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Middle English: Attila the Hen
 
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Programme 1 Script

Part 1

 

ACTION

DIALOGUE

The sun rises onto a cornfield and tree.

Camera pans left to reveal the gloomy buildings of a battery farm.

 

A sparrow is preening on a branch of the tree.

Closer shot of the sparrow.

 

In silhouette, the sparrow takes off.

 

The sparrow lands on the wire mesh fence of the battery farm.

Pan right along the fence.

 

Pan reveals sign:

Golden Sunrise Eggs Ltd.

 

The sparrow flies through frame to the farm.

 

Camera pulls focus to reveal farm – distrbution sheds.

 

Camera whip pans right – sparrow flies off air vent and out of shot.

 

A JCB trundles through shot.

 

Camera pans right along pipe from a hopper marked ‘recycle’ grabber.

 

Camera settles on tannoy.

 

The tannoy plays happy music.

 

The sparrow preens itself on the loud speaker.

The sun behind is up and bright.

 

Tractor drives out of shot to reveal back plate.

Focus shifts from tractor to background.

 

A man in protective suit tips a wheelbarrow full of dead hens onto a pile.

 

Move in to close up of pile of dead chickens.

 

Man in suit sprays chemicals into the open door of one of the sheds.

 

Pan right over the dead chickens to find man in mask.

 

A black glove roughly pulls out a dead chicken.

 

Camera moves down corridor between cages. The shed is dirty, with empty cages and mess on the floor.

 

Pan right to reveal man in helmet as his head comes in to shot.

 

His hand comes up with a high-pressure chemical hose. The frame is obscured by spray.

 

Shot down corridor of cleaned cages and floor.

 

Door slides across shot – sign reads: Do Not Enter – fumigation Zykcon B.

 

Outside one of the sheds. It has yellow/black tape across its doors. A man in a suit puts down the wheelbarrow and walks out of shot.

 

Close up of pile of dead chickens.

 

Pull out to reveal more sheds.

 

We see sheds 10, 11, 12 – there is no tape across the doors of shed 12.

 

Move in to shed 12.

The sparrow flies in through the vent.

 

Close up of the door and number on the side of shed 12.

 

Close up of Attila – a quirky, slightly vulnerable, but bright hen.

Attila is trying to lay an egg. Dot encourages her. Dot is sassy, just, streetwise.

Pull back to reveal shed full of hens packed tight in battery cages.

ATTILA: (GRUNTING)

DOT: Come on, Attila – you can do it!

A big, friendly but not very bright bird cheers Attila on.

HENI: You can do it! Isn’t it…

Wider shot of the cages.

Another hen, Morag, joins in the encouragement.

ATTILA: (STRAINING)

MORAG: Aye – Come on! Attila, push, push!

 

ATTILA: Eewwgh!

Wider shot of the cages.

DOT: Come on Honey, just one more push.

Close up of Idris, a posh, selfish back-stabber of a bird.

IDRIS: She’ll never do it.

Close up of Agnes.

AGNES: You do know what happens in here to hens that don’t lay eggs?

Wide shot down corridor between cages.

IDRIS: She needs to relax.

Dot to Idris.

DOT: Shut your beak, ’cause your not helping.

The sparrow arrives out of breath and is impatient.

SPARROW: Attila!

ATTILA: Eeeeeoowwww…not now.

 

HENI: Any luck, Attila?

Attila is still struggling painfully.

ATTILA: Oooh!

 

HENI: That’s a no, is it.

The sparrow can’t wait any longer.

SPARROW: Attila! Attila Attila!

 

ATTILA: It’s no good!

 

DOT: You almost did it, girl!

Close up of sparrow through bars.

Sparrow panting.

SPARROW: Will you listen! Forget the eggs! They’ve cleared out shed eleven!

 

ATTILA: What!?

Close up of Idris looking on.

 
 

SPARROW: Shed eleven’s empty – they’re all gone!

Wide shot of the cages.

 
 

IDRIS: They’ve all gone? What’s going on?

 

ATTILA: Did you check all the cages?

Wide shot of cages – the sparrow is panting.

SPARROW: I flew the whole length of the barn…Twice.

Idris /hens listen in.

DOT: Anything wrong?

MORAG: What’s the matter?

Another hen, Agatha, joins in

IDRIS: I’m sure there’s a simple explanation.

 

AGATHA: Yes – they’ve been moved outside while their cages are being cleaned.

Agnes talking to hens.

AGNES: It’s about time our cages were cleaned out too.

Wide shot of mess on floor.

AGATHA: Look at the state of it in here, it’s like a pigsty.

 

SPARROW: No! No! No! No! No! There’s a massive pile of bodies…

 

IDRIS: Ooh a pile of bodies!

HENI: Dead bodies?!

The hens want to know what’s going on.

HENS: BABBLE (Here what’s going on? Ooh a pile of bodies!)

Close up of Agnes.

 

AGNES: Now stop being so silly girls – we know we’re all safe in here – we’re good egg layers.

The food pipes rattle.

