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Mr Pither is the first segment of the episode "The Cycling Tour." This sketch is one of several that flow seamlessly into each other to tell a single narrative. The opening title sequences do not appear in this episode.

Synopsis Edit

On a bright, sunny day on a country road in North Cornwall, a studious, bespectacled man in a red beanie hat, khaki vest and trousers and a blue floral shirt named Pither (Michael Palin) is thoroughly enjoying himself on a cycling tour of the area. He carries a large rucksack on his back and assorted camping equipment attached to the bike. As the Waltz from Act II of Faust by Charles Gounod plays in the background, Pither happily cycles out of shot beyond a tree line. Suddenly, the music stops as a loud crash and the sound of farm animals screaming is heard offscreen. Pither (in a voice over) reads from his journal "August 18th: fell off near Bovey Tracey. The pump caught on my trouser leg." The camera cuts to a transport cafe where Pither explains the crash and the loss of his sandwiches to a very uninterested proprietor (Eric Idle). As Pither drones on about how much he enjoyed the cafe's banana-and-cheese sandwiches, the owner grows more and more annoyed at his presence and repeatedly asks for 35p for the sandwiches. Pither asks for change for a 50p coin, causing the owner to reply with heavy sarcasm that he might have to go to the bank. Pither earnestly apologizes before the owner returns with 15p. Pither, delighted at his 'stroke of luck' happily leaves the cafe, though the owner ignores his handshake and watches him leave, thoroughly confused.

Five days later, Pither is back on the road near Budleigh Salterton when he disappears out of shot behind a knoll and crashes again for the same reason as before. We then see him looking over a hedge-row giving another exhaustive explanation of his accident (and the damage to his hard-boiled eggs) to a woman tending to her garden (John Cleese), who ignores him completely. Unaware that he is being ignored, he tries to make conversation about self-sealing containers and taping them to his handlebars before she goes back into her house and shuts the door. After a few minutes he announces (to no one in particular) that he can't stay all day and has to get back on the road.

Three days later, his pump causes him to crash again near Ottery St. Mary and he decides to wear shorter trousers from now on. This seems to work until he crashes again near Tibbeton, and wonders if a shorter pump might solve his problem. He pulls into a village and asks a female passerby (Eric Idle) where he can adapt his pump or buy another one. The woman notes there is only one shop in town and points to a storefront with multiple signs that read "Bicycle Pump Center- Specialists in shorter bicycle pumps", "We shorten pumps while you wait" and "Shorten pumps here". Happily, he walks in and winds up in a doctor's surgery where a nurse (Carol Cleveland) is explaining to a doctor (Eric Idle) that Pither's pump got caught in his sock. As they begin to talk, Pither reveals his fruit cake got grit all over it in the crash but he was unhurt. This confuses the doctor, who asks what the problem is. Pither then asks for directions to Iddlesley, which confuses the doctor even further. Pither gives a long-winded explanation about how he thought he'd have better luck asking a professional rather than a passerby. The doctor finally relents and hurriedly scribbles a script for Pither and tells him to take it to a chemist. The scene cuts to a chemist shop where Pither emerges from the front door with a chemist, who points up the street. Pither thanks him and rides off into the distance.

A week later, Pither is riding happily down another country road before he disappears behind a tree line yet again. The music stops and just as it appears he is about to crash again, Pither's voice-over begins: "September the 2nd...". After a long silence, Pither emerges unharmed from the other side of the tree-line, still riding happily, and proud that he did NOT fall off near Iddlesley.

Later, he is riding through another village behind a row of parked cars. As he disappears behind a tall van, the now familiar crash is heard and he does not emerge on the other side. The voice-over reveals that he did fall off that day, but in Tavistock. The scene then changes to Pither sitting in a Watney's pub in town, next to a young woman (named Lucille) and older man (named James) (Carol Cleveland and John Cleese) who are having a tense discussion. Pither again gives a lengthy explanation of his crash to the couple, unaware that they are deciding whether to reveal to James' wife that James and Lucille are having an affair. James, sitting in between his Lucille and Pither, desperately tries to answer both her's and Pither's questions at the same time, as their conversations keep overlapping each other. This builds to where Lucille gives James an ultimatum, asking whether the he wants her or not, just as Pither asks him about whether Tizer is still available in the area. James blurts out to Pither that he doesn't know. Thinking James was answering her question, Lucille angrily breaks off the relationship and leaves lamenting that "you never could make up mind". Pither continues to drone on about Tizer and asks James if his "daughter" might like it. James, now incensed, offers to show him the door, but Pither naively tells him he saw it on the way in. James then calls him a "stupid, interfering rat" which Pither excitedly remembers was exactly what the mechanic he met in Bude had called him. The scene changes back to outside where Pither picks himself off the ground, having been thrown out of the pub. He sees Lucille sobbing a few feet away and happily announces that he just had a chat with her "dad", causing her to burst into tears even further. He then cycles off around a corner, happier than he has been in a while, despite what has just occurred. Suddenly, the sound of car tires screeching is heard off screen, followed by the familiar crash.

The scene changes with Pither now in the back of a car with his bicycle, being driven down a highway by a professional-looking man named Gulliver (Terry Jones). As Pither begins to explain how his rubber instep caught on the rear mudguard stanchion of his bike, causing him to crash, Gulliver begins to take stock of the effect of the crash on Pither's food supply. This interests Pither, as Gulliver seems just as meticulous about cycling and food as he is. Gulliver explains that he is a scientist making a special study of accidents involving food, proudly proclaiming his mission is to prevent food being squashed, crushed and damaged by the ignorance and stupidity of motorists. He notes that he has designed a tomato that can eject itself from a car when an accident is imminent (even if it is already in the driver's stomach). He grows more and more hysterical as he talks about his failure to produce a pot of salad dressing that can withstand the impact of a 4,000-lb steam hammer, and his experiments with safety straps for sardines. In the middle of the rant, Pither spots a tomato flying off the dashboard and out the window, calling out in alarm that it has just ejected itself. Gulliver is delighted that his invention works, and takes his hands off the wheel and his eyes off the road as he celebrates. Pither cringes as the sound of screeching tires suddenly rings out. The scene suddenly cuts to back as a loud crash is heard.

Goofs Edit

  • During the crash scene near Budleigh Salterton, Michael Palin can be seen in the background, still pedaling the bike although the voice over indicates he has just crashed.
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