The Brownlegg Files: September 2002 

1 September 2002

The story so far: Captain Brownlegg runs a major UK broadcaster, fragmented in some ways, but whole in others. His empire is in serious trouble, due to pour advertising receipts, nothing to do with lousy programmes that make rats scream. He is nursing a hidden hurt at Greg Dyke, who broke his heart. Meanwhile, in a galaxy far, far away, Princess Leer lies on her nuptial bed dressed in a negligible negligée. Luke Cloudwalker enters the room, tears off his clothes and says in a strangulated tone…

The Brownlegg Files

The cast so far:

  • Captain T N Brownlegg RN (Rtd) – media baron and no relation to Mr Dyke or Mr Liniment of ITV in any way.
  • Augustus ‘Gus’ Brownlegg – lady-killer, acquitted on a technicality.
  • Ms Gloria Gaumont – star of many movies and controller of BBC-1 (Brownlegg Bullfighting Channel, of course), who has two great futures in front of her.
  • John Spencer-Wells – minion, doormat and rentboy to the stars.
  • Jean Morton – a Midlands continuity announcer who is beyond reproach.
  • Leslie Harblo – Seer, doer, astrologer, genuine medium and invisible mending to the stars
  • Dame Muriel Jung – Psychiatric nurse with her hand up a cat
  • Lorraine Haggerty – Not the controller of the Brownlegg Bullfighting Channel and in no way featuring in the farrago that follows.

Please note: in the following performance, the part of Lorraine Haggerty will be played by Dawn Fairy, Controller of Scantily-clad Documentaries at Channel Five-Oh, whose part in turn will be played by Jayne Root-Canal, Controller of Thought, Word and Deed at BBC Nudes.

What a day it had been already. What with John Spencer-Wells’s pitiful attempts at catering (crisps were now considered haute cuisine, especially when served with copious amounts of Thirsty-Pak Lager-Style Soft Drink and an unidentifiable white liquid as dip), and Gloria’s increasing consumption of tuna and mango pizza, the Captain was suffering from various degrees of nausea interspersed with hunger pangs. Eating became imperative, but could wait until after his meeting that afternoon.

Jean Morton's Word of the Month: Frigate

Brownlegg nipped down to his favourite hostelry “The Basque and Masque” for a quick lunchtime tipple. He had a difficult meeting scheduled for 2pm and needed some Dutch courage – or companionship – but judging by the state of the pub, he was more likely to come away with Dutch Elm Disease. He looked distastefully at the poster offering “See Muriel Tackle the Amazing One-Eyed Snake and Belly Dance at the Same Time Friday 9pm. LEAVE THE MISSUS AT HOME!” wondering where – if anywhere – the comma should go in that sentence. But he knew there was nothing that he could do about it, except to either sack her or offer her a show on his Watching All Nude Kinfolk In Nelson’s Garden channel.

Reel around the Uher

He was due to see Sir Enid Crudmore, Chairman of Associated Newswrappers, at 2pm, the man who currently owned 50% of Associated-Radiation Digital. Crudmore was unhappy at his investment and had threatened repeatedly to pull out, something that had horrified Gloria.

Brownlegg thought glumly that this was like 1956 all over again. What is it with these newspaper people, he wondered. If they don’t get a profit within six months of launch, they panic. Or hire Kevin MacKelvin and his Band of Renown. They haven’t learned anything in 46 years, it seems.

It was going to be a rather busy afternoon, for after his meeting with Sir Enid he was to see Cameron Marrakesh The West End Impresario, who was seeking A-R’s financial backing for a new Stephen Sandpit musical, “Gland By Gland”. We won’t be able to back our own ruddy TV service if Crudmore pulls out, never mind a West End musical, thought the Captain bitterly with lemon as he wandered back a little unsteadily to the offices of the Brownlegg Media Group. The Brownlegg Media Group is not part of the Granddad Media Group


He was met at the door by the lovely Gloria in her new maternity frock from Brenda Broad’s, which had lots of little spiky suns all over it, but in his present state he couldn’t remember where he had seen them before.

It’s time the tale were told of herring

Sir Enid strode into the office, wiping his feet on the supine form of Spencer-Wells, the company’s Managing Director (bending down, and acting as a doormat in his lunch-hour, for a change), and slammed the door behind him. Being made in Australia of finest balsa wood, it shattered behind him.

We've done everything we can at our end. Please adjust your set.

“My board want out, Brownlegg,” said the baronet in a threatening tone. “You’ve been on the air several months now and the only money you’ve made is in used fivers from your doormat over there.”

