"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.

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Broken and The Trial: From Sean Bean playing a priest to real life lawyers

A surprisingly involving depiction of a clergyman provides the saintly contrast to the sinner being judged by a real jury.

I was all set to scoff at Broken, Jimmy McGovern’s new series for BBC1 (30 May, 9pm). A drama about a Catholic priest and his impoverished parish in a “major northern city”, it sounded so hilariously McGovern-by-numbers (“Eh, lad, give us the collection bowl – the leccy wants paying”) that on paper it could pass for a spoof. Even funnier, Sean Bean, late of Game of Thrones, was to play the clergyman in question.

Naturally, I adore Bean, who comes from the major northern city that is Sheffield, as I do, and who is so terribly . . . virile (though when I interviewed him in a car park behind King’s Cross Station a few years ago, and a security guard in a high-vis jacket approached us furiously shouting the odds, he ran and hid in his trailer, leaving yours truly to face the music). But let’s face it: he’s not exactly versatile, is he? The idea of him in a cassock, or even just a mud-coloured cardigan, made me laugh out loud.

Settling down to watch the series, however, I soon realised that no scoffing would be taking place. For one thing, Broken is hugely involving, its Dickensian plot (no spoilers here) as plausible as it is macabre. For another, in the present circumstances, its script seems to be rather daring. Not only is Father Michael Kerrigan shown – cover my eyes with the collected works of Richard Dawkins! – to be a good and conscientious priest, but his faith is depicted as a fine and useful thing. If he brings his besieged parishioners solace, he is sure to be carrying vouchers for the food bank as well.

The flashbacks from which he suffers – in which his mammy can be heard calling him a “dirty, filthy beast” and a spiteful old priest is seen applying a cane to his hand – are undoubtedly clichéd. But they are also a device. Forty years on, he is happy to nurse his dying mother, and his love for God is undimmed: two facts that are not, of course, unrelated. How weirdly bold for a television series to set its face against the consensus that denigrates all things Christian as it never would any other faith.

I don’t for a minute buy Anna Friel as Christina, the gobby, broke single mother Kerrigan is determined to help. Even when covered in bruises – a bust-up at the betting shop – Friel manages to look glossy, and she never, ever quits acting (with a capital A), which is a drag. But Bean is such a revelation, I was able to ignore the voice in my head which kept insisting that a Catholic priest as young as he is – in this realm, “young” is a couple of years shy of 60 – would surely be Polish or African (I’m not a Catholic but I am married to one, for which reason I occasionally go to Mass).

He plays Kerrigan, whose overwhelming desire to be kind sometimes makes him cack-handed, with great gentleness, but also with an uninflected ordinariness that is completely convincing. Part of the problem (my problem, at least) with Communion is the lack of rhetorical passion in most priests’ voices, something he captures perfectly. One other thing: Line of Duty fans need to know that Adrian Dunbar – aka Ted Hastings – can also be seen here wearing a dog collar, and that he looks almost as good in it as he does in police uniform.

On Channel 4 The Trial: A Murder in the Family was an experiment in the shape of a murder trial in which the defendant – a university lecturer accused of strangling his estranged wife – and all the witnesses were actors but the lawyers and “jury” were real. Over five consecutive nights (21-25 May, 9pm), I found it pretty tiresome listening to jury members tell the camera what they made of this or that bit of evidence.

Get on with it, I thought, longing again for the return of Peter Moffat’s Silk. But I adored the lawyers, particularly the lead ­defence barrister, John Ryder, QC. What an actor. Sentences left his mouth fully formed, as smooth as they were savage, his charm only just veiling his mighty ruthlessness. Drooling at this performance – which was not, in one sense, a performance at all – I found myself thinking that if more priests came over like barristers, our dying churches might be standing room only.

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 25 May 2017 issue of the New Statesman, Why Islamic State targets Britain

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