Scene 1. Int. The Penthouse. Precisely 30 minutes before Sir Alan’s first “swoop”
MOMMA PICKS UP THE PHONE
VOICE OF ACTRESS PLAYING FRANCES, DUBBED ON LATER [ON PHONE]:
Sir Alan wants to try and catch you in your underwear and t-shirts with no bras underneath: he’ll be there in precisely 30 minutes, not a minute more, not a minute less.
MOMMA RUNS OFF WAVING WHAT SHE NOW KNOWS IS A FEATHER DUSTER, SHOUTING “HE’S COMING, HE’S COMING! IN 30 MINUTES! THAT’S, LIKE HALF AN HOUR! LET’S ACTION THAT GOING FORWARD!”
CUT TO: NOT A MINUTE MORE THAN 30 MINUTES LATER – AFTER ALL FRANCES SPECIFIED 30 MINUTES, SO HOW COULD IT BE ANYTHING OTHER THAN 30 MINUTES? – THE CANDIDATES ARE NOW ALL GELLED AND PAINTED IN AND DRESSED IN IDENTICAL DARK JACKETS AND INDUSTRIALLY FAT TIES, EXCEPT FOR CREAMPUFF WHO’S IN RED, TO HELP AL-QAEDA SPOT HER IN A CROWD. THEY LINE UP LIKE THE HITLER YOUTH THEY SECRETLY ARE, AS SIR ALAN MARCHES INTO THE LIVING ROOM TO BE FLANKED BY HIS TRUSTED GENERALS, NICK AND MARGARET, ALREADY PRACTISING THEIR GURNING, UNDER THE DIRECTORIAL GAZE OF LENI RIEFENSTAHL
SIR ALAN: Morning, bongo drums.
HITLER YOUTH: Guten morgen, Sir Alan. [CLICK HEELS]
SIR ALAN: Right! More menial work, more bowing and scraping at “city slickers” and “high flyers” who “work in the City”, waving their wads of money in the faces of cleaners and shoe-shine boys and sandwich makers and making deregulated hay while the upturn shines. Well, at least they are when we’re filming this – when the programme goes out in a year’s time, the City will be a tumbleweed-strewn wasteland. Anyway, enough bladdy scripted toot. Your task, if you wanna work for me which I know you sincerely do, is to try and flog these exotic “city slickers” some wraps – of cocaine! Ha ha, only joking. Although that is an economy which I expect is still thriving, even in the land of the empty Gherkin.
URCHIN BOY ROCKY, AGED 4, REDDENS AND GRINS TO HIMSELF: THIS IS MY TASK! I RUN 150 SANDWICH SHOPS FROM MY NURSERY SCHOOL, AND EMPLOY 5,000 PEOPLE – SANDWICHES ARE MY LIFE! I’VE FORGOTTEN MORE ABOUT PUTTING SOMETHING BETWEEN TWO BITS OF BREAD THAT THE REST OF THESE ANCIENT MUMS AND DADS HAVE FORGOTTEN ABOUT OTHER THINGS! VICTORY WILL BE MINE!
Scene 2. Ext. The City, 2008, teeming with Gordon Gekko-style traders and cockney barrow boys barking into massive mobile phones (“Buy! Buy! Sell! Sell!”), using £50 notes to wipe dogshit off their Louis Vuitton shoes in the shadow of the Gherkin. Look at these cunts! They’ll pay top dollar for pretty much anything between two bits of supermarket bread and probably tip you £100 rather than wait around to get change! Let’s fleece them! Let’s take the stripey shirts off their backs! They all go to work in a giant Gherkin! They actually work in a thing you get in sandwiches!
First, the candidates have to elect a project manager.
