Draft script for HH4
by Nereus

Summary: Obtained at great trouble and personal risk from A&E's
secret headquarters here is an early draft script for HH4...

Warning: Unashamed parody and poking of fun at some of the series's
habits!

Episode 1 - Summer Holiday

[Portsmouth. Introductory scene of Hornblower going ashore from
the 'Atropos' {which in technical terms is a bigger ship
than 'Hotspur' but smaller than 'Indy'} and, without much
noticeable enthusiasm, going home to visit his wife]

Maria: I'm so proud that you've become a full captain, Horry.
[Hornblower looks embarrassed]

Mrs Mason: I suppose that means you'll be spending even less time at
home.

Hornblower: I am likely to be posted overseas [{does he sound a bit
too optimistic here?}]

Maria: It's very brave of him, mother. [Hornblower looks
embarrassed] Horry. Now you've got a full captain's salary is there
any chance of me getting some smarter frocks?

Hornblower: You're supposed to be dowdy and frumpish, Maria. In
the books....

Maria: In the books you're plain and balding. We've got to give
the gentleman viewers some reason to keep watching. I'm only
sticking with the frumpy frocks if you agree to shave half your hair.

Hornblower: Well, maybe next time I take a prize ship. But you've
got to keep that common accent. It's not that I'm a snob or
anything, but we've got to remind the viewers that our marriage was
a terrible mistake somehow.

Maria: You're a very good husband to me, Horry. [Hornblower looks
embarrassed] And you will be with me for our Happy Event won't you?

Hornblower: Oh. Yes. Well, probably.

 

* * *

[The deck of the Atropos. Bush is on duty. Hornblower bounds
aboard, grins happily at Bush and slaps him on the back]

Hornblower: Good to see you again, William!

Bush: You only saw me this morning, sir.

Hornblower: Oh. Well, it's still good to see you.

[Shots of various crew members, naturally including Matthews and
Styles. Pale looking youngster in midshipman's uniform comes aboard
and approaches Bush]

Youngster: E-e-excuse me, is th-this the A-a-atropos?

Bush: Yes it is. Ah, you must be this series' Obligatory Cute But
Wimpy Midshipman.

Cute But Wimpy Midshipman: Y-y-yes, sir.

Bush. Well, one of the Midshipmen who don't get any lines will take
you below decks and show you round. [Shakes head as Midshipman
departs] Why I stay with this series....

Hornblower [appearing with papers]: I have our orders, William, we
sail for Gibralter.

Bush: Oh, that's good. We'll be able to get sun-tans.

* * *

[Atropos puts to sea. A lot of nautical stuff gets shouted, and
there are various shots of the ship under sail.]

Wimpy M'man: I think I can see a boaty thing, sir!

Hornblower: Is it one of ours?

Matthews: No, she's flying French colours, sir!

[Lots of martial nautical stuff gets shouted. Atropos prepares for
battle with the Wimpy M'man getting in people's way a lot. Atropos
and the French ship start firing at each other. Shots of Hornblower
and Bush shouting 'Fiyah!'. Wimpy M'man throws up, then has a fit,
then passes out. Hornblower leads a boarding party onto the French
ship. Lots of typically well done action shots. French officer
points pistol at Hornblower, Bush throws himself in the way, they
both land on the deck]

Hornblower: William!

Bush: It's all right, sir. My cigarette case deflected the bullet.

Hornblower: Cigarette case? It's 1805!

Bush: Well, I'm sure there must have been some equivalent. Look,
my contract says one Act of Noble Devotion per episode, and you
*know* I'm not due to die for another nine years.

Hornblower: [in a temper] How many times do I have to tell you Mr
Bush - *stop stealing my thunder!*

[They resume the battle. Lots of people without names get killed.
At the end most of the French are dead. Hornblower explores the
Captain's cabin and finds some papers]

Hornblower: [to Bush] These are obviously top secret dispatches.
I'll deliver them to the proper authorities when we get to Gibralter.

Bush: Ah, an Important Plot Feature.

Hornblower: They might not be.

Bush: They wouldn't be there if they weren't, sir.

* * *

[Before Gibralter, however, we get a burying-the-dead scene
{designed to remind the audience that this show aims to be serious
as well as swashbuckling}. Hornblower looks sombre and noble. Bush
looks sombre and stalwart. Matthews looks sombre and reliable.
Styles just looks sombre. Wimpy M'man burst into tears.]

Matthews: Is it me, or are our Wet Midshipmen getting wetter?

Styles. They're getting wetter. Waterlogged.

Bush [to Hornblower] Can't we drop him overboard, sir? Tied to the
anchor?

Hornblower: No, no, William. I'm sure the young man has great
potential. He just needs to be given a chance. Or several.

* * *

[Atropos arrives at Gibralter. Hornblower goes to call on the local
Admiral, who, {surprise, surprise} turns out to be Edward Pellew]

Pellew: You really are going to have to stop fighting the enemy so
often, Hornblower. Didn't you know the new Admiralty instructions
are to avoid combat whenever possible to save on powder and keep the
decks nice and clean?

Hornblower: I apologise, sir, I did not.