The Captain cleared his throat and his trousers, trying not to let the tremor be heard. “The figures are due to pick up sharply soon, Sir Enid”, he replied. “We’ve got that Harblo chap on the case – you know, the house clairvoyant – and he says that you are onto a good thing”.

You can pin and mount me like a kipper

Sir Enid looked unconvinced – amongst other things. Some of Brownlegg’s recent innovations had not inspired his confidence. Inviting a poet onto the board of A-R Digital for example. What was that about? Listening to a reading by Andrew Emotion of “Ode To A Landed Mackerel” at a board meeting was all very well – it made the minutes read lovely, but didn’t help the finances – and there was a distinct smell of herring in the boardroom for some reason beside the usual.

Brownlegg continued nervously (aware that he was by now not waving but drowning, an unusual experience for the man who, during the war, trained everyone and the Admiral to Roger the Cabin Boy) and said “We’ve got a few plans in the pipeline for audience building measures, such as expanding Jean Morton’s very busy slot. I’ve wanted to expand in that area for some time now.”

Slap me on the patio with a wet haddock

Sir Enid looked interested, and a little sick, so Brownlegg continued, “and our new online deal with “Overspend Gold” – the credit card of the smart set – will ensure she has many more customers. Many more. Many many more. As digital shopping channels go, hers is the best, you know… the whole operation is very well oiled and runs like greased lightning. Some of the offers are,” he paused, “unbelievable”.

Sir Enid was unconvinced. “I’ll give you three more months to get into profit, Brownlegg, after which we’ll want our investment back – and you’ll have to rename yourselves “Radiation London” or somesuch, and carry on without us. Get on with it, and remember where the money is coming from, right?” Spencer-Wells looked up from his position on his knees in front of Sir Enid, but with that utterance and a brief exclamation, Crudmore picked up his hat, coat, briefcase and a crystal ashtray he’d had his eye on for some time and strode out of the office like a shot from a gun.



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Shaken, drunk and full of latent anger, the Captain had called his staff together for an extraordinary meeting. “Well, you now know that A-R Digital is at the mercy of the money men – Crudmore has my marbles in his drawers, and all of you will probably be sold into slavery. Again. So I have an idea for what is needed to turn our fortunes around. Let’s hear something good from you before I make you all even more redundant. Right, who’s first?”

Gloria thought her Tommy needed cheering up. But there was a time and place for everything, and it wasn’t here in front of everybody when they didn’t have the necessary luncheon vouchers.

15 minutes with Gloria – who could say no?

“Well, ducks,” she mewed, “I’ve had me thighs tattooed with Mothercare on one and Huggies on the other like you asked. Though I still don’t know why.”

Brownlegg didn’t want to reveal his reasons at the meeting, especially with her time being due and the cameras poised, so his reply was simply, “Ms. Gaumont, this was done to enable me to read in bed, as I sometimes cannot find my glasses.” Gloria thought on, a slow process, not helped by assorted BBC (Brownlegg blah blah blah, you know by now) executives flitting around her, offering her pedicures, Afghan massage and body topiary, before realising with a shock that the good captain didn’t wear spectacles, even ones that were guaranteed to increase viewers.

Gus grunted, spat into the bowl of Swedish pot pourri in the middle of the chipboard veneer table, and said, “Unc, me new show “Popscars” is gonna be bleedin’ colossal. I’m featuring the best plastic surgery scars”. The captain exclaimed “but, Gus, my boy, you’ll never get anyone to appear on it.” Gus fixed him with a well-hard stare and replied, in a low monotone, “That’s where y’wrong, ‘cos Michael Jackson’s on it.

“Well, it’s not really him… he sent all of his bits that he had cut off, and entered them in the first heat.”

A note for people who have read this far and have not been previously sectioned under the Mental Health Act (an option for you to consider). Michael Jackson was a popular singer dating from the 1970s. Michael Jackson was controller of Channel Four. There is a difference between them, apparently – although, it must be said, both never appear on television at the same time.

People said Brownlegg was dead and they were half right

“We could get the office wallpapered, Sir”, said Spencer-Wells, jolting us back to reality. Reality? What am I saying?

“How ridiculous!” barked the Captain, “It’s mirrored! As if we ever could! Nitwit!”

But Spencer-Wells was not to be deflected. He had taken a bullet in the first world war and had gone on to found the first true broadcasting company in the world. Or was that John Reith? Nevertheless, he continued “But no, seriously, we can get tax relief on it, and it would make the area more private for


“Right, get the decorators in!” announced the captain in that butch tone of his.