Scene 3. Int. Room. Day
TEAM EMPIRE SIT AROUND A TABLE AND TRY TO REMEMBER EACH OTHERS’ NAMES – JAMES, JOE, JOHN, GEOFF? WHO CARES! – WHILE URCHIN BOY ROCKY SIEZES THE DAY
URCHIN BOY ROCKY [ALREADY FLUSHED WITH FUTURE SUCCESS AND TRYING TO MAKE A SANDWICH BY PUTTING A MARKER PEN BETWEEN TWO SHEETS OF THE FLIP CHART]:
Because this is a task about making sandwiches, and I make sandwiches for a job, and I also did a sandwich course at college, and once wrote an essay about Lord Sandwich, and my favourite kind of music is wrap music, and my favourite band is Bread, and my favourite kind of business exercise is roll-play, and my favourite film is A Matter Of Loaf And Death, and my dad’s name is Phil Ing, and my favourite meal is a whole meal, and my favourite euphemism for women’s breasts which I am too young to regard in a sexual way is baps, and my favourite kind of bet in a betting shop is a spread bet, I nominate myself as project leader.
What exactly are sandwiches? We have heard of such things, but have no idea what is actually in them.
URCHIN BOY ROCKY:
Leave the sandwich part to me. You [POINTS TO MACKEM, UPSIDE-DOWN-HEAD AND HAPLESS] go and rustle up some business, and you [POINTS TO THE OTHER ONES WHO HAVE NOT YET GOT NAMES] think up some ways of making us look like fools in front of city slickers!
Scene 4. Int. Other room. Day
TEAM IGNITE ARE SITTING AROUND ANOTHER TABLE, PAINTING THEIR NAILS, PRESSING FLOWERS AND ADJUSTING THEIR MASSIVE BALLS UNDER THEIR SKIRTS. PASHMINA HAS ALREADY MADE HERSELF A BIG TOP HAT WITH “PROJECT MANAGER” WRITTEN ON IT IN NEON LIGHTS. FOR SOME REASON, SHE HAS HER ARMS AROUND BRUNETTE WOMAN AND REDHEAD WOMAN, ALBEIT IN A RATHER AGGRESSIVE WAY
I am a restaurateur. I am an award-winning restaurateur, in fact. And look, I’m already wearing a project manager hat, so it would seem counterproductive for one of you, my sisters, to question my authority.
THE OTHERS ARE TOO FRIGHTENED OF PASHMINA’S STERN FACE TO RAISE ANY OBJECTIONS
Right, you [POINTS TO BLONDE WOMAN AND TWO OTHER WOMEN], you’re the subteam in charge of selling my award-winning Mediterranean-style canopies to city slickers. And you [POINTS TO EVERYBODY ELSE], you’re in charge of coming to Lidl with me for the finest ingredients available to humanity.
A PALL OF FEAR FALLS ACROSS THE ROOM
PASHMINA: [TO CAMERA]
I am an award-winning restaurateur with ten Michelin stars. What am I doing here, trying to work for an electronics firm in Brentwood? Not a clue. But boy do I do a good stern face. And as long as the clients are drunk, we can serve them wet tissues in a bun and they’ll sit up and beg.
Scene 5. Int. Kitchen. Day
THE GIRLS ARE NOW DRESSED IN WHITE COATS, HAIR NETS AND RED HATS, EXCEPT THEIR GLORIOUS LEADER PASHMINA, WHO IS DRESSED IN MILITARY REGALIA WITH MEDALS AND A LIVE EAGLE PERCHED ON ONE EPAULET. SHE ADDRESSES HER SUBJECTS
From now on, I want you all to call me “Leader”. Let me hear you!
I can’t hear you!
Are we winners or losers?
Winners – what?
Are we going to crush the boys with our top-quality, homegrown, organic, artisan-baked, wholesome ingredients?
How do you pronounce “canopy”?
Who is the leader?
You are the Leader!
Who’s a restaurateur?
You are! Leader!
And what is a wrap called?
A flatbread! Leader!
Because it sounds better, Leader!
Scene 6. Int. The same props company that’s in every series. Day
HAPLESS LEADS THE PROPS SUBTEAM
Our theme is the Olympics 2012, so we need some Greek togas. Not Roman ones, Greek ones. And some Greek statues. Not Roman ones, Greek ones. Because the Olympics 2012 is our theme. You’ve got to have a theme when you’re selling sandwiches, haven’t you?
WOMAN WHO WORKS THERE:
You’re spot on. I would never buy a sandwich off a man who wasn’t in fancy dress.
