The Spanish Inquisition

This sketch appeared originally in Monty Python's Flying Circus, Series 2, Show 2, "The Spanish Inquisition."

The Cast:

REG: Graham Chapman
LADY MOUNTBACK: Carol Cleveland
CARDINAL XIMINEZ: Michael Palin
CARDINAL BIGGLES: Terry Jones
CARDINAL FANG: Terry Gillam
BEARDED MAN: John Cleese
UNCLE TED: Michael Palin
DEAR OLD LADY: Marjorie Wilde
YOUNG LADY: Carol Cleveland
VOICE OVER: John Cleese
JUDGE: Graham Chapman
JUDGE KILBRAKEN: Terry Jones

(Old-time phonograph music is heard and the caption on the screen, seen against industrial stacks, reads:)

JARROW, NEW YEAR'S EVE, 1911

(After a brief pause another caption comes up reading:)

JARROW, 1912

(Lady Mountback, a lady of society, sits in a stylish drawing room knitting quietly. Loud knocking is heard at the door.)

Lady Mountback : Come in.

(In comes Reg, a tall man dressed in working clothes and clutching a cap.)

Reg : Trouble at th' mill.
Lady M : Oh no!
Reg : One o -
Lady M : What sort of trouble?
Reg : One on't cross beams gone owt askew on treddle.
Lady M : Pardon?
Reg : One on't cross beams gone owt askew on treddle.
Lady M : I don't understand what you're saying.
Reg : (slightly irritatedly and with exaggeratedly clear accent) One of the cross beams has gone out of skew on the treadle.
Lady M : Well, what on earth does that mean?
Reg : I don't know! - Mr. Wentworth just told me to come in here and say that there was trouble at the mill, that's all - I didn't expect a kind of Spanish Inquisition!

(JARRING CHORD. The door flies open. In come three evil types in red robes.)

Cardinal Ximinez : NOBODY expects the Spanish Inquisition! Our chief weapon is surprise!

(Cardinal Ximinez of Spain regards them with a nasty grin. He is flanked by Cardinal Biggles [in aviator's helmet] and Cardinal Fang.)

...Surprise and fear...fear and surprise.... Our two weapons are fear and surprise...and ruthless efficiency.... Our three weapons are fear, and surprise, and ruthless efficiency...and an almost fanatical devotion to the Pope.... Our four...no...

(Reg and Lady Mountback look boredly at these loonies. They have obviously blown any chance at a dramatic entrance.)

Amongst our weapons.... Hmf... Amongst our weaponry...are such elements as fear, surpr.... I'll come in again.

(They turn back and escape out into the hall, waiting again for their cue.)

Reg : I didn't expect a kind of Spanish Inquisition.

(JARRING CHORD - They burst in again)

Ximinez : NOBODY expects the Spanish Inquisition! ...Amongst our weaponry are such diverse elements as: fear, surprise, ruthless efficiency, an almost fanatical devotion to the Pope, and nice red uniforms - Oh damn!

(Longish pause. He turns to Biggles.)

I - I can't say it - you'll have to say it.

Biggles : What?
Ximinez : You'll have to say the bit about 'Our chief weapons are ...'
Biggles : (rather horrified) I couldn't do that...

(Ximinez bundles the cardinals outside again)

Reg : I didn't expect a kind of Spanish Inquisition.

(JARRING CHORD - The cardinals enter. Biggles is now in front, looking lost.)

Biggles : Er.... Nobody...um....
Ximinez : (under breath) Expects...
Biggles : Expects... Nobody expects the...um...the Spanish...um...
Ximinez : Inquisition.
Biggles : I know, I know! Nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition. In fact, those who do expect -
Ximinez : Our chief weapons are...
Biggles : Our chief weapons are...um...er...
Ximinez : Surprise...
Biggles : Surprise and --
Ximinez : Okay, stop. Stop. Stop there - stop there. Stop.

(He has jumped back out into front by now.)

Phew! Ah! ...Our chief weapon is surprise...blah blah blah. Cardinal, read the charges.

