Prehistory Today

A discussion programme. The KLF's "What Time is Love?" thrashes out in the background. An announcer, Guy (Steve Field), a vapid Top of the Pops-style host who speaks in an over-the-top "Hey wow" manner, and Dr. Quentin Forbes (Rory Ewins), a boffin wearing a tweed jacket and fake beard, are dancing in their humourously-contrasting styles.
GuyHi, and welcome to "Prehistory Today", the show that pushes back the boundaries of modern paleontology. Later on we'll be asking probing questions about the Pleistocene Era: a hundred million years of sex, drugs and rock'n'roll, or merely the geological transition between the Mesozoic and the Cretaceous? And in our "Top Ten Rocks with Bones in Them" segment—the coelacanth: living fossil, or the basis of an interesting Malagasy fish dish? But first, the funky fossil group that everyone's talking about: it's the dinosaurs. And with us live on Prehistory Today we have one of Stoke-on-Trent's top dinosaur experts, Professor Quentin Forbes!
GuySo: Quentin. Quenty. The Quenster. What's with these dinosaur groovers then? Extinct, or what?
ForbesEr... yes; the group of large cold-blooded reptiles, or as some modern thinking now has it, warm-blooded reptiles, known as the "Dine-o-saurs", did in fact vacate the planet some sixty-five million years ago.
Guy(Blank look, and then:) Bit of trouble with the landlords, eh?
ForbesWell, no, the dinosaurs were in fact rulers of the planet at that time.
GuyNow hang on, heavy concept going down here! You're saying, Quenty baby, that these dudes were top of the pops back in 70 million B.C.? Are we talking a monster smash-hit single scenario, or what?
ForbesWell, more or less... Look, we seem to be straying from the subject a bit here. If I could perhaps turn to the more specific example of the Tyrannosaurus Rex...
GuyWoah! Marc Bolan! Get it on, bang a gong! I'm your Twentieth Century boy—a jeepster for your love!
ForbesActually I wasn't talking about a sad rock star who wrapped his head around a tree, I was in fact referring to the Lord of All Beasts, the Tyrant Lizard itself: Tyrannosaurus Rex, a thirty ton, hundred foot high savage carnivore which would tear the mangled flesh from its giant saurian victims with ruthless efficiency and very sharp teeth.
Guy(Sobers up) Woah—danger! So, Quentin—Quententious my man—a bit more on this flesh-mangling business. You say that old Rex would grab the giant, uh, saurus, with his arms, and rip it with his claws...
ForbesWell, not as such. You see, the Tyrannosaurus had suffered somewhat at the hands of that BITCH MOTHER we paleontologists call "Evolution"... and in fact did not have large flesh-tearing arms but rather a pair of vestigial limbs.
Guy(Saucy) Woooorrr, vestigial virgins!
ForbesNo, no, vestigial limbs (sighs in annoyance; he moves his arms into a Tyrannosaurus vestigial limbs position—and they stay there from now on)... Arms which through disuse have evolved into a mere shadow of their former skin-raking, disembowelling selves and no longer serve any useful function.
ForbesRather like your vestigial brain.
GuyUh... yeah! So... (he mimics vestigial limbs) old T. Rex would have a few cutlery difficulties, then? (Mimes reaching for knife and fork and failing.)
Forbes(Finding Guy very tiresome) No, you tedious poorly-evolved mammal, it didn't use cutlery. The Emperor of All Beasts had no need for trivial lumps of crudely-fashioned metal! He merely ripped his food from his victim's bones with his teeth! Aaaaarrrrggghhhh!
GuyUh... Woah! So, Quenstable, these Rex dudes, you say they died out a fair while ago...
ForbesPitiful human! (The lights turn green) We did not die out! (He rips his beard off) We simply evolved into a higher form, lurking among our mammalian prey and waiting for the moment to strike! And that moment is NOW!
He lurches at Guy and starts to chew his arm. Guy screams and struggles. Forbes wrestles him to the stage in a Tyrannosaurian manner.
Guy(Shouting) So—it's all happening here on Prehistory Today, kids! A big vestigial hand for our special guest Dr Quentin Forbes. Next week we'll be asking "Neanderthal Man—did he die out, or evolve into the modern pop-show host?" Until then...
Forbes has dragged him offstage by now.
Cut lights.


First performed by Three Men and a Penguin at the ADC Theatre, Cambridge, April-May 1992.
This page: 12 February 2000; last modified 16 February 2001.

©1992, 2000 Rory Ewins