Disclaimer: This story involves consensual sex between adults, if you disapprove of this sort of thing, then go complain to the Daily Mail. This is a work of fiction and in no way is meant to reflect, infer or suggest anything about the real life sexual preferences of any persons living, dead or otherwise. If any TV company executive reads this and decides to make the show, THIS WAS MY IDEA, pay me money!
"What, that ginger bird from Sex in the City? She's a bit old now ain't she?" Sam was staring at me over a pint.
I looked at my mate and took another drink. "No, not Cynthia Nixon, Kimberly Nixon. The blonde one from Fresh Meat."
"Oh yeah, no, she's hot. Shit show though."
"I'll be sure not to tell her." I finished the beer and stood up to leave. I made a mock bow and left.
I don't think he believed my story, but then again, neither did I really. In the thirty odd years I've graced the world with my presence, I've seen many things on television that constitute a new low, a new scrapping of the barrel, but this takes this piss. It makes Ghost Hunting with The Only Way is Essex seem avant guarde.
The idea was simple: a camera crew follows a member of the public as they go on a date with a celebrity. Apparently, there are also a bunch of hidden cameras around too. All the footage is played out in front of a studio audience where people win money for betting on how the date progresses.
None of these have been shown live yet; I guess they are waiting until all of them are 'in the can'. The one featuring Kimberly Nixon, the 26 year old Welsh actress was advertised just as I was watching her sitcom, Fresh Meat, on the Internet. It being late, me being drunk and my company not minding if large charges suddenly appear on my mobile phone contributed to be phoning in to enter the competition to be the lucky punter.
That was a week ago, and in the mean time, I'd been rung up daily by producers, researchers and stylists, all in preparation for these next few hours.
It was Friday evening; I'd already been home to change into a plain white t-shirt, denim shirt and blue jeans. I looked a bit country and western, and certainly not the urban chic idea that the stylist had in mind. Then again, I'm too big to pull that look off. Occasionally a pin stripe suit works, but it tends to make me look like a gangster.
I checked my hair on the brushed aluminium door for the fraction of a second before it was opened for me. It was still brown, and still to short to have proactively styled itself.
"Mr Hopkins?" A small, impeccably tanned, man dressed all in black was holding the door for me. I nodded. "Your guest has already arrived. If you would follow me?"
Well, I was running five minutes early, and was actually beaten to the restaurant by an actress. Strange things.
She beamed a smile at me. Yes, she was attractive on screen, but she was a knock-out in real life. Her light blond hair was in bunches and with bright, innocent, eyes and that disarming smile, she looked every bit the perfect girl next door. She rose to greet me and we exchanged pecks on the cheek.
She was wearing a simple royal blue dress, spaghetti straps over the shoulder and ending mid thigh. Returning her smile, I slipped into the seat opposite her. I looked around the restaurant, certainly a trendier one than I would normally be seen in, but couldn't see a film crew amongst the glass panels and bare metal.
"No film crew?"
"No, they are using hidden cameras. I don't know if they've planted them around the table or have guys walking around with them."
"So we're under surveillance."
"Just like Spooks."
"Except one of us won't be dead at the end of the night."
She laughed at that. I hoped she would make an attempt to carry on the conversation, but she stayed quiet, expectant.
"It must be quite odd," I started, "knowing that whoever the guy sitting opposite you is, they will have probably looked you up on the 'net."
"Boobs and bikini shots, screen captures from various films. So, even though this is a first date, they've already seen you topless."
"Whichever guy, or just you?"
"Probably any guy."
"But certainly you. You know, is this the way you normally start a date?"
"I don't normally date people who've gone topless on film."
"Well, just because you've seen them on film, doesn't mean you'll ever see them in real life."
"Shame, you are a very beautiful woman."
She smiled at me again, but waited once more for me to carry on the conversation, letting me dig my own grave.
"Also, I don't have to go though the whole bit about asking what do you do and where do you come from, it's all on the web."
