The prime minister, commonly known as Ethelred the Inept, was fiddling with his calendar. The date showed 15.02.2301, which was correct, but he wanted it shown as a series of pictures; he hoped that would cheer him up on what was turning out to be another crappy Thursday.
He had been chosen to run the country as damage limitation. A global financial crisis had been arranged to properly distribute more money to the very rich and as always, the result was a grumbling and dissatisfied public. In order to provide distraction and a clear focus for anger that would lead away from the actual cause of it, a buffoon had been promoted well beyond his abilities to head the country. And besides, no one intelligent wanted to do it. Ethelred’s job was to be incompetent in a flamboyant and headline grabbing manner, something he had achieved with aplomb. However now the situation had spiralled out of control, hatred towards Ethelred had resulted in strikes and explosions, so urgent meetings had been held among his advisers to come up with an alternative plan. Ethelred was not invited to these meetings, he didn’t know of their existence and only got to hear the final decision.
While Ethelred fumbled with the wavy finger technology on his calendar, a civil servant called Jim attempted to explain the situation.
“It’s important to focus the public’s anger on simple targets that aren’t you, prime minister,” said Jim. Ethelred gave a big sigh,
“But why do they hate me? He said, plaintively.
“Well, in part it was losing Big Ben to a Russian diplomat in a dare, sir.”
Ethelred gave a coy smile,
“High jinx!” he said, Jim remained impassive.
“And the pig brothel,” continued Jim.
“It was consenting!”
“Not the dead one, sir.” Ethelred started to play with his calendar again, he found it boring when people criticised him.
“So we’re going to bring back Big Brother, the TV reality show,” explained Jim.
“Oh yes, that was brilliant, all those idiots!” said Ethelred, perking up again.
“And useful, sir. People would pour all of their energy into hating the powerless and completely ignore what important people were up to.”
“Why did they ever get rid of it?”
“They simply ran out of people desperate enough to be on it. It was inevitable really.”
“So presumably you have a plan to get round that?” said Ethelred, checking his reflection in the back of a spoon.
“Yes, sir. We’ve decided to combine reality TV and cloning.” Ethelred dropped the spoon.
“We’re going to use DNA from some of the most famous murderers of the last century. Proper serial psychopaths. We’re going to clone them and put them in a house together.”
“And they do what?”
“The usual tasks, silly costumes, electric shocks, bargaining, and of course the public will vote to throw them out.”
“Wait, you can’t just release murderers to the outside world.”
“Oh no, anyone voted out will be executed, of course.”
“And the winner?” asked Ethelred, Jim gave a small embarrassed cough,
“Will be released to the outside world.”
“Wait, but you just said…But the people won’t stand for it will they?”
“On the contrary, the public will love it. They love an evil rogue turned good. He’ll be welcomed into the community. His lovable quirks, cheeky grin and refreshing honesty. We saw it time and again with hated celebrities. Truly awful people would go on Big Brother, and act slightly less awful than people were expecting and everyone would love them. Think how dramatic the turn-around would be with Jack the Ripper or Sweeny Todd.”
“It’s a brilliant plan, let’s do it!” said Ethelred clapping his hands, completely oblivious to the fact that the decision had already been made.