The scene opens with Sian standing in front of the Mucky dip, the suspended chair at stage-level to one side of her.
Sian: Welcome back to Comeuppance, with me Sian Welby! In tonight’s vote we have market researcher Gail, used car dealer Ashley, and last but not least, hairdresser Leah, who thought she was here for a pleasant hen night! Thanks to everyone who’s voted so far.
Sian ambles over to the contestant holding zone.
Sian: Ladies, I have at my disposal the interim scores. Perhaps they’ll reveal who’s cruising to safety and who’s heading for a comeuppance; perhaps they’ll be as marginal as they were last week. Either way, you’re going to have to wait in suspense while tonight’s Mucky Dip is unveiled in all its ghastliness! So without further ado…
Audience: LET’S PREVIEW THE GOO!!!
As always, an overhead camera provides a top-down glimpse into the Mucky Dip. The design that greets the audience members, TV viewers, and above all contestants is the most colourful so far, resembling a rainbow tie-dye. Firey reds, sunny oranges, dazzling yellows, lush greens, fresh blues, cool indigos and trippy magentas blend and swirl in an imprecise spiral.
The scene switches to the rimside camera, away from which the vivid gunk stretches like a vast, psychadelic landscape. It is evidently extremely thick, drifting into layered plateaus and shallow valleys. The surface is matte and slightly crusted, like blancmange left out from last night’s party, but the boldness of the colour makes up for this dull finish.
While all this is going on an inset box shuffles through the reactions of the potential comeuppancees, none of whom look too enamored with the Muck they could be meeting. Gail reverts to chewing her nails, her eyes darting as if trying to keep track of survey answers. Ashley furrows her brow and breathes deeply, as if contemplating a sales strategy for a particularly stubborn customer. Leah slowly shakes her head with a stupefied half-smile, still struggling to believe that she is in this situation.
Sian: Wow, what a technicolour dreamcoat for one our contestants! And I can vouch that there’s a similarly lucid spectrum of aromas drifting down from the Dip, none of them sweet – or even savoury! So ladies, hold that dazzling display in your heads while we reveal those mid-way scores:
Leah’s jaw drops the best part of the way to the floor. Down in the spectators’ area, her friends celebrate giddily. Ashley and Gail exchange smug glances through the bars of their cages.
Sian: [chucking] Well, uh, not exactly a tie this week, is it? We almost ran out room on the screen for all your votes, Leah!
Leah: Arrghhh!! Why’s everyone voting for me?!
Sian: Can’t say for sure, hun, although we have had a lot of calls from some guy called Mark! [Looks around at crew] Guys, how about we do the Mucky Dip now and knock off early?
Leah: [horrified] You can’t do that!!
Sian: I’m only joshing. We pride ourselves on doing things by the book, and besides, anything can happen on Comeuppance! So in that vein, each of you will now tell the public why you shouldn’t do time in our colourful slime. Ashley, you may be a long way from the lead, but the battle for that coveted third place is very much on. You have fifteen seconds to sell yourself like an old banger that’s twice round the clock.
Ashley: [adopts a gleaming smile and points at the camera in a slightly aggressive manner] Is it your lucky day or is it your lucky day?! I’ve got some top deals for you! Classic coupés, executive estates, sexy sports – yours to drive away in exchange for just one Jammy Dodger trophy! (plus some money)
The klaxon pierces the air, followed by some muted boos.
Sian: Never miss an opportunity, do you Ash? Gail, let’s hear from you.
Gail: [Spreads her arms in a shrug and grins smarmily] What do I have to worry about? I only need to come second, and the margin is huge! Opinion polls may be wrong, but never that wrong. [Puffs herself up] If I get voted for a Comeuppance, I’ll kiss a pig as I go into the Mucky Dip!
The Klaxon blasts just as Gail finishes. There follows a moderate level of booing and some scoffs at her confident assertion.
Sian: [smirks] Be assured that we will hold you to that! [Turns to Leah] But Gail’s right; things are looking pretty dire for you! But I realise we didn’t give you as much time as the other two to explain yourself earlier, so we’re going to be generous and double up your appeal to thirty seconds. You’re going to need every one of them. Go!
Leah: [earnestly as possible, doing her best to ignore the faces her friends are pulling at her] Come on guys! I know that hen nights are about pranks, but this is going too far! I’ve got to get married in three weeks, and I can’t walk down the aisle smelling of fish or with my hair a strange tint! I’m an excellent hairdresser, my tariff is very reasonable, and I only modify my friends’ requests for their own good. They’ve been very sly in setting me up like this; don’t give them the satisfaction of getting me gunked!
The Klaxon thunders, followed by a cacophony of booing and heckling led by the hen party.
Hen party: MUCKY DIP! MUCKY DIP!
Rest of audience: [catching on] MUCKY DIP!! MUCKY DIP!!
Sian: [holding up her hands as she walks to the edge of the stage] Ok, thank you! Thank you!! You’ve made your point! THAT’LL DO!!
Eventually calm restores to the studio.
Sian: Well folks, this is the most one-sided vote we’ve held so far – the kind of situation the director calls a “Nicola Stapleton”. Is Leah’s comeuppance in the bag, or are we all in for a big surprise? It all depends on what you the public decide, so keep those votes a-flowing. See you in a bit!
Alternative poll link