The main characters are ALEC ELMWOOD (Peter Cook)
and his son CLIVE (Dudley Moore). Other characters include MURIEL
(Tracy Reed), Clive's fiancé and daughter of ARNOLD THRUST
(Spike Milligan), local magistrate and friend of Elmwood Snr., and
the demented DOCTOR CLERKS (Kenneth Griffith).
The play opens with the funeral of Mrs. Elmwood,
Clive's mother. The ceremony has somehow been double-booked with
a wedding, resulting in all manner of confusion - mourners getting
covered in confetti and so on.
The screen then goes blank, and over the titles we hear the car
screeching into a skid, ambulance sirens. We then see Clive in a
false moustache and glasses emerge from a house carrying a doctor's
bag and saying goodbye to the woman he has just paid a house call
on. He removes his disguise and heads for home. On returning to
Chez Elmwood he hides his doctor's bag before entering the drawing
room to greet his father:
FATHER: [Without looking up] Clive . . you're late
CLIVE: Working late at the office again...
FATHER: How proud your mother would be to hear you
say that... if she were still alive.
CLIVE: Shall I say it again father?
FATHER: No not tonight my boy -- you worked late,
you said it once -- and no doubt when you work late another night
you'll say it again... let's leave it at that eh -for tonight -
CLIVE: Very well father.
FATHER: We get on a lot better recently.
CLIVE: Yes father -
FATHER: Since you settled down to your accountancy...
a fine career... a column of figures can be very exciting you know...
after all when you add 'em up there's only one correct answer...
not any old answer... that's alright for some people... but when
an Elmwood adds up a column of figures he's after the correct answer
what... Let the rest of the country go to the dogs... especially
CLIVE: Yes father . .
FATHER: Good boy. [Pause] I don't know why you ever
hankered after being a doctor.
CLIVE: No father...
FATHER: In the first place...
CLIVE: In the first place...
FATHER: Have I ever told you about your mother?
CLIVE: Not since last night sir... [CLIVE pours
drink for both of them and hands one to his father]
FATHER: Thank you... She was a fair headed woman...
CLIVE: She was a brunette... she only died the year
I can remember...
FATHER: I don't want to argue with you... we get
along a lot better now... She was a brunette then... a beautiful
CLIVE: Yes father ...
FATHER: So far so good... [Sips drink, taking his
time] She was ruined by the doctors... When your mother was alive
the house was full of doctors... I couldn't get near her for doctors...
there was nothing wrong with her... only thing wrong with her was
those blasted doctors.
CLIVE: Mother was very delicate father.
FATHER: No no Clive. . you're forgetting what I
told you again... now think back to last night son... what did I
tell you ?
CLIVE: Mother was very delicate.
FATHER: No I said she was as strong as a horse...
Well we'll try again tomorrow night.
CLIVE: Yes father. [Pause] Father she did die of
pneumonia didn't she?
FATHER: Technically yes... my own opinion is there
was nothing really wrong with her... as you know I told her so till
the last moment... the very last moment...
CLIVE: I know you did father...
FATHER: Yes... to put it in a nutshell... the doctors
told her she was ill... I told her she was well... she chose to
take the word of the doctors... mistakenly in my opinion... But
of course she wasn't going to let me prove her wrong was she?
CLIVE: So she died.
FATHER: She passed away... a fine woman... healthy...
stubborn... the Lord giveth and the Lord takes away... a fine little
CLIVE: She was six foot two.
FATHER: Was she? I always remember her as rather
a short woman... do you think that matters?
CLIVE: Not now... it used to upset her when she
was alive she believed that as your wife you should recognise her...
at least that...
FATHER: Look I did all I could... I sweated from
morning till night building up the business... from nothing... building
up the family name... it was for her sake I did it... and yours...
of course we have to make sacrifices... but I made sure you both
had your holidays... I sent you both to Brighton for a fortnight
every year didn't I? What more could I do?
