One Foot in the Grave (1990–2001): Season 1, Episode 1 - Alive and Buried - full transcript

At the age of 60, Victor Meldrew is retired from his job as a security guard to be replaced by a box and a recorded message.

♪ They say I might as well face the truth

♪ That I am just too long in the tooth

♪ So I'm an OAP and weak-kneed

♪ But I am not yet quite gone to seed

♪ I may be over the hill now that I have retired

♪ Fading away, but I'm not yet expired

♪ Clapped out, run down, too old to save

♪ One foot in the grave ♪

26 years sitting behind a reception desk.
What must that do to a man's brain?

I shouldn't think it does a lot of good.

I suppose it's a bit like a polar bear

that suddenly snaps and ends up
lumbering round its cage bellowing at everyone.

Either way, it'll be a merciful release.

God, early retirement at 60.
You'd jump at the chance.

- Anyone would.
- How did he take it when you told him?

Oh, great, great. No problem.

- Well...
- You have told him?

Yes. Yes, I will, Mildred.

Right. Bye.

Have I got everything?
Watch, fountain pen, cap, wallet... Car keys?

- Mrs Prout's run off with her chiropodist.
- Where did you put my car keys?

- How did they get in there?
- Derek Gibson.

Derek Gibson is not a chiropodist.
He's a foot fetishist. There is a difference.

I've got to take the car into the garage.

Mildred who works in the butcher's
says she's sorry to hear the terrible news.

- That's very ni... What terrible news?
- She didn't say.

She said it wasn't worth shoving your head
in a gas oven. It's a new chapter in your life.

She must have gone completely loopy.
I'm off. I'll see you this evening.

Yes. Bye, Victor.

So, there we are, Victor.
As I say, it's never an easy one for us.

Still, think of all that free time you'll have
to yourself now. You must be thrilled to bits.

- Thrilled to bits...
- The big problem was,

how do you replace a man like Victor Meldrew?

Well, basically, with this box.

- Box...
- I know. Amazing what they come up with.

It does everything you used to do,
except complain about the air conditioning.

Visitors will have a security clearance code.

When they come in,
they just feed the number in here, and...

Good morning.
Welcome to Mycroft Watson Associates.

Mr Whinfrey will be free shortly. If you'd like
to take a seat, we'll call you when he's ready.

Thank you for your cooperation.

I'm sorry we haven't got you
a farewell present yet.

The whip-round is taking longer than expected.

There were very ugly scenes in the accounts
department which were right out of order.

But do feel free to pop in and visit us
any time you're passing,

giving a minimum of five working days' notice
and quoting this six-digit reference number.

Six-digit reference number...

Lucky old you, Victor. A man of leisure at last.

- It was Bovril flavour today.
- What?

The empty crisp packet on the front lawn.

I was expecting prawn cocktail.

Funny how things work out sometimes.

What a day!

We never stopped.
Suddenly everyone's dying at once.

I'm thinking of compiling
a special reference guide.

The Observer's Book Of Crap
On Your Front Lawn.

Give me something to do in the years ahead.

Wreathes. Floral tributes.

I've never known such a run on lilies.

A cornucopia of corpses, Mrs Treby called it.

You know how she comes out
with these funny expressions.

What is it? What's the matter?

I've been replaced by a box.

- What are you talking about?
- Standard procedure for a man of my age.

The next stage is to stick you inside one.

- They haven't retired you?
- Haven't they? It's all a bad dream, then.

What did they say?

''Bugger off, '' I think was the gist of it.

Oh, Victor.

Why is it this seems to be happening
to everyone at the moment?

It was the same with poor old Arthur.
Do you remember?

A lifetime of loyal service,
and then suddenly that was it.

They said he was past it, and he was only 56.

He was an elephant.

I know he was an elephant.
I'm well aware he was an elephant.

He was giving the children elephant rides,
so it's obvious he was an elephant.

No, I'm just... I'm just making the point
how suddenly you become dispensable.

- Why didn't you ring me at the shop?
- I don't know. I've been in a complete daze.

An hour and a half I spent looking at two photos
in the paper of Nicholas Ridley and a dustcart.

I thought it was a spot-the-difference
competition. Can't even see straight any more.

I'll make a cup of tea.

26 years.

His hair always looks nice.
I wonder what he washes it with.

His vest and his socks.
What do you think he washes it with?

What are you saying? It's not real?

Of course it's real. Look at the parting.

That's not a parting. That's the crease
where it's folded up in the box. Are you blind?

He seems in a bad mood tonight.
Or is it just me?

