Warning: this programme contains strobe lighting.
A high-mounted camera sweeps over the enthused and impatient audience. A deep, smooth, male voice (the kind used for movie trailers) booms over the PA.
Voiceover: Ladies and gentlemen! We’ve counted four and a half million votes, deployed thirty-six thousand gallons of muck, and handed eleven wrongdoers their comeuppance. Tonight, live from our London studio, we put the Mucky Dip into action one last time. So please give a rapturous welcome to the keeper of the cages, the granter of Jammy Dodger trophies, the mistress of all that is mucky: the brilliant and beautiful Sian Welby!
As the intro to a famous 80s movie theme plays, male and female dancers in sparkling costumes pour onto the stage. The dancers form two lines, between which the familiar Comeuppance guards emerge, carrying a sedan chair. Perched in the chair is of course Miss Welby, who waves regally to the cheering audience.
Sian: [pointing at camera] If there’s something bad, happ’nin in your street,
Who you gonna call?
Sian: If your car is clamped, and you’re feelin beat,
Who you gonna call?
The forewarned strobe lighting kicks into action. The dancers link hands and make a ring around the Mucky Dip.
Sian: I ain’t afraid of no muck!
I ain’t afraid of no muck!
With the dancers weaving across the stage, the guards carry Sian to the front.
Sian: If a salesman comes, knockin on your door,
Who you gonna call?
Sian: If the loansharks bite, and they still want more,
Who can you call?
Sian: I ain’t afraid of no muck!
Ooo, I hear it’s thick and smelly.
I ain’t afraid of no muck!
Yeah, yeah, yeah-hehh!!
The dancers twirl off-stage. The guards lower the Sian to the floor.
Sian: [taking a bow] Woooo!! Thanks boys! And thanks to all of you for that warm welcome. In case you didn’t catch it from the song, this is Comeuppance, the show that puts you the public in the driving seat, and reprehensible occupations in our dreaded chair of doom! Now, I have some bad news and good news to give you. The bad news is that this is the final episode of the series.
Sian: I know, I know, it hurts me too. But the good news is we’re going out with a bang – or should that be a splat! We’ve got some real abhorrent contestants, some extra-special features, and one or two surprises in store!
Sian: [Gestures behind her] And it wouldn’t be a grand finale without a real stinker of a Mucky Dip!
The audience cheers.
Sian: But before we press on with tonight’s contest, I’d like to reflect on the series, and a few acknowledgements are in order. The crew have been absolutely superb and we’ve had a cracking time working together, so cheers guys. And big thanks go to everyone out there who voted – without you, there couldn’t be a show. Go on, give yourselves a round of applause!
The audience duly claps.
Sian: Ta also to those of you that got in touch to suggest professions. There were some really good ideas that we wouldn’t have thought of ourselves. And of course we’re grateful to all those suckers – I mean contestants – who were such good sports to take part. It perhaps proves the old adage that people will do anything to get on television.
Sian wanders over to the steaming, cylindrical vat.
Sian: But let’s not forget the true star of the show. No, not me, but our trusty Mucky Dip! It’s almost become an old friend these past weeks…
Sian pats the wall of the vat. A belch emanates from within.
Sian: [backing away] But not a friend I’d want to get touchy-feeling with, as our losing contestants would surely attest! Speaking of which, it’s a fitting time to relive the Dip’s conquests. So grab yourself your favourite beverage, put your feet up, and enjoy, as we play back the payback!
There follows a montage of Mucky Dip highlights, set to Austine Mahone’s Dirty Work. It begins with a compilation of the victims pre-dunk, cringing and squirming above their fate. This is followed by all of the descents in series, followed by all the pull-outs. Finally there is a selection of aftermath scenes, including reactions and further mess.
Meera, the dentist who extracted as much from her patient’s wallets as their mouths, and terrified them into the bargain.
Plunged into pink and purple plop, and crowned with white, lemon and light blue.
Veronica Pleasance, the heavy metal “musician” whose dreadful din had neighbours reaching for the earplugs.
Immersed in off-white marshmallow muck, and showered with red, purple, green, yellow, blue and brown.
Sian: [laughing] Brilliant, brilliant stuff. Richly deserved each and every one of them. And what you don’t pick up from your screens is how awful each of them smelt! Pwwoohh!! [Flaps hand in front of nose] Tonight, one more miscreant soul will meet their mucky dues. Who might it be? Let’s meet the contestants and find out!
The anti-file-sharing lawyer
Sian: Contestant number one is the runner-up from last week’s show. Her name’s Judi, she’s 31 and she’s from the Isle of Wight. She works as an anti-file-sharing lawyer, or to use the less flattering term, copyright troll.
The guards wheel out a cage. The audience commences the customary booing, but this dies out in confusion when they glimpse who’s inside.
Sian: [frowning] You’re not Judi. You’re… Anthea Turner!
Anthea: Evening Sian! How’s it going?
Smiling and waving to the audience, Anthea pushes open the door of the cage and steps out.
Sian: Hey!! That’s supposed to be locked!
Anthea: It will be in a minute… once you’re safely inside.
