She leads OV forward and the action continues on a TV screen in FORSYTHE’S office.

 

CUT TO

 

INTERIOR. FORSYTHE’S OFFICE.

FORSYTHE, WINTERS and KEHOE watch the CONTINUING ACTION on screen. LUCY is with them.

 

On screen, VERONICA approaches OV and LUCY with the mike.

 

VERONICA

Here’s our mystery man. Where’s he from? What’s his language? These are questions baffling some of the best brains in the country – among them, Lucy Lovegrove, a language expert at the Home Office.

Lucy – first things first – what is this gentleman’s name?

 

LUCY

Ov Zvardo.

 

VERONICA

Ov Z-vardo – is that right? And what has Mr Zvardo got to say for himself?

 

She thrusts the mike at OV, who smiles, glances at LUCY for a nod of approval, and looks right into CAMERA.

 

OV

POR’GLOISH… POR’GLOISH.VIR’MIRSH’NYED’FEER-PLYGH.

 

IN FORSYTHE’S OFFICE, KEHOE turns to LUCY.

 

KEHOE

You win, Lovegrove. Your man is public property. Of course, you realise it’ll be impossible for him to disappear now.

 

 

CUT TO

 

 

INTERIOR. TV STUDIO. BACKSTAGE.

Guests are assembled for a chat show.

 

The live AUDIENCE is visible through a door to the studio set. Graphics identify the show as `TALK’S CHEAP’.

 

In a corner by themselves, the host, BOB McNABB, and producer TERRY BELL are having a quiet word.

 

VERONICA HIGGINS explains the programme to LUCY, pointing out the host as she speaks.

 

OV stands politely by.

 

VERONICA

That’s Bob McNabb over there with the show’s producer, Terry Bell. Bob will do the introductions because it’s his show – for the time being at least – but as guest celeb I’ll be expected to steer OV through it and hopefully get him talking. Don’t worry, I’ll make sure you get a good mention.

 

LUCY

I don’t particularly want a mention.

 

VERONICA

Everyone wants their five minutes of fame, Louss – that’s human nature.

 

LUCY

Are you sure it wouldn’t be better if I was with him? I’d be terrified – but OV might feel easier.

 

VERONICA

My face is familiar to audiences. They’re more likely to take him seriously if I’m seen to be with him – for credibility.

 

LUCY

(Subdued)

I hope they’ll take him seriously anyway.

 

In the corner, BOB McNABB and TERRY BELL are still talking.

McNABB GLANCES IN VERONICA’s direction.

 

McNABB

(To BELL)

All I want is for someone to tell me what everyone else seems to know.

 

BELL

It’s hearsay Bob, don’t let it get to you.

 

McNABB

So why is Axel Mann chasing that bitch all over town? ‘Talk’s Cheap’ is my show. She couldn’t carry it in a thousand years.

 

BELL

Bob, you’re letting your imagination run away with you. She’s a guest, that’s all.

 

McNABB

And I’m going to make sure she knows it.

It’s time someone levelled with me.

 

BELL

She’s only here to introduce some fella with a funny language.

 

McNABB

Anyone she introduces is toast.

 

BOB McNABB strides away, pauses to change persona – all teeth and welcoming smile – and walks through the audience onto set to a gale of applause.

 

We catch a glimpse of the audience over his shoulder.

 

OV peers after him with interest and turns to LUCY.

 

OV

(Awstruck)

VAAH’RGOR’GOR’SNYET-FR’GLAIFF.

 

LUCY

You’ll be fine. Just be yourself.

 

VERONICA

(To LUCY)

Did you understand that?

 

LUCY

I take a wild guess from time to time.

 

VERONICA links OV’s arm and smiles at LUCY

 

VERONICA

I’ll see if it works for me. We’re on.

 

OV glances anxiously back at LUCY as VERONICA leads him out.

 

 

CUT TO

 

 

INTERIOR. STUDIO SET.

BOB McNABB finishes his introduction.

 

McNABB

My first guest has a familiar face to television viewers – in fact you might wonder why I’m interviewing her and not the other way around. Everyone’s seen her fabulous series on eccentrics – or her eccentric series, if you prefer – and this time she’s surpassed herself. She’s brought somebody along who is unlike anybody I’ve ever met… or is he?

 

He extends an arm as VERONICA and OV walk on.

 

OV hangs back looking for LUCY but VERONICA drags him on.

 

McNABB

(Cont)

Please welcome VERONICA HIGGINS and

OV… Z-VARDO.

 

Applause. McNABB leads his guests to an arrangement of sofas.

 

OV pauses to blink at the lights and acclimatise to the audience, then follows McNABB, mimicking his walk, almost as an afterthought.

 

A titter from the audience, who have no idea what to expect from him.

 

OV, still trying to see backstage, takes his place on the sofa next to VERONICA and opposite McNABB.

 

We see LUCY backstage making an encouraging gesture to him.

 

McNABB

VERONICA, welcome. Why don’t you introduce your friend?

 

VERONICA

I’d ask him to introduce himself, but I wouldn’t know how to and you wouldn’t understand a word he said.

 

McNABB

That’s alright – I don’t expect my guests to say anything – just talk. Talk’s cheap…

 

McNABB gives the audience a look and gets a laugh.

 

McNABB

(Contd)

You say he doesn’t speak English. Lots of people don’t – most of the world, in fact.

 

VERONICA

OV talks a lot, but he doesn’t seem to speak, or understand, English – and no one has so far identified the language he’s using.

 

McNABB

Who cares? No one’s listening anyway.

 

VERONICA

They listen to my show, Bob.

 

McNABB

Sweet child. I’m kidding…

 

 

McNABB mocks a pleading look at the audience and gets a titter.

 

McNABB

(Contd)

…let’s hear what your friend has to say.

VERONICA

We’re hoping someone watching will recognise the language he’s speaking.

 

McNABB

We’ve got several hundred people in the studio audience, and a few viewers at home – if we’re lucky. There ought to be someone out there who can help.

 

VERONICA

OV arrived in the country nearly a month ago. He has no passport, no identification of any kind, and speaks a language no one understands. The experts can’t figure it out at all.

 

McNABB

(Eyebrow raised at the AUDIENCE)

Experts…?

 

A sympathetic chuckle from the AUDIENCE.

 

 

VERONICA

He’s got the top linguists baffled. So please, if anyone watching can understand Mr Z-VARDO, the lines are open.

 

McNABB

(With professional bonhomie)

This is my show Veronica – the lines are open when I say so and not before, but I promise you’ll be the first to know.

 

VERONICA gives him a dazzling smile and continues, to CAMERA, including OV with body language.