Food pellets rattle along the pipe.

MORAG: Aye, what could go wrong?

There is manic feeding as food pellets fall into trough.

The hens feed.

MORAG: It’s great here.

Outside, JCBs tip dead hens into the recycle hopper.

HENI: Lush food, family atmosphere…

Wide shot of shed with tapes across door.

HENS: BABBLE

IDRIS: Everything you could ask for really…

Close up of the tapes – ‘Quarantine’.

 

From the bottom row of cages an old hen, Olwen, emerges.

OLWEN: You have noticed…they’ve stopped replacing the dead chickens.

HENI: You what…?

Olwen moves into the light.

OLWEN: It starts with the shivers, then you feel hot then you feel cold, then you cough and cough and cough and cough….

Some hens don’t like this talk.

IDRIS: Ooh!

HENS: BABBLE (I’m scared! What’s going on?)

 

OLWEN: Egg-layers or not, it’s the black glove for all of us…

It goes quiet.

A lone cough, then:

Ssssshhhhhhhhhhhh!!!

HEN: Cough!?

HENS: BABBLE (Help! Oh no! We’re all going to die!)

HENS: Aaarghhh!

Close up of hens.

IDRIS: The Black Glove! Get me out of here.

Close up of Agnes – her voice is heard over the babble trying to calm the hens.

AGNES: No we are not! Will everybody please calm down – it’s just mad old Olwen talking nonsense again.

IDRIS: Are we safe then, Agnes?

 

AGNES: Yes of course we are.

 

OLWEN: Safe?! We’re next!

Storm clouds grow over the recycling hopper as the JCBs go about their business.

 
 

ATTILA: We’ve got to get out of here!

 

DOT: Yeah…Man.

 

OLWEN: The Black Glove will soon come grabbing if you don’t!

 

HENS: BABBLE (Yeah! Get me out of here! Oi and me! )

DOT: You can count me in!

HENI: Me as well, I’m up for it!

On the top row of the cages is a very henpecked Nive.

NIVE: (COUGHS) J’arrive – I’ll come

Agatha gives Nive a peck.

AGNES: Ha. You?

AGATHA: Who’s rattled her cage?

Agatha and the hen the other side of Nive peck away.

NIVE: No don’t, no don’t. Leave me alone! Leave me alone! ow – ouch – ooh-get off – get off – oawo!

Blood dripping from beak.

AGATHA: You wouldn’t last five minutes.

Wide shot of cages.

AGNES: Anyway – how would any of you get out?

Big farm, storm in sky.

AGNES: You haven’t got a hope.

 

ATTILA: Er…I’ve, I’ve got a plan.

 

AGNES: Ha! Oh yes?…Well…We’re all waiting…

Attila looks up at the air vent.

ATTILA: Erm…Well, ok…Er…We get out of the cages, jump to the water pipe, then up to the air vent, you know where the sparrow comes in and fly off to a better life!

Zoom to vent – light streams in.

HENS: Yeah….

HENI: That’s a great plan it can’t fail to work. That’s the greatest plan in the whole world ever…

Close up of sparrow looking out of the air vent.

Close up of sparrow.

SPARROW: Yeah…No…

SPARROW: ….Er…Erm...No...It’s a good plan, a very good plan, but…oh Gawd, erm…Attila you can’t fly…Oops!

 

ATTILA: What do you mean we can’t fly?

SPARROW: No…

DOT: We’re birds, right?

SPARROW: Yes…

ATTILA: And birds can fly.

 

SPARROW: Yes – I mean no, not all birds… Blimey ’ere we go…You’re chickens and chickens can’t fly. You can flap about a bit – I’ve seen chickens trying to fly, it looks awful…Awful!

 

HENI: Well that’s pants – I was sure I could fly, got the feathers, the wings, everything.

More food pops out of the pipe. The hens tuck in.

The rest of the hens are feeding – they have forgotten everything but food.

 
 

SPARROW: You can’t get out of the cages anyway…

The sparrow turns away.

SPARROW: Look, I’ve got mouths to feed.

Wide shot of the shed – dark glowering sky. The sparrow flies out of the vent. The rain begins to fall.

DOT: Well we are hardly going to escape now are we?

Wide shot of cages.

IDRIS: There’s no way out!

Echo on Idris’s voice, as we go down the shed looking at dead hens.

Attila looks down the line of hens to a dead hen.

IDRIS: We’re all going to die in here! (Die in here! Die in here!)

Then she looks up to another dead hen.

 

The hen hangs down.

 
 

ATTILA: That’s it! I’ve got an idea…

Close up of Attila and head of dead hen.

Attila whispering into the ear of Dot.

ATTILA: Pssspsssts…pass it on…

The sparrow flies from the tree to the sheds.

The sky is darkening.

 

The sparrow flies in through the vent.

 

Attila and the other hens are lying apparently dead.

SPARROW: Attila! Oh no, Attila…

At the open door of the shed the man and his wheelbarrow are silhouetted by a flash of lightning.