“What are we going to do, Leslie?” the captain asked, turning to his fishy clairvoyant. “The wolves are at the door,” Brownlegg reported, as if the seer didn’t already know, “and we’re under the gun again! Will things get better?”

L Harblo, esq

Leslie Harblo made several passes with his hands, causing consternation in the women nearby, looked into his magic ashtray, and, lighting a Bengal Lancer, said “I see a man, called Howard or something, and there are keys being handed to him, and there are tears… the mist is coming…”

He carried on, “All of this is obviously positive. I see a tall, dark stranger coming for you, Captain, and a long period of darkness. All of this points to good luck for you. I see Anne Robinson and Richard Whitely surprise all with their announcement of impending marriage. More good news from the spirit world: I see Morrissey having a top ten hit with ‘Always Look On The Bright Side Of Life’. And the the best news from the spirits world is for the man with footprints on his back. You haemorrhoids are on the wane.”

Two loves please, you’ve got knock knees

The latter-day Doris Stokes-in-male-drag continued “I see thousands of Herring the world over tuning into your broadcasts to watch your new fish-flavoured programming, including music programmes like Ready Steady Goldfish presented by A. A. Gill and Kathy Kipper, featuring songs like “Mackerel the Knife”, “Salmon Chanted Evening” and “Whale Meat Again” by Vera Ling.

“But the spirit world has the best news you could hope for: you’ll win £10 on the lottery if you’re lucky”.

People see no worth in ITV, and neither do we

The Captain asked for hush. At least, that’s what it sounded like. “Yes,” he affirmed, “that’s what we’ll do… all of you, spend all of your money, buy as many lottery tickets as you can, and we’ll raise the cash and buy Crudmore out!”

A revolution was going to happen, and in a good way this time. A coup d’etat like no other. And they would do it. “By the way”, said Harblo, “do you want me to do any voodoo on Crudmore? Just a jab in the liver with a knitting needle. If everyone joins me and does it, we’ll soon have the Daily Male closed down for good. Any takers?”

Brownlegg Media Group (incorporating Boredom Television of Carlisle Ltd) press release:

The BMG is pleased to shamelessly publicise the following positive results of our recent impartial viewers’ feedback poll.

Mr SB of Manchester writes:

“Just a quick line to say how much I enjoy Coronation Street, as played out by your channel. I enjoy it, my entire family enjoys it and everyone I know enjoys it. When I go into work of a morning, everyone there answers the question ‘what is your favourite programme?’ with the reply “Coronation Street, Mr Bernstein!”

Mr MG of Knightsbridge writes:

“Oi! What you lot looking at? Hey? Shopping trolley? I should cocoa! Put it away, that’s what I say. Who you looking at? You want a piece of me? I’d like to see you try. I’ve got god on my side. See if I don’t! Russians? Stick a brolly up the lot of ’em. Don’t bother hurrying, you, you’ll be no use when you get there. Crossroads is very good. Oi. Oi! You! Don’t turn your back on me. I’ll have MI5 on you. Don’t think I can’t do it. I have power. Central and Westcountry. I give me money to those ones up parliament. I do. Leave that alone.”

All Plugging, No Lugging - Aunt Jean's Shopping Channel

Mr DL of Greys Inn Road writes:

“I’m a real fan of the Brownlegg Bullfighting Channel, don’t get me wrong. I think it’s the driving force of British television. But my own channel is crap because Brownlegg is too good. If Brownlegg’s channel was awful, mine would look good and I wouldn’t be resigning in order to be unemployed for a while and have to wear a balaclava to the JobCentre. The Brownlegg Bullfighting Channel’s job is to stand apart from the rest of us and not compete, because if it does compete, my channel will lose heavily. Therefore it should be shut down. If my channel had won, and was very successful despite the god-awful programmes and piss-poor bulk presentation, then Brownlegg should have been shut down anyway for not winning. That’s why I’m quitting to spend more time with my gnomes and getting a certified idiot to revamp my ex-channel’s presentation.”

Mr CI of Mars writes:

“Mr DL is right. I’m the only person who has ever heard of presentation on t’telly, and I’m told it means those bits that ain’t progs and ain’t ads. Which means, er, the bits that are left. Well, they’ve made t’telly popular like since it first began in 1993, but it’s time they was got rid of coz I’m saying so. They’re innervating, ain’t they? And I should know, coz, like, I was the one that said it. PS, I’m on this diet see that involves eating Shreddies with every meal coz if you do, me teacher says you don’t get fat like. If you want details, send some cash, payable to me Vodabone txting bill, and I’ll let you in on the secret wot me and Miss Fitzderby, me form mistress, have worked out like.”

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