Well, obviously, it has been
a bit of a trial to him, Jean. You know.

It's been a real upset, all told.

But then, he always did get unbearably irritable
at the best of times, didn't he?

- He always was a moaner.
- Sorry. Who's this ''he'' we're talking about?

Dr Crippen? Haigh, the Acid Bath Murderer?

So, how big was it, then, Mr Meldrew?

- What?
- This box.

Well, I suppose it was
about 12 inches wide by about...

What bloody difference does it make how big?

It was a box filled with wires and microchips,
and it's taken my job.

I'm now officially a lower form of life
than a Duracell battery.

You've got to keep busy. That's the thing.

Find things to occupy yourself, like Jean here.
Now, she's never idle. Are you?

All our coffee mornings and jumble sales.

Lunchtime shows every Thursday.

Now, look, there's something you used to do...

Conjuring tricks.

He used to put on little shows for the children.

He's still got all the junk stored in the loft.

You know, silk handkerchiefs, dummy pigeons.
You name it.

- Dummy pigeons?
- Weren't they?

Of course they weren't dummy pigeons.

They were real pigeons. How do you think
they flew across the stage onto that perch?

Don't ask me. Some trickery or other.

Not dummy pigeons. You don't know anything.

So, come down to the centre.
Put on a show for us.

- Yes, very funny (!)
- He's too stubborn.

- Yes, they can be at that age.
- Can they really, at that age?

- Senile dementia, I believe it's called.
- I believe it is.

Of course, he's right. You couldn't expect him
to still manage it, not after all these years.

I can still manage it. Don't worry about that.

I'm just not prepared to prostitute my art
in front of six wizened zombies from the W.I.

I've got plenty to occupy my time. I've been busy
all these years. I'm not going to stop now.

Last thing I'm going to be doing is moping about
at home all day, feeling sorry for myself.

Nine o'clock.

14 more hours before it's time to go to bed.

Oh, God...


A bloody Wickes catalogue.

Mm, goody! A comprehensive list
of larch lap fence panels.

How could I have lived without one (?)

Why is it, when life's at its lowest ebb,

when you really need some good news
to cheer you up,

the only thing that comes through your letter box
is a bloody Wickes catalogue?!

God! Perhaps I'll grow a beard.
Give me something to do.

Must be more to it than this.
What do other people do?

What are you doing? Going to the toilet again.

I don't see any reason you're going upstairs
to the toilet. You only went 15 minutes ago.

The only reason you're going again now
is to relieve the monotony.

Pull yourself together, man.

You're becoming a lavatory junkie.

If you go on like this,
I'll have to wire your flies together.

Weld your zip up with a soldering iron.
Do something constructive!

They must be in by now. Give them a call.
What have you got to lose?

Hello. Stapleton Security Systems?

Yes, look, I notice you're advertising for staff
in this week's...

Meldrew. Oh, is he?

Yes, he can. I'm on 770 301.

And... No, that is the home number. I'll be here
all day. No, I'm not going out. I'll be here.

Because I'm here all day, that's why.
Yes, in the house all day.

Never mind ''Sod that for a life.''

Just ask him to ring me. What?

Oh, is he? Oh, yes. Hello? Yes.

Well, I was with Watson Mycroft
at head office for 26 years, so...

Oh, yes, that's absolutely suitable.

- Could you hold on? Someone at the door.

Good morning. I'm Nick. I'm calling on behalf
of the outward bound scheme for the elderly.

I'm looking for a Mr Victor Meldrew.

- Yes.
- Oh, that's you?

I was told you were in the granny annex.

Granny ann... Look, I'm on the phone.
Can you hang on for just one second, please?

Hello, are you still there? Yes, right.
Come in for a little chat. Why not?

Why not, indeed? Then we can get to know
each other, have a friendly little natter.

You can't do that standing on the doorstep.

10 o'clock? 10.15. Right, fine. I'll be there.
Thank you very much. Goodbye.

- Look, what are you...?
- A natter over a cup of tea. More personal.

- Cup of tea?
- I won't, but it's always nice to be asked.

Now, let me tell you
about the outward bound scheme.

We provide little rides, out and about,
here, there and everywhere.

- I do not want to go to Eastbourne.
- Plus a special minibus to Eastbourne.

With a trained nurse on board should anyone
collapse or suffer a wheezing fit of some kind.

- Look, who sent you round here?
- I think a Mrs Capshaw put us onto you.

- But I'm not quite certain.
- Well, you can just bloody well piss off!

