For three days the argument between Tony and Steve over this weeks guests had raged on, constantly battling to find the right balance between popularity and quality, or the Schofield Ratio, as it was commonly known.
“I am not having some blonde airhead with bright orange fake tan and blinding jewellery on my show Steve.” Tony remarked. “I don't care how well known their show is, he is not appearing on mine.”
“But it's the most popular show on British TV right now Tony. It will guarantee us the ratings we need in one go. That leaves the rest of the guest slots open to people with real talents.” Steve argued passionately.
“Not a chance Steve. It will be a warm day in Leeds before Mario Wright appears on my show.”
“Without him there isn't likely to be anyone on your show ever again Tony. You heard what Gerald said.”
“Oh please, he is just trying to scare us!”
“You clearly haven't worked with him before. Once, when another of my shows dipped below the ratings for Channel 5, he shot at my foot. Not an airgun. Not a pellet gun. A sodding real gun. He missed by about an inch. The bullet went through the floor.”
“Don't exaggerate Steve.”
“I wish I was Tony. His dictatorship permits loaded weapons to be kept in parliamentary buildings.”
“His what in the what?”
“Never mind, but we NEED Mario on that show.”
“I'm sorry, but the answer is no. Please find someone else. Please Steve.”
“I'll see what I can do Tony.”
A few hours passed. Steve called back with some good news.
“Tony, I think we have some good news. The girls from Wild About Animals are free, I'll book them on.”
“Thanks Steve.” replied Tony cheerfully.
That night Tony revised his research on the other guests, and found as much as he could about Wild About Animals. He went to bed with a positive aurora around him. Tomorrows show has a great mix of intelligence and popularity. Who could argue with it?
The next evening Tony strolled into the studio, went to his changing room and prepared for the show. Thirty minutes later the call came. “Mr James to the stage please.”
The music started, Tony waved to the cameras and audience, and walked up to the stage marker, checking the introductory autocue before introducing himself. “Welcome to the Tony James Show! I'm your host for this evening, Tony James!”
Steve rolled his eyes and shouted “Where's that fucking writer?”
“On tonight’s show we have star of Accident and Emergency, Jonathan Scott. Classical music star Janine Riley, and star... of... Born in Sussex...” Tony glanced off to the stage left with as close to a glare as he would allow himself on live TV. “Mario Wright.”
The audience screamed at the mention of Mario, as did Tony, except he kept his scream professionally silent, for the time being. Steve, sat by the control desk with an extra strong cappuccino in his hand, paused, looked slightly awkwardly at the researcher to his right, and then back to the screens in front of him.