John Graham

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A SLIP OF THE DISC by John Graham
This fine farce has had nine successive nationwide showings on ZDF tv Germany, which makes it an unprecedented success.

Other plays by John Graham that have premiered at the Comedy Theatre Dusseldorf and are currently playing elsewhere:

THE POMEROY PLAN, written with Gene Stone, is currently showing at the Comedy Theatre Dusseldorf

Television plays


Television Plays Germany (ZDF)


6 10 minute scripts for RELIGIOUS FILMS LIMITED

Son et Lumière

BODIAM CASTLE (for The National Trust)

Play Synopses

A SLIP OF THE DISC by John Graham

3 F, 4 M. 1 set: bathroom, hall, living room

Peter, a well-known tv personality is about to seduce Sally, whose airline pilot husband is away, when he "slips a disc". He takes a bath to ease the pain, but then cannot get out, even with the help of Sally and the blind piano tuner, who has just called, so she sends for the doctor. She tells the piano tuner Peter is her husband, but the flight is cancelled and her husband Leonard returns with a stewardess to whom he has agreed to lend the flat, thinking Sally would be away. When Peter’s boss at the BBC arrives, things reach a height of confusion, with mistaken identities. Only the blind piano tuner is able, in the end, to sort everything out.


Farce, 5M 5F. Set: sitting room and bedroom of a hotel suite in Moscow

It is the early 1980s. CLIVE is a senior civil servant in the Foreign Office in London. He is married but has a liaison with VERITY, a cashier in his local bank. Verity has won a competition on the back of a detergent packet – the prize being three days for two people in the European capital of her choice. Unfortunately she chooses Moscow.

Clive has told his wife that he has gone to Bahrain to deal with a crisis there. But there is a crisis in the hotel when Clive discovers that his London neighbours are also in the hotel – the talkative CELIA and her dentist husband, HARRY. Clive lies to Celia that he is in Moscow on a top-secret mission and that Verity is only a chambermaid. Harry doesn’t believe this. He suspects that Clive is a British traitor who has defected to Moscow.

As the suite is bugged, via pots of azaleas in the rooms, the KGB become interested in Clive., assuming he is an agent acting as a spy for Britain.

More panic ensues in Clive’s life when a publicity man from the detergent company arrives with a photographer to take pictures for next year’s detergent packets. They believe Verity is Clive’s wife and later come to the wrong conclusion that Clive is a Russian who wants to defect to Britain.

Clive falls and believes his leg is broken. A KGB agent, MOSHAISKY, has Clive’s leg put in traction. He is therefore confined to bed. Clive is astounded that Moshaisky knows all about him – even that he has a wife called Mary, lives in a four bedroom house, and has an untidy garden and an overgrown hedge.

Moshaisky warns Clive that unless he returns to London to work for Russia, he will be sent to Siberia. Not only that, he will ensure his wife knows about Verity. Moshaisky reveals that Clive’s secretary in London MISS WITHERSPOON is a KGB agent. All information has come from her.

More panic when a phone call informs Clive that a lady called Mary is in the hotel looking for him.

Mary reaches the suite and Moshaisky thinks it is Clive's wife. He tries to seduce her, but she berates him. She is, in fact, Mary Witherspoon, who has fled from the Foreign Office back to Russia.

She adds that Clive is useless in the Foreign Office and would be equally useless working for the KGB.

Moshaisky confesses to Clive that his leg did not fracture. He was put in traction to be kept under surveillance.

Clive can return home.


Comedy: 4M, 4F

Set: The sitting room of a hotel suite in Majorca

HARRY and MURIEL have come to a hotel in Majorca to celebrate their forty-fifth wedding anniversary. With them is Harry’s mother, MRS SLATER who is 89 years of age, confused and forgetful. Also there is PAULA, their daughter, and her husband, a dull accountant named GERALD.

Paula stuns everyone by stating that she and Gerald are going to separate. Her parents at once assume that Gerald has been unfaithful, but it transpires that Paula has fallen in love with a psychiatrist.

Harry and Muriel’s son ROLAND arrives, but he hasn’t brought his wife as she has contracted chicken pox.

Later Paula confesses that she is pregnant and the father-to-be is the psychiatrist. Harry collapses in shock: the anniversary celebrations seem to be shattered. He recovers eventually.

An extremely attractive girl called MIRANDA comes to the suite and explains that she is Roland’s secretary and has been invited by him to come to Majorca in his wife’s place. It becomes obvious they hope to share a room. Harry and Muriel’s family seems to be falling apart.

Later the psychiatrist JULIAN arrives, explaining that before leaving home, Paula had left a message on his answering machine that she wanted to speak to him urgently. Julian caught the first available flight to Majorca. He is appalled by the news of Paula’s pregnancy and refuses to take any responsibility.

Miranda however recognises him, as they once met. She accuses him of being an untrustworthy lecher and womaniser, as he, thought married, had affairs with two of her friends. Julian rapidly leaves, unaware that old Mrs Slater had phoned the hotel manager to say there was an intruder in the suite.

Miranda tells Roland that her coming to Majorca was a mistake. Still friendly, she departs.

Gerald assures Paula, they will re-unite.

As the family prepares for the celebration dinner, old Mrs Slater says, "What an exciting day – great fun. I’m looking forward to my trip to Majorca."


