Russell ''The Fox'' Reynard walked into the production meeting and swept to the head of the table. He clicked his fingers and a cup of his favourite mochaccino was placed in front of him. His keen eyes circled the boardroom table, taking in the eight people present. One missing. Stamp. He'd deal with him later. Nobody was late for his meetings. No warnings, no second chances. Instant sacking. A shame - he'd quite liked the guy. Oh well. Plenty more where he came from. Production assistants were ten-a-penny, and totally expendable.
''So. Ricky, what gives? We all set for the Attachiplast piece tonight?''
The producer of the multi Bafta award-winning, must-see-every-week show 'The Fox Reveals...' gathered a sheaf of notes and started reeling off items.
''Yep, Russ. The editing's all in place. We just need to add the responses from 3M and Scotch and we're done.''
''OK. You vetted the studio audience list for the after-show debate? We don't need any Press jumping the gun.''
''Yeah, mate, we've gone into all backgrounds and they're all vanilla.''
The Fox stood, and the minion closest to the foot of the table slid out of his seat and moved to the door, ready to open it for the great man.
''Fine. See you all there.'' He turned and left, without a backward glance. The remaining occupants of the room visibly relaxed - relieved that this week's meeting had been a short one. They'd been on the ball. Attachiplast was a biggie. Russell Reynard had shares in this one and he wanted tonight's show to ensure that customers would be out at their local supermarkets, DIY stores and convenience stores buying it in their droves tomorrow.
To say that The Fox's rise to fame had been meteoric would be understating the facts. Three years ago he had been a hack on his local newspaper. There he had remained until the day his short investigative film was picked as the winner of TV contest show, the prize being a six-part documentary slot on BBC 6. The show soon acheived cult status and the ITV offered him a seven figure contract. The rest was, as they say, history.
The Fox Reveals...was a docu-debate show like no other. Reynard covered subjects as diverse as the positive health effects of drinking coffee, to animal cruelty in pet rodent mills, to corruption in the NHS. Tonight's show covered a new product - Attachiplast. This was an all-purpose substance which could be used - with total safely - to stick any one thing to any other thing. Its uses were varied; from medical to construction. Reynard had been tipped off about it by a punter who knew the inventor, and he had seen the opportunity and seized it, advancing the boffin a large sum, and helping him to develop, test and produce it. He knew that the greatest marketing tool would be his own show. The way he would launch it was subtle, he thought. He would discredit it's existing competitors. It was very simple to manufacture false data on their safety, and alarming stories about their dangers, complete with ''victims'' of their shortcomings - with pixellated blobs hiding their faces - talking to ''The Fox'' on camera, some from their wheelchairs or hospital beds.
He left the building, not noticing a middle aged couple sitting in the window of a greasy-spoon across the square.
The female, a tall, thin, weasel faced woman with a permanent scowl, nudged her companion with her bony elbow.
''Marv. 'Ere. Did you see who that was?'' She poked him again. ''Marv! Look. Over there. Ain't that thingy? From school?''
Marv looked up from the wordsearch puzzle he was doing, the tip of his tongue poking through his full lips. He tutted and looked out in the direction of his sister's pointing finger.
''Eh? Where? Who you pointin' at, Floss?''
She stood up and pointed more aggressively. ''There! That bloke in the leather jacket, gettin' in that cab.'' she screeched. ''Marv, quick! You'll miss 'im.''
Marv stood too, watching as Russell Reynard disappeared into the back of the black taxi.
''Oh yeah. Ain't seen 'im fer yonks.'' He spat on the floor. ''Hoped I never would again.''
Floss looked triumphant. ''Yeah. I thought it were 'im. He was a little git at school. Keith Reynolds. What a snotty little sod he was?''
Neither Felicity ''Floss'' Cummings nor her brother Marvin had ever watched 'The Fox Reveals...' It was not their cup of tea at all. Besides, when it was on, they were invariably in their local. Of course, they had often heard mention of the show, and its host. People were always talking about them, especially on a Friday, after the show went out, but they had no idea whatsoever that Russell Reynard was their erstwhile fellow pupil. A boy they had both hated with a passion.
But they were to find out very soon. And life was set to change for all three.