(Fang steps forth and produces an ancient-looking scroll. He has a strange squeaky voice.)

Fang : Yew arr hereby charged that yew did on diverse dates commit heresy against the Holy Church. (dances) o/` 'My old man said follow the--' o/`

Ximinez : That's enough! (To Lady M) Now, how do you plead?
Lady M : We're innocent.
Ximinez : Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha!

(Superimposed caption: 'DIABOLICAL LAUGHTER.')

Ximinez : (Gesturing wildly) We'll - soon - change - your mind - about - THAT!

(Superimposed caption: 'DIABOLICAL ACTING')

Ximinez : Fear, surprise, and a most ruthless-- (controls himself with a supreme effort) Ooooh! (He retches a bit and hits himself) Now, Cardinal -- the rack!

(Biggles produces a plastic-coated dish-drying rack. Ximinez looks at it and clenches his teeth in an effort not to lose control. He hums heavily to cover his anger.)

Ximinez : (furious) You....!

(He stops himself and resignedly decides to just pretend.)

...Right. T-tie her down.

(Fang and Biggles make a pathetic attempt to tie her on to the drying rack. They laugh diabolically. Ximinez moves to the other end of the room and looks extremely depressed. When it is over, the rack has been attached loosely to the front of Lady Mountback's dress.)

Ximinez : (trying to seem diabolical) Right! How do you plead?

Lady M : (defiantly) Innocent.
Ximinez : Ha! Right! Cardinal, give the rack (oh dear) give the rack... a turn.

(Biggles stands there awkwardly and shrugs his shoulders)

Biggles : I....
Ximinez : (gritting his teeth) I know, I know you can't. I didn't want to say anything. I just wanted to try and ignore your crass mistake.
Biggles : I...
Ximinez : It makes it all seem so stupid!
Biggles : Shall I...?
Ximinez : No, just PRETEND, for God's sake!

(Biggles immediately launches into diabolical laughter)

Biggles : Ha! Ha! Ha!

(Biggles turns an imaginary handle on the side of the rack.)

(Cut to snapshot of same still which is being held by a dear old lady. Pull out to reveal she is sitting with a large photo album on her knees, lovingly extracting photos from the pile on top of the album and passing them to her friend sitting on the same settee. Her friend is a young lady, who tears up the photos as they are handed to her. The dear old lady is in a world of her own and does not notice.)

Dear Old Lady : This is Uncle Ted in front of the house.

(She hands over the photo and the young lady tears it up)

This is Uncle Ted at the back of the house.

(She hands over the photo and the young lady tears it up)

And this is Uncle Ted at the side of the house.

(She hands over the photo and the young lady tears it up)

This is Uncle Ted, back again at the front of the house, but you can see the side of the house.

(She hands over the photo and the young lady tears it up)

And this is Uncle Ted even nearer the side of the house, but you can still see the front.

(She hands over the photo and the young lady tears it up)

This is the back of the house, with Uncle Ted coming round the side to the front.

(She hands over the photo and the young lady tears it up)

And this is the Spanish Inquisition hiding behind the coal shed.

(She takes it with her first sign of real interest.)

Young Lady : Oh! I didn't expect the Spanish Inquisition!

(JARRING CHORD.)

Ximinez : Nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition!

(Cut to film: moving over Brengel drawing of tortures; epic film music. A caption appears, reading:)

(Torchlit dungeon. We hear clanging footsteps. Shadows on the grille. The bootsteps stop and keys jangle. The great door creaks open and Ximinez walks in and looks round approvingly. Fang and Biggles enter behind pushing in the dear old lady. They chain her to the wall.)

Ximinez : Ha! Now, old woman! You are accused of heresy on three counts. Heresy by thought, heresy by word, heresy by deed, and heresy by action. ...Four counts. Do you confess?
Old Lady : I don't understand what I'm accused of.
Ximinez : Ha! Then we shall MAKE you understand! Biggles! Fetch... ...THE CUSHIONS!