 

 

 

VERONICA

We’ve established his name, but we have no idea where he calls home. He’s charming, courteous and fascinating company – I’d love to know what he’s talking about. OV… it’s time we heard from you.

 

OV glances at her, preoccupied with LUCY, who we see over his shoulder watching him from backstage.

 

McNABB

(To AUDIENCE)

This is live television for you. I don’t know what’s coming any more than you do.

 

VERONICA

Talk to the people, OV.

 

She gives him a nudge and OV looks at her, politely worried.

 

LUCY, out of the audience’s view, signals to him to hold forth. OV beckons her on to set but she signals no.

 

OV

(Encouraging)

P’TAADHI, WHEFTIVROH.

 

VERONICA

To the audience.

 

OV

(Explaining to her)

LLUM-BEDD ST’VRAAGYIN-VOIP – WEFF.

 

OV seems to become aware of the audience for the first time and looks around, hands spread as if unsure who to address…

 

OV

(Contd)

VAR’V’DYESH-D’RGOISHNYE, FR’P’TAATYI-SPOIF’OIF-POR’BROIGLISH…

 

BOB NcNABB’s jaw has dropped and he stares open mouthed at OV.

 

Silence settles. The audience sits spellbound.

 

VERONICA

(Taking control)

Keep going.

 

OV

FR’GRAAP BOR’GOISHNYE. FR’GSNYETS’P’TAAP. FAADI’M’GORPOOPS’P’PLURFF.

 

McNABB shakes his head and reasserts his grip on the proceedings.

McNABB

Well, let’s see if I can get through.

(To OV)

Mr Z-VARDO – OV, you don’t mind if I call you OV? Where did you grow up?

 

OV

KLUMM?

 

McNABB

Let’s start with school. Where were you educated?

 

OV looks intently at BOB McNABB, cranes his neck to catch sight of LUCY, then turns to VERONICA with a well-meaning, apologetic shrug.

OV

(To VERONICA)

PUR’PRT’FRUR-BR’GOISHNYI-FRATTIK’PURT-SP’LEET-GORS’NASH’NYI.

 

VERONICA

He’s got plenty to say, Bob. Try to keep up.

 

McNABB

I think I’m ahead of him.

 

OV is beckoning LUCY again.

 

OV

P’TAADHI, BORG’S’NYET’FLULL. NYIGRAT-FOIGHLISH-PROOT. UR’VURT’BORGN’YIZH-T’PROISHNYI.

 

McNABB

Stay with me, OV. I don’t mind what language you speak – we’ve got people who can translate just about anything. Just keep it real.

 

OV listens attentively with mild amusement. He has noticed McNABB’s posture, the way he moves his head as he speaks, and now mimics it superbly for the audience.

 

(Laughter.)

McNABB

(Acidly, to AUDIENCE)

He’s a clown, isn’t he. Where d’you learn to do that OV? Vaudeville? Maybe that’s where you come from – Ov from Vaudeville, the thinking man’s idiot.

 

OV

OISQUILL’FLISH. T’PROY-T’PROY-G’DIGROONYI.

M’PFOIFF.

 

McNABB

You see, my problem is I’ve interviewed guests from everywhere you care to name: chess players from Cameroon, bee-keepers from Alaska, Mayan Indians and Aleutian tent-dwellers. They all spoke something that was recognisable to someone…

 

OV

VAADHI-G’GHAASTLOIGH.

 

McNABB

…Even if what they had to say was mindless drivel, at least we knew what it was.

 

OV

BOR’GOR’SLAAV’P’PORKYIT-LYET-LYI. FRAABHIDI-CAAHLISH-LEGH.

 

VERONICA

(Chipping in)

I think you’ve grasped the point now, Bob. With OV we don’t know what we’re missing. He’s got us beaten and no one wants to admit it.

 

McNABB

I think you’re being really naïve here, Veronica. I wonder what your friend thinks.

 

 

OV has been mimicking the postures of VERONICA and McNABB during this exchange, which the AUDIENCE found a lot more entertaining than the bickering of two presenters.

 

Laughter, cheering and applause break out, which confuses McNABB until he catches OV’s innocent expression.

 

McNABB

(To VERONICA)

You see darling? HE knows none of this is serious.

 

VERONICA

You know, Bob, I think you’re just sore because I discovered him.

 

McNABB dismisses this with a look and leans towards OV.

 

McNABB

Everybody speaks somebody’s language.

And you do too, don’t you, OV? You just

wanted to get your face on television.

 

VERONICA

(With an acid smile)

If so, he’s fooled a lot of people to do it… Bob.

 

McNABB

I wonder if he’s fooling this audience.

 

A murmur of disapproval erupts. The AUDIENCE is uneasy.

 

LUCY, backstage, restrains herself with an effort.

 

OV beckons her again.

OV

(To LUCY)

UR’G’DUISH’D’GLAA-GLAA…

 

McNABB

(Leans towards OV)

I asked where you grew up, OV. The truth is, you didn’t grow up, did you? You’re just having a bit of fun. And look – you’re a celebrity!

 

OV

P’OISS-PRAAG… FISS’NYI-FRAALYI-SHLAAP’TYIKRAA-KRAA.

 

McNABB

Oh come on, I can do that – FIDDLE-IDDLE-IDDLE, BODDLY-ODDLY-ODDLY – GLUMPETY-GLUMP.

 

OV gives him a quizzical stare. The AUDIENCE stirs uneasily, not sure what to make of what they’re witnessing.

 

VERONICA

Go easy, Bob. You might be saying something deeply offensive in his language.

 

McNABB

Surely not. We understand each other. We both talk fluent gibberish.

 

OV

GLOIP?

 

McNABB

This a practical joke, isn’t it, OV? Maybe you’ve got Veronica believing it, maybe not, I don’t know. But don’t you think it’s time to own up?

 

OV cocks a worried eyebrow, picking up the challenge in McNABB’s tone.

 

OV

KOR’K’TORT’LHORTH?

 

McNABB turns to the audience.

 

McNABB

What does our audience think? Is our friend for real, or is he taking us for a ride?

 

A murmur runs through the AUDIENCE. Tentative hands go up.

 

McNABB picks on a WOMAN near the front who has her hand half raised.

 

McNABB

(Cont)

You think that’s a real language – what is it?

 

WOMAN

I don’t know, I only speak English. It just sounds right… convincing. I almost know what he’s saying.

 

 

McNABB

Can anyone positively identify it?

 

Bewildered expressions in the audience.

 

1ST VOICE FROM AUDIENCE

Is it Mongolian?

 

2ND VOICE FROM AUD.

Algonquin?… Finnish?

 

1ST VOICE FROM AUD.

Australian… Aboriginal.

 

McNABB

I think you’re guessing.

 

4TH VOICE FROM AUD.

