Tales From The Ridge

Wednesday, March 08, 2006


Never work with children or animals, they'd said. I should update it, thought the producer. Never work with children, animals or the chronically depressed. He tapped his clipboard agitatedly; they'd been here for four hours already, and nothing. Yes, technically they'd got all night, but...well, he hadn't got all night.

"Come on, what's the hold up?" he said, to no-one in particular.

They looked out into the studio at the man. He was sat on a simple wooden chair in a clear plexiglass booth surrounded by an organised tangle of wires. A camera sat and stared straight at his face as others ogled him from every conceivable angle, for replay after endless replay. The production team watched him expectantly, as they had done for the last four hours. The man bent his head forward and spoke quietly into the microphone on his lapel, and a voice floated out into the editing booth.

"Uh, Mr Partney?" the voice said, "I...uh, I still don't know if I can go through with this."

"Oh for god's sake," said the producer, "Jerry, get on the mike and tell him...tell him he can take as long as he likes, and we're very proud of him, and we know he can do it, and we're sure he wouldn't want to let us down. Some crap like that."

Jerry bent forward and spoke soothingly into his desktop microphone. The producer rubbed his head. Three months of interviews to find the right candidate. Weeks of psychological profiling. Days to build the studio and the booth. Advertising, promotions, trailers. A prime-time Saturday night slot. And the money - all that money! And now this schmo was having second thoughts? Unbelievable!

"You've all been so nice to me," came the disembodied voice, "And, well, that's partly why I'm not sure about this any more. I don't...I've been thinking, perhaps we--"

"Screw that," said the producer as the voice continued to drift out above them, "I've had enough of this loser. I want to get home at some point this evening. Jerry, can you tell him to hold it up to his head anyway, just so we can use the footage for some publicity stills? OK?"

Jerry bent over his microphone and began to speak.

"OK, now we're talking. Camera 1, get tight in on that gun," said the producer, "And Bill, get ready with that remote trigger. People, it's time to make the magic happen."

Who did that loser think he was? If the networks had paid for a suicide, then a suicide was what they'd get. This was television.