 

A black gloved hand pulls dead chickens out of a cage.

 

The man walks in front of the cages.

 

There is a close up of the sparrow watching from the food trough.

 

The sparrow flies off.

 

The man lifts up the inert body of Attila it swings limply.

 

Close up of Attila’s eyes – closed.

 

Her eyes open.

 

Idris’s head pops up from behind pile of bodies.

IDRIS: Ooh!

Attila hanging upside down.

ATTILA: Not yet – wait until we’re all out!

 

IDRIS: Come on – it’s every hen for themselves!

Attila swings in the gloved hand.

 

Attila flaps and starts pecking at the man’s glove and elbow.

 

The man struggles to hold on to Attila.

 

The man drops Attila and frantically rubs his elbow.

 

The hens run.

 

Close up of Attila.

ATTILA: Not that way – The door! Run for the door!

The open door.

 

The hens run left to right past cages.

 

The man pursues them, spade raised in hand.

 

Attila gets to the open door.

 

Attila looks right.

 

Close up of Attila.

ATTILA: Aaarrggaargh!

The JCB looms, loaded with dead hens.

 

Attila collides with the following hens.

ATTILA: Oooaf! No, not this way!

A black glove comes down to grab the hens.

 

A black glove pulls a hen up by the neck.

HEN : Heeellppppekwk

The hens look up at the man, hen in his grip.

 

The man looks down at them.

 

The JCB rolls in front of the door, blocking their escape.

 
 

ATTILA: Run!

The hens scatter and Attila is left standing.

 

The man raises a shovel to smash Attila.

 

Attila looks up at the shovel.

 

We see Attila through the man’s legs.

 

As the shovel smashes down Attila escapes though man’s legs.

 

Attila runs out of shot.

 

The shovel smashes down behind her.

 

The man chases Attila.

 

Attila runs past a group of hens.

 

The man slides to a halt at the group of hens, and raises his shovel.

 

Attila runs by in the opposite direction, distracting the man.

 

Attila runs past the egg lift.

 

The shovel bangs down.

 

The man pursues Attila.

 

The hens watch Attila and the man run by.

 

Attila runs under a low pipe.

 

Man follows.

 

Close up of low pipe and ‘mind your head’ sign.

 

The man crashes into the pipe.

 

He’s flat out on the floor.

 

The shovel clangs to the floor.

 

Agnes looks out of the cage at hens on floor.

AGNES: Yes very good – very entertaining, but one question – how do you get out?

Idris and hens on floor.

IDRIS: Yes – what now!

DOT: What’s next, Attila?

Attila looks up.

 

We follow an egg up the egg lift.

 

The egg gets to the top of the egg lift.

 

We see the top of cages.

 

And up to the air vent.

 

Close up of air vent.

 

Attila is on the egg lift.

ATTILA: We go up and out of the air vent!

MORAG: Come on! Let’s go!

Pan across an almost orderly queue.

Idris pecks at Nive – Heni steps in to defend her.

 

Heni gives Nive a lift up onto the egg lift.

 

The hens go up the egg lift.

 

Idris jumps from the egg lift to the cages.

 
 

HENI: What do we do now?

Sound of feet running on galvanized steel.

ATTILA: Along that water pipe.

Attila jumps on to the pipe beneath the vent.

 

The hens on top of the cages look at the pipe and the vent.

 

They jump for the pipe and out on to the roof.

 

Attila is sitting on the air vent outside.

The floodlights are on and there are flashes of lightning and claps of thunder.

SPARROW: Attila? How did you get out?

ATTILA: Plan ‘B’…The old dead hen routine.

The rain is lashing down.

SPARROW: So you’re all out?

ATTILA: No, not all of us.

Move closer to Attila and sparrow on ridge of roof.

SPARROW: Attila… Where are you going to go?

ATTILA: As far away as possible.

SPARROW: Look, I know a place.

Hens pop out of the air vent and line up on the roof.

SPARROW: See that tree – I’ll meet you there.

ATTILA: How are we going to do that?

SPARROW: It’s really simple, really simple...A good jump off the roof should do it. Whee!

Morag runs at the hens flapping her wings and knocking them off the roof.

MORAG: Simple eh…Whaeey! – Here I come!

IDRIS Careful…What do you think you’re doiiinnngaawhhaaee!

Hens rolling, sliding, slipping down roof.

HENS: Whaa…Wow..nooo – you mad faoo…Yeuaae…Helllllup!

Hens sliding off the roof and over the wire.

HENS: Waaheea…Yaaa..Heeeeelele!

More hens follow. A flash of lightning.

HENS: Eee!Ppp!

The rest follow.

HENS: Whayhay!

The hens lose air speed and gravity takes hold.

HENS: Waaa…Woo!

ATTILA: You said we couldn’t fly!

The hens fall.

HENS: Ooooohh!

The hens drop into the safety of the cornfield.

HENS: Ooaff! Owwh! Ouch!

Hens untangle themselves.

Fade to black.

ATTILA: That wasn’t so bad…