Bob, my husband says I speak gibberish.

 

(Laughter)

 

NcNABB

You ought to know then.

 

3RD VOICE FROM AUD.

Why don’t you believe him, Bob?

 

McNABB

Because my job’s to get the truth out of people, not just take what they say as gospel. Come on, who thinks it’s a real language? Let’s have a show of hands.

 

A few tentative hands go up in the auditorium, then more as people commit themselves.

 

McNABB

Quite a few. Alright, who thinks we’re being conned? BLAH-DEBLAH-DEBLAH…

 

Before the audience can react their attention is caught by LUCY who walks onto set.

 

OV makes an expansive gesture to greet her.

 

OV

NOID’L’GRAAF’FR’POISH… LLUM-BEDD

SYETSTIFAAVROH. VRAAT’PAAPFLYI.

OV turns happily to VERONICA and relaxes visibly.

 

OV

POR’KTOR’K’TORTLYI. NYEESVADLYAIGH.

 

McNABB

(To AUDIENCE)

He’s good, isn’t he?

 

The AUDIENCE is buzzing now. Laughter breaks out and spreads.

 

LUCY walks up to McNABB and confronts him on set.

 

 

LUCY

(To McNABB)

That’s enough. OV didn’t come here to be ridiculed.

 

McNABB

Where does he usually go?

 

LUCY

Do you treat all your guests like this?

 

McNABB

No, I give some a really hard time.

 

LUCY

You’ve got something unique here and you’re turning it into a cheap farce. If you want entertainment I’m sure Mr Zvardo can oblige – but show some respect. He’s not a dancing bear for you to poke infantile fun at. Don’t smirk at me…

 

McNABB

(To AUDIENCE)

Believe me, we didn’t rehearse this.

 

LUCY

I am a linguist and I’m telling you this man is using a complete, structured, but so far unidentified language. You’re not qualified to call him a fake.

 

 

McNABB

Well, who’s qualified to run a chat show? Do you want to take over? I’ll introduce you to the audience.

 

 

LUCY

I don’t want to be on your show.

 

McNABB

(To AUDIENCE)

This lady’s name is Lucy Lovegrove. She claims to have ‘discovered’ OV during her research.

 

LUCY

I don’t ‘claim’ anything…

 

McNABB

Don’t be shy, Lucy. Tell our studio audience all about it. Don’t be intimidated by the sea of faces – try to forget about the seventeen million viewers at home. You have the floor.

OV has come to LUCY’s side, concerned that she’s upset. VERONICA follows him.

OV

(To LUCY)

FAAHDI-BAAHDI, WEFTIVROH.

 

LUCY

Is somebody paying you to humiliate OV?

 

McNABB

Sure. That’s my job.

 

LUCY

You’re happy to destroy his credibility to boost your ratings. What a sad man you are. And by the way, you realise deformation of character is an offence and you can be sued for it.

 

McNABB

We can discuss legal niceties some other time. Can you prove he’s genuine?

 

LUCY

I don’t have to prove a thing – neither does he.

 

McNABB

Not if he really is genuine. But we have our doubts. You say he’s for real but a sceptic might say, ‘you would say that, wouldn’t you’.

 

LUCY

How crass can you get? You’ve planted the idea that he’s a fraud.

 

McNABB

That’s for the viewers to decide in their own time – but now we must move on. I’ve got other guests waiting. Who knows, some of them may even talk intelligible English.

 

McNABB distances himself from LUCY and tries to engage the AUDIENCE again, but they’re not co-operating.

 

 

McNABB

A warm hand for VERONICA HIGGINS and OV… Z-VARDO, whoever he may be.

 

Hesitant applause mixed with an uneasy rumble of discontent. The AUDIENCE resents being left guessing. Heckling breaks out.

 

1ST VOICE FROM AUDIENCE

So where is he from?

 

2ND VOICE FROM AUD.

You’re not leaving it there, Bob.

 

3RD VOICE FROM AUD.

Let him speak some more.

 

McNABB

Sorry folks, we’ve got a full show tonight. My other guests are waiting.

 

 

1ST VOICE FROM AUD.

We want to hear from OV.

 

McNABB

Maybe we can persuade him to come back another time. He might even have grown up by then – or worked out a new way to keep us guessing. It the meantime, a warm hand…

 

1ST VOICE FROM AUDIENCE

That’s not good enough. We want him now.

 

McNABB

(Ingratiating)

Sorry, can’t do it. We’re out of time for this part of the programme. Take it up with my producer.

 

2nd VOICE FROM AUD.

Do what your public tells you, Bob. We demand to hear what Ov Zvardo has to say.

 

McNABB

You don’t know what he’s saying. Why listen to gibberish?

 

2ND VOICE FROM AUD.

You don’t know what he’s saying. That doesn’t mean we don’t.

 

McNABB

Are you volunteering to translate?

 

1ST VOICE FROM AUD.

(To McNABB)

No point. You wouldn’t understand.

 

2ND VOICE

(To McNABB)

You’re not listening.

 

McNABB

Is someone out there seriously claiming to understand OV’s language? Please, step forward.

 

An uncomfortable hush settles over the audience.

 

McNABB

(Contd)

No? I’m glad to hear it, because my audiences are rational, well-balanced people who aren’t taken in by every con-artist who walks in off the street.

Now… a warm hand…

 

LUCY walks up to McNABB and confronts him again.

 

LUCY

You want a warm hand?

 

McNABB turns and reacts too late to avoid a stinging slap round the face from LUCY.

 

 

FREEZE

 

 

INTERCUT FREEZE FRAME of the slap picture on the front page of a tabloid under the headline: ‘WARM HAND FOR BOB!’

 

Establish PAM reading it at her kitchen table.

LUCY sits opposite her looking tired and miserable.

 

CUT TO

 

BOB McNABB’S STUDIO SET. CONTINUING ACTION.

As LUCY and McNABB stand face to face, McNABB recovering from the slap, the AUDIENCE rumble swells in approval.

TWO SECURITY MEN appear and take hold of LUCY.

OV moves immediately to LUCY’S side and speaks calmly to the SECURITY MEN who are holding her.

 

OV

MOR’VOR’TOIGHLYI, S’PASS’F’TOIGH-TIGLOH.

FAAHDI-FAAHDI CLOIS’LUSH.

 

Both SECURITY MEN release their hold on LUCY and move away.

 

McNABB is holding his face, hamming up his injury.

 

VERONICA stares at LUCY and OV in disbelief, then turns to one of the SECURITY MEN.

 

VERONICA

(To SECURITY MAN)

What did Mr Zvardo say to you?

 

SECURITY MAN

Don’t remember exactly. It made sense though.

