After watching Simon Reeves’ Cuba on BBC2, the other night (11 December), I imagined his next programme to be Simon Reeves’ Northern Ireland. Readers please note that I have no clue how to write a professional TV script so pedantic corrections are fruitless. Thank you!
Pre-title sequence: LONG SHOTS OF A ‘PEACE WALL’ IN BELFAST. CUT TO MEDIUM SHOTS OF SMALL CHILDREN IN BALACLAVAS THROWING PETROL BOMBS AT THE POLICE. PAN OUT TO A GRIM-FACED, SHIVERING SIMON REEVES IN HAWAIIAN SHIRT, SHORTS AND SANDALS (JUST OFF THE PLANE FROM GUANTANAMO INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT).
Reeves: Belfast. 14 years after the Good Friday Agreement and the tragedy continues. Behind me, little children repeat the mistakes of their parents and enter the endless cycle of violence.
CUT TO SHOT OF SMALL BOY THROWING HIS WEE SISTER’S PINK AND BLUE TRIKE INTO A BONFIRE.
I’m here to ask what happened to the peace? And will Northern Ireland ever see the light and join the civilised world? This is Simon Reeve’s Northern Ireland.
SERIES TITLE AND MUSIC.
LONG SHOT OF REEVES WALKING ALONG PEACE WALL.
Reeves: [V/O] This is a peace wall and I’m looking for an opening, some glimmer of hope that I can somehow bring these divided communities together in some kind of dialogue. It won’t be easy but since I visited Cuba last week, the government there gave up the ghost, announced free elections, opened the country up to global capitalism and appointed me as honorary El Presidente.
[CLOSE-UP REEVES TO CAMERA] So you see, nothing is impossible. You just have to offer people free choice and the right to consume.
LONG SHOT, REEVES ARRIVING AT A VERY LOCKED GATE IN THE PEACE WALL. SMALL BOYS ON BIKES ARRIVE AND SURROUND HIM.
Small boy on bike 1: It’s lacked mister! [BBC STANDARD ENGLISH SUBTITLES (SES): “The gate is locked, sir!]
Small boy in bike 2: Hi mister, lend us yer odds! [BBC SES: “Sir, have you come to free us from economic deprivation and the lack of consumer choice like you did last week in Cuba?”]
Small boy on bike 3: [OVER HIS SHOULDER AS HE SPEEDS AWAY] “I’m callin the boys on you!” [BBC SES: “I’m going to report you to the proper authorities!”]
Reeves: [SHRUGS SADLY TO CAMERA] What can one do for these children without hope? Well, very little until they understand the meaning of individual responsibility and that, I think, is down to good parenting. I’m going to go knock on a few doors and find out what the parents are doing while their children run riot on the mean streets of North Belfast.
SHAKY HAND-HELD CAMERA FOLLOWS SIMON TO FRONT DOOR OF APPARENTLY RANDOM HOUSE. MAN IN VEST AND SHORTS, PINT IN HAND, OPENS DOOR.
Man in vest: “Och Simon! What about ye? Come on in!” [BBC SES: “Hello Simon. How are you? Welcome to my humble abode!”]
MEDIUM SHOTS OF SIMON BEING WELCOMED INTO LIVING ROOM AND GIVEN A CAN OF BEER. CAMERA PANS IN FOR CLOSE-UP OF MANTELPIECE CLOCK. IT IS 10.30AM.
Simon Reeves: [V/O] This is Jimmy, who lives behind the peace wall. Jimmy is a heart surgeon by profession but must supplement his income as a part-time gambler and alcoholic. He too worries about the children without hope in post-peace process Belfast and agrees with me that, ultimately, it’s the parents who must accept responsibility if their children are to become good and responsible consumers.
Jimmy: “It’s shackin, Simon! Totally shackin! A good clip around the lug is what they need! [TAKES A SLUG FROM HIS PINT, SOME OF IT DRIBBLING DOWN HIS VEST. SITS FORWARD, LOOKS RIGHT AND LEFT AND BECKONS SIMON CONSPIRATORIALLY] As for their parents? One behind the knee, mate! That’ll tighten em!” [BBC SES: “I’m shocked that their parents have abandoned all responsibility. In my humble opinion, both children and parents must learn discipline!”]
Reeves: Do you see any hope for the future, Jimmy?
Jimmy: “Hope? Hope? Nah. We’re down the Lagan on a bubble, mate!” [BBC SES: “I see little hope, sir. But we may settle further down river and create a community where little Protestant boys can hold hands with little Catholic girls and there will be peace and harmony for all time.”]
ENDLESS GUFF FOR THE NEXT 40 MINUTES BUT HERE’S A SUMMARY:
SCENE 3: SIMON VISITS A MOTHER AND TODDLER GROUP ON THE OTHER SIDE OF THE PEACE WALL AND IS SHOCKED TO FIND THAT NOT ONE MOTHER HAS A NECTAR CARD; THOUGH ONE OF THEM TELLS HIM SHE KNOWS A LOT ABOUT CHIP AND PIN TECHNOLOGY, WHICH GOES RIGHT OVER HIS HEAD.
SCENE 4: VISITS A DEPRESSED SANTA AT VICTORIA SQUARE SHOPPING CENTRE AND LECTURES HIM THAT HE SHOULD FEEL LUCKY. IN CUBA, SANTA IS ILLEGAL.
SCENE 5: VISITS CULTURLANN MCADAM O FIAICH ON FALLS ROAD. AMAZED TO FIND THIS ISLAND OF CULTURE AMID SO MUCH DEPRIVATION BUT HAS TO LEAVE EARLY WHEN SUBTITLE MACHINE CRASHES.
SCENE 6: PROVO TAXI LEAVES HIM OFF AT THE BOTTOM OF THE FALLS ROAD.
SCENE 7: TENSE ENCOUNTER WITH GROUP OF UFF VOLUNTEERS IN A SHANKILL PUB. FADE OUT.
FADE IN CLOSING SCENE 8. SIMON IS WHEELED OUT OF CITY HOSPITAL WITH ARMS AND LEGS IN PLASTER AND WITH A BANDAGE ON HIS HEAD. STOPS JUST SHORT OF CAMERA FOR VERY LARGE CLOSE-UP.
Reeves: I arrived to find a city in despair only to discover little islands of hope. Just like in Cuba, I met a people who are slowly waking up to a new dawn of civilisation, consumerism and free choice. I visited communities stretching hands across the peace wall, not to throw bricks and petrol bombs, but to help each other fill out that credit card application or buy that high definition television online.
SLOWLY AND PAINFULLY RAISES HIS PLASTERED ARMS TO CAMERA
Of course, some people are blind to the opportunities before their very eyes and seek only to destroy. But as those UFF men gave me a thorough beating in a beer cellar on the Shankill Road, they didn’t understand that they were only hurting themselves in the long run. What they didn’t seem to get was that you can’t have a baseball bat in one hand and a shopping basket in the other. In a civilised society there is just one choice: consumerism or death.
LONG SHOT OF SIMON BEING WHEELED INTO AN AMBULANCE AND DRIVEN AWAY.
Perky TV announcer: [V/O] And next week, Simon travels to China and asks, whatever happened the Cultural Revolution? Don’t miss it! It’s a cracker!
END AND FADE.