"Oh it all makes so much sense now. Those sensible shoes…" Picture: New Statesman
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Exclusive: the long-awaited lesbian Peppa Pig fanfiction

Norman Lamb MP recently critisized the lack of queer representation in the hit children's TV show. But how would it work in practice?

Marriage; tick. Right to adopt; tick. Legal protection from discrimination; tick. Visibility in cartoons about twee, porcine adventures; massive cross. Last week, my niece’s favourite programme, Peppa Pig, was scrutinised by Lib Dem MP Norman Lamb (who, fittingly, sounds a bit like a character off the show himself) for its dearth of lesbian characters. And he’s absolutely right. In the fantastically popular cartoon’s entire cast of misshapen anthropomorphic freak beasts, not a single one of them is an out and proud gay.

So I’ve, frankly, done us all a favour by writing some much needed lesbianism into an episode of Peppa Pig…

***

[Insanely annoying musical intro]

Narrator with “I have a comforting formation of pixels where my penis should be” voice: Mummy Pig Tips the Velvet

Ext. the Pig household, night. An owl is hooting.

Narrator: It’s nighttime. Peppa, George and Daddy Pig are are fast asleep. But Mummy Pig is still awake…

Int. Mummy and Daddy Pig’s bedroom. Daddy Pig is snoring loudly. Mummy Pig looks cross. She nudges him.

Mummy Pig: Daddy Pig… DADDY PIG!

[Daddy Pig wakes up with a start]

Daddy Pig: SNORT. Wha – goodness me, what is the matter, Mummy Pig?

Mummy Pig: You were snoring again.

Daddy Pig: No I wasn’t. I know when I’m snoring.

[Mummy Pig closes her eyes and raises her weird pig hands in an “I give up” sort of gesture]

Mummy Pig: Daddy Pig. We need to talk.

Daddy Pig: Nighttime isn’t for talking, Mummy Pig. You’ll wake up Peppa and George.

Mummy Pig: Well, your snoring hasn’t woken them up, has it?

[Daddy Pig snorts indignantly]

Mummy Pig: Listen, Daddy Pig…

Daddy Pig: What?

Mummy Pig: Are you… happy?

Daddy Pig: As happy as anybody in a bizarre, post-nuclear dreamscape where everyone’s nose is on the side of their head can be. Why?

Mummy Pig: Well, I’m not.

Daddy Pig: Oh. Is it Peppa? Look, yes, we’ve raised an obnoxious little shit. But it’s not entirely our fault…

Mummy Pig: No, it’s not Peppa. Yes, she’s a nightmare and I have no idea how we managed to spawn the living Devil, but that’s beside the point. It’s you, Daddy Pig. It’s us.

Daddy Pig: What do you mean?

Mummy Pig: Daddy Pig. I love you. I love George. I even love Peppa, in a way. But I’ve been dishonest with you for a while. I’m a –

Daddy Pig: Don’t say it, Mummy Pig. Do not sit here and tell me you’re a –

Mummy Pig: Lesbian.

Daddy Pig: Sweet Jesus.

[Daddy Pig starts bawling uncontrollably]

Daddy Pig: [through tears] Oh it all makes so much sense now. Those sensible shoes…

Mummy Pig: Now hold on a sec – there’s only one type of shoe in this universe and we all wear it. You can hardly –

Daddy Pig: [ignoring her] the life-size sculpture of Gillian Anderson you bought on eBay, “for a joke”. Your completely irrational aversion to my hideous, foot-long corkscrew pig penis…

Mummy Pig: [in a soothing tone] Look, Daddy Pig…

[Daddy Pig continues to expel a stream of loud sobs, punctuated by snorts]

Daddy Pig: So is there… is there a woman?

Mummy Pig: [sighs] Yes. Donna Dolphin.

Daddy Pig: So you’re leaving me then? For a dolphin? Does she even live on land? What is this fucked up world we live in where lesbian dolphins live on land? That nuclear fallout really has done a number on us all.

Mummy Pig: We’re in love.

[Daddy Pig jumps out of bed and starts pacing, head in hands]

Mummy Pig: Daddy Pig, I know how hard this must be, but –

[Daddy Pig opens a window]

Daddy Pig: [Shouting out the window] GOOD NEWS EVERYBODY. MY WIFE IS IN LOVE WITH A DOLPHIN. A FEMALE DOLPHIN.

Mummy Pig: [furious] DADDY PIG.

[The bedroom door opens. Peppa and George enter, rubbing their eyes]

Peppa: Why are you crying, daddy? I’m scared.

George: [snort]

Daddy Pig: Children, your mother has something to tell you.

Peppa: Oh, did you tell him, Mummy? About you being a lesbinum?

