Tuesday, 3 April 2007

The Worst Rejection Letter Ever

OK, so here's my worst rejection ever. It came to a programme format called The Greedy Bastard Show. The idea was to try and encourage people to do really bad things for money, to see how low they would go.

(Note to self: when following last time's tv secret rename the programme The How Low Would You Go Show. Better title. Rhymes and that. Hmmm.)

So this show was an hour-long late-night gameshow. The contestants would have no idea what was going to happen, and be known only by nicknames. Fatty, Skinny, Four-Eyes, Ugly, Dogface etc. The first round would be Piss Wins Prizes, where portaloos are wheeled on and the person who pisses the least is eliminated.

We'd then have a series of animals to be, er, humanely destroyed, starting with an ant (for a fiver) and then ending on a cute ickle doggie. Would you put a dog down for a hundred grand? If the contestant, like any normal person (but unlike most people who want to be on tv) was appalled, we'd say the poor ickle doggie was dying. In pain. The owner was going to do it anyway. Press the button to end Rover's life. Go on.

There were other games, from ringing up your partner and pretending to be HIV+ to smashing up badly-needed NHS equipment to win a Fiesta. The last round involved choosing between helping something you really believed in, like a charity or cause, and winning hard cash.

Before you lynch me, the whole thing was a spoof. Only the contestants and studio audience thought it was real. No doggie would die. Girlfriend knew boyfriend was reading a script. The NHS equipment wasn't real. We'd only reveal this after the last episode finished with what looked like someone dying and the show falling off air.

Cool eh? Well, sort of. Post-modern and ironic we thought, as did the boss of the achingly-trendy and edgy company I was working for. I'd never managed to impress him much - too square and sensible for his addled eyes - but this show made him howl with joy.

So I sent it in. To, er, the BBC. To a bigwig there I'd met once about a sitcom. He'd been very nice and seemed to like the comedy idea... well, until the mad idiot who was funding the pilot pissed everyone off and the sitcom fell to bits around me. That's another story.

He sent me back a letter saying that he thought the show wasn't post-modern or ironic, just awful and a new low for television. The idea about abortion made him physically sick. I won't type it in here as it was really, really, REALLY bad.

He ended by saying if British television ever screened anything this exploitative he'd leave the country, and that it was customary to wish people success elsewhere with a programme that was being rejected, but he wasn't going to do that here.

I was scared. Terrified. A really big important man hated me and thought I was a sicko. So I hid the letter and told my boss we hadn't heard anything. And buried The Greedy Bastard Show away.

Ironically, if not post-modernly, the BBC bigwig then left the country. And British tv began to screen shows where shouting Welshman set fire to their penises, and minor celebrities ate testicles for laughs. And, apparently, a radio station somewhere did Piss Wins Prizes.


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