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  1. Yes Minister. The one about the Red Arrows I came across this lost script for the BBC TV series… Scene: The Ministry, late one evening in 2018… Dramatis Personae (especially for those outside the UK and any who don’t recall the TV programme): Minister – the Secretary of State for the Department of Administrative Affairs Sir Humphrey – The minister’s chief civil servant, determined that the status quo should be preserved come what may Bernard – Sir Humphrey’s junior and right-hand-man; Sir Humphrey thinks he’s far too earnest and enthusiastic for a civil servant MINISTER: “Right you two; the PM’s just given me an awful earwigging about those ghastly, noisy show-offs, er, I mean the Red Arrows. What’s happening about replacing their planes?” SIR HUMPHREY: “Well the Hawks are way out of budget, too old, too costly to run. All the alternatives are turbo-props.” MINISTER: “The RAF couldn’t bear the thought of not being in jets, and we can’t condone using foreign aircraft or the press will kill us” SIR HUMPHREY: Hmmm MINISTER:Hmmm BERNARD: “What about those planes from Burma? SIR HUMPHREY: Bernard, how many times, its Myanmar!! BERNARD: Sorry sir, I mean those Spitfires we recovered from there? Hundreds of Thousands of people turn out to see the Red Arrows and Hundreds of Thousands more turn out to see the Battle of Britain Flight? Why not Red Arrow Spitfires? SIR HUMPHREY: Bernard, I’ve told you before, the BBMF includes Hurricanes, a Lancaster, a Dakota and 2 Chipmunks as well. BERNARD: Yes but the public thinks they’re all Spitfires…why not give them what they want? MINISTER: But aren’t Spitfires expensive and ancient? BERNARD: Well you can buy a freshly restored one for a couple of million, a whole squadron would be less than one new jet. MINISTER: But its still old? BERNARD: Nah, the only old bit is the dataplate on the firewall, everything else is replaced! Supposedly they fly better than wartime ones too, as they don’t need the armour, guns or ammunition if they’re for flying displays, so they’re much lighter. It means they last longer and are less strained too. MINISTER: This is looking better and better. SIR HUMPHREY: They don’t have ejection seats to maintain and the CAA won’t throw a wobbly about fast jet aerobatics. MINISTER: But we still need some dataplates then? What about these Spitfires from Bur…I mean Myanmar? I thought that farmer only found some aluminium alloy stains where they’d corroded away? SIR HUMPHREY: Of course he did Minister, we don’t want any old aero-enthusiasts getting hold of several squadrons of brand-new combat aircraft, do we? MINISTER: So there were some? BERNARD: Of course minister. We knew they were there all along, but once he started making a fuss we had to get them out pronto and do some covering up. SIR HUMPHREY: BERNARD!!! MINISTER: Do I want to know about this? SIR HUMPHREY: Probably not, Minister. Don’t worry, nothings been written down officially. We came to an arrangement with the Generals there so that the boys from Hereford sorted out some trouble-makers and they let us bring back the Spitfires. They’ve been sitting in containers at Marchwood for the last four years. MINISTER: But aren’t they er…how would you say…knackered after being buried for 70 years? BERNARD: Oh no minister they were carefully preserved before burial as a “strategic reserve” in case we needed them again out there at the time. All the rubber and Perspex is a bit perished and needs replacing, but nothing like a full restoration is needed. We’ve had one tried out to be sure, the US Government were very obliging about the use of Area 51. I think they hope they can find some caches of Mustangs and Corsairs down in South America for the Thunderbirds and Blue Angels. MINISTER: Thunderbirds? Blue Angels?…I think I need a drink. SIR HUMPHREY: Yes, apparently the Americans have the same concerns replacing the display planes for the USAF and USN. The USAF can’t use F-22s or F-35s because they’re so stealthy no one can see them and their Admirals just like ships so don’t care about the aircraft for their display team. BERNARD: There are a few issues though, these are Mark Fourteens with low backs and Griffon engines, so they don’t look or sound exactly like a Battle of Britain Spitfire. But they do have more power and better visibility for aerobatic formations. MINISTER: Will the public think they’re Spitfires? BERNARD: Yes MINISTER: Well, no need to let them think any differently then. SIR HUMPHREY: When they’re not displaying we can hire them out for movies, washable paint would work as they never film in the rain. BERNARD: And we can combine the Red Arrows and BBMF so that’s one whole unit off the books! MINISTER: Brilliant; Sir Humphrey, get it organised… SIR HUMPHREY: Yes, Minister. Thus were the dice cast. The BBMF was abolished and the Red Arrows got their new aircraft. Rolls Royce restarted the Griffon production line and Ford’s redundant Transit factory at Eastleigh returned to building Spitfires as every other NATO air force needed to replace their display team aircraft with Spitfires too or be seen as war-mongering madmen; and Shepheard Neame beer was sold in every pub in the land. Everybody in the country rejoiced, even the fast-jet jockeys of the Red Arrows, who it turned out, had really only ever wanted to be Spitfire pilots anyway! As for the model – take one Frog Mark Fourteen, add the low back canopy and conversion part from the Matchbox kit, paint it pillar box red and add the decals from a Revell Hawk. And a smoke canister from an Eduard drop tank. Bish, Bosh, Bash – the new Red Arrows for the 2019 Display season. "Ladies and Gentlemen", look to your left and you will see the country's favourite pilots in the country's favourite aircraft running in to commence their display..." (with sincere apologies to the RAFAT, BBMF, the BBC, Johnathan Lynn and Anthony Jay; Frog and Matchbox kit collectors, rivet-counters and anyone else offended by this article). Cheers Will
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