CLIVE: It wasn't her you sent.
FATHER: Wasn't it? Well it was somebody looked remarkably
like her... Who was it then?
CLIVE: I never asked her. I only used to meet her
for a fortnight every year, when she took me down to Brighton...
I'd much rather have gone with mummy.
FATHER: I didn't have time to concern myself with
family details... I was paying the bills wasn't I... I was a good
husband and father I paid all the bills... especially those damn
doctors' bills... It was a full time job... I didn't have time for
much of a home life... Surely your mother understood that? [Not
confidently] She was a little on the plump side wasn't she?
CLIVE: Yes father...
FATHER: [Relieved] Ha there you are I remember eh...
I remember your dear mother... dear woman...
CLIVE: [Points to a portrait of his mother on the
wall] That's mother up there.
FATHER: [Stares at the portrait unconvinced] Could
be... could be... We won't argue about it... we get on a lot better
these days... You're my only son...
CLIVE: Yes father...
FATHER: I look to you to carry on the good name
of Elmwood... ELMWOOD... I've built that name up from nothing...
CLIVE: More than once...
FATHER: Elmwood... Elmwood is a name that means
something in this town today... it means that my son can marry the
CLIVE: The Mayor hasn't got a daughter.
FATHER: The Mayor hasn't got a daughter... it's
deplorable... I've spent thirty years building up the name of Elmwood
so that no-one could question the suitability of my son's marriage
to the Mayor's daughter... and then it turns out the Mayor hasn't
got a daughter... it's quite deplorable... [Pause] The Mayor's got
CLIVE: But you haven't got a daughter... just me
FATHER: Just you. [Sighs] All this could have been
avoided with a little forethought... Well we'll have to make the
best of it with your fiancée Muriel...
CLIVE: Yes, her father is a magistrate... of course
it's not quite the same as being a Mayor...
FATHER: You can't blame Muriel for that...
CLIVE: Oh I don't father ... I hardly mention it...
FATHER: You could mention it...
CLIVE: I'd rather not...
FATHER: I see... leave it to me, I'm trying to get
her father to run as Mayor... it's something for the future, leave
it to me... Your job is to marry her my boy, the sooner the better...
She'll be here soon... I've arranged for us all to go to the wrestling
CLIVE: Father I do wish you wouldn't make these
arrangements... You know how I loathe wrestling.
FATHER: Her father loves it... the three of us are
meeting him at the arena.
CLIVE: You might respect my principles...
FATHER: Oh I do respect your principles... I ignore
them but I certainly respect them... a bit of give and take... that's
why we're getting on so well these days...
CLIVE: I think wrestling is cheap.
FATHER: Cheap? Cheap? I've paid for three of the
best seats... nothing I do is cheap... I've got the receipts to
prove it... [Points at a framed receipt hanging on the wall. The
receipt has a black border] Look at that receipt for your mother's
CLIVE: Father I'd rather you didn't encourage Muriel
to watch the wrestling... after all she is my fiancée and...
FATHER: She loves it... she loves the wrestling...
oh she loves the wrestling... yes she loves the wrestling and what's
more she enjoys it.
CLIVE: I think not... I think Muriel pretends to
enjoy the wrestling to annoy me.
FATHER: And you pretend not to enjoy it to annoy
her... well it's six of one and half a dozen of the other isn't
it... you can't expect me to get involved in the younger generation...
It's enough that we're getting along a lot better these days...
Their conversation is interrupted by the arrival
of Muriel, and Clive tries to stop her and his father from talking
about wrestling by fretting about her health:
CLIVE: You're looking very pale today... Muriel..
very wan my dear... It's the humidity you know... I was reading
about it... it said the climate in England is very bad for women...
most oppressive... poor dears...
FATHER: What do you suggest? Ship all our English
girls overseas ?