 

CUT TO

 

INTERIOR. PAM’S KITCHEN.

PAM reads the paper to LUCY.

PAM

(Reading)

`TV’s enfant terrible, Bob McNab, took a smack in the mouth last night after he publicly ridiculed a guest for speaking gibberish. Louise Lovecraft, a Civil Servant, took exception to McNabb’s remarks about her friend, Erv Swappo – who uses an incomprehensible language of his own – and landed a stinger on the host’s cheek.’

 

LUCY groans into her coffee.

 

LUCY

I don’t know what possessed me. I’ve never hit anyone in my life.

 

PAM

There’s more. `Mzz Lingrave then stormed out of the studio taking her friend with her…

 

CUT TO

 

EXTERIOR. STREET OUTSIDE THE STUDIOS. THE PREVIOUS NIGHT.

As LUCY leaves the building with OV, pursued by the producer, TERRY BELL and some members of the Studio AUDIENCE. BELL catches up with her and tries to hold OV back.

BELL

(To LUCY)

Hang on – Mr McNabb hasn’t finished with your friend.

 

LUCY

Yes he has.

 

BELL

Excuse me but this is none of your business – he’s with Veronica Higgins.

 

LUCY ignores him, looking around for a taxi.

 

TERRY BELL tries to steer OV back into the building.

 

BELL

(Cont)

Come on, Mr Z-VARDO. You’re wanted back in the studio.

 

OV

(Being tugged both ways)

GOR’GORP’SPLAAF.

 

BELL

Don’t tell ME – come and blather at our audience.

 

LUCY rounds furiously on BELL. Cameras flash.

 

 

CUT TO

INTERIOR. PAM’S KITCHEN.

PAM continues reading from the paper.

 

PAM

(Reading)

‘Outside, the open-handed Mzz Lorngrave treated “Talk’s Cheap” producer Terry Bell to his very own slap in the face. In the studio, TV’s Veronica Higgins intervened on her behalf, telling the live audience…’

 

CUT TO

 

INTERIOR. BOB McNABB’S STUDIO SET. PREVIOUS NIGHT.

VERONICA HIGGINS sits with BOB McNABB.

 

VERONICA

Lucy’s been under a lot of pressure. She takes her work very seriously and failing to unravel OV’s language has dented her pride. She told me earlier that she hasn’t slept for a month.

 

 

McNABB

Shame.

 

VERONICA

We’re still faced with the question, is OV ZVARDO just another eccentric making his individual statement, or are we out of step for not understanding him properly?

 

McNABB

You know all about eccentrics, don’t you Veronica?

 

VERONICA

They’re what I do, Bob. Eccentrics, freaks and wierdos, I’m your gal.

 

McNABB

(Acidly)

Eccentric producers, eccentric heads of programming, you know’em all. And you still don’t know when you’re being taken for a ride, do you?

 

 

CUT TO

 

 

 

 

 

INTERIOR. PAM’S KITCHEN.

 

PAM

(Reading from the paper)

‘A spokesman for Mr McNabb said later: “It’s all in the line of business on this sort of show. There’s no question of Bob bringing assault charges against Ms Lovegrove.”‘

LUCY interrupts her brooding to show momentary relief, then becomes serious again.

 

LUCY

It’s all about me. They’ve hardly mentioned OV. Don’t they recognise real news when it’s staring them in the face?

 

 

CUT TO

 

 

INTERIOR. VAST, MINIMAL OFFICE OVERLOOKING THE CITY.

BOB McNABB sits in a chair facing CAMERA, listening to the VOICE of AXEL MANN, who is visible in silhouette in the foreground.

 

MANN

You blew it, Bob.

 

McNABB

 

What are you talking about? It was great TV. The man’s a fraud, Axel, and I let the audience know it.

 

MANN

They didn’t buy you, Bob, they bought him.

You let them have that moment of silence – just long enough to think for themselves…

 

McNABB

It was a pause for dramatic effect…

 

MANN

An audience abhors silence, Bob, just as nature abhors a vacuum.

 

McNABB

Axel, I know all this – I invented the concept…

 

MANN

You’re paid to keep talking because people take comfort from the sound of talk. Give them time to think and sooner or later they’ll notice you’re not saying anything.

 

 

McNABB

Axel, when have I ever kept quiet?

 

MANN

Last night’s show – dismal. Not enough talk – too much content. The best thing about it was that girl taking a pop at you.

 

McNABB

She came with Veronica. It was a set-up to make me look bad.

 

MANN

Veronica was the only thing that saved you from total humiliation. Take a holiday, Bob. Take a trip. Don’t come back. Sue me if you like, it’s good for business.

 

McNABB

I’m not going anywhere.

 

MANN

That’s what I’ve been telling you, buddy.

 

AXEL MANN shifts his eyeline from McNABB to a bank of enormous TV screens showing various locations.

 

One of the screens shows a small crowd gathering on a street corner.

 

 

CUT TO

 

EXTERIOR. PAM’S APARTMENT BLOCK. DAY.

OV stands at a high window looking out.

 

Instead of the usual roar and clatter of the city, there is calm. The streets are quiet. The only sounds are distant.

 

On the street DAVEY leans against his car watching the main entrance to the apartment block. He turns and looks across the road, where people are quietly beginning to gather.

 

Some faces look up.

 

OV looks down.

 

 

CUT TO

 

 

INTERIOR. PAM’S APARTMENT. THE SAME TIME.

OV turns from the window and walks into the kitchen where LUCY and PAM sit. He addresses LUCY with a bright smile.

 

OV

VOR’GOR’DLYET-FIRT’PLUIGH.

 

LUCY

FAR’V’DEYSHNYI-FLAALIGH.

(To PAM)

PROOT’FR’POIGH?

 

PAM

K’ROIGHNYI, K’ROIGHNYIOS-FOR-NYAAFLI.

 

OV

(Indicating the door)

B’DOISHNYI?

 

PAM

(Urgent)

FAH’FUR’TUSH’NYANG-VERV’WERLYEIGH, PAR’P’TAATEN, PRUTT-PRUTT.

 

PAM makes a dash for the bathroom.

 

LUCY and OV exchange shrugs.

 

 

CUT TO

 

 

EXTERIOR. PAM’S APARTMENT BLOCK. MOMENTS LATER.

OV, LUCY and PAM appear, visible through the glass doors of the foyer. Outside the main entrance, a flight of broad steps leads down to the street.

 

Across the street, the crowd stirs and takes notice:

a ripple of hushed conversation like wind in long grass.

 

DAVEY, leaning against his car, watches warily.

 

OV pushes open the glass doors and leaves the shadow of the foyer. He walks out onto the top step. LUCY and PAM follow.

