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Before Your Very Eyes (1956-58)


Warning: screenonline full synopses contain 'spoilers' which give away key plot points. Don't read on if you don't want to know the ending!

Edition originally transmitted on ITV (London) 20 April 1956

Arthur greets the audience and introduces guest stars Sabrina, Jerry Desmonde and Avril Angers. They perform a cross-talk routine involving the selling of a hypothetical washing machine that sees Askey being conned into parting with several pounds. At the end, a policeman enters and arrests him for trading without a license.

Arthur takes his car to the Government Vehicle Testing Centre for its MOT. Jerry Desmonde attempts to examine it, but each part of the car he touches comes away in his hand. Only when it has virtually fallen to pieces does he reveal that he is not an examiner but a workman painting a sign. Askey throws a pot of paint over the sign.

At the studios of Colossal Pictures Inc., the studio chief is seeking a lead actor for his new film, The Son of the Son of the Sheik. His assistant suggests they watch an earlier silent version to see if the original star, Arturo Askentino, might be suitable. They run a sequence from A Date Among the Palms, in which Askentino portrays 'Sheik Ali Tosis', romancing a beautiful woman in his tent.

Back at Colossal Pictures the studio chief decides to see Askentino. Satisfied with his voice, his (false) teeth and his physique (accentuated by a pair of false shoulders), he offers him the role. Askentino mentions that he has a cold, contracted the night before chasing Marilyn Monroe around her swimming pool.

On set, shooting is halted when Askentino delivers his lines in a reedy, high-pitched voice. He explains that his more masculine tones at audition were a result of his cold, which has now cleared up. In order to give him another one, a cold-ridden member of the crew breathes on him, to no effect. Askentino suggests getting wet or standing in a draught, so they throw a bucket of water over him. However, the hot studio lights cure the cold almost instantly, resulting in the need to constantly halt filming and give him another drenching. Eventually a hose is turned on him. The director asks for a wind machine too, which blows clouds of sand all over the set and makes the sheik's tent collapse. Eventually Askentino's glamorous female co-star also catches a cold, leaving her with an equally deep masculine voice.

After the credits roll, a wet and bedraggled Askey returns to the stage to thank the audience for tuning in.