UPSIDE-DOWN-HEAD HAS A PRIVATE MOMENT OF DOUBT: PERHAPS HIS OLYMPICS 2012 IDEA IS SHIT BEYOND BELIEF
Scene 7. Int. Chicago law firm. Day
UNDER THE WATCHFUL EYE OF MARGARET, BLONDE WOMAN AND TWO OTHER WOMEN PITCH THEIR WHOLESOME MEDITERRANEAN CANOPY RANGE TO A MAN AND A LADY
We have hot canopies and cold canopies – basically, if the canopy is traditionally served cold, we’re serving it hot, and if it’s traditionally served hot, we’re serving it cold. That is our theme.
[UNSURE] I see.
MARGARET PUTS HER HEAD IN HER HANDS, AND THEN REALISES SHE’S GONE TOO EARLY. SHE COMPOSES HERSELF
First of all, can I apologise for my West Midlands accent? I know what you’re all like down here in London, and you probably think I speak like this because I’m thick. I’m actually not thick. I just haven’t heard of food. We don’t really have food in the West Midlands. Can I make that clear before I start saying stupid things?
[PATRONISINGLY] Of course. Fire away.
First, we have tuna in basil oil. I don’t know what tuna is, or basil, or oil. What are they?
[PATRONISINGLY] That’s really for you to tell us isn’t it? [THINKING: THICK BRUMMIE! THICK BRUMMIE! BENNY FROM CROSSROADS! BARRY FROM AUF WIEDERSEHEN PET! MRS OVERALL! OTHER UNHELPFUL MIDLANDS STEREOTYPES!]
Bruschetta. That’s another firm favourite in the Mediterranean. Isn’t it? I think it’s a type of melon. Or a national dance. Or a type of gun?
Can you do a blini?
Is that like a type of lorry? Or is it a pop singer? We can definitely do it, whatever it is, as our Leader is a restauranteur. Which means she’s a restaurant. She can do anything.
MARGARET PUTS HER HEAD IN HER HANDS. PRINT!
MACKEM: [TO CAMERA, AS IF ASKING THE CAMERA OUTSIDE FOR A FIGHT, LIKE]
I think it’s important, like, to undermine Urchin Boy Rocky at this stage, as an act of self-preservation: he’s shit, his sandwiches are shit, the costumes are shit, and this is a shit sandwich, with bread made of shit and the filling. Anyone who calls me a Geordie is gonna get a thump, like.
Scene 8. Int. FTSE 100 company, still riding high in deregulated times. Conference room. Day
MACKEM LEADS THE NEGOTIATIONS. HE HAS DRAWN ON A PENCIL MOUSTACHE. IT IS ALMOST SPIV-LIKE
I think it’s a shit quote, but a boy has told me to tell you that it’s £65 a head.
BOSS OF COMPANY:
That’s a little steep. Can you quote me happy?
£64.99 a head?
BOSS OF COMPANY:
That’s quoting me furious.
£64.95? And that’s my final offer.
BOSS OF COMPANY:
Wait, wait! A pound a head.
BOSS OF COMPANY:
What do you take me for? Some kind of pilchard?
We’ll pay you.
BOSS OF COMPANY:
Now you’re talking my language!
MACKEM OPENS RAINCOAT TO REVEAL SILK STOCKINGS AND CORNED BEEF IN POCKETS
Can I interest you in any of these while I’m here?
NICK WRITES DOWN “SPIV” IN MASSIVE LETTERS FOR THE CAMERA, WHILE ROLLING EYES IN AN EXAGGERATED MANNER, AS IF PERHAPS HE’S MATTHEW CORBETT ON THE SOOTY SHOW
Scene 9. Ext. The hustling, bustling City of Old London Town, in the shadow of a big skyscraper in the shape of a dollar sign, with not a single trader on the roof, tossing himself off. Day
THE IRISH ONE WITH A DRAWN-ON BEARD THAT HE HASN’T FINISHED DRAWING ON YET IS DRESSED AS AN ATHLETE AND IS TRYING TO SELL A PEANUT BUTTER SANDWICH TO A TOP CITY SLICKER AS HE IS CARRIED PAST IN A SEDAN CHAIR BY GORDON BROWN AND ALISTAIR DARLING, AS THEY LOOKED IN 2008, IE. MUCH YOUNGER AND MORE CAREFREE [ALISTAIR DARLING’S HAIR IS BLACK]
THE IRISH ONE WITH A DRAWN-ON BEARD THAT HE HASN’T FINISHED DRAWING ON YET:
Gentlemen, can I tempt you with an Olympics 2012-themed sandwich? We call it the Michael Phelps Sandwich, as it’s got peanut butter in it, and no butter, obviously, because who in this day and age expects butter in a sandwich? It’s also got chlorine in it, to represent swimming.
