A satire about the BBC by Robert Khan and Tom Salinsky

Extract

Noel: Look guys, just tell me what are you doing with the website fuck-up? I think I know who's behind it.

Carter: No-one is behind it. Current affairs always lunges for the nearest passing conspiracy. The school of journalism that prefers primal suspicion over the mindless boredom of facts.

Rachel: I agree. Noel do they train you in paranoia in current affairs?

Noel: You both know I can't talk about that.

Rachel: Alright, let's humour you then. If this isn't some sort of accidental virus what is it?

Noel: Before we go any further, I need to know that I can trust you.

Rachel: Just a minute, Noel, you came marching in here to tell us you had a story. We didn't seek you out. If you've got something to tell us, go ahead. Otherwise, back off to current affairs with you.

Noel: [to Anna] This is why I wanted you to prepare the ground for me.

Anna: Well, this is why I told you to come back later when I had prepared the ground for you.

Carter: It's like running a kindergarten in here. Noel - for the love of god, who in your paranoid delusions do you imagine is "behind" the BBC news website dropping off line for a few hours?

Noel: Can I swear you to secrecy on this?

Carter: Absolutely not.

Noel: Right okay. Well, you all saw last week's Panorama right?

Anna: I prefer Corrie to be honest.

Carter: That bloody theme tune. So portentous.

Anna: Ba, ba, ba, bah, ba.

Carter: Ba, bah, de, dum.

Rachel: Da, da, dah, da, da, da.

Anna / Carter / Rachel: Ba, baa, ba, da, dah.

They collapse in laughter.

Noel: Yeah thanks guys. The episode on the Million Man Mind. It was quite a big story. You trailed it yourself on the Six. In February?

Carter: Oh yes this is ringing a bell now. Those nutters who make the scientologists look grounded. They believe that by just sitting around and having a good think they can change the course of history. I prefer the Raelists. Or the Russian Sect Of The Gadget Hack-Wrench. They're really kooky.

Noel: They weren't very happy about the coverage. We had a lot of complaints over the weekend.

Rachel: Surely cults like publicity? Helps recruit even more lonely weirdos to their lunatic causes.

Noel: They're a secret cult. So being broadcast about to several million people-

Anna: It's Panorama darling. Let's not get carried away.

Noel: Okay, okay... being broadcast to at least several thousand people is not likely to endear the BBC to them.

Rachel: Noel have you actually got any proof that the British Broadcasting Corporation is currently experiencing a cyber-bollocking from a secret cult?

Noel: Well, it's a bit more complicated than that. I've been working on a follow up, but as of yesterday I've been completely shut down. My editor won't even discuss it with me. But I've found some very disturbing new evidence since then.

Rachel: Evidence? About what?

Noel: I can't tell you, not yet. I can't risk them knowing I'm on to them.

Carter: Them!? Listen to yourself, for Christ's sake!

Rachel: Yes, I think we'll need more than a few darkly muttered hints before we make ourselves officially eligible for the BAFTA news tits of the year award. We need to be cautious here. It's all right for you lot. I've been through enough moments of insanity in this organisation to last three careers. And I'm not just talking about you-know-who. Where were you when Blue Peter buried the wrong cat? Or when the spooks from BBC Strategy got caught fomenting that witch-hunt against the Antiques Roadshow? Or the time when we filmed the Queen from the forbidden angle? And now, with no evidence whatsoever, you want us to claim live on air that the finest technology of the BBC has been commandeered by some sort of telepathic mind meld from beyond time?

Noel: I don't think even they believe they're from beyond time, to be fair.

Rachel: Okay, let's clear this up right now. Anna, get someone from the website on the phone.

Anna: I tried that already. There's a message guaranteeing to get back to all calls within a minimum of ten working days. They did send me a statement.

Noel: Which said?

Anna: "No comment."

Noel: The BBC news website goes down for no apparent reason, and the people who run the BBC news website are refusing to talk to their colleagues in the BBC news department about it? Doesn't that sound the least bit suspicious to any of you?

Rachel: Hmm. Maybe just a little. Time was we could just have walked down the corridor. Poor bastards have all been moved to Salford as part of the great northern excommunication.

Anna / Carter: Ugh, Salford.

They all cross themselves.

Rachel: Tell you what, I'll give their editorial team a ring. Derek Gadd's in charge up there now. Another contact from my costume drama days. He's a good chap. We were on the same side during the Great Middlemarch Uprising of 1994.

She picks up her mobile and starts dialling.

Carter: God bless the BBC's regional focus. Up north for God and kids, Bristol for zebras and chaffinches, and Cardiff for anything that requires encasing in prosthetic foam rubber.

Rachel's phone connects.

Rachel: Derek hi. It's Rachel Clarke, acting head of news....Yes, well I was surprised too. How's it going up in Salford? Ah, sorry to ask. Look, what's the deal with the website - it's just a glitch surely, nothing sinister? No, I'm not recording this. Why would I be recording this?! I'm not broadcasting you live. I'm just a colleague talking to another colleague... Well, if that's the way you feel...

She looks at the phone.

Anna: Well...?

Rachel: He hung up.

Noel: There is something going on, surely you can see that now? We've got to investigate further.

Rachel: Noel, in times of crisis the BBC bears a strong resemblance to a student union that's been merged at knifepoint with the Vatican, by way of the Chinese communist party. Every step can be treacherous.

Carter: So the guidelines are Holy Writ.