Steve stared at the screens with an intense gaze for the next fifteen minutes, as the first guest spot went by without a hitch. As the show cut to the break, Tony excused himself and walked casually backstage, where, once out of sight of the audience, he immediately stormed into the control room and shouted.
“STEVE. What the fuck was that? You promised me we had someone else?”
“Tony, I spoke to them and...”
“I don't care. I don't care Steve. I can't believe you did that. Don't ever speak to me again outside of this show.”
“I, I'm sorry Tony, but we...”
With that he stomped back to the side of the stage, where he proceeded to walk suavely to his desk ready for the second part of the show.
“Please welcome my next guest. The.” Tony made a fractional pause, barely enough to register, but enough to demonstrate his contempt for what was to follow to his director. “The .. star of Born in Sussex, Mario Wright!”
Mario walked on to screams from a large section of the crowd, who were ecstatic to see the man of the moment in front of them.
“What happened to Tanya and Annie?” remarked a member of the audience. “I heard Tanya killed Annie.” replied the lady sat next to her.
Mario sat, observed the studio and remarked in a forced cockney accent with well rehearsed butch-tinged campness.“Hi Tony, I luv what yuve done wiv the set dear, a beautiful feminine colour.”
Just as he did so a huge thud went through the microphones. Tony looked around in puzzlement, cleverly disguising the fact that he had just kicked the side of his desk with such force that it was surprising he didn't spin round in his chair out of recoil.
“Thank you Mario. It's super isn't it.” remarked Tony, at which point Steve raised his fist in the direction of the head writer, before realising this part of the show had no autocue.
“So, er... as the most popular cast member of Born in Sussex, what do you think it is that has attracted people to the show?” Tony asked with genuine interest.
“Well. I fink it's cos we ah reyal people, ya know? We jus do what we do an people cun relate to it.”
Tony, resisting with all his might the urge to roll his eyes, tried to think of the most intelligent set of questions he could having had no time to prepare, and presuming that Mario's IQ was about the equivalent of a rather small hamster. “Yes, that certainly comes across in the show, no one can ever doubt that all of the cast are showing themselves as they truly are, the good and the bad right?”
“Weev all dun stupid stuff right? It's jus dat ours is put up der fur everywan ta see it.”
Tony contemplated smashing his glass of water into Mario's mahogany face. “What's the most embarrassing thing you've ever done that's been shown on TV so far?”
“Well Tarny, once I's got into a fight wiv dis girl I met in a bar. We was pashing on da floor wen her mate came up and tried ta steal ma phaan. We ended up in a right ald barny.”
Somehow, Tony managed to make it through another ten minutes with Mario, and through the remaining guest without anything going wrong. When the audience had gradually filtered out, he sat down at his desk, and gently banged his head on the surface several times.
Steve walked onto the set and towards Tony. “Tony, please let me explain.”
“Fuck off Steve. Just fuck off.” he mumbled through the desk.
“I didn't mean for this to happen Tony. I really tried.” pleaded Steve.
Tony lifted his head. “Steve. I am not a violent man, but if you don't leave right this second in a cloud of silence I will smash this desk lamp through your skull. Are we clear?”
Steve nodded and walked off the stage, as he did Mario, sensing Tony was in distress, came on to have a word.
“I thought it went rather well personally.” Mario remarked in extravagantly luvvey tones.
“Who the fuck are...jesus christ.” spluttered Tony.
“I have to say I'm a big fan. I thought your performance in The Slightly Camp Transvestite and Vampire Show was incredible. Truly moving. I wish I had your range and charisma darling.”
“Erm, thanks.” replied a bewildered Tony.
“One day I hope I can make it to the West End and do what you do so well.”
“But you, sound so...”
“Different? Well one has to get fully in character darling.”
“So I see Mario. So I see.”
“Are you alright Tony?”
“I will be. Thanks.”
“Ok. Take care Tony.” With that Mario walked off set.