THE CITY SLICKER THROWS A $100 BILL OUT OF THE SEDAN CHAIR BUT DOES NOT EVEN BOTHER TAKING THE SANDWICH. JAMES IS SEEN IN THE BACKGROUND WITH A MEGAPHONE USING HIS BIG MOUTH TO SHOUT INCESSANTLY ABOUT HIMSELF AND HOW HIS SPIT TASTES OF SUCCESS
Scene 10. Int. Lidl. Day
PASHMINA IS ACTIONING SOME FOOD – THE GIRLS DASH ROUND THE AISLES LIKE IT’S SUPERMARKET SWEEP. MINIONS PRESENT HUGE BAGS OF THE CHEAPEST ECONOMY FROZEN CHICKEN AND THE CHEAPEST ECONOMY FLATBREADS IN THE SHOP TO HER
10p for 100 indeterminate knuckles of mechanically recovered meat from an abbatoir bin that have been shown a photo of some chickens. Bargain, Leader!
Too expensive. Haggle with the man at the till and try to knock it down to 9p. Don’t forget, our city slickers will be drugged and sedated by the time the food comes out, so they will not notice the quality of the meat, or otherwise. Idiots. Have any of you run a restaurant? I don’t think so.
Scene 11. Int. Other kitchen. Day
CREAMPUFF AND IRISH ONE ARE PREPARING HIGH-END MEDITERRANEAN TREATS BY THROWING FISTFULS OF SQUASHED ECONOMY TOMATOES AT THE WALL, THEN USING LARGE HUNKS OF BREAD THEY STOLE OFF SOME DUCKS IN THE PARK LAKE TO WIPE IT OFF WITH. ALL BODES WELL
Scene 12. Int. Kitchen. Day
URCHIN BOY ROCKY PROFESSIONALLY SPREADS PEANUT BUTTER ONTO BROWN BREAD, CONFIDENT THAT CITY SLICKERS WILL GO FOR IT IN A BIG WAY, JUST LIKE HIS 20 MILLION SATISFIED CUSTOMERS IN THE NORTH DO – HE’S LIKE TOM CRUISE IN COCKTAIL, FLIPPING JARS OF PEANUT BUTTER OVER HIS HEAD AND BALANCING THEM ON THE END OF A BIG SPATULA. THE OTHER BOYS LOOK ON IN CONFIDENT AMAZEMENT, EXCEPT MACKEM, WHO SHAKES HIS HEAD, AND NICK, WHO SHAKES HIS HEAD
Scene 13. Ext. Ye Olde Threadneedle Street, City Of Londonium. Day
AN ANGRY MOB OF EMACIATED CITY SLICKERS CHASE THE BRUNETTE ONE FROM LAST WEEK AND MOMMA AND THE REDHEAD ONE DOWN THE STREET, WAVING WRAPS WITH NOTHING WRAPPED INSIDE THEM EXCEPT POST-IT NOTES SAYING “APRIL FOOL”, PLASTIC TUBS FILLED WITH HUMAN HAIR AND TIN-FOIL PLATTERS OF DRY 70s LETTUCE
BRUNETTE ONE FROM LAST WEEK:
Thanks for your feedback.
Scene 14. Int. The Actual Gherkin. Conference room. Day
A WORRIED EXEC WRINGS HIS HANDS AS THE CLOCK TICKS EVER NEARER TO 6.30. THE BOYS ARE STILL DECORATING A TABLE WITH A PIECE OF GOLD PAPER AND A CANDELABRA AND A BALLOON IN THE GREEK/ROMAN STYLE
Chop chop, gentleman – it’s nearly time for the opening ceremony of the 2012 Olympics.
