Dramas from BBC Learning English

Intermediate and above level

Gulliver's Travels: Part 7: Island in the sky

Episode 151106 / 06 Nov 2015

Dr Gulliver! I see a ship coming toward us.

Let me look... Pirates! Quick - fill the sails... full speed ahead!

Gulliver narrator
Yes, pirates. They caught us. Luckily, they spared my life but set me adrift in a small canoe with paddles and enough food for only three days.

I'm Gulliver - and this is my third voyage - to the mysterious land of Laputa.

Once again a voyage I'd begun full of hope ended in misfortune. My luck ran out when the pirates arrived, so here I was, floating in a canoe.

For three days I saw nothing and no one - just mile upon mile of water and sky. Then I came upon a tiny rocky island and survived there by roasting birds' eggs, eating dried seaweed and drinking from pools of water. My situation seemed hopeless. But one morning... a black shadow crossed the sun and the air went cold. I looked up and there... in the sky, to my amazement, was what looked like a huge mountain slowly moving towards me...

It's an island, floating in the air!

Gulliver narrator
It was about two miles deep, smooth and flat at the bottom. Through my telescope I could make out people moving up and down green slopes...

Near me, a long line of rope dangled from its edge all the way down to the sea...

They're fishing! ...

Hey! Hello! Over here! Here... Come and rescue me! Hello, hey!

Gulliver narrator
A fisherman leaned over and peered at me. He shouted and more people arrived and pointed at me.

Not long after, a long chain was winched down with a seat. I climbed in and was gently pulled up. I felt on top of the world.

I was greeted by some of the strangest-looking mortals I'd ever seen... they had a dreamy, faraway look as if they were thinking about anything but what was in front of them.

Gulliver narrator
I was escorted to the King, though this took a while as my guides kept forgetting where we were going.

Where am I?

Where are... oh, you're... sorry? What did you ask?

Where am I?

Why, Laputa, of course.

Gulliver narrator
The King, too, was deep in thought, seated in front of a table with all kinds of mathematical and astronomical objects. He looked up, but after acknowledging me, then ignored me. It was an hour before he remembered I was there.

But now, it seemed, it was finally time to join the king for supper.

Our food? Does it please you?

It's... um, delicious...

Gulliver narrator
Actually, it was the oddest-looking food I'd ever seen - the meat was cut in the shape of triangles, the bread was shaped like cones and cylinders and the puddings, like flutes.

The dish you are eating is my favourite - it's like a beautiful symphony. I hope you are enjoying our music... Is your music harmonious like ours?

It is... different. So this land is called, Laputa?

Oh yes. It is the only part of my kingdom that can fly. We float continuously from one part of the country to the other. We are currently passing over Lagudo, our capital city...

Gulliver narrator
The king told me they were on their way to the Grand Academy of Science and Research in their capital city... He told me the Laputians are great mathematicians and musicians. I had already realised this.

Would you like to visit the academy? Come with me. 

Gulliver narrator
We went onto the balcony and from there I looked down onto the huge city of Laguda. Badly constructed houses with crooked roofs leant to one side. The people were poorly dressed and looked miserable. In the distance I could see a huge building with smoke and strange substances rising from it. This was the famous Academy. 

I have no more time to entertain you. I have to get back to my... thinking. 


Yes, your Majesty. 

Send for Lady Monodi. 

Lady Monodi will take you to the Academy and be your guide. She is not very intelligent and is quite unfashionable, but she is from Laguda visiting and is very welcoming... 

[announcing] Lady Monodi. 

Lady Monodi
How can I help you, Your Majesty? 

Gulliver narrator
I have to admit that I wasn't really looking forward to visiting Laguda and its crooked Academy guided by an ignorant, unfashionable woman. But when Lady Monodi entered, I quickly changed my mind. She was stunning! Her eyes were bright, intelligent and sparkling, full of curiosity and humour, not vague like those of everyone else on Laputa. 

Suddenly I was glad to be leaving this floating island with its dreamy mathematicians. It was time to explore the Academy. I had no idea what I would find.



(of a boat) moving on the water not controlled by anyone

bad luck

staying on the surface of water

make out
see, with difficulty


pulled using a machine with a rope or chain

an ordinary person (not a god)

taken somewhere by someone

music played by many instruments

(of music) having a good tune

not straight

very beautiful



Gulliver: Peter Kenny

King of Laputa: Tim Gibson

Lady Monodi: Alexandra Maher

Original story: Jonathan Swift

Adaptation by: Sue Mushin

Illustrator: Adria Meserve

ELT consultant: Catherine Chapman

Producer: Finn Aberdein