 

PAM

(To LUCY)

What’s happening? Where did all these people come from?

 

LUCY

SPL’FOID-POR’P’TORSHNYO. We’re famous.

 

PAM

M’SPLUT’FLULL’PLUSHLIGH.

 

LUCY

Because I smacked Bob McNabb? I don’t think so. They want OV. LUSH’VRONYETS CRON-FROIP OV ZVARDO GAR’ZHEZVIRTRUSH.

 

PAM

Yes, look at him lapping it up. PARR’B’JED’VLOIP.

 

LUCY

AR’GOISH-DOIL’YIV, FRUP-FRUP BOR’G’DOI.

 

OV

GOISHNYE, ALFALZ’YAZH.

 

 

OV is relaxed and self-possessed as he stares across at the patient crowd.

 

Some familiar faces have begun to appear in the throng:

 

The LANDLORD from the pub and some of the LOCALS,

 

DAVE the Policeman,

 

TERRY BELL, ‘Talk’s Cheap’ producer,

 

PHILIP SULLIVAN, the Customs Officer OV met first.

 

The SPEAKER from Speakers’ Corner has arrived with two companions.

 

One is WARREN KERR, a self-styled evangelist with an intimidating thrust to his chin.

 

The other is FATHER NEIL COLLINS, a young priest with a relentlessly benevolent expression suggestive of stained glass windows.

 

Along the street a van draws up. DAVID EASTERBROOK gets out with VERONICA and his CAMERAMAN.

 

LUCY

OV, what are we doing? POR’P’TOISH? We can’t go out there V’NYATS’PAR’PTAALIGH. Come back in.

 

 

OV

(Cheerfully)

AR’VAARD’LEIGH, LLUM’BEDD. NAZH’DRATSFALL SPOSHPI-TOSHPI. NUR-FUUR NUGLE-DRUTTS.

 

Suddenly the paparazzi are upon them. A group of REPORTERS rushes up the steps, bombarding OV with questions. The most aggressive takes control. He is JACK LAW and he is right in OV’s face.

 

LAW

Jack Law, Daily Herald, Mr Z-VARDO. Are you in danger if you go back to your home country?

 

OV

(Bewildered)

OR’GOR’BOISHNYA, TI’PROOT’FAHR?

 

LAW

I’ll take that as a ‘Yes’.

 

LUCY

You’re wasting your time. No one knows where Mr Zvardo is from.

 

LAW

(To LUCY)

Is that because someone in Immigration isn’t doing their job or because Home Office policy is too woolly to cope with anything it’s not used to?

 

LUCY

Neither…

 

LAW

Or is Mr Zvardo just having a laugh?

 

 

OV treats LAW to a benign smile and walks slowly down the short flight of steps to street level with LUCY and PAM keeping close.

 

OV strolls like a man taking the morning air, seemingly oblivious to the crowd drifting in the same direction on the other side of the road.

 

DAVEY leaves his car and moves with them.

 

The SPEAKER from Speakers’ Corner angles across the road to talk to OV.

 

WARREN KERR and FATHER COLLINS stay with him.

 

SPEAKER

Take pity on their filthy habits and unhygienic souls. Tell them who you are – they need you.

 

KERR

(To SPEAKER)

Don’t be too quick to judge your fellow man, brother.

 

SPEAKER

Humans are disgustingly unhygienic. It’s fact, not a moral judgement. He knows that.

 

FATHER COLLINS makes an offering with sublime good-humour.

 

COLLINS

I doubt if Our Lord found time for a shower in the wilderness.

 

KERR

Who asked you?

 

LAW

(to OV)

What did you say to Bob McNabb on ‘Talk’s Cheap’?

 

OV leans towards him, eyebrows raised in polite incomprehension.

OV

FR’OISHNYE?

 

CUT TO

 

 

A SHORT DISTANCE AWAY. THE SAME TIME.

 

DAVID EASTERBROOK and his CAMERAMAN follow VERONICA HIGGINS as she follows the crowd, picking out people to interview.

 

At the front of the procession, OV modestly tries to wave away the attention, but the crowd is gathering in ever greater numbers.

 

THE SPEAKER is still close to OV.

 

FATHER COLLINS, with relentless smile, is explaining something to WARREN KERR, whose face is beginning to cloud.

 

VERONICA moves in and walks beside WARREN KERR. We see the interview on EASTERBROOK’s monitor screen.

 

 

VERONICA

Here’s a familiar face. The evangelist Warren Kerr. We’ve met before haven’t we?

 

KERR

Yes, what was it you called me? A New Age Elmer Gantry, fire-eating Bible-thumper, best-dressed God-botherer – have I left anything out?

 

VERONICA

And you said I was a shrill media harlot with the integrity of a rampant she-wolf. I’m sure it was meant kindly. What do you think everybody’s doing here?

 

KERR

(Indicating OV)

If you don’t know, I can’t tell you. They’ve come to see The Man – hear what he has to say – I should have thought that was obvious.

 

VERONICA

But no one understands a word he says.

 

KERR

If he comes with the truth, those who have ears to hear will hear – and you will know by their words and deeds as they proclaim…

 

VERONICA

Do you think he’s some kind of prophet, then?

 

KERR

Not necessarily.

 

VERONICA

You don’t want to commit yourself.

 

 

KERR

Each of us must decide who and what he is for ourselves. That inner knowledge is the only commitment required of us. What do you think, if anything?

 

VERONICA

I think my job is to keep people like you talking.

 

SPEAKER

He’s from another world.

 

 

VERONICA

He looks human to me.

 

SPEAKER

They can assume any form they like.

 

KERR

Give me strength…

 

VERONICA

(To KERR)

You don’t agree with that?

 

KERR

Do you? This idiot thinks there are little green men from Venus everywhere. What he doesn’t realise is that the Pale Rider is almost upon us and the fires of Hell follow hot on his heels.

 

 

CUT TO

 

 

INTERIOR. FORSYTHE’S OFFICE. THE SAME TIME.

FORSYTHE, KEYHOE AND ECCLES are watching the live broadcast on TV.

 

ECCLES

Every sect on the planet’s going to claim him now.

 

KEYHOE

It was only a matter of time.

 

ECCLES

I don’t get it. He’s not a rock star, he’s not royalty – what are all these people expecting to see?

 

FORSYTHE

A media miracle. F’VAR’B’DOIGLYI M’SPOIFF.

 

KEYHOE turns slowly to look at FORSYTHE.

 

On screen, VERONICA turns to FATHER COLLINS.

 

 

VERONICA

Here’s Father Neil Collins. What about you, Father? Do you think Mr Zvardo is here with a spiritual message?