[MUTTERS] I’m embarrassed. I disassociate myself from this farrago. It’s shit. It’s shitter than shit. It’s shit with a hint of shit. Shit is looking at this and calling it shit.
URCHIN BOY ROCKY:
[HEARD FROM KITCHEN] Which way round is a sandwich? Is it two pieces of filling on the outside and a piece of bread in the middle? I can never remember!
Scene 15. Int. Reception room. Day
THE GIRLS SERVE THEIR GIANT-SIZED MEDITERRANEAN CANOPIES TO THE ASSEMBLED CLIENTS OF THE CHICAGO BANK: WHOLE BAGUETTES DIPPED IN TOMATO, FLATBREADS WITH “BLINI” WRITTEN ON THEM IN MARKER PEN, ALSO DIPPED IN TOMATO, AND DOG FOOD SMEARED ON SOME OLD TILES THEY FOUND IN A SKIP WITH A LEAF OF BASIL ON
[GAGGING] I’m going to swallow this mouthful of vomit, because I don’t know where to put it.
[TO CAMERA] It’ll be fine. The Rohypnol will start to take effect in a minute, and we can just start ramming the food down their throats like we’re guards at the Maze Prison. That’s how it works.
Scene 16. Int. The Actual Gherkin. Conference room. Day
MARGARET WRITES DOWN THE WORDS “BARE ARMS” AND “SPOTTY BACKS” AS A SALIVATING JAMES, A GRINNING UPSIDE-DOWN HEAD AND THE IRISH ONE WITH A DRAWN-ON BEARD THAT HE HASN’T FINISHED DRAWING ON YET MOVE AMONG THE CITY SLICKERS BEARING TRAYS OF BUTTERLESS PEANUT BUTTER SANDWICHES ON STICKS, WEARING TOGAS THAT REVEAL THEIR BARE ARMS AND SPOTTY BACKS
[BARELY ABOUT TO FORM WORDS DUE TO THE SUCCESS-FLAVOURED DROOL COMING OUT OF HIS MOUTH] … And this one represents the Indian subcontinent because it’s shaped like India, you see?
THE IRISH ONE WITH A DRAWN-ON BEARD THAT HE HASN’T FINISHED DRAWING ON YET:
… And if you join the dots on my back, it forms a likeness of Michael Phleps, who is in the Olympics 2012.
UPSIDE DOWN HEAD CRASHES BACK INTO THE KITCHEN WITH A FULL TRAY, GROANING WITH UNEATEN, RETURNED AND IN SOME CASES REGURGITATED CHEESE-AND-PICKLE-ON-STICKS
The ploughman’s-themed ploughman’s are going great guns. Make some more, make some more!
Scene 17. Int. Sir Alan’s waiting room. Night
IMPIRE AND EGNITE SIT WITH THEIR SUITCASES EXPECTANTLY. THE BOYS KNOW THEY’VE WON. THE GIRLS KNOW THEY’VE WON
ACTRESS PLAYING FRANCES:
A production assistant says for you to go in now.
THEY TROOP INTO THE BOARDROOM, SOME OF THEM ACTUALLY GULPING SO THAT YOU CAN SEE THEIR ADAM’S APPLES MOVING UP AND DOWN LIKE DAFFY DUCK
Scene 18. Int. Boardroom set. Night
JAMES STARTS BANGING HIS FISTS ON THE TABLE
[BANG] It’s not my fault! [BANG] I was brilliant. [BANG] I could taste enzymes in my spit when I woke up this morning! [BANG] Sack them! [BANG] Sack them! [BANG] Save me! [BANG] I have so much more to offer!
I haven’t told you who bladdy won yet!
The girls have won.
I have won!
You won because your clients paid you 2p and the boys’ clients paid them 1p. I would say it’s a Pyrrhic victory, but I don’t bladdy know what the bladdy hell that means because I was born in the back of a van in some old rags.
I still won. And it wasn’t my hair in the hair salad, it was that girl’s. [POINTS TO CREAMPUFF, WHOSE NAME SHE CAN’T EVEN BE BOTHERED TO LEARN]
You, sonny [POINTS AT URCHIN BOY ROCKY], you’d better decided who you’re gonna bring back in here.
