The Museum of Everything
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|Running time||28 minutes|
|Country of origin||United Kingdom|
|Home station||BBC Radio 4|
|Written by||Marcus Brigstocke
|Original release||18 March 2004 – 13 January 2009 (BBC 7)|
|No. of series||3|
|No. of episodes||18|
The Museum of Everything is a BBC Radio 4 comedy sketch show, written and performed by Marcus Brigstocke, Danny Robins and Dan Tetsell with Lucy Montgomery. The show generally occupied the 18:30 comedy slot on BBC Radio 4, with repeats several times a year on BBC Radio 4 Extra. The first series was broadcast in 2004, a second series in 2005 and a third series in summer 2006, the latter of which made continued use of favourite characters from past episodes as well as creating new ones. It is set in the fabled "Museum of Everything", an apparently infinite space housing exhibitions on everything from the history of stairs to the Greek buttock gallery.
- 1 Series List
- 2 Frequently recurring characters and themes
- 2.1 The Curator
- 2.2 The Guides
- 2.3 The Announcer
- 2.4 The Gift Shop
- 2.5 The Rollercoasters
- 2.6 The Idiots
- 2.7 Randy and Travis
- 2.8 The Fillum Institute
- 2.9 Badgerland
- 2.10 Partwork magazine
- 2.11 Bagshot Grange
- 2.12 Brawley Safari Park
- 2.13 The Giant
- 2.14 The Re-enactors
- 2.15 Mistress Bess the Herbalist
- 3 References
- 4 External links
There seems to be some confusion about the titles of many of the episodes. This list gives the official title as given in the BBC's catalogue entry, followed by known alternatives such as those on epguides.com's page.
- 18 March 2004 - Welcome to the Museum of Everything, or The Chamber of Horrors.
- 25 March 2004 - A Very Important Visitor, or The Mary Queen of Scot Walk Through Pagentitarium.
- 1 April 2004 - School Parties Welcome, or Captain Nemo's Undersea Adventure.
- 8 April 2004 - To Infinity and Beyond, or The Planetarium.
- 15 April 2004 - The History of Everything, or Ancient Worlds.
- 22 April 2004 - The History of the Future, or The Future of History.
- 24 March 2005 - The Museum Re-opens, or Thomas Queezly.
- 31 March 2005 - The Dig.
- 7 April 2005 - Under New Management.
- 14 April 2005 - The Coach Trip.
- 21 April 2005 - By Royal Appointment.
- 28 April 2005 - Behind the Magic.
- 27 July 2006 - The Museum Re-opens (sic), or The William Shakespearance.
- 3 August 2006 - Natural Science, or The Human Body Experience.
- 10 August 2006 - The Thing, or The Museum's Most Precious Object.
- 17 August 2006 - And The Winner Is…, or The Museum of the Year Awards.
- 24 August 2006 - The Expo.
- 31 August 2006 - Transport, or How Things Work.
- A short one minute sketch for the BBC Radio 4 show 28 Acts in 28 Minutes was broadcast on 5 July 2006.
Frequently recurring characters and themes
Mentioned only a few times in the early episodes, the Curator was eventually replaced by the gravelly-voiced singer-songwriter Tom Waits, after the other four applicants were turned down. He removed the filing system and replaced it with an upright piano, and hired a lot of his more unusual friends into lesser jobs within the Museum.
Whenever anyone talks to the Curator, he lights a match and sets off into a surreal anecdote about someone he once met, such as one young woman who was, "blind in one eye and couldn't see out the other." When finally confronted about it, he was forced to admit that he doesn't actually know anyone with a full set of working eyes.
The show always opens with John and George, two Bristolian tour guides, and their catchphrase of "cheers then, thanks then, cheers then, thanks then...". They pop up throughout each episode reminding customers of museum attractions and rules. Often the rules are twisted in their favour, one example being: "Remember: please do not leave unattended bags anywhere in the museum. They will be stolen. By us."
In the third series there is a temp/trainee tour guide called Debbie, who is a bit clumsy and dim. George falls victim to a "swath of redundancies", which in fact only affects him. His replacement is a Mr Thomas, headhunted from the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford, and therefore more eager than his colleague John to educate the general public.
This is intended as a parody of the announcements often found in museums advertising the most mundane and ridiculous features, as it is taken to such extremes. As well as staff announcements, e.g. "Will Mr FIRE please come to the flammable items gallery", Jane the announcer also informs the public about new attractions: "The history of stairs exhibit is located between floors one and two." By the end of the first series, the monotony of the job is starting to show in the announcements: "Mum, can we go now? I’m bored."
The Gift Shop
The gift shop is regarded by the staff with such reverence that a choral effect always plays whenever it is mentioned. It stocks novelties, pencils and many kinds of fudge in the shape of historical figures (more often than not, Jane Austen). In the recent renovations of the Museum of Everything, the gift shop was the major (if not only) recipient of funds. In the final episode of the first series, "concession stands" are regarded with such contempt that a warped version of the gift shop noise is played.
On the one occasion that the gift shop itself features in a sketch, two visitors stumble upon it by accident when looking for another gallery, and are mysteriously unable to escape through any of the doors – they all lead straight back to the gift shop.