Go and see Mrs Althorp at 25.
I believe she's ready to nail the lid down.

I hear what you're saying.
A desire for independence is perfectly natural.

You mustn't feel that you're being a burden,
a millstone round the neck of society.

I tell you what. I'll give you my phone number.

Look, if I need a car to pick me up,
I'll ring for a hearse.

Lovely to meet you, Mr Meldrew. Sorry
about the cup of tea. Maybe next time. Bye-bye.

Good morning.

Yes. Y-Yes. Well, you are entitled
to that opinion, Mr Glacken.

But with... Yes. But with gr...

But with gr... But with gr... But with great respect,
we sawed the end off in good faith.

So I don't think we can be... Yes.

Well, if that makes you feel better,
by all means, sir. Goodbye to you.

- Good afternoon. You're...?
- Victor Meldrew, the crimson Avenger.

- Yes. I-I-I'm not...
- It's still on the ramp.

- Sorry?
- You promised me it'd be ready by 3.30.

I've just spent two hours getting here in what
the Spanish Inquisition called an iron maiden,

but we now call public transport.

It is five o'clock, and I can't help but notice
that my car is still stuck up on a ramp

with pimply youths in boiler suits and earrings
underneath it

fiddling mindlessly with monkey wrenches!

- I'm sure they're working as fast as they can.
- They are not.

Two of them are staging a mock fencing duel
with car aerials. What the hell's going on?!

Just one second, Mr Meldrew.




There does appear to be a slight hitch, sir.

Can you tell me the problem with the car?

You mean you don't know what's wrong with it?

Well, we know what's wrong with it now.

I was just wondering what was wrong with it
when you brought it in.

Well, it kept sticking in first gear.

Half the time I couldn't get it to go
any faster than ten miles...

What do you mean, what's wrong with it now?!

I apologise. It's difficult to find the parts.

It is if you drop them on the bloody floor.

It's like the Massacre of Glencoe
with spark plugs out there.

It won't be ready for you until midday tomorrow.

Midday?! I've got a job interview on the other
side of town tomorrow! How will I get there?

There we are. We're just passing the park.

Oh, look. Aren't the geraniums nice?
Shall we stop and have a look at them?

I think we all know what a geranium looks like.

Can't this thing go any faster? It's quarter to.

Oh, look at that lady's hat. That's a nice one.
I wonder where she got that. Very smart on her.

My goodness, look at the lovely colour
of the traffic lights. Such a nice shade of green.

I'm sure if we sit here long enough
they'll go back to that lovely red again.

- What's the matter? Why have we stopped?

Been stalling like this all week, damn thing.

If I could just get it on a roll
down that slope there, we'd be in business.

That's the ticket, everyone.

Just a bit further.


I'll have this working in just a jiffy here.

I-I don't think I feel very well, Mr Meldrew.

Bound to be a bit stiff. It's been in the attic
for 12 years. All it needs is a good clout.

Mr Meldrew, I don't feel very safe with it.

Maybe the blade's gone a bit rusty...

Bugger that!

Certainly sharp enough still.

- Mr Meldrew, what if it doesn't work?
- It'll work. Have a little faith.

I want to get out. I feel extremely dizzy.

Don't rock the frame. It won't do it any good.

Perfect! Perfect working order.

That's splendid. I'm very pleased with that.

Oh... Oh... I think I'm going to be sick.

Not on that rug. I've just cleaned it.

Not as bad as I thought it was going to be.

How long do you want me to do?
A half-hour? I could stretch it to 45.

I-I'll give you a ring tomorrow.

Jean! What's the matter? Your neck?

Don't touch it, please. My head may fall off.

Have you been guillotining that woman?

I told you to try it on a cushion first.

Where's the pleasure in that?
Anyway, it was fine.

I thought it might have gone rusty.

Escapology. Do you think I've still got the knack?


- How did the interview go?
- Don't ask.

- I just asked.
- Well, don't.

I got there two hours late in a bad temper

and was immediately insulted by some gink
in a peaked cap at the front desk.

You know what they're like.

- What did he say?
- He said, ''You'll have come to do the drains.''

Then I got through to the personnel officer

and he managed to make three unpleasant
remarks about my hat before I even sat down.

So I told him where to stick his job and left.

Mr Lankersham came into the shop today.

From your old office.
With a big leaving card for you.

He said they were going to post it,

but it would just be a waste of a stamp.

That's all he brought, I take it. Not a gold watch
or a set of priceless wine glasses.

You never know. There's still time.
They could be planning a big surprise.

