Sian: Welcome back to Comeuppance, with me Sian Welby! The vote is on to decide which of our three contestants – TV licence enforcer Stacy, high street fundraiser Ivana, or nightclub bouncer Karen – will be taking a trip to our dreaded Mucky Dip! In a moment I’ll catch up with them to reveal the current polling results. But first, it’s my pleasure to chat with Sasha Holdsworth, MSc chemistry.
Sian is standing to one side of the Mucky Dip, accompanied by a woman in a heavily stained lab coat.
Sian: Sasha is our muckologist-in-chief; i.e. she leads the team that concocts all the vile gunk that our contestants so fear! Sasha, thanks for taking time out to talk with us.
Sasha: It’s a pleasure Sian.
Sian: So how did you end up in this job?
Sasha: Well Sian, I recently graduated and I’m still deciding where to take my career in the long term, so this short-term contract came along at just the right time. My specialism is polymer chemistry, which means I’m an expert in all things sticky and slimy and stringy and squelchy! I also have a keen artistic side, and this job really lets me get creative. [grins] But most of all, it’s just so much fun!
Sian: That I can imagine. Can you talk us through the process of making the muck?
Sasha: Sure. The first stage is to perfect the recipe, which is done by trying out small amounts. Once we’re happy, we spend a good couple of days making the batch, by carefully feeding the ingredients into an industrial mixer. It takes 15,000 litres to fill the Mucky Dip…
Sian: [blinks] Wow!
Sasha: …which presents quite a logistical challenge. Luckily I’ve got an excellent team. Once the batch is fully mixed, it’s stored in the basement for three weeks.
Sian: Three weeks!?
Sasha: Oh yes, it has to mature. How do you think it gets its smell? We’ve already started work on the muck for episode 8!
Sian: And here’s the question everybody’s asking: what’s in it?
Sasha: [taps her nose] Oh, I couldn’t possibly disclose that! As you may have noticed, we use a different recipe for each batch, making each Mucky Dip a unique beast. However, a typical batch will have a good thirty or forty ingredients in it!
Sian: I have to say Sasha, your lab coat’s seen better days. Messy work, I take it?
Sasha: Yeah, stuff does get slung and splashed around; we don’t have time to do everything neatly and cleanly. Anyone that works in my lab must be prepared to get their hands dirty!
Sian: And I’ve heard from your underlings that you’re an avid practical joker.
Sasha: [with a cheeky grin] That’s right Sian! I think it helps with the team spirit! Whenever a new member joins the team I leave an open vial of dye in the centrifuge and ask them to switch it on! It gets quite messy! Oh, and I’ve installed a slime shower above the lab door to penalise latecomers, which has worked wonders for punctuality!
Sian: I won’t be coming near your lab then. Speaking of surprises, those cream cannons took everyone aback last week, including me! Got anything else up your sleeve?
Sasha: Ahh, it wouldn’t be a surprise if I told you. You’ll have to wait and see!
Sian: We look forward. Sasha, I’ll let you get back to your vital work – no don’t hug me! Ladies and gentlemen, Sasha Holdsworth!
The audience claps as Sasha returns backstage. Sian walks over to the other side of the mucky dip where the three contestants are languishing in their cages.
Sian: Fear not ladies, I haven’t forgotten about you! It’s almost time to reveal the mid-way voting scores, but before I do that, I think we should see exactly what Sasha has prepared for one of you. Without further ado…
Audience: LET’S PREVIEW THE GOO!!
The ceiling-mounted camera makes its spinning zoom into the mouth of the Mucky Dip. Blue is the overarching theme this week; the gunk blends continuously between a deep marine blue and an electric turquoise. There are a few small patches of orange to add a splash of contrast, and elegantly scripted in white gunge is
~ X ~
The scene then switches to the rim-side camera, which pans slowly across the surface. The texture is somewhat paste-like, glistening with fine lumps (think Lorna Bancroft but a bit wetter and stickier and with stronger colours). The inset box in the corner of the screen switches between the faces of the three women, showing their increasing disgust and dismay.
Sian: Oh look at that, she even signed her name! You can tell that a lot of love went into the stench of sauerkraut and gone-off anchovies that’s wafting down here! Now there’s someone who can be really proud of her job, unlike you lot!
The three women make to protest, but Sian silences them with a wave of her hand.
Sian: You’ll get your chance to speak in a moment, but time is pressing so let’s go straight to the mid-way scores.
Karen nods with a satisfied expression but otherwise doesn’t react. Stacy gives a half-smile of cautious relief. Ivana’s jaw drops open, absolutely gobsmacked.
Sian: Oh wow! No ambiguity there! Most of these polls have been very close, but this is shaping up to be a landslide! In fact, I wonder if we should just do the comeuppance now and be done with it!
The audience cheers enthusiastically.
Ivana: [wailing] NO!!
Sian: Nah, only joking! We have to stick to protocol. Speaking of which, ladies, it’s time for each of you to issue your fifteen-second statement on why it shouldn’t be you in Sasha’s goo! Karen, you’ve got the door, I mean, the floor…
Karen: [regarding the camera aloofly] I’m glad to see that folk appreciate the job I do. It’s thanks to me that well-behaved, classy clubbers can enjoy a night out, without riff-raff like Sian spoiling—
Sian: HOW DARE YOU!!
Once again the audience draw their breath in shock. The klaxon blares a couple of seconds later.
Karen: Hey, you interrupted! I didn’t get the full t—
Sian: [fuming] Tough! Now Stacy, your turn.
Stacy: [smiles] I’m pleased fewer people are voting for me this week; it must mean that many unlicensed viewers have done the right thing and switched off. [Smile drops] But if you’re still watching without one, be warned the net is closing in!!
The klaxon blasts and the audience boos.
Sian: Don’t give up, do you Stacy? Now Ivana, you’re on a lead of 23 percentage points! This is gonna be harder to turn around than a fully loaded supertanker, so you better have something good to say!
Ivana: [still shellshocked] Charity! I raise money for charity! Y’know, kids in Africa and cures for diseases and cute puppy dogs! Sure I might be a bit pushy in the street, but I have good causes at heart! [looks beseechingly into the camera] Do you like charity?
The klaxon blares. Boos and hisses reverberate around the studio.
Sian: Oh dear, Ivana, I think you’ve exhausted their charitable spirit! Good luck – you’ll sure need it!
Sian walks away leaving Ivana whimpering in her cage.
Sian: [facing forwards] The people are speaking loud and clear, and this could well be the day of reckoning for chuggers and their high street hectoring! But if you disagree – if you think it should be Stacy in the slosh or [grits her teeth] Karen in that cold crud – then you need to make your voice heard! Nothing’s impossible on this show, and the lead might change yet. Keep the votes coming, and I’ll see you later!