A play by Tom Stoppard
, a parody of the country house detective
are theatre critic
s watching the new play
. They are also complaining about the job of being a critic, and comparing review
s they have had up in lights. Or at least, that Birdboot has had: for like actor
s, critics have their principal
, and Moon is only here covering it because for once Higgs
has not turned up.
The dreadful play featuring the usual tennis-playing upper classes gradually drags Moon and Birdboot in, with the clichéd lines of Act One (in which Inspector Hound comes to the Manor to solve the murder) turning into genuine lines for the critics on-stage in Act Two as they start justifying their behaviour to the actresses they have been encouraging.
The Real Inspector Hound is seldom staged, but is very often quoted by real theatre critics, who seem to be tickled pink to be actually in a play. Which, I guess, was Stoppard's point.
It was first performed on 17 June 1968 with Richard Briers as Moon, Ronnie Barker as Birdboot, and Josephine Tewson as Mrs Drudge, who pops in to the Manor on her bicycle from time to time when it's not cut off by floodwaters or impenetrable fog.