The New Statesman

Season 4 Episode 3

Speaking in Tongues

Aired Unknown Dec 06, 1992 on ITV

Episode Recap

Pietro Garibaldi, one of the translators at the European Commission complains to Alan about the task he recently received: translating a girlie magazine for Alan. He warns the new MEP that the translators can't be messed with. After all, they stopped the introduction of a computer translation programme by threatening with a strike.

Alan then gets a visit from Hildegard Kleist, a member of the German Green Party. She urges him to take action in his constituency, Saxony, where a new motorway could either be constructed in an industrial area or it can cut up pristine woods.

Alan takes Piers to lunch, warning him that his activities as a European Commissioner have been underwhelming. Piers should do something noteworthy, like moving all the translators to a new building in ... Saxony. Piers takes Alan's advice ... and gets a strike as a result. Sir Greville is very upset about the labour action and orders Alan to solve it.

Piers organises a trip for the translators to Saxony and finds that the offices meant for the translators haven't been built yet. The translators wind up even more upset. Alan visits the area with Miss Kleist and sees an opportunity to make money.

Back in Brussels Alan meets Ioannis Douvalopoulos, the man who created Polyglot, the translator programmme. Though Douvalopoulos warns Alan that the programme has teething problems, it gets installed in the European Parliament. The chaos that follows gives Alan a chance to suggest a law making English the official European language. It proves to be a great political success in England, though not anywhere else.

Alan orders Piers to solve the strike. Poor Fletcher Dervish talks to the translators using the Polygot programme, promising them too much. Alan then convinces Piers to choose the green belt alternative for the German motorway. It helps that Alan recently bought land there and stands to earn a lot of money.

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