It is also mentioned on a separate occasion that the Museum's emergency exits pass through the Gift Shop, and one can only leave the gift shop by buying something.
- The Widowmaker
- Certain Death
- Captain Bubbles’ Butterfly Teacups... Of Death
- Designed By A Blue Peter Competition Winner
- London Underground
These are two upper-class men who seem to revel in snobbery, drinking games, sexism, xenophobia and spoonerism. When asked if they went to Oxford: "Guilty!" “Which college?” "Brookes!" Their favourite game (which takes many improbable names throughout the series) involves placement of their penis into another's drink, and they enjoy puerile rhymes and songs. Whilst being continuously jovial, they are self-admittedly very lonely and detest each other's company. They have a tendency to turn up everywhere, irritating all kinds of people, from lottery fund personnel to tourists in Italy. Their finest hour was when they met two German people of much the same nature when attending a celebration of a twinning of two towns.
Randy and Travis
Two Falconers, who have a casual attitude to animal cruelty. Randy (or Wandy, as he pronounces it) has an incredible speech impediment, and Travis is a Geordie who has a habit of saying "nightmare" every so often.
The Fillum Institute
The Museum of Everything Fillum Institute is curated by Tom Commode, a parody of film critic Mark Cousins. On occasion the institute will give a public interview of someone who works in the film industry. Previous highlights have included: the bloke who does the CGI on films; a film director so bad that he specialises in straight to video releases; and one occasion when Commode interviews "the most important figure working in fillum today" – himself.
Badgerland is intended as a parody of major theme parks such as Disney World. This is evident when the series refers to another park, Euro Badger (in France). The original park is located "just off the M3 between Patrick Moore and Ted Heath".
The advert for Badgerland invariably involves an obscene pun employing the word "badger", at some point within the sketch.
However, at the beginning of the second series, it was announced that Badgerland has been closed. The reasons for this are to do with various infractions of the health and safety code, particularly the numerous cases of mutated bovine tuberculosis that visitors contracted. One of the challenges presented by the closure of the park is finding employment for Mr Hudson, who appears to have no other talent besides playing park mascot Badgey the Badger, and is actually in character permanently.
Several other British hedgerow-mammal-themed amusement parks are also referred to, including Ferret Park, Vole Valley, Shrew Express and Stoat World. Stoat World's attractions include the Stoat Moat and Ferret Wheel, as well as the Res-stoat-rant.
In its second series, The Museum of Everything dropped its regular Badgerland slot, filling it instead with adverts for a variety of partwork hobby magazines allowing readers to build various items week by week. These items include a life-size model of the Cutty Sark, the bridge on the river Kwai (with a free life-size model river Kwai in part two) and another of France (with a bonus magazine allowing you to build the French, "if you want to spoil it"). For the truly committed, there is the partwork magazine "Partwork", in which you can assemble your own collection of partwork magazines ("issue 4 comes with a gun in case it all gets too much") The introductory price of these magazines is usually 99 pence, but the regular price is anywhere between £100 and all your material possessions. Similarly to the Badgerland sketches, the advertising jingles for the partworks are based on that used for the DeAgostini song "I Love Horses".
This stately home, opened to the public to raise funds needed due to some misguided banking, is large and impressive. Guided tours are operated by the lady of the house, who makes use of every opportunity to be unpleasant to her wheelchair-using husband Geoffrey, whom she blames for their present financial situation. There is also a suggestion that she is trying to kill Geoffrey to collect on his life insurance. Staff at the home include "Mr Gardener", an ex-sniper from the former Yugoslavia who still finds time to practise his skill, and a Sarajevan cook, as yet unpaid after two years of employment.
Bagshot Grange also appears regularly in The Brig Society.
Brawley Safari Park
This safari park is known for its liberal values, relaxed attitude, and abysmal safety record. Each Wednesday the visitors are encouraged to mix with the animals, especially the tigers who need feeding. Every new keeper on his or her first day is required to feed the tigers as an initiation rite - they go in wearing a meat hat. Almost every keeper is a replacement for a replacement. The "head keeper" in fact runs the canteen, and is called the head keeper as, despite, on his first day, a tiger biting almost all the way through his neck, he still managed to keep his head.
This man runs a tourist attraction, claiming it to be his "normal-sized village". Since this 'giant' is in fact less than six feet tall, it is actually a miniature village. He has a habit of saying most things to rhyme with "fe fi fo fum", and going "boom boom boom boom" as he walks. While he may consider himself not to be part of the human race, the Giant shows a degree of compassion, in that he makes sure he does not crush visitors to his village - and so far he hasn't killed anyone in such a way.
A trio of enthusiasts who have difficulty keeping contemporary concerns out of their recreations of the past.
Mistress Bess the Herbalist
Mistress Bess is an apothecary (though for convenience of pronunciation she just calls herself "the Herbalist") and has an unfortunate speech impediment. She specialises in old-fashioned foods and natural remedies for ailments, none of which seem to work, despite supposedly having "curative properties" by virtue of being olden. The character is introduced in The Coach Trip (series two), as one of the attractions at the Chaversham Medieval Fayre. She subsequently appears often in series three, despite nearly dying at least once from mushroom poisoning.