Pellew. Just my joke, lad. [Hornblower looks blank] Good job.
Hope you were careful though. I really don't like to think of you
in all those dangerous battles. [Hornblower looks blank] However
these dispatches contain some fine examples of Bonaparte's latest
signature, which is just what we need for our latest cunning plan.
Our fleet is currently off the Spanish coast, but those wretched
Frogs are refusing to come out and fight. We therefore need to
intercept overland dispatches sent by Bonaparte and substitute
forged ones ordering their fleet to take on ours.

Hornblower: Hang on. This wasn't in the book of 'Atropos'!

Voice from offscreen: No, it's from 'Crisis' - you know, the
unfinished book. You didn't think we were going to start sticking
to canon at this stage, did you?

Pellew: [ignoring this] We need a cover story for our party to
penetrate Spanish territory, fortunately we have a conveniently
available Dago who will pose as a travelling Spanish count complete
with entourage. We do of course need a naval man to accompany him,
preferably one who has been in Spain before and speaks both Spanish
and French.

Hornblower: Naturally, sir, I will do my duty.

Pellew: Good Heavens, I didn't mean you! Not everything I say is
about you, you know. [Hornblower looks surprised, as well he might]
No, I have our candidate in the next room. [Opens door to reveal...]

Hornblower: *Oldroyd?!*

Oldroyd: [in a much posher voice than he had in HH1] Good to see
you again, sir.

Hornblower: But you don't speak French or Spanish. You don't speak
that much English.

Oldroyd: Ah, that was before I went to evening classes, sir.

Pellew: Your task, Captain Hornblower, is to deliver our
infiltration group to a convenient point on the Spanish coast and
then remain close by to pick them up again afterwards. That is the
limit of your involvement. Do I make myself clear?

Hornblower: Yes, sir.

Pellew [shakes head] Why do I bother?

* * *

[Deck of the Atropos. Oldroyd comes aboard with the Fake Count {who
is played by a moderately well known British actor whose name was
quite prominent in the credits}.]

Fake Count [insert own Spanish accent here]: Captain! Is it really
necessary for me to share this ship with all these common seamen?

Hornblower. We need them to sail it.

Fake Count: How revolting.

Hornblower: I was expecting a larger party.

Fake Count: Ah. Well, the budget ran out, so it's just the two of
us.

Hornblower: Well, since two is not enough for a convincing
entourage, obviously I and some of my men will have to go with you.

Styles: Do we have to have a Dago on board, sir? They're almost as
bad as Frogs?

Bush: Styles, if you don't keep quiet for once, I'll get you
written out of the rest of the episode.

Styles: Yes sir. Keeping quiet sir.

* * *

[Party prepares to go ashore. Oldroyd is disguised as the Fake
Count's secretary. Hornblower is his valet, which may provide later
opportunities for some mildly comic business. Bush is his groom.
Matthews and Styles are undefined retainers. Wimpy M'man is his
son. They're not all that convincing, but it's better not to dwell
on that, or why these particular party members were chosen, or who
is in charge of Atropos in their absence.

Party goes ashore. Scenes showing overland travel. Finally they
arrive at an inn which is known to be an overnight stopping place
for French couriers. Hornblower takes the opportunity for a bit of
soul searching in the stables.]

Hornblower: I can't help finding espionage a distasteful business,
William.

Bush. Yes, sir.

Hornblower: Can it ever be honourable, however good the cause?

Bush: Couldn't say, sir.

Hornblower: And there is the very real prospect of a most
distasteful death. Do they hang spies in Spain?

Bush: I don't know, sir.

Hornblower: Can't you say something more interesting?

Bush: Not really, sir. As a Typical Loyal Right-Hand Man, I'm not
allowed much character development.

[An attractive young Spanish woman emerges from the shadows.]

Young Spanish Woman: [insert own Spanish accent] Excuse me, I
overheard you talk.

[Hornblower and Bush look worried. Being officers and gentlemen,
they don't have any training on what to do when a female enemy
overhears secret plans.]

Young Spanish Woman: I will help you. I hate the French. One day
our country will rise against them and throw them out!

Bush: That's very brave of you. Is it true that French couriers
often stay here?

Young Spanish Woman: Oh, yes. I'm sure there will be another one
along soon. [She smiles at Bush who smiles back. However, before
he can say anything Hornblower elbows him sharply aside.]

Hornblower: May I remind you that I'm the only one allowed any
relationships with women in this series!

Bush: That's not very fair on the women, sir. You're hopeless with
them.

Hornblower: Nevertheless, I'm the star of the show. And if this
young lady will just throw her chest out a few more times I won't
have to buy Maria a new dress after all. [Produces small bottle
from pocket and turns back to Young Spanish Woman] This is a
powerful drug given to me by the Admiral before we set out on this
mission.

Young Spanish Woman: [obligingly throwing her chest out] I will put
it in the drink of the next courier who comes here.

Hornblower: Thank you. What's your name?

Young Spanish Woman: Mariana.

Hornblower: Why am I not surprised?

* * *

[The next night. This time the whole party is assembled in the
stables.]

