As coronavirus swept Britain gets used to living under lockdown, there have been calls to remember the true victims of the situation. “The people we need to be thinking about right now are the gossip columnists,” declares Rick Wedge, showbiz editor of top UK tabloid The Shite. “Damn it, with everyone, including celebrities of every grade, now confined to quarters and with all the restaurants, theatres and bars shut, how are they going to fill their columns? Are they covered by any of those government schemes to prevent people losing their livelihood during the coronaviris crisis?” Indeed, there has, so far, been no word from the government as to whether we, as taxpayers, have to pay 80% of their wages under current schemes to alleviate the impact of the pandemic. Some experts, however, have voiced the opinion that as many gossip columnists are, effectively, self-employed, then they aren’t covered by any of the government’s current schemes. A situation which has resulted in Gary String, Senior Lecturer in Media Studies at the Muswell Hill School of Origami Studies, devising a new approach for the unfortunate gossip columnists to ensure that the show goes on, despite the pandemic.

“Perhaps they could keep their columns going by staging what ;might’ have happened at nightclubs if they weren’t locked down, using Barbie and Ken dolls to represent the various celebrities,” he explains. “After all they’ve got huge experience in making this shit up – plus, as they are dolls they are using, they can get really raunchy photos of the ‘celebs’ going at it, hammer and tongs.” String has already produced some examples of these simulations. “They were part of a project I set for my students,” he says. “They really are quite effective – just look at this one, which simulates some action in the toilets of a top London nightclub: it is as if you are really there.” Using dolls and highly detailed miniature sets, String’s students have produced a series of faux paparazzi shots of various celebrity scandals unfolding. “The really great thing is that they are sufficiently generic that they can be used to represent just about anybody, anywhere,” the academic enthuses. “I mean, going back to that toilet scenario, that blonde bint apparently snorting coke off of the cistern lid could be any number of minor league reality TV stars, while the couple going at it in the stalls, well the red haired girl could be that ginger one from that soap opera, while the bloke under her could be any number of Championship footballers.”

String concedes that more modern techniques, such as CGI, could produce more realistic looking fakes, they would also be far more expensive than his method. “Besides, our photos are vague enough that users could probably avoid lawsuits for defamation,” he opines. “We’ve already had interest from several Fleet Street gossip columnists keen to keep working during this crisis – after all, their only other alternative would be to try their hands at some real journalism. God forbid!” The adult industry has already been experimenting with the use of life size sex dolls in an attempt to keep their businesses going during the pandemic. “It seems rather apt, as this business is about the objectification of women,” muses Arnie Cable, proprietor of Bouncing Beauties magazine. “The fact is that, so long as they can be put in the sort of poses our punters like to fantasise about, then our readers won’t care that they aren’t real women.” He explained that the use of sex dolls was allowing the magazine to maintain its popular ‘girl-on-girl’ scenarios whilst observing current guidelines on social distancing. “If one of the girls is a doll and the other real, then we aren’t engaging in any gatherings of more than two people,” claims Cable. “Plus, the second person present, the photographer, can easily stay more than two metres away, thanks to digital zoom lenses.” Cable also insists that the dolls are thoroughly washed down with hand sanitiser afer each session, so as to safeguard the next girl to use them.

Gary String claims that he has also been offering his ideas to TV broadcasters, particularly with regard to keeping their sports coverage going during the pandemic. “In their attempts to keep Match of the Day going, despite the suspension of the domestic football season, the BBC really have missed a trick by not recreating the postponed matches via Subuteo,” he says. “The various pundits could play on behalf of their former teams: Gary Lineker could br Spurs, Everton and Leicester, Ian Wright Arsenal and West Ham, Alan Shearer Newcastle, Blackburn and Southampton, while Danny Murphy has Liverpool, Fulham and even Spurs covered.” Once again, he concedes that there might well be more advanced ways of simulating football matches – via FIFA 2020, for instance – but again insists that the old ‘flick football’ game has the advantage of simplicity. “It is old school, just like those ex-footballers they have as pundits,” he says. “Let’s face it, thery’re too old to be able to understand modern video games. I mean, if they’d heard of Atari I’d be surprised, let alone FIFA.” String also claims to have already tried simulating the postponed Spurs-West Ham match with the aid of his students. “We filmed the whole thing – multiple angles, goal replays, the lot – we even dubbed on commentary and crowd noises,” he enthuses. “It was fantastically realistic – you should have heard the boos when Delli Ali won a penalty, and our plastic Harry Kane’s leg fell off when he was challenged by Antonio!”

While the BBC has so far not responded to String’s suggestions, it has denied that it has any plans to make soap opera Eastenders depict the current situation in the UK more realistically. “Production has currently been halted due to the pandemic,” a spokesperson has said. “We have no plans to restart it in order to show Albert Square under lockdown, contrary to some tabloid reports.” An article in The Shite, written by Rick Wedge, claimed that the soap’s producers were planning episodes featuring the Queen Vic pub closed down and residents confined to their homes. “As I heard it, there were going to be whole episodes just featuring Sonia watching television, and the Slaters going so stir crazy they try to kill each other, Mick Carter accused of illegally leasing out his dog so that other locals can leave their houses on the pretext of walking the dog” claims the journalist. “All the current feuds were going to be reduced to people sending menacing texts to each other. Ian Beale will be targeted as he is suspected of hoarding toilet rolls – he and Phil Mitchell were going to have a huge ruck in the local shop when they are both in there trying to buy tinned goods.”