The scene opens with close-up shot on the dreaded wire-mesh chair. The camera zooms out to reveal Sian and the guards standing by it.
Sian: ’Tis time, ’tis time! I’m Sian Welby, and we reach the final act of this episode of Comeuppance! Turnout has been a little lower than we’re accustomed to, but then there have been other polls competing for your attention. Thanks to those who did have their say, and to those hoping to vote now, don’t bother; it won’t count, and you may still be charged.
Sian and the guards wander over to the cages.
Sian: Gail, you had the lead, albeit a small one, at the update; you must be sweating it now.
Gail: [biting her nail] Yes, but it was within the statistical margin of error, so I hope that the final data will show a different story.
Sian: True, it was very close, and the stakes are high for you, Cara. If you cling onto second place you can walk out of here clean and dry with a Jammy Dodger trophy, since you’re already a returning runner-up. But if you nudge ahead, it’s the Mucky Dip for you!
Cara: [fidgeting with nerves] I’ll just have to wait and cross my fingers. Nothing else I can do.
Sian: Indeed there isn’t! And as for you, Mel, don’t think you’re out of this. I’m getting word that your score has changed by quite a bit; it’s just a question of which direction!
Mel: [putting on a brave face but underlying nerves showing] It’ll have gone down, Sian, no sweat. Where would be as a country without our taxi-drivers? Just the other week, I was—
Sian: Ok, the final scores are in!
Dramatic music begins. The studio fades into gloom, except three solitary spotlights focussed on the cages. At that moment a stagehand walks on and hands Sian a cup of tea.
Sian: Oh, thank you very much. [Takes a sip] Hahh, it’s thirsty work all this presenting. [Takes another sip. Looks around at the tortured faces of the contestants] What’s up? Do you want something from me? Oh! I suppose you want the result. [Hands back the cup] The public have spoken, and their verdict is as follows:
The lights blink back on and the audience cheers. Cara emits a high-pitched half-laugh-half-cry and puts her hands over her face. Gail exhales with puffed out cheeks. Mel smiles broadly.
Sian: Oh look at that – it’s swung against Cara! Fellers, take her away to start her new diet plan!
The guards take custody of Cara and march her to the chair, her feet barely touching the ground as she continues to whimper. Sian frees Mel from her cage.
Sian: Mel, this is where your journey with us ends. It irks me to say it, but you are going back to Clacton lovely and fresh, with that white top unblemished. How do you feel?
Mel: I knew all along I’d get off. It’s no surprise the public chose the poncey diet person [gestures the cringing Cara, who is presently having her shoes and socks removed and the straps fastened around her waist by the guards]. Who needs a poncey diet when you can have egg, chips and HP sauce, all washed down with a cuppa?
Sian: And what better biscuit to have with that cuppa than a Jammy Dodger? Here’s your trophy to keep next to your meter. No doubt you’ll regale your passengers ad nauseum with tales of your escape. Thanks for signing up to the show.
Mel: You’re welcome Sian. [Looks trophy over] Too bad it says “Made in China”. What’s this country coming to, eh? Can’t even make our own tacky ornaments now…
Sian: Yes, well, if you would kindly make your way…
Mel: …all our industry bought up by the Germans; you wouldn’t think we won the war…
Sian: [to audience] Clap! For God’s sake, clap!
The spectators begin their slow hand-clap. Sian shoves Mel in the back to get her moving. Mel trundles to the exit, continuing to bemoan the state of the country until she disappears off-stage. Sighing, Sian turns her attention to Gail’s cage.
Sian: Well Gail, that pledge of triple Nectar points has saved you from the Muck, this time at least. The bad news is that we’ll have to listen to your survey twaddle again next week. The good news is that you may get your comeuppance yet!
Gail: And who would you like to have as my competitors? Firefighter, insurance broker, lifeguard…
Sian: [holds up hand as she walks away] Not now! [To self] Hmm, lifeguard – that’s not a bad idea. [Looks to camera] Anyway folks, despite our talkative contestants, this episode has run more smoothly than last week. But now it’s time to stir things up with the part of the show you’ve all been waiting for! [Arrives at plinth] That’s right – Cara the fad nutritionist is about to eat her greens… and her purples too!
Purcell’s dirge commences and the scene turns to the rim-side view of the Mucky Dip. The gelatinous green goo and the opaque purple gunge glisten before the camera, still immaculate in their yin-yang configuration. The camera ascends until a metre up it meets Cara’s small and dainty bare feet, curling and wriggling. Continuing upwards, the shot takes in Cara’s jeans, and then her peppermint blouse. Of the latter, it is evident how fine and delicate the fabric is. A white bra can just be made out through the material as Cara breathes heavily. Cara’s hands cup her mouth and nose, and her glossy, chestnut hair frames her visage as she peeks down at her mucky fate.
Sian: Ooohh, look at that folks! Here’s a woman who’s bitten off more than she can chew!
Sian places her hand on the big red button. Cara squeals into her hands, her shoulders squirming.