 

COLLINS

Who knows? Words that are incomprehensible to some may serve to reinforce the faith of others. Enlightenment comes upon us without warning, sometimes from the direction we least expect it, our Damascus Moment…

 

VERONICA

But is he saying anything?

 

COLLINS

If this is indeed the Gift of Tongues, we are truly blessed. If not… we are… definitely… lucky to be here anyway… because… let me put it another way… we’re here and he is here… and by our very being here we are, in a very real sense, sharing our being, together… so…

 

 

KERR

(Rounding on COLLINS)

You people can’t give a straight answer to anything, can you? Why don’t you just admit it – the Apocalypse is coming, and that right soon!

 

 

CUT TO

 

 

EXTERIOR. STREET. THE SAME TIME.

OV, LUCY and PAM walk at the head of the crowd which has become a procession. JACK LAW is still firing questions.

 

LAW

(To LUCY)

Do you understand him? You look as if you understand him.

 

LUCY

It’s not as simple as that…

 

LAW

Just say something, see if you can get him to answer.

 

LUCY

Would you like me to throw a stick so he can fetch it for you?

 

LAW

(Gesturing to OV)

Just talk. Keep talking. Do you know what I’m saying?

(To LUCY)

Does he know what I’m saying?

 

LUCY

You’re not saying anything.

 

LAW turns to face OV, halting the procession, presenting OV like an impresario to an audience.

 

LAW

All I want is for you to say something we can all understand.

 

OV gathers that he is expected to perform and raises both arms to signal general goodwill to those gathered around.

 

OV

P’PLEMM-FROIGHNYE. GLOIP.

 

LAW

You’re going a bit fast for me. What was that again?

 

OV

MURSH’G’DROORB’LORF. FAFF-N’VAAG…

 

OV makes a hand gesture in the air suggesting that his theme is universal.

 

LAW mirrors the movement sympathetically.

 

OV takes the gesture as a signal to get into festive mode.

 

OV

(As if reminiscing)

OIST’ROITH KLAAM, FRAAT-N’YESDI-

GROIT’K’DYAALI.

FRAAH-T’PRAAH-FROIGH,

TI’PRURNYI-SHENYY-GRAH

MURT’ROI’ZHNY’JHLOIJH, F’JHOIJHLYI KROMM’T’PROONYI-GLUTT’WOISH’TUMM…

 

The metre of his words becomes poetic and he carries on, reciting…

OV

(Cont)

MIR’GROOT-M’R’GRAAPH, HOITH-PRUITT-

STYED’LEESH’M’PRAANYI…

SNYET’FLAALISH-YOIFF,

MOR’PRUTT FR’PRESSHT-FR’KRAANYI.

 

The crowd falls silent, mesmerised by this performance.

The pub LANDLORD and some of his LOCALS edge closer and  stare at OV in fascination.

 

OV clearly recognises them and decides to lighten the tone. The next is accompanied by rhythmic elbow jerks and a slightly Irish-looking dance step.

 

OV

(Cont)

NYAANYI-FESTI-PROOK-TROISH

GLAATI-PRAATI-PLUNN,

OIK’STRUTH,

FLOIK’PRUTH,

OR’GOR’SNYET’P’KRUNN.

 

A ripple of applause. OV looks delighted and continues.

 

VERONICA moves in and picks on the LANDLORD.

 

CUT TO

 

EASTERBROOK’S MONITOR. THE SAME TIME.

As VERONICA thrusts her mike in the LANDLORD’s face.

 

VERONICA

(To LANDLORD)

And what are you doing here?

 

LANDLORD

Come to see our mate.

 

VERONICA

You’re friends of Mr Zvardo?

 

LANDLORD

That his name? ‘E’s a good ol’ boy so we come up to town specially.

 

VERONICA

You had his address then.

 

LANDLORD

Nope. Jus’ knew he’d be here.

 

VERONICA

How did you know?

 

LANDLORD

Jus’ knew. Jim here had a dream about him.

 

The LANDLORD indicates one of the pub LOCALS whose name is JIM.

 

JIM looks into CAMERA.

 

VERONICA

You had a dream, Jim?

 

JIM

‘Course I did, and I told the lads. That’s how we knew he’d be ‘ere. You want to listen to ‘im, he’ll put you straight.

 

VERONICA

What will he “put straight”? What do you mean?

 

LANDLORD

Well, for one thing…

 

VERONICA gets close to the LANDLORD but the noise level rises, drowning out his words.

 

CUT TO

 

THE STREET. THE SAME TIME.

Amid the continuing hubbub LAW leans towards OV, confiding.

 

LAW

They all think you’re something special. I don’t go with that. You’re up to something and I want an exclusive.

 

OV

PAR’B’DOISH, PAR’B’DOISHVLETT-SP’PLAAF.

 

LAW

You’re an ordinary bloke with a different take on life, right? It’s a great gag but enough, already. My readers want a bit of background. Come on, where are you from?

 

OV

BR’OISH-K’FLAALYE…

 

LAW

Very possibly but that doesn’t help me.

 

WARREN KERR and FATHER NEIL COLLINS are visible in the background rolling around on the ground, locked together in vicious hand-to-hand combat..

 

 

CUT TO

 

 

EASTERBROOK’S MONITOR. THE SAME TIME.

VERONICA takes advantage of a brief lull to press the LANDLORD on what he was saying.

 

VERONICA

What will Mr Zvardo “put straight”?

 

LANDLORD

You talk too much.

 

VERONICA

Of course I do, that’s what I’m paid for.

 

LANDLORD

No, you talk too much. You do, I do, we all do. Words coming out all the time and none of us say anything.

 

VERONICA

That’s what Mr Zvardo thinks, is it?

 

LANDLORD

Said it in my pub. All the lads heard him.

A rumble of agreement from JIM and the LOCALS.

 

JIM

Too many words about nothing.

 

VERONICA

I don’t follow. Mr Zvardo talks all the time and not a single word makes any sense.

 

A cackle of laughter from the PUB LOCALS gathered round the LANDLORD. JIM thrusts himself forward to explain:

 

CUT TO

 

INTERIOR. FORSYTHE’S OFFICE. CONTINUOUS ACTION ON TV SCREEN.

 

FORSYTHE, KEYHOE and ECCLES watch.

 

JIM

(On screen)

He’s the only one who does make sense.

 

VERONICA

Well, if you’re such an authority, what’s he talking about?

 

JIM

He says speech is a gift, so we should treat it with respect and use it sparingly.

 

LANDLORD

It’s our only way to achieve harmony and understanding. So what do we use it for?  Arguing the toss about every detail, making life more complicated than it should be…

 

JIM

…and selling things. We’ve got used to idiots yelling at us, telling us what to do, what we need, how to behave. We don’t expect to hear anything useful…

 

LANDLORD

We’ve forgotten how to listen so no one with an idea stands a chance.