"But, I am an actresses, so tonight I can be somebody else, not the Kimberly Nixon from television, but I can just be a girl you spotted on the bus."
"Not likely, any girl your age on my bus would have been too busy with her five crying kids for me to have got a word in."
"Okay, point taken, but let's just forget I'm an actress, that I have a boyfriend at home and that in all likelihood there are six cameras on us right now."
"Fine." I agreed.
"So, Tom, what do you do?"
"I design mobile phone apps."
"Is that a proper job?" She laughed.
"Believe it or not, yes. So what do you do?" I asked with obvious sarcasm.
"I'm a student, doing a PhD in English Literature."
"At Manchester University?"
"No, Kings in London, I'm up here for a conference." She lied convincingly.
"How do you like our city?"
"It's okay, I haven't seen much of it yet."
She carried on inventing a back story while I tried to poke holes in it, but she was always one step ahead of me. Breadsticks came and went, as did some salads, some fish and a bottle of wine.
We'd been given a credit card by the TV company, which took care of the bill, although I felt a pang of regret in not ordering a bit more since I wasn't paying.
"Another drink?" I asked.
"Yeah, but only if we can dance too."
"I'm not much of a dancer."
"You'll have to let me judge." She smiled one of her smiles again, and I had to agree.
"And back here in the studio, I'm afraid we have to say goodbye to Kitty, Billy and Johnny, all of whom bet on the date breaking up by this point. Billy, Billy, Billy, you actually bet on our Jezz being the one to call a halt to proceedings, how on Earth did you come up with that? That boy looks like he's after some tail, am I right?
"And too the audience, yes, thirty of you bet on it not lasting this long, so are out of the running for the prize draw. Bad luck, but will Jane Street come on down. Yes, you've won a new flat screen TV for getting their food order right. You excited? Yes, well so am I. People at home, yes you're not watching a live event, but when we come back for a second series, this could be you winning the big prizes. Only on Celebrity Dating.
"Now, look at the cameras, they are walking arm in arm from the restaurant. We've told Kimberly about a great new club nearby that they seem to be heading to. It just happens that we have cameras all around it and some actors wearing hidden cameras inside. I promise you will not miss a moment of the action here on BBC3, now over to our body language expert for her views on how the night is going for Jezz and Kim, and then we can start betting on how things will progress in the club."
The club was, like the restaurant, bright and clean, playing dance music loud and unapologetically. Just the kind of place that I avoid, preferring dark and dirty places with rock music. Drinks seemed to be handed to us; it was obvious the staff were in the know.
She didn't head straight for the dance floor, luckily, but she dragged me to the back of the club where the music was just below lethal levels and so was possible to hold a conversion, if slowly.
One advantage of the tight seating and loud music was that she had to almost sit on top of me to hear me. Okay, so I may have been able to speak a little louder, but I'm pretty sure she was playing the same game. I couldn't help gazing into her brown eyes. Her hand was holding my arm and I soon found my hand on her knee. We were both aware of how close we were getting. Her eyes flicked around the room, she noticed various other celebrities and pointed them out to me. I recognised a few and was kind of glad that all eyes were not on us. A slower song came on.
"Heads or tails" she said, producing a ten pence coin.
"Tails." I said, puzzled.
"Yes or no?"
"Okay, the coin will decide if we dance to this. Tails is yes, heads are no."
Without waiting for me to agree, she flipped the coin and caught it, revealing part of a coat of arms: tails.
I took the lead this time and offered my hand to take her to the corner of the dance floor. Although I was uncertain where to put my hands, she was under no such illusions, making it clear that my hands could go as low as I wanted.
She leaned into me, resting on my shoulder as I held her just north of inappropriate.
"Hmmm, I've missed this." She said.
I resisted the temptation to ask about her real-life relationship and stuck to her made up persona. "So, there are no slow dances in London?"
.... There is more of this story ...