Sian: Safely ins…what do you mean? W-what’s going on here!?
Sian’s eyes flit anxiously as her dazzling smile begins to fade. Anthea stands beside the cage, making a gesture for Sian to step through the open door. The spectators murmur in excitement, then start to cheer ecstatically as they realise what’s on the cards.
Stupefied, Sian looks round at the crew, and finds them all grinning and clapping.
Sian: [shaking her head, struggling to be heard over the roar of the crowd] You can’t mean… Nope, that it is not going to happen! Uh-uh, no way! NO!!
Audience: YES!!! [With shouts of] Get in there!
Sian: [stamps foot] I’m the presenter!
Anthea: Oh come on Sian. Didn’t you ever watch Noel’s House Party or Get Your Own Back as a kid? You should know what happens to the host at the end of the series!
Sian: Not to this host it doesn’t! Besides, I’ve not agreed to it. Every contestant must give their consent to take part.
Anthea: Just as well you gave yours then.
Sian: [getting angry] No I never!
Anthea: [smarmily] Didn’t read the small print of your contract, Sian? Clause 39E not ringing any bells? You should be more thorough.
Sian: I’m going to see the director about this! Ask him what the hell he’s playing at!
Sian turns on her heels and nearly barges into the muscular chests of the guards.
Sian: Excuse me boys!
The guard don’t budge. Sian looks at them dismayed.
Sian: Oh Tom and Charlie, don’t say you’re betraying me after all I’ve done for you! You’d still be on night-watch at an Esso garage if it weren’t for me!
Impassive, the heavies remain in Sian’s path.
Anthea: [grinning] Everybody’s in on the set-up! Come along Sian, we haven’t got all night. Are you going to get in yourself or do you need some encouragement from Tom and Charlie?
Sian takes another glance at the guards and resignedly steps into the cage, precipitating another crescendo from the audience.
Anthea: Let’s have your keys please.
A sullen Sian drops her keyring into Anthea’s palm.
Anthea: [locks cage] Good girl. Now let’s get started. Tonight’s contestant is 29-year-old Sian Welby. She’s originally from Nottinghamshire but lives in London, and she’s been a TV presenter for nearly six years.
Sian: Why you, Anthea? Of all the people they could’ve picked to do this, why you?
Anthea: Think about what we have in common.
Sian: Not a lot I hope.
Anthea: I wouldn’t be catty, Sian; I hold all the cards here. I’m talking about the Health Lottery, of which you’re a presenter and I was a presenter, [frowns] briefly.
Sian: What about it?
Anthea: Cast your mind back a year. You decided you were bored of presenting the draw and wanted to move on to pastures new, so the producers signed me up to take over. I was pretty chuffed, reliving my heydey of presenting the National Lottery. But less than two months later, you had a change of heart – perhaps your plans didn’t work out as well as you’d hoped – so you begged the producers to give you your job back, and I was out on my ear!
Sian: [incredulous] Huh?! I didn’t “beg” anyone; I was their first choice and they were delighted to have me back. Not my fault if you’re unpopular and past it! Seriously, if this is all about you getting “revenge” on me for being a better presenter, it’s pathetic!
Anthea: [through pursed lips] I’m making a note of all these insults and they’ll be dealt with later. But maybe you’re right; perhaps my motivation is a bit weak. But I know of fourteen much better reasons why you deserve a comeuppance. [Calls off-stage] Ladies, if you would kindly join us!
A reprise of “Dirty Work” plays as the eleven comeuppancees stroll on stage, single file. Each is dressed in the same outfit they got dunked in, but clean as a whistle. In place of the boos that greeted them last time, the audience welcome them with appreciative applause. Trailing at the back of the line are the three other women to get messy during the course of the series: maid of honour Heidi, schoolgirl Anita and Professor Penelope Thimbleswick-Watson. The women congregate around the cage, wagging their fingers at Sian with wry smiles.
Sian: What is this? A crooks’ convention? This lot were found guilty by public vote. They have no complaint against me!
Anthea: And all have served their sentence. But it didn’t escape anyone’s attention that the executioner enjoyed it rather too much! Let’s take a look at the worst of Welby!
A videoreel compilation of Sian’s most mocking put-downs plays:
Ring ring, calling Sandra! Good thing you sell products over the phone, girl, because you won’t get any face-to-face sales when you look and smell like that! Ewwww, yuck! Ha ha ha!!
You can take it back with you to your check-in counter. That’ll have your passengers reaching for the oxygen masks! Ha ha ha!
This, ladies and gents, is the dentist who loves to terrify her patients, but look who’s terrified now! Say “ARRRRRGGGGHHHH!!” Meera! Ha ha ha!
Liz, you can slither back to Scotland and pursue your next compensation claim in your present state. With a smell like that, you’ll surely be in contempt of court! Ha ha ha!
Look at that face, deep in contemplation! Is she mulling the plight of the third world, I wonder? Or brooding over some poor, endangered species? Or might she be lamenting her own sorry arse as it teeters above the slop!
