On this page, I'm concentrating on the draft version of The Great Billycart Aid Race. There's a few interesting things to talk about here.
A number of things changed between this draft and what ended up in the broadcast version of the episode. But there's also some information in here that I've never noticed when watching the episode (but do now!).
And finally, there's a bit of information that was a real eye opener to me… but I'm getting ahead of myself.
The changes between the draft and the final version that was taped are small. Nothing major like the overhaul that was done to turn Street Party into Bye Bye Bartons, but fun to look at nonetheless. So let's do that!
One last thing before we start: apologies for the image quality. I didn't want to take apart the script and put it under a scanner, so I've photographed the pages instead.
*To make sure the cast member in question doesn't get into trouble for sending me these scripts, I'm not mentioning who it was. But you know who you are, and Thank You for sending me these!
This script is ©1987 Australian Broadcasting Corporation
The snippets are shown here under fair use/citaatrecht are so on the basis of not-for-profit, and for study or educational use. No infringement of intellectual property is intended. Disclaimer. All photos taken by me.
The script's cover. The black square isn't actually on the script; I placed it there to block out a person's name.
This episode was written by Shane Brennan and it's the only one that Shane wrote for Bartons. He's possibly best known as the executive producer for the American television series NCIS. He's also the creator of that show's spin-off NCIS: Los Angeles. Between Bartons and NCIS he wrote episodes for some big name Australian television series; among them are Flying Doctors and All Together Now. He also supervised production of the second season of the American hit show CSI: Miami. Shane is currently (2021) president of the Australian Writer's Guild.
All I can say is that there's some strong pedigree in all layers of Bartons, and this just adds to the evidence of that.
When reading a newspaper, Elly becomes aware that there's a lot of misery in the world. An article on Bob Geldof in that same newspaper inspires her to do something about it. After going to her parents for ideas, she notices that Paul is building a billycart. The idea for a billycart race is born.
About the document
This draft consists mostly of pages printed out by a dot matrix printer (remember those?) and some photo copies of pages (maybe from an earlier draft?). Some small edits have been made with a black pen (maybe by the actor that used this script?), most notably the title on the cover page.
In contrast: the other script I have here, for Mr Snoller's Black Bag, is a final version and is printed in much better quality (it looks to be printed on a laser printer or maybe stencilled).
There are some errors in the script; most notably Bob Geldof's name being misspelt as Geldorf consistently throughout it.
Some details that are in the script are either left out of the final version entirely or only very subtly worked into the episode.
Let's have a look, shall we?
One of those small differences is in scene 8, where Elly counts the money in her piggy bank on her bed. In the draft, she has to balance on a chair to get the piggy bank from the top of her wardrobe. That shot is not in the episode; instead, Elly sits on the bed counting the money ($1.13).
Scene 8 as it appears in the draft.
Elly's non intellectual property infringing piggy bank as it appears in the episode
Of course "Tom Cruise" could be the whale's name.
I love the question mark; as if Shane was saying "or some other celebrity the average 11 year old might have a poster from on her mirror… I dunno; see what you have at hand during filming".
(To me) the biggest revelation is on page 24. Read closely:
"Skinner can't understa…" wait… what!?
So when I read this sentence in the script, I had to double back a bit and rethink my perception of Skinner and Elly's dynamics.
But it does make sense. Rewatching their scenes together with this new information does shine a different light on them.
Although this scene did make it into the episode, it's not as clear cut what Skinner is thinking after he brings his bike to a standstill:
Skinner's expression in said scene; just after Elly and Anita walk off and before Skinner notices what the poster says.
I've always wondered what Douglas got as a prize for winning the race, other than being kissed by his sister. You can't see it clearly in the episode, but the draft mentions that it's a cardboard plate with a photo of Bob Geldof on it:
Throughout the script, green beans pop up as a running gag. For starters, Clare and Robert harvest them from the veggie patch in the backyard during their conversation with Elly. The script mentions them being not quite ripe enough to be harvested, but Robert and Clare either don't notice or simply have no clue.
Secondly, in the kitchen scene, just before Elly leaves for Anita, Clare remarks that the beans "are early this year" and she reminds Elly that they'll be having "fresh beans from the garden" for dinner that night.
Both these scenes are in the episode that aired.
Later on, when the beans appear on the dinner plates of the family, the running gag was supposed to have a grand finale. Sadly the dinner table scene in the episode was slightly different to exclude the punchline:
In the episode, while standing at the top of 'The Dipper', Anthony remarks that Kevin Mulrose (one of Anthony's friends, seen in Suspected) once broke his arm walking down the hill there:
I think it's a fun episode as it aired; the differences are minimal and not really missed. Maybe the "green beans gag" could do with a climax in the episode as it has in this draft.
What do you think?
It's been a fun look! Let's close off with the final scene (which is as it appears in the aired episode).
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