 

VERONICA

You got all this from Mr Zvardo? How?

 

LANDLORD

It’s obvious. You have to listen.

 

 

In FORSYTHE’S office the three watchers stare at the TV in amazement.

 

 

ECCLES

Where are they getting this from?

 

FORSYTHE laughs bitterly

 

FORSYTHE

While I’ve been trying to penetrate the language, those men have bypassed it and gone straight for the meaning. I should have followed my instinct from the start.

 

KEYHOE

What would it have told you?

 

FORSYTHE

We’ve devalued the power of speech. All communication means now is advertising. We don’t exchange ideas, we promote things. ST’FLAAL’FOISH-PR’TROIMYI. We’ve evolved into a race that talks without saying anything.

 

FORSYTHE stands up and strolls to the door.

 

KEYHOE and ECCLES stare at his retreating figure then each in turn gets up and follows him out of the room.

 

CUT TO

 

 

EXTERIOR. STREET. THE SAME TIME.

OV is on the move again and the procession is following.

OV turns to LUCY.

OV

F’SPOORF LLUM-BEDD?

 

LUCY

POR’NYOI, S’PUR’FLOIGH, POR’NYAA’NYAANI-PORCOTLOIGH.

 

OV

VIR’Y’DO, VIR’Y’DO. PARFAAZH.

 

LAW grabs LUCY by the arm.

 

LAW

You can talk to him. I just heard you. What’s he saying?

 

LUCY

(To PAM, over shoulder)

SMOIL’FLOIGH-SH’P’PAAP.

 

PAM

FAAHDI-BAAHDI, VER’BEDOISHLYI.

 

LAW

You both can.

 

LUCY

You wish. Unfortunately life just isn’t that easy.

 

LAW

Why are you being so secretive? I just heard you talking his language.

 

LUCY

You think I understand everything I say and hear? I get some of what OV says to me, but more often I just know what he means.

 

LAW

You answer him, I’ve heard you.

 

LUCY

Sometimes I find the words, but I don’t know how I learnt them, any more than I remember learning my first language. Or my second, or third… or fourth or fifth, come to think of it.

 

 

CUT TO

 

 

EXTERIOR. URBAN PARKLAND. THE SAME TIME.

A SCRUFFY MAN sits on the top step of a band-stand. He is PIP, the cheerfully simple soul OV met on his wanderings. As before, PIP is blowing soap bubbles through a plastic ring.

 

OV comes into view with the crowd behind him. His manner says he is not leading them, they are following him.

 

PIP gets up and waves from the band-stand, jumping up and down with excitement. OV sees him and climbs the steps to join him.

 

LUCY and PAM climb to the top step and stop short of the platform.

 

The procession gathers round the bandstand but instinctively stays off the platform.

 

OV

(To PIP)

GR’AADS-FAHR-PLAIGHLYI BUR’B’DOISH.

F’DOR’GOR PEEP FRAAHTI-PLUTTLI.

 

PIP

AR’FAAHR, AR’FOISH’TFROIPS’PLUTT.

 

OV

(Mischievous)

CROIGHLYI? F’SPAAN’PORG’D’FRAAH-FRAAH?

 

PIP

(Excited)

CROIGHNYI, WUS’PRUSS’DRUFF!

 

They link arms and swing into a vaguely Greek style dance step, breaking into song at the same time.

 

OV and PIP

GAR’VENYASH-T’PROIGNYE. MAANYI-FAAF PEEP.

GRESHNYI, GRESHNYI – NISH T’PRAAKFIR’TAAV.

F’DROIF. PON-PR-DOOF.

GROIGNYI, GROIGNYI, OOF-PRAAGH BR’NOOF.

FRAAGLYI-FRAAGLYI, MIR’SN’FROIGH-PL’LOOF.

S’PRT-FIR-GLAAG’VIR’FROIP-NYAZH-GROOF!

 

They finish abruptly and stand still, beaming at the crowd.

 

The crowd stares back, mesmerised, in silence.

 

Close, but away from the crowd, DAVEY takes up position and leans against a tree.

 

Silence.

 

OV murmurs something to PIP, gives him a nod of encouragement and stands modestly aside.

 

OV

(Quietly)

POR’LOISH’N’OV, FRORRS’P’TORSHN’BWEER’N FLEIGHLYI.

 

PIP

This is my friend, OV. I understand him.

 

OV

TAH’R’F’DOIT-PRUPP FOISH’L GARGISH’NYAAT.

KOR’VERSH’N’FLEIGHLYI, URP’T’UR’FROILY’ISH.

P’PORP’TRAIGHLIJH-NYAAF’P’TYAAGHLYI.

 

PIP

You could too. You could understand without trying. All it takes is unconditional trust.

 

OV

AL’FLULL’YEZH-OV’PROIGHNYE, SP’PAARF KLYEJH SOOSH-FT’LOIP.

 

PIP

You wouldn’t listen to OV if he used the same old familiar words…

 

OV

NOISHT’L’PRU. NOISH’P’TOISH’P’NAA-FRAAH, NUNGLE-DRUTTS.

 

PIP

…but he says things in his own words. That’s how you know it’s important.

 

OV

OR’VOR’DEJZ F’DROIF’PRAAHD’VER’LEIJH.

 

 

PIP

He’s grateful to you all for bothering to turn up.

 

 

PIP pauses, waiting for a further prompt which doesn’t come so he adds an afterthought.

 

PIP

I get it – and anyone’ll tell you I’m none too bright.

 

The crowd continues to stare, jaws hanging open.

On the edge of the crowd, DAVEY is still leaning against his tree keeping a watchful eye on OV, who is clearly in view on the bandstand.

DAVEY stirs himself and stands up straight as KEHOE approaches with FORSYTHE and ECCLES.

 

KEHOE (To DAVEY)

KOR’GOISHN’FRU-P’SPLOIP?

 

DAVEY

SK’OR-FUURT-PLOIGH.

 

ECCLES (Staring at the crowd)

I’m not at all happy about this.

 

KEHOE

What’s the phrase? – lighten up. That’s right. NYASH-F’T’FLEIGH.

 

ECCLES (Indignant)

UR’V’HAANYISH-PLETS-YUSH-PRUURF.

 

They all turn to watch the bandstand where OV and PIP have been joined by LUCY and PAM, their heads just visible above the throng of people clustering round.

CUT TO

 

EXTERIOR. IN THE CROWD. THE SAME TIME. VERONICA HIGGINS is ploughing through the throng, turning to face EASTERBROOK and the CAMERAMAN who are following.

