Jobsworth

– a series of six sketches revolving around a village caretaker

Written originally for radio, these scripts have been performed successfully on stage

To order scriptsCast ListSynopsesExtract


The theme of the six Jobsworth episodes revolves around the life of a caretaker at the Assembly Rooms in the small town of Binford, and the diverse characters and situations which he comes into contact with in the course of doing his job.

Bill Turner, the caretaker in question, can be a somewhat sardonic person at times, but we tend to be on his side. Close to retirement age, he knows what his job requires him to do and what it does not. It's more than his job's worth to step outside the bounds of his job description. He has his office within the Assembly Rooms building, and here he spends much time making tea for himself and others who may visit him. He is married to Ethel, but we see nothing of her in these episodes.

Apart from Bill, five other characters appear more or less regularly in each episode:

Fred Nesbitt is a retired odd-jobber who is effectively Bill's right hand man. He tends to do small maintenance jobs in and around the Assembly Rooms, mending broken windows, leaking taps, etc, as well as drinking a great deal of tea in Bill's office. He is a widower, and gets teased about his relationship with Mrs Wilkins (Rose) who has been recently widowed and needs a man about the house. We never get to meet Rose.

Mrs Brenda Pressing is an overbearing woman, president of the local Women's Institute, and therefore a regular user of the Assembly Rooms. She has scant regard for other people's problems or feelings, and is (as far as she's concerned) never in the wrong.

Rev Simon Best, the vicar, always seems to turn up at the right time to pour oil on troubled waters. His wife, we hear, helps with the WI, and his young daughter, Isobel, is starting to attend weekly dancing classes at the Assembly Rooms.

Gordon Thackeray, is an arty type who organises such things as the Craft Exhibitions and the Drama Festivals in Binford. He is usually at loggerheads with Mrs Pressing, and needs the support of others to stand up to her.

Mrs Moira Tripp, is a youthful and energetic youth leader who runs dancing classes in the Assembly Roomsand is also a Brown Owl for the local Brownies.

Other characters come and go according to the subject of the particular episode. Many we may meet again in later episodes, some we may not.

Synopses of the six episodes are as follows:

1. Drain Damage: The time is early summer, and all the local societies are busy preparing for their various summer shows. Naturally they only know about their own activities - the needs of others being entirely superfluous. Unfortunately there seems to have been a double booking and, to make matters worse, the drains to the loos are blocked.

2. Jumble Warfare: A Jumble Sale and an Arts and Crafts exhibition are scheduled to be run on the same day in adjoining rooms, but can we tell which is which? Bill and Fred obviously can't, and incoming stock ends up in the wrong place to the distress and embarrassment of all.

3. Backstage Drama: Four local amateur dramatic societies are competing for the annual 'best play' award. Their scenery and props, left backstage overnight, are carefully segregated by the organisers, but Bill has other ideas. His tidying up has chaotic results when the actors perform next day.

4. 'Allo Beenfor': The town council has decided to twin Binford with a French town of supposedly similar characteristics, and a grand ceremony is planned to welcome the first visitors and dignitaries in the Assembly Rooms. But harmony is disrupted when the French mayor's formidable personal assistant, Madame Fredrica Guillotine, thinks Fred Nesbitt is her long-lost British father.

5. Brownie Points: A Brown Owl from a neighbouring town brings two dozen of her little charges to the Assembly Rooms for a week's 'Pack Holiday'. They take over the entire building, to the concern and dismay of one particular regular user.

6. Sweet Charity: The annual Christmas Charity Fair generates less 'good will to all men' than it should when table allocations become mixed up, Father Christmas arrives late from the pub, and someone sets the decorations on fire.


Extract from Episode 1

The door bursts open; Mrs Pressing enters.

Pressing Now then, I've sorted it all out with the Town Clerk and he says our booking stands and we can - ah, Mr Thackeray, I didn't expect to see you here - did you not get a telephone message?
Thackeray Yes - yes, I did. I was just wondering
Pressing I'm afraid my booking for Saturday took priority. As I explained to the Town Clerk, I made it myself personally a fortnight ago.
Thackeray But so did I. I spoke to Mrs Ritchie three weeks ago.
Pressing (Unmoved) Yes, well she must have forgotten - when I phoned her number two weeks ago I was assured most emphatically that the date was free. I've got people coming from all over, so I can't possibly change it now.
Thackeray We have a consultant travelling down from London, and representatives arriving from all the neighbouring towns
Pressing Well I'm sure they can find another day to come - after all, your Pageant isn't for months yet.
Thackeray Are you aware how much preparation goes into a Pageant?
Pressing Once every two years, Mr Thackeray, once every two years. The Women's Institute, on the other hand, is a permanent rock on which our town life is built. We are active fifty two weeks a year, Mr Thackeray, not just every now and then.
Thackeray If I may say so, madam, I think your attitude is a little high handed and most inconsiderate of others.
Pressing May I remind you, Mr Thackeray, that we have Royalty at our head, which is more than can be said of your Pageant committee.
Thackeray Madam, I hardly think that
Pressing And the church stands four-square behind us.

A double tap at the door; the Vicar enters.
Vicar Oh, excuse me - am I interrupting something?
Bill No, come on in, Vicar - the more the merrier. I'd offer you all some tea, but I've only got the two cups.
Vicar It's just that - I heard raised voices as I passed by - and I thought I might
Bill Pour oil on troubled waters?
Vicar Well
Pressing There is no need for mediation, Vicar - the situation has been resolved by the appropriate authority
Thackeray I disagree.
Pressing Mr Thackeray, I have already
Vicar (Cutting in) If someone would kindly inform me of the issue under discussion, I might be in a position to
Fred Double booking.
Thackeray There appears to have been a most unfortunate mix up over next Saturday.
Pressing I made the booking for our summer sale myself, personally
Thackeray And so did I! For the pageant meeting.
Pressing and had it confirmed at the time
Thackeray A week after I had done the same.
Vicar Yes, yes - I'm quite sure you both did, but
Pressing and again just now by the Town Clerk.
Vicar Indeed.
Thackeray Who had no right to do so.
Pressing He has every right, particularly in an instance as clear cut as this one.
Thackeray In that case I shall go to see him myself and point out that I have the better claim.
Vicar If I might just interject
Pressing I fail to see what argument you will use.
Thackeray We are trying our best to bring the very spirit of this town alive, and all we meet with is obstruction and disinterest.
Pressing Mr Thackeray, you cannot expect the regular organizations of this town to disrupt all their carefully planned schedules just so that you and your friends can indulge in some occasional play-acting.
Thackeray Madam, this is not mere play-acting. It is a serious attempt to involve the local population in discovering its own history.
Pressing There's a perfectly good museum to tell them that.
Thackeray A museum can only do so much - we intend to bring history to life on the streets. You surely cannot object to that?
Pressing I object to the assumption that the rest of us will just make way for your pastime.
Vicar Mrs Pressing, Mr Thackeray - a moment if you please.

and so it goes on …


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