Alexei Sayle Column

Recently, my wife read a magazine article on how to tell if you've got halitosis. Apparently, to check whether your breath is smelly or not, what you do is lick your wrist then let it dry and then you sniff your wrist and if it's smelly then your breath is smelly. So I tried this and, sure enough, there was smelliness, and yet, when I breathed on a few close friends, just for confirmation of halitosis, they all said my breath did not smell at all. So now what I've discovered is I've got a very strange medical condition: though the air I exhale is as sweet as daisies - I've got smelly wrists! The space between my hands and my forearms pongs. As a result, I've taken to wearing voluminous shirts with big puffy sleeves and long frilly lace cuffs in order to contain the noxious aroma.

It's not very practical having long frilly cuffs when you're mxt mghgg typing because the cuffs keep getting tangled up with the wordprocessor keys. This is a particular problem at the moment, as I'm doing loads of typing. I've decided I've had enough of cult fame and I want to be the writer of a really popular mainstream television series. Now the big thing at the moment in popular drama is detective shows, featuring a detective who is not actually a policeman but still solves crimes. So you have the hugely popular Cracker, where the main character is a psychologist who solves crimes; Hetty Wainthrop Investigates, where an old biddy solves crimes; and Pie in the Sky, where a chef solves crimes. Mind you - as a friend of mine pointed out - the real police can't solve crimes so why a fat cook should be able to do so is anybody's guess. Nevertheless, these shows are extremely popular so I've decided to knuckle down and write the definitive version.

My series is going to be called Bold As Bacon and it will be about a father and son team. Matthew and Mark Bold, who travel round the open- air markets of the North-west of England, selling bacon from a stall. But of course they don't just sell bacon, they solve crimes as well. During the first few episodes of Bold As Bacon, filmed in the picturesque Victorian wrought-iron markets of Preston, Bolton and Lancaster, many of the crimes will be bacon-related, but after that the storylines will widen out to include such topics as environmental pollution, town-hall corruption and the horrific gory murder of local prostitutes. There will also be ample opportunity every week for father and son to wax lyrical about the properties of cured porky products. There will be long monologues on the subject of best streaky, jamon serrano, and jambon de Bayonne. And - get this! - in one episode the son falls in love with a vegetarian! Just before she is graphically chopped to bits by a deranged loony.

Bold As Bacon will start out quite quietly, audience-wise, but soon it will be attracting a solid following. The first series will top out at around 12 million viewers. The second series will start like gangbusters - with a controversial serial killer on the loose, gruesomely murdering women using a bacon slicer - and it will keep powering on up the ratings. There will be Bafta nominations for best actor and best drama series. The tabloids will start to take an interest in the cast - it will be revealed that the actor playing the dad is allergic to pork and all the bacon in the show is cunningly hand-painted fibreglass. The young actor playing the son will appear on Have I Got News For You, on Ian's team, and will be dubbed a "love cheat" in the Sun by an ex-girlfriend. The "dad and his lad" will have the number one single over the Christmas holidays in 1998 with a soupy re-recording of the old Was Not Was track "Woodwork Squeaks and Out Come the Freaks".

By the third series, things will be starting to slide. I'll be too involved in other projects to take much interest and the writing will be farmed out to a number of hacks. Twenty-nine different TV reviewers will write critical pieces with the title "Old as Bacon" and think they're being original. By the fourth series, the show will be locked into an escalating cycle of more and more explicit murders of women and the stall will have started selling mops and buckets as well as bacon in an attempt to broaden the subject matter out a bit. But the ratings will continue to slip. Scripts for the fifth series will be written, but the series will be cancelled just before shooting begins. The older actor, deeply upset by this betrayal, leaves his wife for the young woman who trained the pig that was a regular character in series three. The younger actor, his boyish good looks starting to fade, is doing panto in Lewisham. The hit series of that year will be Coco the Constable, about a clown who solves crimes.

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