The segment starts with two figures standing beside the Mucky Dip.
Sian: Greetings, one and all! I’m Sian Welby and this is Comeuppance. ‘Tis now the witching time of night, so who better to speak with than our muckologist-in-chief, Sasha Holdsworth! Sasha, how you doing?
Sasha: Hey Sian, I’m doing great.
Sian: Glad to hear it. And well done on all the excellent Mucky Dips you’ve concocted for us. By the way, I caught Princess Priscilla’s latest vlog post earlier today, and I swear she still has a yellow tinge to her!
Sasha: [winking at Sian] Probably just the contrast on your screen.
Sian: Perhaps. Anyway Sasha, you’re going to give us the low-down on today’s Mucky Dip in just a moment, but first I want a little word with you. You see, some of your lab staff have told me that your pranks are getting out of hand.
Sasha: Out of hand? Nah, it’s just a few little jokes to maintain a good-humoured workplace. You know, buckets above doors, flour in the fan, asking people to get a book from a high shelf when I’ve put a jug of gunge on top – that kind of thing. It’s true that on occasion staff members have got more seriously messy, but those were accidents, not jokes. It’s a hazardous environment Sian.
Sian: [concerned] Hmm, what kind of accidents?
Sasha: Here’s an example: a fortnight ago we had an intern working on a tank of muck that was in the early mixing stage. I asked her to lean over and stir at the far end, and while she was doing this – I don’t know how this happened – my hands accidentally brushed against her backside and she tumbled in headfirst!
Sian: [eyes narrowed] You accidentally pushed her in with your hands?
Sasha: [nodding] That’s exactly what happened. The fact that this girl had questioned my scientific credentials earlier in the day had nothing to do with it! [Smiles] Of course, no-one has questioned them since.
Sian: Nor shall I. [Takes a step away] Moving on Sasha, I understand tonight’s Mucky Dip is rather special and you’d like to talk us through it. So without further ado…
Audience: LET’S PREVIEW THE GOO!!
The scene duly transitions to the above-Dip camera, gradually spiralling in on the muck below. As with last episode’s smiley face, the design is an instantly recognisable logo that takes advantage of the Dip’s circular cross-section – this time a yin-yang figure. But instead of the traditional white and black, the curving segments are forest green and electric purple, each decorated with the usual spot of opposing colour.
Sasha: [voiceover] For this design, I took inspiration from Eastern philosophy, in particular kharma and the balance of crime and punishment. The purple represents the prideful self-importance of the contestants, the green the festering resentment of the general public.
Sian: It looks beautiful.
While this is going on, the inset box in the corner of the screen shifts through the faces of the three caged women. They appear not to share Sian’s admiration for Sasha’s work.
The main camera view changes to rim-side, panning out over the uninviting surface.
Sasha: If you look closely you’ll see that we’ve used two different textures of muck. The purple is a classic smoothish gunge, while the green is gelatinous and stringy, and slightly translucent as you can see. We mixed up and matured the two batches separately, then we poured them into the Mucky Dip using a steel partition to produce the correct shape – a kind of giant mould, if you will.
Sian: I hope you remembered to remove it, because we don’t want to slice our poor comeuppancee in half!
Sasha: [chuckling] We took it out a couple of hours ago. No doubt the muck has mixed a bit down in the depths where the pressure is greater, but it’s testament to the stuff’s thickness that there hasn’t been any blending at surface level; even the bubbles of swamp-gas haven’t disturbed the design!
Sian: It’s a triumph! [turns head to cages] Ladies, I hope you appreciate all the effort Sasha has gone to.
There’s a chorus of groans and whines from the contestants.
Sian: [tuts] Sorry Sasha, they’re an ungrateful lot on top of everything else. Thanks for taking the time to speak to us.
Sasha: Always a pleasure Sian.
Sian: Ladies and gents, Sasha Holdsworth – an accident-prone woman!
Sasha walks off stage to applause. Sian approaches the cages.
Sian: So ladies, you’ve seen what’s at stake here. Now it’s time to find out the likelihood of each of you getting yin-yanged! The midway scores are in, and they are as follows:
Gail: [putting hands to head] Eeeek!
Cara likewise grimaces and puts her hands to her temples. Mel’s reaction is calmer, though more out of defiance than sense of safety.
Sian: Ooohh, nice ‘n’ close – as we like it! Gail currently ahead by a smidgen, but not enough to give Cara any comfort. And Mel not far behind either. The personal appeals could well decide between fortune and fate, so friends, voters, countrymen, lend each contestant your ears! Mel, there’s fifteen seconds on your meter; if thou art a scholar, speak to it!
Mel: [heatedly] It’s a cheek that anyone’s voted for me. I mean, I take people from A to B and they get the benefit of my wisdom at no extra charge! Folk are just so entitled these days, got no respect. Honestly, this country…
The klaxon blasts.
Mel:…you give an inch, and they ta—
Sian: THAT’S YOUR LOT MEL!!
The audience boos.
Sian: [tutting at Mel] Cara, you’re looking very precarious, and believe me, that muck smells worse than the breath of someone on one of your diets! You better serve us a very palatable appeal.
Cara: [folding her arms and frowning] As I said before, I’m concerned about the muck’s nutritional value. Is it grass-fed? I doubt it! What about lactose? Plus it’s too late at night for a heavy meal like that. Why not split it into manageable portions?
The klaxon thunders. The spectators boo and hiss.
Sian: Fear not Cara, you can take a generous coating home with you and enjoy the smell all week long! Now Gail, it’s only a tiny lead, but as things stand you’re the first preference in our questionnaire! Here’s your opportunity to save yourself from a gunking; by heaven I charge thee speak!
Gail: What must I do to stop you voting for me? Tick as many as apply: more interesting survey topics, fewer questions, less intrusive pop-ups, phone calls at more convenient times, or how about…[looks around pleadingly] triple Nectar points!?
The klaxon screams, followed by plentiful jeering from the audience.
Sian: [smugly] Does that give you your answer? [turns and slowly strolls away from the cages] Well folks, we’ve had a few landslides of late, but this one is as finely balanced as that yin-yang in the Mucky Dip! Every vote is going to count in this battle, so get voting and vote often! [Stops at front of stage] Our players have delivered their closing lines; whose tragedy shall be our comedy? It’s up to you to make history.
Alternative poll link