(JARRING CHORD. Biggles holds out two ordinary modern household cushions)

Biggles : Here we are, lord.
Ximinez : Now, old lady -- you have one last chance. Confess the heinous sin of heresy, reject the works of the ungodly -- two last chances. And you shall be free -- three last chances. You have three last chances, the nature of which I have divulged in my previous utterance.
Old Lady : I don't know what you're talking about.
Ximinez : Right! If that's the way you want it -- Cardinal! Poke her with the soft cushions!

(Biggles carries out this rather pathetic torture)

Ximinez : (really into it) Confess! Confess! Confess!
Biggles : It doesn't seem to be hurting her, lord.
Ximinez : Have you got all the stuffing up one end?
Biggles : Yes, lord.
Ximinez : (angrily hurling away the cushions) Hmf. She's made of harder stuff. Cardinal Fang. Fetch...THE COMFY CHAIR!

(JARRING CHORD - Zoom into Fang's horrified face)

Fang : (terrified) The...Comfy Chair?
Ximinez : Yes.

(Fang and Biggles push in a comfy chair - a really plush one.)

Ximinez : So! You think you are strong because you can survive the soft cushions. Well, we shall see. Biggles! Put her... in the Comfy Chair!

(They roughly push her into the Comfy Chair. She settles in and smiles. It is a very comfy chair.)

Ximinez : (with a cruel leer) Now -- you will stay in the Comfy Chair until lunchtime, with only a cup of coffee at eleven! (Aside, to Biggles, slightly deflated) Is that really all it is?
Biggles : Yes, lord.
Ximinez : I see. I suppose we make it worse by shouting a lot, do we?

(Biggles nods. Ximinez begins very softly but is soon screaming:)

Confess, woman. Confess! Confess! Confess! Confess!
Biggles : (dropping to knees) I confess!
Ximinez : Not you!

(Cut to a judge.)

Judge Kilbraken : I confess!

(Cut back to cell.)

Ximinez : (looking about, confused) Who was that?

(Cut back to judge.)

Judge Kilbraken : I confess!
Judge : Quiet, you!

(Pull back to reveal a standard courtroom setup. Judge Kilbraken is in the defendant's area, being judged by another judge. An attractive woman in a short white dress is in the middle.)

Judge Kilbraken : I confess, I confess, I confess!
Judge : Quiet! That's contempt of court!
Judge Kilbraken : It was only a line.
Judge : Contempt of court. However, I probably shouldn't punish you, because we're so short of judges at the moment, what with all of them emigrating to South Africa. ...I'm going tomorrow, I've got my ticket. Get out there and get some decent sentencing done. Ooh, England makes you sick! Best I can manage here is life imprisonment. It's hardly worth coming in in the morning. Now, South Africa! You've got your cat of nine tails, you've got four death sentences a week, you've got cheap drinks, slave labour and a booming stock market. I'm off, I tell you. Yes, I'm up to here with probation and bleeding psychiatric reports. That's it, I'm off. That's it. Right! Well, I'm going to have one final fling before I leave, so... I sentence you to be burnt at the stake.

Judge Kilbraken : Blimey! I didn't expect the Spanish Inquisition.

(Court reacts expectantly. Nothing happens.)

(Cut to suburban house. The three members of the Spanish Inquisition suddenly bolt out of the door and down the path. Dick Barton music. Cut to them leaping onto a bus.)

Ximinez : Two, er, three for the Old Bailey please.

(Credits start superimposed.)

Biggles : Look, they've started the credits.
Ximinez : Hurry. Hurry. Hurry.
Biggles : Come on hurry. Hurry!

(We see shots of them coming through London. Credits keep rolling.)

Ximinez : There's the lighting credit, only five left.

(More credits.)

Ximinez : Hell, it's the producer - quick!

(They leap off the bus into the Old Bailey. Cut to court room. They burst in, and...)

Ximinez : Nobody expects the Sp...

(CAPTION: 'THE END' appears)

...Oh bugger!

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