 

VERONICA (To CAMERA)

If you’ve just turned on, we’re live, and… you know as much as I do about what’s happening. As you can see, an enormous crowd has gathered, spontaneously as far as I can gather, to home in on… a bloke who talks total nonsense. I can’t remember anything like this happening before. Whatever this is, it’s a first…

 

EASTERBROOK

You’re joking.

 

VERONICA

On air, David. You’re supposed to be behind the camera.

 

EASTERBROOK

But did you hear the gibberish you were spouting just then?

 

VERONICA (With an acid smile)

Just keeping the viewers abreast of events, David.

 

EASTERBROOK

You can’t remember ever seeing a crowd gather to hear someone talking total nonsense? Where have you been, darling?

 

VERONICA

I haven’t time for this. I’m going up there to talk to him.

 

VERONICA plunges on through the crush up the steps to the bandstand.

CUT TO

 

INTERIOR. AXEL MANN’S MINIMAL OFFICE. THE SAME TIME.

AXEL MANN watches VERONICA on TV as she clambers up the bandstand steps, shoving other people out of the way.

BOB McNABB is still hovering in the doorway, next to the enormous screen. He looks helpless next to the life-size televised image of VERONICA.

ALEX MANN glances at him.

 

MANN

You still here, Bob?

 

On screen, VERONICA clambers over people to reach the platform where OV is surveying all with a delighted smile. VERONICA reaches out both arms towards him and plunges out of sight in the tangle of bodies.

 

McNABB

You still think she could replace me?

 

MANN

Nah, she’s yesterday’s news. That’s the man for me.

 

ALEX MANN points at the screen where OV stands, arms held out in universal greeting as the crowd mobs him.

 

MANN (Contd)

Get me OV ZVARDO. He can have his own show tomorrow.

 

McNABB (leaving the room)

Over my dead body.

 

CUT TO

 

 

EXTERIOR. PARK. THE SAME TIME. The bandstand is now overrun with people, like an island towering over the sea of humanity crowding around it.

SFX: Clamour of many voices all talking at once – speech unintelligible.

Familiar faces are glimpsed in the throng:

OV, nodding amiably in all directions… LUCY, searching for OV in the crowd…

VERONICA, struggling up from the floor of the platform, overwhelmed by the throng, speaking but not being heard… EASTERBROOK and the CAMERAMAN still filming…

The LANDLORD and the PUB LOCALS…

PIP and PAM in animated conversation together, unheard above the din…

FORSYTHE, KEHOE and ECCLES climbing the steps to the platform.

CUT TO

 

THE BANDSTAND PLATFORM. THE SAME TIME.

CU LUCY, buffeted by the crowds, looking frantically for OV.

OV waves at her briefly before vanishing in the sea of faces.

LUCY plunges forward, elbowing her way through, then she too is lost to sight in the crush.

CUT TO

 

EXT. THE PARK. LONGSHOT OF THE CROWD.

BOB McNABB runs into frame and thrashes his way into the crowd, heading for the bandstand.

McNABB confronts a group that happens to include the PUB LANDLORD and the LOCALS.

 

McNABB

Where’s Ov Zvardo?

 

LANDLORD

Slow down, me old cocker. BUR’CROND’SP’TAAHP-FLAAHP.

 

JIM

COR’VD’FLYET-SHNUURP-P’TOIGHLYI. BR’HAALYI-GRAAP-FLAAHP.

 

McNABB

I asked you a simple question. Can’t you give me a simple answer?

 

LANDLORD

GRORSH’NYUT-FLOILYI-SHLOISH.

 

JIM and the other LOCALS step forward, grab McNABB, turn him upside down and start peeling his trousers off him.

 

McNABB (Yelling)

I’m Bob McNabb… I’m Bob McNabb…

 

McNABB struggles furiously as the crowd closes over the scene.

CUT TO

 

THE BANDSTAND.

CU LUCY being swept this way and that in the crush.

 

LUCY (Shouting)

OV… OV… don’t keep doing this…

 

LUCY fetches up against PAM and PIP.

 

PAM

He hasn’t wandered off again, has he?

 

LUCY

You know what he’s like.

 

PAM

I’ve just seen him. He was here a moment ago.

 

LUCY (Shouting)

OV… I don’t want to lose you again.

 

PIP

You won’t lose him. He knows where he is all the time.

LUCY

Excuse me, you don’t know him like I do.

 

PIP

I can find him whenever I like.

 

LUCY

How?

 

Instead of answering, PIP pulls himself up to his full height, takes a deep breath and begins humming a tune OV has sung a lot, then adds the words.

 

PIP (Singing)

GRESHNYI, GRESHNYI – NISH T’PRAAK FIR’TAAV. F’DROIF. PON-PR-DOOF.

GROIGNYI, GROIGNYI, OOF-PRAAGH BR’NOOF.

 

PAM picks up the refrain with him.

 

PAM and PIP (In unison)

FRAAGLYI-FRAAGLYI, MIR’SN’FROIGH-PL’LOOF.

S’PRT-FIR-GLAAG’VIR’FROIP-NYAZH-GROOF…

 

The crowd picks it up and the song spreads across the park, sung by many voices…

 

CHORUS

HARV’YENYI LIS’HRADIPP,

ORCH’PETYALI S’FOIGAL’HIPP.

ARV’ARD’ NYEEEEE,

ARV’ARD’ NYEEEEE –

ORP’HORVYE’GHYM’PARRREEEP!

 

The song swells and soars.

 

LUCY is still desperately scanning the faces for OV when a hand reaches out and takes hers.

Briefly she glimpses OV’s face as he leads her away by the hand, through the crowds, down the bandstand steps and away.

As they push through the crowds, everyone is too intent on singing to notice them.

They reach the outer limit of the throng.

DAVEY is leaning against a tree but his attention is fixed on the bandstand, and as they walk past him he starts singing with the crowd.

OV and LUCY walk on towards the trees where a mist is beginning to gather.

CUT TO

 

THE BANDSTAND.

VERONICA struggles to her feet, still with her mike, and turns to find EASTERBROOK behind her.

 

VERONICA

Where is he? Where’s OV?

 

EASTERBROOK

VER’FRYET, WEFTIVROH. FR’PAAHZH PR’PORTNYI.  FAAHDI-BAAHDI.

 

VERONICA stares at the camera, lost for words.

CUT TO

 

WOODED PARKLAND.

OV and LUCY walk into the gathering mist as the song of thousands of voices swells behind them.

 

CHORUS

HARV’YENYI LIS’HRADIPP,

ORCH’PETYALI S’FOIGAL’HIPP.

ARV’ARD’ NYEEEEE,

ARV’ARD’ NYEEEEE –

ORP’HORVYE’GHYM’PARRREEEP!

 

 

END TITLES