[Daddy Pig’s mouth drops wide open]

Peppa: Silly daddy. Everyone knows mummy is a lesbinum. Even George worked it out. And the only word he knows is “dinosaur”.

George: Dinosaur, rawr!

[Daddy Pig silently curls into a foetal position on the floor]

Peppa: Mummy, when I grow up, can I be a lesbinum? Boys are yucky.

CREDITS

Eleanor Margolis is a freelance journalist, whose "Lez Miserable" column appears weekly on the New Statesman website.

DES WILLIE/BBC
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Man alive! Why the flaws of Inside No 9 only emphasise its brilliance

A man we’d thought destined for certain death reappeared, alive and kicking.​ ​Even as my brain raced, I was grinning.

At the risk of sounding like some awful, jargon-bound media studies lecturer – precisely the kind of person those I’m writing about might devote themselves to sending up – it seems to me that even the dissatisfactions of Inside No 9 (Tuesdays, 10pm) are, well, deeply satisfying. What I mean is that the occasional flaws in Steve Pemberton and Reece Shearsmith’s cultish series, those unlooked-for moments when nothing quite makes sense, only serve to emphasise its surpassing brilliance.

At the end of the final episode of series three, for instance, there came a discombobulating twist. A man we’d thought destined for certain death reappeared, alive and kicking. How had this happened? Were the preceding 28 minutes only a dream? Even as my brain raced, I was grinning. That line about Ron Mueck! In a piece that seemed mostly to be paying topsy-turvy homage to the camp 1973 horror flick Theatre of Blood.

Pemberton and Shearsmith are all about homage: a bit of Doctor Who here, a touch of Seventies B-movie there. Inside No 9’s format of twisty one-offs is a direct descendant of ITV’s Tales of the Unexpected. And yet it is so absolutely its own thing. Only they could have written it; only they could ever do this much (stretch your arms as wide as they’ll go) in so little time (half an hour).

In the episode Private View, guests were invited to the Nine Gallery in somewhere Hoxtonish. This motley crew, handpicked to represent several of the more unedifying aspects of 21st-century Britain, comprised Carrie (Morgana Robinson), a reality-TV star; Patricia (Felicity Kendal), a smutty novelist; Kenneth (Pemberton), a health and safety nut; and Maurice (Shearsmith), an art critic. Hard on their heels came Jean (Fiona Shaw), a wittering Irishwoman with gimlet eyes. However, given that they were about to be bloodily picked off one by one, at least one of them was not what she seemed. “I’m due at Edwina Currie’s perfume launch later,” Carrie yelped, as it dawned on her that the pages of Grazia might soon be devoting a sidebar to what Towie’s Mark Wright wore to her funeral.

Private View satirised a certain kind of contemporary art, all bashed up mannequins and blindingly obvious metaphors. Admittedly, this isn’t hard to do. But at least Pemberton and Shearsmith take for granted the sophistication of their audience. “A bit derivative of Ron Mueck,” said Maurice, gazing coolly at one of the installations. “But I like the idea of a blood mirror.” The duo’s determination to transform themselves from episode to episode – new accent, new hair, new crazy mannerisms – calls Dick Emery to mind. They’re better actors than he was, of course; they’re fantastic actors. But in the context of Inside No 9, even as they disappear, they stick out like sore thumbs, just as he used to. They’re the suns around which their impressive guest stars orbit. They may not always have the biggest parts, but they nearly always get the best lines. You need to watch them. For clues. For signs. For the beady, unsettling way they reflect the world back at you.

What astonishes about this series, as with the two before it, is its ability to manage dramatic shifts in tone. Plotting is one thing, and they do that as beautifully as Roald Dahl (the third episode, The Riddle of the Sphinx, which revolved around a crossword setter, was a masterclass in structure). But to move from funny to plangent and back again is some trick, given the limitations of time and the confined spaces in which they set the stories. In Diddle Diddle Dumpling, Shearsmith’s character found a size-nine shoe in the street and became obsessed with finding its owner, which was very droll. But the real engine of the piece, slowly revealed, was grief, not madness (“Diddle-diddle-dumpling, my son John”). You felt, in the end, bad for having sniggered at him.

If you missed it, proceed immediately to iPlayer, offering a thousand thanks for the usually lumbering and risk-averse BBC, which has commissioned a fourth series. One day people will write learned papers about these shows, at which point, jargon permitting, I might discover just how Maurice managed to live to fight another day.

Rachel Cooke trained as a reporter on The Sunday Times. She is now a writer at The Observer. In the 2006 British Press Awards, she was named Interviewer of the Year.

This article first appeared in the 23 March 2017 issue of the New Statesman, Trump's permanent revolution