CLIVE: No it's even worse over there... you see
all climate is bad for women... it doesn't matter where it is...
women and climate don't mix... You know Muriel I think you need
a tonic, I really do, I'm not just saying that... I get so worried
about your health you know... I get so worried about your health
I get these terrible headaches worrying... and earache... and stabs
of pain up my back sometimes[...]
FATHER: Your mother was never without a headache...
whenever I asked your mother she always had a headache... I used
to ask her sometimes, deliberately, thinking I might catch her just
once without a headache ... but whenever I asked her she always
told me she had one...
CLIVE: It's a feminine trait... you see father what
we men call unwell is a woman's natural condition... that's why
a woman needs so much care and attention... so much... care and
Some time later we see Clive again in his doctor's
disguise having treated another female road accident victim. After
he has left she complains to her husband that the doctor's examination
was rather odd, in fact he had sex with her! He husband simply replies:
"Well, we've paid for it ain't we? Cost of bleedin' 'ealth
stamps 'e should be knocking you orf every night!"
Meanwhile Clive and Muriel have a chat alone where he tries to tell
her of his medical calling but cannot bring himself to do it. She
tries to get him to be physically affectionate to her, but he is
too locked in his own obsessions to notice. Later that day Clive
spots yet another woman in a traffic accident to attempts to 'treat'
her round at her place only to discover, to his horror, that she
is a transvestite. Meanwhile Elmwood Snr. And Arnold Thrust have
a meeting to discuss their offspring:
ELMWOOD: Arnold... I think it's about time we had
a chat about the young couple... After all Clive and Muriel represent
the future... They are Tomorrow.
THRUST: Tomorrow's Thursday, early closing...
ELMWOOD: Precisely... Clive and Muriel are half
day people... when we were young we had a much more definite attitude
THRUST: We hated it.
ELMWOOD: Yes, it gave us something to live for...
today young people are neither one thing nor the other... they're
not even the third person... listen to this... I am... You are...
He is... She is... you can't say that any more, can you... All you
can say is 'I am You are He might be She certainly isn't and what
the hell's going on here!' To be frank, Arnold, I'm extremely worried
about Clive's genders... he doesn't seem to realise there are two
THRUST: Someone should tell him the facts of grammar...
ELMWOOD: I've been too embarrassed... but somehow
I must have a grandchild... someone to whom...
THRUST: To whom... very good...
ELMWOOD: To whom I can pass on...
THRUST: The present tense...
ELMWOOD: No, the wrestling arenas!
THRUST: I see... would you like to say any more
at this stage?
ELMWOOD: Frankly, Arnold... I'd be glad if you'd
tell me... is there anything wrong with Muriel?
THRUST: In what way?
ELMWOOD: In that way...
THRUST: Good heavens no. I resent that remark -
she's already had three illegitimate children...
ELMWOOD: What happened to them?
THRUST: We sent them to China for the birth explosion...
they won't notice three more...
ELMWOOD: To be quite frank, Arnold, the family name
means a hell of a lot to me... why Elmwood - that name goes back
nearly as far as my father.
THRUST: How far did your father go back?
ELMWOOD: He never did go back... actually when I
met my old duck I was travelling at the time... on the inner circle
- under my maiden name of Emily Crutt V.C. and box... actually I
was travelling in ex-army rubber surplus goods. As you can imagine
it wasn't much of a home life... and...
THRUST: I think Clive should see a doctor.
ELMWOOD: A doctor! I hate that word...
THRUST: A specialist then... you must have noticed,
there's something not quite right about your boy
it's not that one leg's longer than the other or anything like that...
tell me, is there any insanity in your family?... now don't roll
your eyeballs at me when you answer
I mean it in a quite pertinent
ELMWOOD: There's my money behind your name, Arnold
Thrust, and don't you forget it!
