As ratings fell heavily down on Walford, a borough of East London, Peggy Mitchell opened the doors of the Queen Vic and another episode of the feeble once-popular soap opera 'Eastenders' began.
''Allo, Peggy', Dot Cotton said to her in that voice that sounds like an undertaker on Prozac's as she went into that public house, 'can I have my usual please?' 'One strychnine wiv arsenic coming up', Peggy said, and then passed Dot the drink and said 'That'll be a farthing, if you please. 'Oo says this 'drama' is ridiculously out of date?'
At that moment Biancker wandered in and said 'Is it true that fings 'ave become so desperate that the Beeb has had to fall back on a back catalorg of past characters annat, Peggy?' 'Nah, you're finking of that uvvah BBC programme, wotsit called again?' 'Match of the Day?', suggested Dot. 'Nah, not that. Got it! 'Tommy Trinder at the Walford Palladium'!'
'That's a rather old act', Dot said morosely, sipping at her strychnine, 'put some more weedkiller in this would you, Peggy? Thank you. Tommy Trinder's a bit old hat, even for the BBC, I remember his catchphrase 'If it's larfter you're arfter, Trinder's to blame for makin' you cry!' like it was only 70 years ago.' Rickay walks in. ''Oi, Biancker, gripe, moan, complain, innit? Moan, moan, moan, yawn, yawn, yawn, yawn.' 'RICKAY!!!!!!!!!!', Biancker shouted at him, sounding like a ginger-coloured cat dragging its claws down an ironing board, 'whatcha doin' back 'ere in Walford? Fought we'd gone and gort rid of you, ya boring git!'
'Well', he said, shuffling his feet awkwardly, 'my agent said all of us here is typecast and can't be anyfink else except for, well, Rickay and Biancker an' stuff.' 'You mean like Leslie Whatisname will always be 'Iffy Den'?' 'Yeah, you've put it in a sprocket and penguin, me old china plate.' 'What?' 'Oh, sorry, we must be the only people out of 10 million Londoners what doesn't ever use any rhyming slang.'
'Why is that?', Dot asked him, looking like an anaemic vampire with a particularly bad hangover. 'Because', Biancker put in, 'it's loik, you knah, if we talked about rubies and apples and pears and stuff then our tiny ordience across the UK wouldn't understand what we was talking about.'
'Yeah', Peggy said from behind the three foot high bar, 'that's why all the soaps tone down their accents. I mean if you visit Salford nobody talks like they do in Corrie, in fact I need to take a translator wiv me when I goes there to treat meself to a decent black pudding and chips and a pint of Newborn and Gridley's ale.'
Dot's husband Jim then walked into the bar. 'Dorofee', he said, 'I fink it's time we told them the troof about the heavy ratings falling outside.' 'Oh.' 'What troof?', arsked Biancker, 'I don't see no troof 'ere. I mean this is about as realistic a pawtrayal of East End life as taking a trip rahnd the Tower of London annat, innit?'
'I means', Jim said patiently, 'the troof about why them ratings 'as been falling. It's because we've run out of decent characters, decent scripts and decent storylines, and the BBC is just living off our famous brand name to keep any of its ratings going at all. Would anyone start watching 'Eastenders' if it had just started now with the characters it's now stuck wiv?'
'No', admitted Biancker, 'it has become desperately feeble, bringing back old characters and never using decent scriptwriters. Why, we could write better stuff than the horse manure we have to learn up for every mindnumbing episode!' 'But what can we do abaht it, then?, Peggy asked, climbing back onto her stilts. 'Nuffink, I fear', Jim said, 'just keep our 'eads down and get through each script as best we can, like, and just 'ope nobody notices that the whole programme is now just goin' through the motions to save the Beeb money.'
A new character came into the Queen Vic and Peggy said 'Oh, 'allo, er ...' 'Complete Nobody', came the reply, 'and mine's a pint of dandelion and burdock, tha knaws!' 'What?!!' 'Dontcha know that millions of people in London ain't Cockneys and 'ave Northern and Irish and African and even -' he gulped nervously - 'Scottish ones?'
'Never 'eard of that', Peggy said, 'surely 10 million people in The Smoke all talks loik what I does. 'Ere, Pheel', for her son has just come in left stage pursued by a menacing look, 'wot's this abaht people wiv uvvah accents than Cockney ones?'
'There'd better not be any Smelly Socks in 'ere!', he said, trying to put on the menacing look but failing miserably, 'or Paddies or Taffs or Nawtheners. Or Venezuelans or Australians or Croatians.' 'Or Norwegians or Americans or Khazakhstanians', added Peggy. 'Or Belgians or Russians, or Kenyans or Upper Voltarians', Jim put in, and 'Or Scots', Pheel said again, 'and definitely not Scots.'
At that moment 'Mad Dog' Jock McVittie walked in with two of his minders. 'Gie us three halve and halves', he said tae Peggy, 'and three o' thay shite pies you sell, shite 'cos there's no' enough cholestorol in them. And bring it over to wer table, and dinnae tak' too long aboot it, ya Sassenach bam!', and the three went and sat down at a table in silence. 'Well', Pheel carefully whispered to Peggy, 'now you know what a regional accent sounds like. Maybe the producers have finally decided to drag us all into the 1950s at last!'
'Why do you speak funny?', Biancker unwisely asked the three strangers, 'carn't you speak propah Henglish like what we does? A? A?', and a pregnant silence fell over the bar as Pheel got ready to do what all Londoners do when they meet violent Scots - run away. 'Tell that wee red-heided muppet in the corner to shut up or she'll be getting a wee visit from my sister', McVittie said to Peggy,
and Biancker's face would have gone white if it wasn't already made up whiter than a snowman at a Klu Klux Klan meeting in Missouri, for like everyone in the East End she had heard of McVittie's dreaded sister 'Even Madder Than Mad Dog' Senga McVittie, who he used to deal with females that stepped out of line in the area. For, as everyone in London really knows, that entire city isn't run by London 'tough' guys like Pheel Mitchell but by psychopathic Scots, so naturally that doesn't feature in 'Eastenders'.
'I fink we oughta roll the credits nah', Peggy said, knowing a feeble cliffhanger when she saw one, one which no doubt would be used by the scriptwriters to make even more people stop watching the programme, and soon the title music was playing. 'Well, that wasn't much cop, was it?', she said, 'no wonder the bloomin' ratings keep falling!' 'What we need, Mum', Pheel says to her, 'is some cheap gimmicks to try and get a few more viewers and hype up 'Eastenders', like ...' 'Like bravely recording an episode live?'
'Nah, that would be like us turning into 'Crossroads' or somefink. I know! Why don't we do a spin-off, 'Eastenders Goes To Belfast'?' 'Good idea, Pheel. Get on the blower to the producers and tell 'em to get their stock Orange March uniforms and car bombs aht, we're orf to the land of the rubber bullet, the land of the blarney and the beards, the land where the sun never sets on another pointless vendetta, the land ...', and the cast all went into a coma out of complete boredom at appearing in the worst television programme in the history of the BBC.