Sian: Cara, on behalf of everyone who’s cheesed off with fad diets…
Audience: HERE IS YOUR COMEUPPANCE!!!
Sian: Bon appétit!
Sian hammers home the button. Sparks whizz and pop around the studio and the lights flash wildly. The winch releases, the jerk causing Cara’s hands to fly away from her face, which contorts in a horrified scream as she ditches to her doom. With a squelching splash she disappears into the Dip, supplanted by a prodigal overspill at the rim. A gloopy wave of brilliant purple slides down one side of the vat, while stringy green slithers and clings its way down the other.
The cables waggle for a few seconds during a sound effect akin to gargling, then they pull taut to retrieve their cargo, while the trombone imparts the sinking chromatic scale of defeat. In place of the pristine, stylish, sweetly-spoken 33-year-old that plunged in only seconds earlier, a floundering blob of two-tone gunk emerges on the end of the ropes.
On Cara’s upper body, the electric purple and forest green cleave her with comical precision, while lower down there is greater interchange of the colours. Cara remains faintly visible on her left side – not because of any patch being spared, but due to the translucent nature of the sticky green slime. It hangs in stringy stalactites from Cara’s arm, leg, feet and any other bit of her it can cling to. Her hair is thoroughly gelled with the stuff. Her delicate blouse is saturated, dyed dark green and clinging to her petite frame. On her right-hand side, Cara’s form is less discernible, thickly coated with the bright purple gunk. It sits cold and heavy on her body, soaking into her blouse. Her hair on that side has become a shiny purple curtain.
But worst off of all is perhaps Cara’s face; her pouting lips and full cheekbones are covered and dishevelled by a generous helping of both mucks. As she clumsily raises her hands to wipe her face, Cara’s mouth drops open and a large gobbet of slop flows out. She spits and splutters, long strands of the gelatinous green dangling from her lips.
Sian: My my, she seems to have swallowed quite a lot there! Can’t help herself, can she?
Cara scoops the worst from her face and is about to slick back her hair when a huge heap of something drops from above. The slimy objects are long and leafy, some green and others brownish-red. They drape over Cara, sticking to the muck. She nearly jumps out of her gungy skin when she realises what the stuff is. The mooing cow sound has to be applied, as Cara utters words that would be unthinkable from her twee, pre-muck demeanour.
Cara: [Moo! Moo! Moo!] SEAWEED!?!
Sian: Cheer up Cara – it’s meant to be a superfood! Ha ha ha! [turns to face audience] Bootiful! That was a most scrumptious and satiating comeuppance, and it’ll be the icing on the cake to see it again in super slow-mo.
Sian: First up is a slow-mo replay of Cara’s descent into the Mucky Dip. She jolts as the chair starts falling, her arms flailing and her mouth and eyes wide. It’s little wonder she got so much muck in her mouth.
Sian: And the above shot!
The same sequence of events replays, this time from a bird’s-eye view. Cara plummets away from the camera, towards the immaculate yin-yang. Cara’s jean-clad backside slaps down on the symbol, shattering the carefully balanced harmony with an outward wave of destruction. She continues to sink, her shoulders and lastly the crown of her head disappearing as the two halves of muck close over her.
Sian: And finaly, let’s re-see that seaweed – ewww!!
A heavily slopped Cara is bombarded by great piles of the damp marine flora. She spasms as the weed engulfs her, throwing up her arms in a vain attempt to shield herself. Some of the bits of seaweed miss or bounce off, falling into the Mucky Dip below, but most adhere to Cara’s figure. As the deluge ends, Cara frantically tries to brush off the repulsive seaweed, grimacing in disbelief at what they’ve dumped on her.
The scene reverts to the present. Having overcome the initial shock, Cara takes her humiliation in good humour, pulling faces of exaggerated disgust as she peels strips of seaweed off herself.
Sian: So Cara, what’s your assessment of our muck?
Cara: [wryly] I wouldn’t recommend it! Too much trans-fats and starch, and not enough vitamins. Though I have to admit it’s very high in fibre.
Sian: Well you can take it back with you to Shrewsbury. It’ll turn your clients’ stomachs so much they’re bound to lose weight! Thanks for being with us these two episodes; you’ve been an entertaining contestant and a wonderful sport.
Cara smiles and raises a hand to wave to the audience, but at that moment she is barraged with small fishes and squid from above. She screams as a giant octopus lands in her lap.
Sian: Woah! Looks like we have the makings of the latest diet craze here! [Turns again to the camera] A glooping peace this evening with it brings; one is pardoned, one is punish-ed. For never doth gunge so amply drip, than unto the wicked in our Mucky Dip! Thanks for watching, and good night!
Sian waves as the camera zooms out over the audience, who dance to the now familiar outro music. Imprisoned in her cage, Gail strokes her chin fretfully as she surveys the mess. Up in the chair, Cara pouts and throws a fish at the camera. She screams as another batch of seafood rains down on her. The programme closes with a slow-mo replay of Cara’s emergence from the depths of the Dip, caked in her double helping of muck.