URCHIN BOY ROCKY:
Him and him. [POINTS AT JAMES AND HAPLESS, EASILY THE MOST LOYAL AND USEFUL TEAM MEMBERS]
JAMES, SUCCESSFUL SPIT POURING DOWN HIS CHIN, BRINGS HIS FISTS SMASHING DOWN ONTO THE BOARDROOM TABLE
And you [POINTS AT THE GIRLS] are gonna learn how to drink champagne and be smug at an exclusive polo club, whatever that is, in the country, wherever that is.
I’ve always wanted to learn that.
THE BLONDE ONE:
Now, it champagne hot or cold? I know it’s a firm favourite.
THE GIRLS ACTUALLY SKIP OUT, LIKE GIRLS, THE BLONDE ONE ACTUALLY CANTERING AS IF ON AN IMAGINARY POLO HORSE
JAMES: [TO CAMERA, CRYING]
I feel hurt. I feel the same way I did when my hamster died when I was four. That’s how hurt I feel. I feel the same way I did when my first girlfriend chucked me. That’s how hurt I feel. I feel the same way I did when my parents told me I was adopted, and that’s why they didn’t really feel any kind of emotional bond with me, no matter how hard they’d tried. That’s how hurt I feel. I feel the same way I did when I just plucked one of my own nose-hairs out. That’s how hurt I feel.
Scene 19. Int. Boardroom. Day
URCHIN BOY ROCKY, HAPLESS AND JAMES COME BACK IN, SHAME-FACED, EXCEPT JAMES, WHO IS WEARING SACKCLOTH AND ASHES
[IGNORING SIR ALAN] I blame you!
[IGNORING SIR ALAN] I blame one of the others..
URCHIN BOY ROCKY:
[IGNORING SIR ALAN] My mum’s going to be wondering where I am.
Talk among yourselves why don’t you? James, you’re a bladdy foghorn loudmouth bigmouth Dartford Tunnel rabbiting yap-yap-yap ow-my-ears-have-fallen-off look-at-that-donkey-with-no-hindquarters! I’m straggling with you, and I’m straggling with you [POINTS AT HAPLESS] because I just am, but you, sonny-Jim fella-me-lad half-pint [POINTS AT URCHIN BOY ROCKY], you may once have had a trial for Middlesborough, but it’s time for the whistle, you’re not singing any more, you will walk alone, and other footballing cliches I’ve had written for me: you’ve made some immature mistakes, such as drawing on the wall with crayons and doing a wee in your pants and losing your bike, and I can’t have lost bikes at my company, so I’m afraid, you’re fired.
URCHIN BOY ROCKY IS PICKED UP BY HIS MUM AND TAKEN HOME. JAMES STARTS TO MEND THE BOARDROOM TABLE
Scene 20. Int. Penthouse. West London. Night
BOYS AND GIRLS GATHER AROUND A BURNING AN EFFIGY OF JAMES
We never liked James. He’s got a big gob.
We never liked him either. We’re glad he’s bound to have been fired by now.
JAMES WALKS IN, WITH HAPLESS IN TOW. BOYS AND GIRLS CHEER AND WHOOP AND HIDE EFFIGY. THEY CARRY JAMES AT SHOULDER HEIGHT AROUND THE PENTHOUSE IN A SWIRL OF PARTY POPPERS AND STREAMERS AND VENAL DISHONESTY
Scene 18. Int. Cab to the north. Night
URCHIN BOY ROCKY IS ASLEEP ON HIS MUM’S SHOULDER
URCHIN BOY ROCKY’S MUM:
He’s had a long day, bless him.
The search for the Apprentice continues. Next week, our 13 candidates are cleaning toilets for Arab sheiks.
Most of the flats in Portobello Lofts are empty and available to rent, snapped up last year, no doubt, in the last gasp of the doomed buy-to-let boom after Talkback had finished with the recently completed high specification new built development overlooking the grand union canal and located within the Portobello Dock regeneration area. Please come and rent them. Pleeeease. We’ll throw in a blini?