Sian: Hello there! You’re watching the interim segment of Comeuppance. I’m Sian Welby and we are broadcasting live from St Noel’s School in Barrow-in-Furness, Cumbria!
The crowd cheer and chant “St Noel’s! St Noel’s!”
Sian: And I’d like you all to meet Anita. She’s 18 years old and she’s the sixth form head girl. Anita, hi!
Anita: Hey Sian!
Sian: Anita, the reason we’re here is all down to your initiative, isn’t it?
Anita: [puffing up with pride] You could say that.
Sian: Would you care to explain how it all came about?
Anita: It all started at a student council meeting at which we were brainstorming for summer fundraising. As you know, a lot of fundraisers involve gunge or other mess, and we came up with the idea of doing our own version of Comeuppance. Basically we would have three staff members plead their case, then we’d collect money in named buckets and the staff member with the biggest total would get gunge poured on them or something. But then it occurred to me: why not have the real Comeuppance come to our school?
Sian: And that’s when you contacted our production team?
Anita: That’s right, and very enthusiastic they were too! They said they’d be happy to come and do an episode, provided I could find three staff members who’d be willing to take part.
Sian: And how difficult was that?
Anita: It took a bit of arm-twisting at first, but when I mentioned all the money we could raise, their eyes glazed over at the thought of all those new facilities. A sparkling kitchen for Olive, a state-of-the-art gym for Miss Field, and um… more protractors for Mrs Pascal. So they agreed.
Sian: Very nice work. Now, some of the viewers may think that you’re rather unsporting, putting up these staff members for the horrors of the Mucky Dip while staying clean yourself, but that’s not true. Because you’ve agreed that if, and only if, we raise at least £750,000 for St Noel’s, you’ll take a custard pie! Isn’t that right, Anita?
Anita: [nervously nodding] Indeed so Sian.
Sian: Well let’s get prepared for that eventuality. Tom and Charlie, please could you bring out the custard pie?
The guards push out a large paddling pool, causing Anita’s jaw to drop. Through the clear walls of the pool, a thick filling of brilliant yellow custard can be seen, with a layer of flurrying white cream on top. The guards return back-stage and come out with a slide, which they position so that it leads into the pool. The audience loves it. Anita stares accusingly at Sian.
Sian: What’s the matter? You said you were ok with getting a custard pie.
Anita: I expected it to be a pie in the face!
Sian: Oh, don’t worry! It will go in your face – and everywhere else! But only if we raise that magic £750,000 by the close of voting. Let’s take a peak at how much has been raised so far!
Sian: [rubs chin] Mmmmm, it’s going to be hit and miss whether we make it. Anita, you might stay clean. What do you think about that?
Anita: Well, I’m not too keen on swimming in that custard, but my main priority is to raise as much money as possible, so… [shrugs at camera] C’mon, step up that voting! Let me have it!
Sian: You heard her! Remember, it costs £1.50 per vote and 100% of that will go to St Noel’s. So what are you waiting for?!
Sian walks over to the three desks.
Sian: Ladies, I wouldn’t be too smug about Anita’s plight; that custard pie is a mere trifle compared to what one of you faces. In fact, we’ve arrived at that part of the show where we agonise you with the unveiling of the muck, so without further ado…
Crowd: LET’S PREVIEW THE GOO!!
An overhead camera points straight down into the gaping mouth of the Mucky Dip. Tonight’s colour scheme is sky blue and tawny brown – the same tones as the kids’ uniforms – nestling in irregular patches of roughly equal prominence. The shot spirals inwards, revealing smaller splodges of more murky hue, and even some objects embedded in the surface.
The scene switches to a camera at the edge of the Mucky Dip, panning over the pool of goo. The surface betrays a shiny thickness, and is also pocked by lumps of varying sizes. Ensconced in the blue and brown gunk are dark green blobs and strands, like some kind of vegetable, and what appears to be several socks and a pair of shorts. A chorus of “EERRRRGGHHHH!!” arises from the teenagers as the scene unfolds on big screens mounted either side of the stage. The staff members are even more disconcerted as they watch on monitors, their repulsed faces exhibited in a box in the corner of the screen.