She got pretty much every colour except black, ironically! Vron, you can wear that generous coat to your next gig. You’ll certainly have a frightening stage presence, and for once something will stink more than your music! Ha ha ha!!
That’ll teach you to diss my wardrobe, you little twerp! Ha ha ha!
Cheer up Cara – seaweed’s meant to be a superfood! Ha ha ha!
Leah, you were hoping for a messy hen night, and you’re certainly going to get one! How long to the wedding – three weeks, did you say? Mmmmm… you *should* be clean by then!
Ho ho ho! Not too fresh up there, is it Miss Field? And if you think it’s bad now, wait til you’re covered in it!
Oh, I’ve just received some news from the director: our sponsers have agreed to top up the total to £750,000 – so guess what!
Look at that – well and truly spammed! Now she knows what it’s like to be deluged with junk, ha ha!
At the count of three. One! TWO!! THREE!!
The audience boos.
Sian: [holding out arms] Oh come on folks! I didn’t hear audiences complaining at the time – quite the opposite! The whole point of the show to ridicule and humiliate the losing contestants!
Anthea: We do have a more serious charge against you. Veronica, I believe you have a miscarriage of justice to report.
Veronica: Hello again Sian. As the viewers might remember, I got my comeuppance in episode six after my score jumped from 9% at the update to 49% at the final count. Something wasn’t right with that, so I set about doing some research. I managed to find a whistleblower in the crew, who confirmed to me that I shouldn’t have got a comeuppance; a computer glitch screwed me over!
There’s a sharp intake of breath from the audience.
Veronica: And not only that – Sian knew at the time the score was wrong, but sent me to the Mucky Dip to save face! Now that just ain’t rock and roll!
There’s an even sharper intake of breath, followed by booing and shouts of “scandal!”
Sian: [looking rattled] Completely untrue on both counts! Our computer systems are world class, and my adjudication is as clean as a Jammy Dodger trophy holder!
Veronica: [pulling out reams of computer paper] Sian, I have the printouts here to prove everything!
Anthea: We’ve seen enough. [Turns to audience] Does Sian deserve a comeuppance or does she deserve a comeuppance?!
Sian: [shaking head adamantly] NO!!
Anthea: That’s a pretty unequivocal verdict, but ladies, I’d better ask you: can any of you find it within your heart to pardon Sian?
The 14 women respond with “uh-uh”s and the shaking of heads.
Anthea Dear me, not one. Well ladies, if you’d like to take a seat [gestures to some sofas that have been brought out], I trust you’ll find this a most enjoyable show. Sian, for crimes as serious as yours, only one punishment will suffice. I’m sure you know what that is, but for the benefit of anyone who doesn’t, it begins with “Mucky” and ends with “Dip”!
The audience cheers further while Sian flushes.
Anthea: Oh yes, it’s festering away there waiting for you! And as you said yourself, it really is a stinker – perhaps the worst the show has seen!
Sian: [desperate] Hang on!! What about the other contestants?!
Anthea: [scornfully] Other contestants?! You’re having a laugh, aren’t you? We’re not going to waste time with those! However, I am a democrat, so I’m going to put the question to the people…
Sian: [eyes lighting up with a glimmer of hope] On whether or not I get a comeuppance?
Anthea: [laughs] Don’t be silly! The question I’m going to ask if whether you should face the Mucky Dip in that lovely frock you’ve got on… or whether you should pare down to this: our special super-skimpy Comeuppance micro-bikini!
Sian’s jaw drops as Anthea holds up an orange garment, attracting some wolf-whistles. The swimwear comprises nothing more than three meagre pieces of fabric, to cover the bare essentials and nothing else, and strings connecting them as appropriate. Each of the slender breast segments has “COMEUPPANCE!” emblazoned across it in the standard brand lettering, while the minuscule crotch-piece has the word “MUCKY” printed down it.
Sian: [mortified] Bikini!?! I wear more than that in the bath!
Anthea: I hope you like it. The male crew members deliberated long and hard over the design!
Sian: [rolls eyes] I bet they did!
Anthea: Let’s see if the public are just as keen!
Anthea strolls away to the front of the stage. Behind her, Sian casts a fretful glance up at the Mucky Dip, still billowing dry ice, and closes her eyes with a groan.
Anthea: Yes folks, it’s a departure from the usual format, but the final episode is always a stitch-up against the presenter so there’s no point pretending otherwise. Dress, or much less – that is the question we put to you the public! And while Comeuppance usually prides itself on its neutrality, on this occasion we strongly recommend the latter option. We’ve even produced this glossy leaflet, Why Comeuppance believes the micro-bikini is the best outfit for Sian. However, it’s ultimately your decision and we will honour it, so get dialling and have your say! Join us again for the update when Comeuppance’s chief muckologist, Sasha Holdsworth, will unveil Sian’s Mucky Dip, and there are some more surprises still to come! See you soon!
Alternative poll link
Since this is a very important matter, and to give me enough time to write the story, the poll will run for two weeks, closing at 10pm Friday 5th August. Repeat voting permitted every 12 hours, per usual.
And purely for information purposes:
Alternative poll link