Farce, 3M, 3F

Set: a drawing room in Balmoral Castle, Scotland, 1871

The Prime Minister, WILLIAM GLADSTONE, visits QUEEN VICTORIA to try to persuade her to take more interest in affairs of state.

The Queen’s personal servant, JOHN BROWN, is hated by all the courtiers because of his close relationship with the Queen, who, since her husband’s death has become interested in spiritualism, as is Brown, who claims to have the gift of "second sight".

A maid in the castle becomes pregnant. The courtiers and Gladstone decide to blacken Brown’s character and to persuade the Queen that Brown is the father.

But nothing is a s simple as that. Matters become complicated when a visiting clergyman and his wife arrive. They have brought an oven ready chicken to present to the Queen, in a bag identical to one carried by Brown containing his whisky bottle. The Queen’s doctor has a similar bag containing a bottle of laudanum, while Gladstone’s identical bag contains vital state documents.

Throughout the play, all bags are switched in error, with disastrous results.

The maid confesses that the father of the child is the soldier who plays the bagpipes outside the castle each day. Brown is innocent but the courtiers still plot his downfall. They suspect that Brown and the Queen are conducting a love affair.

They hide behind a screen to eavesdrop but are disappointed. Brown and the Queen have made their assignation in order to conduct a séance, to make contact with the late Prince Albert.

Having drunk a glass of laudanum in error, and in a befuddled state. The Queen believes that Albert has spoken to her.

Impressed by Brown’s powers, she ensures that his position as Royal Favourite is more secure than ever.

PARDON ME, PRIME MINISTER by Edward Taylor and John Graham

Farce. M4 F5

Set: The Prime Minister's study at 10 Downing Street, London

GEORGE VENABLES, the inwardly vulnerable Prime Minister, and his Chancellor of the Exchequer, HECTOR CRAMOND, a militant Puritanical Scot, are preparing a severely puritanical budget, designed to tax amusements such as bingo, gambling, and night-clubs out of existence. On the day before its presentation, however, shocks are in store for both of them as each in turn appears to be father of the pretty SHIRLEY, result of a party during the Progressive Party’s annual conference twenty years before.

After numerous hectic developments a happy ending appears to be in sight - climaxed by a final, even less expected family bombshell : it transpires that the Prime Minster's smooth, deferential Parliamentary Private Secretary is, in fact, his son......


Comedy, 3M, 3F

Set: a pleasantly furnished living room

HANNAH and her volatile husband, BERNARD, await the arrival of their 18-year-old daughter EMMA who has been spending some months in Italy before going to medical school to become a doctor.

Emma’s glamorous widowed grandmother SUSANN is also present. She announces that she has met a new friend called "Bunny" and has become very fond of him. Hannah is delighted as is Bernard. "Bunny" is expected to visit later.

Emma arrives and drops her first bombshell by telling her parents that she actually returned from Italy several weeks before. She also announces that she is now married. Her husband THOMAS is an out of work actor, now employed by a taxi company as a radio controller. Emma’s parents and her grandmother are appalled. Even more so when Emma tells them she no longer wants to be a doctor.

Bernard, who is regional manager for a chain of supermarkets, receives a telephone call from MR BERTRAM, the Chairman and Managing Director, who wants to come and see Bernard "to discuss a matter of great importance". Bernard is convinced he is about to be offered a place on the board of directors.

THOMAS the nervous out-of-work actor arrives, but Bernard assumes he is Susanne’s new friend "Bunny" because he is 58. This misunderstanding is eventually cleared up.

Later, Mr Bertram arrives, but not to offer Bernard a directorship. The "matter of great importance" is to ask Hannah and Bernard for Susanne’s hand in marriage: he sheepishly admits that his nickname is "Bunny". Emma later admits that she and Thomas are not married – in fact she hardly knows him/ She explains that she concocted the story so that her desire to go to art school, rather than medical school, would not seem so devastating to the family, who had planned her medical career since early childhood.

Mr Bertram, having been prompted by Susanne, returns to offer Bernard a directorship.

It is agreed that Emma can go to art school.


Cast: 5F, 7 M

Set: scenes changed by lighting rather than sets

A homeless, penniless old woman addresses the audience and, with a certain cheerfulness, describes her life. All her possessions are contained in two large paper bags.

We see her when she was young, attractive and newly married, with what would seem to be a happy life ahead of her.

But her young husband drowns and she has to find work. She becomes a domestic servant at the home of MR and MRS MORTYMER. He is intent upon seducing this pretty widow, without success.

Her next job is as a cook in a girl’s school. Two lesbian teachers vie for her friendship and lavish her with gifts. But she contracts typhoid. She recovers but has lost her hair. The two teachers lose interest in her and she is sent away.

She finds a room to let in the house of a strange widower who is a zoo keeper. He advises her to apply for a job in the zoo restaurant, where there is a vacancy.

The years go by and when old and no longer attractive, she is dismissed by the new zoo director. In a fit of rage, she stabs him, but not fatally.

She is arrested and kept in an institution for many years.

When released she is homeless and begins to live on the streets.

She realises that when she was young and pretty everyone wanted to love her and befriend her, but now – no-one wants anything to do with her.

Mr and Mrs Mortymer, who had employed her many years before, pass the old woman slumped on a street bench. "What a disgusting old man," says Mr Mortymer.

Every optimistic, the old woman says, "I’m still the same person inside. I’m going to be all right."


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