Sian: How about that? We’ve matched your school colours! And we’ve even gone to the trouble of stirring in some items related to your jobs. So Olive, you may have recognised the stewed spinach and pickled onions from your kitchen, and Miss Field, I’m sure those old PE kits didn’t go amiss. Mrs Pascal, it was a bit more difficult to find an ingredient relevant to you, but eventually we hit upon pencil shavings, so we’ve heaped in plenty of those.
Mrs Pascal: [agitated] Very nice. Now how about those voting numbers?
Sian: Ohh, this lady loves her numbers, doesn’t she? Very well, the mid-way scores are as follows:
The spectators holler. Miss Field groans and slumps over her desk. Mrs Pascal wipes her brow with relief, while Olive pumps her fist.
Sian: [laughing] Well, uh, what can I say to that!? We needed a lot of blackboard there!
Mrs Pascal: You should’ve used a broken scale.
Sian: Olive barely off the starting mark there, in a clear vindication of school dinners. Mrs Pascal also languishing far behind. But Miss Field!! If this were a track event you’d have lapped them by now!
Miss Field leans with her elbow on the desk, grinning bashfully as she cradles her head.
Sian: Seriously, Miss Field, we’ve never had a score this high before! It would seem that PE teacher is the most unpopular job in Britain!
Miss Field: It’s a conspiracy!
Sian: Perhaps the personal appeals will dent it. Ladies, each of you will now get fifteen seconds to address the class – I mean viewers – and explain why it shouldn’t be you going in that manky mire! Olive and Mrs Pascal, you may be tempted to treat this as an academic exercise, but don’t forget that whoever of you comes second will have to travel to the Comeuppance studio in London to face judgement next week, and that’s worth avoiding. Olive, what have you got cooked up for us?
Olive: [smirking] Admit it, you love school dinners! You won’t get such hot, nourishing meals made for you so cheaply again in your life! And those custard lumps? Full of protein. Now eat it all up and I might give you a lollipop!
A klaxon blares across the marquee. There are some isolated heckles and taunts.
Mrs Pascal: [demurely] Don’t dunk me! The pupils enjoy my lessons; some tell me it’s the best sleep they’ve ever had! And they love using mathematics in class, particularly subtraction – always calculating how many minutes til the bell rings!
The klaxon blasts just as Mrs Pascal draws her closing breath, followed by a moderate level of booing.
Sian: Anything to see the positive side, Mrs P! Now, Miss Field! [walks up to the desk so that she’s standing over the beleaugered PE teacher] It’s looking very grim for you, Miss Field, but I know that as a sportswomen you don’t give up until the final whistle, so why don’t you bowl a curveball and knock us for six?
Miss Field: [adopts her strictest posture and glares into the camera] Think I’m a meanie? That’s just me in a good mood. You really don’t want to get me in a bad mood! So for the sake of my pupils, stop voting for me. Cos if I go in the Mucky Dip, they’ll suffer Monday morning!
The marquee explodes with boos, hisses and jeers, drowning out the klaxon. A chant of “Miss Field, you are going down!” (to the tune of Go West) begins. Miss Field shakes her head and fires back banter at the crowd.
Sian: Ok, point made! Quiet please! Quiet in class! Dear me Miss Field, using kids as a human shield – whatever next!
Sian strolls to the front of the stage, leaving the three seated staff members in the background of the shot.
Sian: Is Miss Field doomed or will we see the mother of all turnarounds? If you gagged over school dinners or lost the will to live in maths class, it’s not too late to make your voice heard. And don’t forget, if you want to see a schoolgirl slide into a giant custard pie, you need to keep those votes flooding in! See you again for the final part.
Alternative poll link