Gemini Calling! Gemini Calling!

Click to follow
The Independent Online
If the late Sir Winston Churchill is getting more than his fair share of publicity at the moment, there is another man who was equally famous at the time of VE Day who I think is not getting his slice of attention. That is Lord Haw Haw, who broadcast from Germany to us throughout the war, often under very difficult circumstances.

After the war Lord Haw Haw was dismissed as a traitor - indeed, he was executed as a traitor - but during the war he had given a great deal of entertainment to the British, and I sometimes feel that just because he was on the wrong side, we undervalue his contribution. He was not just a traitor, he was also a very conscientious broadcaster, and I would like to stress this by bringing you today an extract from my hitherto unperformed play, Lord Haw Haw Presents.

The scene is a German broadcasting studio. Lord Haw Haw - William Joyce - has just finished his day's message to Britain. He is shuffling his script while the producer, Herr Sauerlich, is clearing up the room and packing the mikes away.

Joyce: How do you think it went, Erich?

Erich: Fine, Bill, fine.

Joyce: Not too fast?

Erich: No. No, not too fast.

Joyce: Not too serious?

Erich: Serious? How can you be too serious? War is a serious matter, Bill. Especially if you look like losing it.

Joyce: Yes, but I don't want to depress my audience.

Erich: Depress them? Every night you go on radio and tell the British that they are about to be flattened, annihilated, wiped away, and now you say you don't want to depress them?

Joyce: As a German patriot, I want to depress the hell out of them, yes. But as a broadcaster, I would much prefer to ...

Erich: Yes ?

Joyce: Look, the ratings haven't been too good recently, have they? The listeners are dropping away, aren't they?

Erich: I don't know.

Joyce: Be honest with me.

Erich: I really don't know. In wartime it's hard to go out and measure radio ratings in enemy territory. I don't think we can really go and knock on doors on Coventry and say, "We are from Nazi radio. Can we ask you, how often do you listen to Lord Haw Haw?" Do you?

Joyce: No, but ...

Erich: No, we can't.

Joyce: Yes, but ...

Erich: What's on your mind, Bill?

Joyce: Well, I just think the show's a little serious, that's all. What do I do on the show? I'll tell you what I do. I come on and I tell people they're about to die. Then I say goodbye. I mean, that's a bit gloomy as far as radio showbiz goes, isn't it? No wonder we're not getting the ratings.

Erich: What do you suggest?

Joyce: Well, maybe some music, some jokes.

Erich: Music? Jokes? Mixed up with propaganda?

Joyce: Why not? I know these people. I've lived with the British. They don't think something is serious until they can laugh at it. That's why they laugh at the Germans. That's why they laugh at Churchill.

Erich: They laugh at Churchill? At their own leader?

Joyce: Sure. They think he's funny. They think his voice is funny. They think his cigar and his brandy are funny. They think it's funny that he does a V-sign back to front.

Erich: So why do they follow him?

Joyce: Because he's not half as funny as Hitler.

Erich: Mein Gott! You cannot say that! That is treason!

Joyce: I hear that Tokyo Rose has music.

Erich: Tokyo Rose?

Joyce: The girl in Japan who does the broadcasts to the Americans in the Pacific, telling them they're doomed. The Oriental Lord Haw Haw.

Erich: Hmm ... Well, I don't have any budget for music and jokes. There's an economy drive on, you know. And now we've got producer choice.

Joyce: What's that?

Erich: It's when, if you don't do what the senior producer tells you to do, you get sent to fight on the Russian front.

Joyce: OK, maybe not music, but what about horoscopes? The British love horoscopes. I believe the Fhrer does too.

Erich: Hmmm.

Joyce: We could change the catch-phrase for the Zodiac bit, to "Gemini Calling! Gemini Calling!"

Erich: Is that a joke?

Joyce: Yes.

Erich: We'll let you know. Incidentally, if anything should happen to you, what do you want to happen to your scripts?

Joyce: I don't want to make any money out of them. I want them to be left to the nation.

Erich: Which nation?

Joyce: The winning nation, of course.

Lots more in this vein. All offers to me as soon as possible, please.

Comments