Yes. Look, there go a flock of flying pigs (!)

I've got lamb chops for tea. Is that all right?


Are you going to give me a hand with these
potatoes, or do I have to do everything myself?

Just coming.

- Any luck?
- Yes, at long last.

They had to put in a new clutch,
a complete new gearbox and four new tyres.

Don't know why they didn't stick
a new car onto the wing mirror.

- Where are you going?
- Taking Mrs Birkett for a meal.

- I thought she was dead.
- They found out that was a mistake.

She's still got a gyppy spleen.

- Are you going to fix this shelf?
- Yes, don't worry.

Make sure it's level. See you when I see you.


Daylight robbery.

Well, can we squeeze in one more question?

I'd like to ask the Chancellor how he would feel
about having a large hole bored in his head.

That's better. How was it for you, Chancellor?


- Yes?
- Mr Meldrew? It's Mrs Warboys.

I'm down at the community centre. I'm going
through some bits and pieces with Mr Matthews.

- He's doing the lighting for the show tomorrow.
- Yes.

I know it's late, but we were wondering
if you could get down here.

Run through your act,
just to give us some sort of idea.

Couldn't it wait till tomorrow?

Well, Mr Matthews can't get here till one,
now the abattoir's gone off flexitime.

If you can pop down about eight
it will be worth your while, I promise you.

I'm just in the mid... Will it be worth my while?

Oh, yes, Mr Meldrew. Definitely.

Right. OK. I'll be there at eight.
Fine. See you then. Goodbye.


(MARGARET) You never know. There's still
time. They could be planning a big surprise.

Yes. Going out for dinner with Mrs Birkett.
Not in that dress, she wouldn't.

No, no. It's all making absolute sense now.

Right. Eight o'clock.

Just a second, Mr Meldrew. Hang on there.
The lights have just all fused on us.

Oh, dearie me. Have they really? Yes.

This way. Ah, here we are.

I'm sure Mr Matthews
will have them all on in a sec.



- What?
- You're done up like a dog's dinner.

You off somewhere nice afterwards?


Oh... Yes. Erm...

- It's just I thought...
- Yes?


So, have you got all your paraphernalia
with you, then?

Oh. Erm...


I'll get it out of the boot.

Thank you very much, then, Mr Meldrew.
It was all very useful.

See you tomorrow at one.

- Yes, thank you. Bye-bye.
- Bye.



You're supposed to have fixed this,
for God's sake!

Having trouble, Mr Meldrew?

- Can I give you a lift anywhere?
- Bugger off!

Fix it? I'll fix them.


Here comes another one, look. It makes you
wonder what their marriages must be like.

Hey, he's an old codger, by the look of him.
He's stopping next to Sharon.

Excuse me, miss.

Bingo! Here we go. You've copped it, sunshine.

The court then heard evidence
from WPC Sharon Banks,

who had been posing as a call girl as part
of a police operation to trap kerb-crawlers.

''I first observed the accused driving round
the area slowly with a shifty look on his face, ''

she said.

''He pulled up and called out, 'Excuse me, miss,
but can you spare me some time?'

''When I asked what he meant, he replied,
'I may need a hand pumping this thing up.'

''A problem, I gather,
commonly associated with elderly men.''

A search of Meldrew's car revealed a collection
of chains, padlocks and handcuffs.

When quizzed about these by the prosecution,

he claimed to have been out that night
rehearsing an escapology act,

to much laughter and merriment from the jury.

Though cleared of all the charges
before him, Meldrew was...

fined L500 for contempt of court

after taking the Bible in his right hand
and hurling it at the presiding magistrate.

Not been a very good week, has it?

Perhaps an electric fire in the bath
might be the answer.

Time will sort it out.

You can't expect things to run smoothly


You're like a car stuck in the wrong gear.

You've got to change down, slow down,
adapt to a new routine.

You've got a whole new life ahead of you, Victor.

I mean, you've hardly started.

You've got it all still to come.


That's what scares me.

♪ They say I might as well face the truth

♪ That I am just too long in the tooth

♪ I've started to deteriorate

♪ And now I've passed my own sell-by date

♪ Oh, I am no spring chicken, it's true

♪ I have to pop my teeth in to chew

♪ And my old knees have started to knock

♪ I've just got too many miles on the clock

♪ So I'm a wrinkly, crinkly, set in my ways

♪ It's true that my body has seen better days

♪ But give me half a chance
and I can still misbehave

♪ One foot in the grave

♪ One foot in the grave

♪ One foot in the grave ♪