THRUST: I know, I know - but if that boy is going
to sire some unborn generations for us
he's got to be looked
at... I know just the chap... put him right in a jiffy
Clive goes to the doctor Thrust recommends. Doctor
Clerks diagnoses Clive's problem as fear of his father and comes
with an unexpected solution by presenting him with a pink outsize
DOCTOR: I've got a lot more of these strict outsize
pink... You are not aware, Clive, of the great strides of modern
medicine... therapy... that's the answer... I would like to fill
your mind with strict outsize pink... Modern medicine has got to
get kinky, Clive, you understand that... everything else is going
briefly the treatment I will prescribe will not guarantee
cure - but certainly relief. I want you to take three dozen of these
strict outsize pink... and take at least six a night... I suggest
CLIVE: Wapping ?
DOCTOR: These summer evenings are ideal... they
leave the washing out all night... any ladies' bra that you spot
hanging out - which is not strict outsize pink... you take and replace
with the prescribed stock... one day Wapping will be yours... you'll
be able to go into any supermarket and know that all the little
ladies are wearing your strict outsize pink... if you stick at it
the whole area's bound to swing to you in the end... it's grand
it is a vocation... and it will take your mind off any
brooding nasty little thoughts you have... Any questions?
DOCTOR: What do you do with the white
the lace... bring them to me
I'm man enough to cope with this... Look! [Opens cupboard. Rows
and rows of bras hanging in all varieties] That's Croydon
I cleaned up that area in three weeks... my dear boy, this is action
medicine. [Starts taking out bras - outsize pink - and giving them
to CLIVE] Now then, unfortunately this is not obtainable on the
National Health... they'll fill you with pills that will ruin you...
but they will not prescribe outsize pink - strict
Meanwhile the husband of one of Clive's 'patients'
decides to go to the police. The story hits the newspapers and Elmwood
is forced to confront his son with his suspicions:
FATHER: [Without looking up] You're home early...
CLIVE: I'm home on time, father.
FATHER: That's early for Thursday... you usually
work late at the office on Thursday... which is the day the Bristington
Weekly News comes out, is it not?
CLIVE: Father, we must learn to trust each other...
after all we are business partners.
FATHER: I suspect nothing... there is an impostor
doctor in our midst who pretends to come from the council... and
visits women who have been involved in accidents ... he examines
them... ardently perhaps... on Thursday evenings when you work late
at the office and return with the Bristington Weekly News... which
I find has all the addresses of women reported in accidents underlined...
in pencil... or in pen... no matter, I suspect nothing...
FATHER: It is unconceivable that a son of mine who
openly admits a thwarted desire to become a doctor... and in the
back of whose car I found this doctor's bag containing not only
medical instruments with which one could without a shadow of doubt
examine... naked women... Not only these in the doctor's bag but
a false moustache and glasses such as described in the Bristlington
Weekly News... I say that it is inconceivable that my son is the
impostor [Pause]. Although he confesses an aversion to wrestling.
CLIVE: Thank you father...
FATHER: What for?
CLIVE: Your faith in me.
FATHER: I have no faith in you, what gave you the
idea... but I have infinite faith in myself... and I know... that
is to say I am certain that I could not have raised a son who would
shame the name of Elmwood... It is fortunate for you that you happen
to be my son... if you were not I should be absolutely convinced
that you are this... this female impersonator.
CLIVE: It's a doctor he impersonates father
FATHER: Yes and probably a woman doctor
obvious the fellow doesn't know where to draw the line.
CLIVE: But why would he wear a false moustache if
he were impersonating a female doctor?
FATHER: For kicks! For kicks! Damn them, damn them
CLIVE: There's only one father
FATHER: It's the thin end of the wedge... don't
think I can't see what's happening... it's an attempt to replace
wrestling as the major sport of the town... oh it could catch on
you know... we'll all be impersonating female doctors before we
know where we are... Well is it a trend? You tell me... shall I
sell my shares in the wrestling clubs while there's still time...
and get in on these female doctor impersonation clubs?
CLIVE: It's too early to tell father.... if it did
catch on as you said... I think it would break my heart... and wrestling
became unfashionable eh... is that it?
no half measures my boy
CLIVE: I might be tempted to take it up...
