Why Bother?, first broadcast on Radio 3 in 1994, is a series of improvised conversations between Chris Morris and Peter Cook, in character as Sir Arthur Greeb-Streebling. In this episode Sir Arthur outlines his plan to clone Christ and mass-produce miniature Jesuses in co-operation with the Japanese.
Because there’s a lot of people out there, people who are yearning to find Christ and who don’t have the time to go and look for him in person, who would like to have Christ through the letterbox.
He also talks about bees.
Recorded in 1993, when common concensus seems to have been that Peter Cook had drunk his talent away, Why Bother? reveals a performer who still delights in the fizzy brilliance of his own imagination, and who is still sharp and very funny. Lovely stuff.
And it was all ad libbed:
HD: No preparation?
CM: No. I think the preparation that existed, existed only in terms of the things we had already done. I was already quite used to going and imposing bollocks interviews on people anyway from any direction so it didn’t seem much different, except with him, obviously, you could keep an idea going for much longer. There was an idea that was cut from On The Hour which I was still rabidly insisting should get on air somewhere, about an archeologist having discovered a fossil of Christ as a baby and what that would mean for the whole Christian religion. So we’d get the tapes rolling and let’s talk about Sir Arthur and religion or experiments, whatever. I just said “Sir Arthur, you are going to address the Royal Society tomorrow and reveal that you have found the fossil of Christ as child.” From that, he said there came a whole series of larval stages and it developed from that.
It’s trying to keep some sort of logic going. It was a very different style of improvisation from what I’d been used to, working with people like Steve [Coogan], Doon [MacKichan] and Rebecca [Front], because those On The Hour and The Day Today things were about trying to establish a character within a situation, and Peter Cook was really doing ‘knight’s move’ and ‘double knight’s move’ thinking to construct jokes or ridiculous scenes flipping back on themselves, and it was amazing. I mean, I held out no great hopes that he wouldn’t be a boozy old sack of lard with his hair falling out and scarcely able to get a sentence out, because he hadn’t given much evidence that that wouldn’t be the case. But, in fact, he stumbled in with a Safeways bag full of Kestrel lager and loads of fags and then proceeded to skip about mentally with the agility of a grasshopper. Really quite extraordinary.
From this great interview with Chris Morris.