Hornblower: The latest French courier conveniently arrived today so
if Mariana manages to drug him successfully we can do the swap and
be on our way back tomorrow.

Oldroyd: I don't think so. [Everyone looks at Oldroyd who is now
poiting two pistols at the rest of the group. A pair of armed
Frenchmen emerge from the shadows]

Hornblower: Oldroyd! Have you betrayed us?

Oldroyd: What has England ever done for the likes of me? I am a
convert to the principles of liberty, equality and fraternity!

Hornblower: And for this you would betray your old ship-mates?

Oldroyd: Naturally the honest working men will be given the chance
to join our noble French cause. [Looks at Matthews and Styles]

Matthews: No! We stand by the captain! [{Well there had to be one
of those scenes didn't there?} Styles doesn't say anything, but
that's only because if he did it would certainly be a breach of
A&E's rules on strong language]

Oldroyd: Then I will have you all escorted to the Secret French
Headquarters down the road. [{Whoever is humming the James Bond
theme music stop right now!}]

[A number of armed Frenchmen appear. Our Heroes are escorted out
looking suitably dignified and/or defiant, all except the Wimpy
Midshipman who has burst into tears again]

* * *

[Cell in the Secret French Headquarters]

Hornblower: It's all my fault.

Bush: No, it isn't.

Hornblower: Well, no it isn't, but it's about time I showed my
overdeveloped sense of guilt again. We'll all face the noose.

Bush: You do make a habit of that don't you?

Fake Count: I could not wish for better company to die in. [{Aw.
Horatio's made another new friend}]

[French guard comes in]

French guard: Your Captain is invited to dinner with our commander.

Fake Count: What, just him?

Styles: Rule of the series. Him - and the Admiral o'course - are
the only ones who get to eat Posh Nosh.

Fake Count: Oh, of course.

* * *

[Dining room. Hornblower and Oldroyd are having dinner]

Oldroyd: It's nothing personal, you understand. But England is a
nation run by the rich for the rich.

Hornblower: Do you expect better from Bonaparte? The man is a
tyrant in the making. And if we've finished the attempt at Villain
Characterisation I'd quite like to get back to the cell.

Oldroyd: As you wish. I will call the guards.

[He turns towards the door. Hornblower hits him on the head with a
bottle]

* * *

[Back at the cell. Hornblower uses Oldroyd's keys to let everyone
else out.]

Hornblower: Come on, we've got to get back to the inn. I left the
fake dispatches there.

* * *

[Back at the inn. Our returning Heroes are met by Mariana]

Hornblower: Did you manage to drug the French couriers?

Mariana: Of course I did, we're getting towards the end of the
episode.

[Hornblower sneaks upstairs and makes the substitution, then rejoins
the others]

Hornblower: Let's get out of here.

Bush: [to Mariana] Thank you for your help. [Smiles at her.]

Hornblower: [Hastily] Yes, we are all in your debt.

Mariana: Are you married, captain?

Hornblower: Oh, er, yes. I think.

Mariana: Ah. But perhaps we can meet again some day.

Matthews: I really wouldn't hope that if I were you, miss

* * *

[Near the coast. Our Heroes are nearly at the shore. A large group
of French or possibly Spanish troops appears. Some shots are fired.
Wimpy Midshipman collapses.]

Wimpy Midshipman: Have I done well, sir?

Hornblower: You've done very well. [Wimpy Midshipman dies] There.
I told you he had potential. For a death scene anyway.

[Troops close in. Suddenly Atropos appears and starts shooting at
them. At the same time a lot of men from Atropos appear and attack
the enemy troops. [{Well what else did you expect?}]

 

* * *

[Back at Gibralter. Hornblower reports to Pellew]

Pellew: Excellent job, Captain Hornblower. Thanks to you the
British fleet has won a great sea battle at Trafalgar.

Hornblower: You mean I've completely missed taking part in
*another* famous victory? Darn.

Pellew: Unfortunately Admiral Nelson was killed in action.

Hornblower: Nelson? That's tragic.

Pellew: Indeed, indeed. Of course we all get to move up one place
on the Admiralty list. [smiles happily]. Now, this is a most
impressive report you've put in.

Hornblower: Thank you, sir.

Pellew: However I really can't pass this bit about recent army
defeats being due to indiscretions by the Prince of Wales.

Hornblower: It was worth a try, sir.

Pellew: Ah, a schoolboy prank, what father would not be moved by his
son's sense of mischief [sobs gustily into handkerchief. Hornblower
looks blank] Still can't pass it though. Where would we be if the
navy started reporting the truth?

Hornblower: I didn't know it was true!

Pellew: By the way, I've got a letter for you here. Looks like
it's from your wife.

Hornblower: My wife? Oh yes, of course. I remember. I think.

* * *

[Captain's quarters on the Atropos. Hornblower reads the letter and
lets out a howl. Various cast members appear in the doorway.]

Hornblower: She called the child *Horatio*! I forbade her to do
that! Humphrey or Hermann or Hezikiah I said, but not Horatio!
That's IT! Our marriage is finito!

[Credits roll]