FATHER: You mean you'd impersonate a wrestler? And
go round struggling with these women who've been involved in accidents?
CLIVE: Father I don't know... you're confusing me...
FATHER: We've got to move with the times my boy...
don't forget son we're in business together... if you think there's
a future in impersonating female wrestlers then I've got a right
to know about it.
CLIVE: Father please... please
FATHER: What are you doing this weekend? We might
go down to Brighton together...
CLIVE: Is nothing sacred?
FATHER: Nothing... nothing is sacred
a family motto
Nil Et Sacreta
CLIVE: That's not Latin...
FATHER: Why should it be... Latin's not sacred either...
There's still time to stop the rot my boy... we mustn't panic...
or if we do panic we must do it calmly... panic with dignity...
why not... it could catch on... it could catch on!
CLIVE: Father I ask you for the last time please
FATHER: Do you guarantee, it's the last time? I'd
prefer a guarantee... a little something in writing perhaps...
CLIVE: For the last time!
FATHER: So it wasn't the last time... I was right...
I should have had it in writing... then I could have sued you couldn't
I? I could break you, my own son... discredit you... prove to your
mother once and for all what a disgrace you are to the family!
CLIVE: Mother's dead!
FATHER: What? I should have been told about this
nobody tells me anything...
CLIVE: You were told... you were told... you were
told ... I keep telling you...
FATHER: I've got no evidence... why should I take
CLIVE: You've got the receipt for the funeral
takes the framed receipt from the wall and shoves it into his FATHER's
hands, FATHER stares at it for a long time]
FATHER: [Quietly] So it's true... she's gone...
passed over... or under... perhaps in between, she was an independent
woman... and left this beautiful receipt in memoriam... [He fills
his pipe and lights up] You know I never knew her really... but
I kept all her receipts... I filed them all in the office when I
was working late... you know you get to be pretty intimate with
a wife when you handle her bills... I can still remember every penny
CLIVE: You have your memories father...
FATHER: Yes my boy... it's a great consolation...
she was a beautiful spender... she had class... I don't know why
I do it you know... but I still keep her Harrods account open
[While the FATHER has been speaking quietly, CLIVE
has been fixing on the false moustache and puts on the glasses,
He picks up the doctor's bag and makes for the door]
CLIVE: Goodnight father... don't wait up...
FATHER: [Still engrossed in his memories] Goodnight
With the rossers alerted to the modus operandi of
the false doctor a police guard is put on any female traffic accident
victims. Clive, however, outwits them by making an anonymous call
to Doctor Clerks that will put Clerks in the frame:
DOCTOR: Hello, Doctor Clerks...
CLIVE: Hello, Doctor Clerks... this is a well wisher...
DOCTOR: Hello, well wisher...
CLIVE: There's an outcrop of medium white at 17,
DOCTOR: But I've already pacified that area... so
one of my ladies is rebelling... I'll give her strict outsize pink...
yes... thank you well-wisher...[DOCTOR puts down phone, grabs bra,
shoves it in his doctor's bag and quickly exits]
Meanwhile a plan is hatched. Two wrestlers are hired
to run over Muriel. When Clive hears the ambulance's siren he is
irresistibly drawn. He finds Muriel in her sick bed but she does
not recognise him in his doctor's disguise. She makes an advance
to him and finally he is able to respond, only to hear Arnold Thrust
leading the police, who spotted Clive entering the house, to their
door. When the plod break in Clive is forced to hide his doctor's
disguise, Muriel realises who he is, Arnold Thrust, who engineered
the whole situation, escorts the police from the premises and the
lovers are united. Ahhh
AN APPLE A DAY was written by John Antrobus and
broadcast on 9 July 1971 at 10.35pm on BBC1. The script used here
was published on the collection "Why Bournemouth And Other
Plays: An Apple A Day and The Missing Links" (Calder &