How this argument would have resolved itself can only be matter for speculation, because at that moment Sydnee’s restless eye caught sight of a man and a woman entering the far side of the studio. ‘Oh, my God, it’s Bob Garston and Fiona Wakeford! Jim, the celebs are arriving! Quick, you lot, follow me!’

She started off, with her obedient foursome in tow, towards the exit that led to Studio B, but was stopped short in her tracks by the entry from it of a familiar bulky figure, followed by a dainty little woman in a fur coat and a short, balding, pale man.

‘Oh God, it’s Nick again! And Joanie Bruton! Quick! This way!’

The hamburger chef, the surgeon, the stockbroker and the actor, now as obsessed as their guardian with keeping their identities secret, dived after her through the door that led to the Control Gallery of Studio A, and left the set to the celebrities who were to be the stars of If The Cap Fits.

Chapter Two

John Mantle, Executive Producer of If The Cap Fits, reckoned that he was doing well. As the third round of Armagnacs was served in Langan’s Brasserie, he sneaked a covert look at his watch. Nearly half-past three. Even if they left within a quarter of an hour and got a taxi straight away, it would be well after four before they got back to W.E.T. House. And the longer they kept out of Studio A that afternoon, the better.

This thought was not prompted by laziness or an unwillingness to face his responsibilities. John Mantle was a deeply conscientious producer. He had been conscientious during the eight years he had spent learning his craft in the Light Entertainment Department of B.B.C. Television, and equally conscientious since, three years previously, he had moved to West End Television to do the same job for three times the money. But producing, he knew, did not only involve monitoring what went on in studios. That could frequently be left to an obedient underling, and he had the most biddable of lieutenants in Jim Trace-Smith, also from the B.B.C., whose invaluable attributes of diligence, even temper and total lack of imagination, John Mantle had quickly recognised, made him an ideal producer of Light Entertainment. The young man had been easily seduced into commercial television, again by the simple device of tripling his salary, thus becoming the first recruit to the entertainment empire John Mantle was slowly but surely annexing from his former employers.

The presence of Jim Trace-Smith in Studio A that afternoon at least ensured that the preparations for the pilot were proceeding, and freed the Executive Producer for more important duties, which in this case involved keeping his lunch guests out of Studio A as long as possible. The explosion when they finally got there was inevitable, but the later that happened, the less chance there would be of implementing the changes they were bound to demand.

There were two of them — Aaron Greenberg, podgy, grizzle-bearded, voluble, an untidy eater and drinker who allowed no word to go unsupported by an expansive gesture of his short arms; and Dirk van Henke, tall, blond, silent, drinking only Perrier water and constantly dabbing at his mouth with a corner of his table napkin. They represented the American copyright-holders of Hats Off!, the game show which had been successfully networked for three years in the States and the rights to whose format West End Television had bought for an almost unbelievable amount of money. They had followed the piloting and development of the show in the States and were thus the honoured bearers of the ‘Bible’, that partly written but mostly unwritten stock of information and advice which would save any new developer of the show from falling into the format’s most obvious pitfalls. They were extremely protective of their property, regarding any proposed change in the show as a direct personal assault.

Since their arrival in London two days previously, John Mantle had spent every waking hour justifying to Greenberg and van Henke the inevitable alterations which transatlantic relocation of the show demanded. They had fought everything; he had had to explain and re-explain each tiny kink and quibble of the revised format; but, by sheer, relentless, debilitating tact and the granting of a few minor concessions, the Executive Producer had managed to satisfy them that their baby, the property that, as Greenberg kept asserting, meant ‘somebody’s gonna make a pot’, was being treated with the care and respect that was its due. They now knew about every change and, grudgingly, they had accepted them all.

Except the title.

John Mantle had first broached the subject in the hire-car back from Heathrow, where he had personally met their Concorde flight. He had explained that Hats Off! did not have the right sound for a British game show, and that, after careful assessment of many possible alternatives, West End Television had decided on If The Cap Fits.

‘What the shit does that mean?’ Aaron Greenberg had asked.

‘Well, it’s a kind of saying. A proverb, if you like. “If the cap fits, put it on.” It means, if something applies to you, then it applies to you. .’ John Mantle had continued feebly. ‘It’s a very common expression. Very right for the show. Don’t you have that proverb in the States?’

Aaron Greenberg snorted. ‘I never heard of it.’

‘I think,’ said Dirk van Henke in his quiet, precise voice, ‘our equivalent would be: “If the shoe fits, wear it”.’

‘Yes. That sounds as if it has the same meaning.’ John Mantle smiled enthusiastically at this point of contact.

‘Shit,’ objected Aaron Greenberg. ‘You’re not suggesting we call the show If The Shoe Fits? I mean, hell, it’s about hats, not shoes.’

‘Yes, I know that. Of course I’m not suggesting we call it If The Shoe Fits.’

‘Thank Christ for that. Otherwise you would have screwed yourself out of a deal that’s gonna make a pot for somebody.’

‘No, I’m suggesting we call it If The Cap Fits.’

‘No way. Forget it.’

‘But — ’

Hats Off!’ Dirk van Henke insisted softly. ‘Hats Off!

That is the name of the show. Call it anything else and we don’t have a deal.’

The Executive Producer had left it there for the time being. Much of his work consisted of confronting people with unpalatable facts, and he knew that the most important element in any such presentation was always its timing. After he had deposited his guests at the Savoy, where they were going to ‘shower and sleep off the Concorde-lag’, he had returned to W.E.T. House and got on to the Legal Department, who had negotiated the long, wrangling purchase of the rights to develop the Hats Off! format. He wanted to know where he stood legally on changing the title.

Like everything to do with the law, the situation turned out to be ambiguous. The relevant clause was: The licensees agree not to adapt, rearrange or alter the format in any way without the approval of the owner, such approval not to be unreasonably withheld.

The crux of the issue was, of course, the last phrase, in particular its penultimate word. What was unreasonable? This, as the Legal Department advised him unhelpfully, was a matter of interpretation. They would investigate and get back to him.

The Executive Producer assessed the position. The set had been designed and built with the changed title all over it. The music links had been recorded. Even if there had been time to reverse the decision, alterations at this late stage would represent considerable expense. And John Mantle always prided himself on keeping within his budgets.

He decided to sit it out. He’d wait and hear what the Legal Department advised when they came back to him, but, unless that was really bad, he would stick by his original decision. It would inevitably lead to tantrums from Greenberg and van Henke, but, if they only found out about the new title on the afternoon of the recording, he judged they would have little opportunity to do anything about it. And, once the show had gone down well in front of the audience, he felt confident that they would be less worried about the change.

He kept his nerve pretty well for the next couple of days. Once he almost lost it, and that moment of uncertainty had led to the confusion of the title at Reception which Charles Paris had encountered. But basically the

Вы читаете Dead Giveaway
Добавить отзыв


Вы можете отметить интересные вам фрагменты текста, которые будут доступны по уникальной ссылке в адресной строке браузера.

Отметить Добавить цитату