A producer, writer and a TV exec are shooting the breeze and talking about TV in general after a meeting in which writer is being told that there’s no money to make his well-written, carefully observed sitcom. The Producer leaves for another meeting, while writer remains behind, unsure of protocol.
Exec leans back and stretches.
Exec: So tonight, it’s the big show.
Writer: Big show?
Exec: Not a fan?
Writer: (shrugs) I like food. And competitions. Just not sure I want to see it on television?
Exec: Ha, ha, ha. (Beat) Seriously?
Writer: Also, you can’t taste what they’ve made, so the key experience is missing. Like porn with very bad lighting.
Exec: Ha! That lighting is hard to get right.
Writer: I’m sorry?
Exec: (Cough) The point is that this is event TV. Unmissable. Insanely popular. Sitcom is all very well, but this is Reality.
Writer: Is it? But is the entire thing not total artifice? When do total strangers normally cook competitively with each other and then told off on national TV for not sufficiently devilling the kidneys?
Exec: Okay, fair enough. But the people are genuine.
Writer: They are, but they’re carefully chosen.
Exec: Yeah, and it’s really important that the casting is right.
Writer: You just called it casting.
Exec: No I didn’t. Beside, everyone know it’s not real reality. But some kind of…
Writer: Fake reality?
Exec: It’s not fake. Anymore. A lot of my close personal friends had to resign over that. Some of them were out of work for several weeks.
Exec: It’s called Constructed Reality.
Writer: Ha. It’s funny what TV does to you, isn’t it? I mean, it makes you say things like ‘Constructed Reality’ without laughing straight away afterwards.
Exec: (Beat) Why would you laugh?
Writer: Well,… because… No reason.
Exec: The other trick is spending enough on promoting the thing.
Exec: Hell, yeah. They really have to make it count because it’s not cheap to make. These celeb judges cost a fortune, and you should see the riders these people insist on. Plus the bespoke tense music. That’s pricey. And then the advertising.
Exec: Yeah. If you’re shelling out that kind of money, you have to make sure you’re getting bums and eyeballs.
Writer: I thought you said it was insanely popular.
Exec: It is. It is. It’s just sometimes you have to remind people how popular it is.
Writer: I see that.
Exec: Plus you have to get it all on the first showing and the cheap spin-off discussion show afterwards. You can’t repeat this stuff, or sell it on DVD. You get peanuts for re-runs on UK Food 3: Leftovers. We tried ‘Masterchef: Reheated’ but it just didn’t fly. It’s not like you can show it again and again forever like Blackadder or the Vicar of Dibley or those, you know…
Exec: Yeah, whatever. Listen, I have to go. It’s a celeb restaurant opening. I’ll try and steal you some bread rolls.
Exeunt. (Exec via door. Writer via 4th floor window)
Dissolve to several months later. BBC4 shows comedy biopic of sitcom writer who jumps from 4th floor window.