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June 2003
An extract from… Death and Custard Tarts
By Chantal Hopkins
Rehearsing scenes at the Transmissions project
Chantal Hopkins is just one young writer who's already achieved notable success through the Transmissions project.

The extract below shows the creative talent developed through Transmissions.

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Extract from 'Death and Custard Tarts'

Lives intertwine on the end of pier at Weston-Super-Mare. It’s 1959 and Variety is dying. The ghosts are haunting those on-stage and off, drowning them in the past, denying them a future.

Scene 2

A velvet curtain behind the stage in a theatre at the end of the pier in Weston-Super-Mare, late summer, 1959, 8 o’clock in the evening. A variety show has just started and half hearted applause can be heard. There is a chair to the left of the curtain, which has four Nuns habits on it. The show’s Compere can be heard on stage and there is also a drummer called Cyril in the pit who is constantly referred to.


Good evening. Ladies and Gentleman. Welcome to Weston Pier’s very own answer to a show in…another seaside resort.

Cyril hits a few beats and crashes the cymbal.

And what a lovely day it is for staying indoors. What wonderful weather Weston has to offer it’s holiday makers and residents, You don’t get grey skies like this over in Italian land.

A pause

I don’t care what Elizabeth David says you can't get fish and chips over there either. And you can’t beat good old fish and chips. Especially from Weston. All the fish is caught locally and has that unmistakable Weston…tang to it.

A pause

And the sweets are different over there. You can’t get sugar pigs, you know. Or candy floss. Or Marshmallow sandwiches. And they eat stringy food.

A pause

Weston is lovely isn’t it, Ladies and Gentlemen?

A pause

Someone in the audience shouts "It’ll have to do".

Where are you from, my good Sir? Birmingham? Oh. Never mind. Must be nice to get some fresh air. Is it nice, Sir? Are your lungs reaping the benefit of Weston’s fine breezes? This is the greatest resort in Blighty, Ladies and Gentlemen. We’ve got the best fish and chips, the best air AND the best end of pier show in the World.

A pause

The audience member from Birmingham shouts "Well get on with it then."

Righty-ho then, Lets get on with it shall we Cyril? Opening the show tonight were those singing sisters, your evening favourites, those habit wearing hussy’s and yes folks…

A pause

It does indeed get better…

A pause

Well…we live in hope don’t we Cyril.

Cyril acknowledges the "joke" with a few beats and a crash on the cymbal. Nobody laughs except an old dear at the back.

Yes..Tonight we have the utmost pleasure in bringing you…

Drum roll…

Taunton’s finest pianist "Tink-along-Tom" all the way from Taunton…"Billy Fanfare" and his rendition of a popular television theme tune can you guess which one…"George Gimp and his Marvellous Magic", "Sidney Singing Ballooner" and indeed another ditty yet to come from the "Nuns of Song" yes, you haven’t seen the last of the Gentlemen!

Cyril can be heard crashing his cymbals but it doesn’t stir the audience. They clap limply.

Transmissions Festival details

Chantal Hopkins
Chantal Hopkins
If the extract from Chantal's play has whet your appetite, the Transmissions Festival runs from 2nd - 12th July.

You're guaranteed to see an exciting showcase of the best in new writing.

For further information visit the Birmingham REP's website or contact the Box Office on 0121 236 4455.

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