By Adrian Tullberg.
Apologies to those real people featured in this fic …
"What did you want to see me about, Mr. Dyke?"
"Greg. It's Greg luv. Fancy a drink?"
"It's 10 in the morning."
"Just how long have you worked in TV then?"
"Ah … I started as a trainee in 1979 …"
"Give it time. What I wanted to talk to you about is this bringing Doctor Who back on TV. Lot of publicity you've drummed up."
"I have to admit, I was pleasantly surprised by the amount of attention the announcement made … we're getting worldwide coverage out of two or three press announcements, and we haven't spent a cent in advertising. It was even featured on Aint It Cool News."
"Er … no. It's an Internet website. It's run by Harry Knowles? Large chap, ginger hair?"
"Oh. He liked it then?"
"Well … he said he wasn't against it."
"And that's good."
"Remember the rumours of a new Superman movie? Massive budget, effects rivalling The Matrix? Mr. Knowles got one look at the script, and stated his public contempt. Vultures have been flying around the project ever since."
"Ah. Okay then. Remind me to put him on the Christmas card list, would you?"
"Can we get back on …"
"Nice bottle of Champers as well. Can't object to a Bolly at Christmas, can he?"
"You wanted to bring something up with me, Greg?"
"Oh yeah. Look, have you heard the expression; there's no such thing as bad publicity?"
"It's bollocks. Complete and utter."
"I … does this have anything …"
"Image counts more than ever before in this day and age. You might get your fifteen minute fix of fame on a reality show, but once that wears off, you're a sad bastard for the rest of your life, understand?"
"Perfectly, but I don't …"
"I'm getting to that. The fact is, a stain on public image is like a chocolate body sauce stain on a 'virgin' bride's knickers; a miracle to scrub off and a bugger to explain away."
"Just how on Earth did you come up with that metaphor?"
"It's a gift. The point is, you're going to give Doctor Who a big stain if you're not careful."
"That writer, Russell Davies."
"He's a fantastic writer. He's …"
"Yes, yes, I know. Critically acclaimed. Fans of the show love him. World renowned. His work spun off in America, la de da. That's not going to count worth a pinch of shit when it comes to the bottom line, does it?"
"Bums on seats. Ratings. I had a confidential conversation with some of the Governors – you know, one of those 'this never happened' talks? Anyway, they take a dim view of one of our most well known properties being in control of a raving poof."
"Weren't most of the Governors products of a good British Public School education?"
"Don't play funny buggers concerning irony with me."
"I must object to a man's personal life being used…"
"Hang on, hang on. Settle down. I don't care if he rogers Alsatians in his backyard meself, but he's responsible for Queer As Folk, isn't he? Have you read some of the articles you're so proud of? Half of them have 'Doctor Who Comes Out of the Phone Booth' or other clever variations. And the fact is, your average mum and dad might object to letting little John and Sally watch a show which might result in a rather painful explanation about what the hero is doing with his good friends Ben Doon and Phil McCavity, know what I mean?"
"I … it's a family show, we have gone over this …"
"I know that. You know that. But the fact is, the bloody ignorant masses out there haven't got their heads around that simple concept, have they?"
"What … do you have something in mind, sir?"
"Well, as a matter of fact, your Uncle Greg does. You are going to hold some auditions for the bird that follows Doctor Who around."
"Wh … but … we haven't even cast the Doctor yet …"
"Hang on, hang on … I said audition them, not cast them. Look, you get some tasty birds, particularly ones that the general public know are shaggable. Run them through a few lines, make some tapes. Then when asked, you admit who's been auditioned, say that you are looking for the right girl, but no firm decision has been made. They'll run their publicity shots in the mags, you'll get some extra juice for the project, and most importantly, the good Doctor is not going to be seen as a woolly woofter, okay?"
"An hour or two during the two weeks. Get Davies to come up with some dialogue, and I'll set up studio time. I've even set up some names already. Just confirm with them over the next two days, and you'll be set. Who knows, you might even find the right girl for the role …"
Lorraine shut the door, and took a breath, clutching the sheet of names and contact details.
He's got a point, in a way. Besides how bad can it be?
A few seconds later, she realised that that question should have been asked after she looked at who was on the list …
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