A cheap, grotty-looking office. Papers and files are strewn about the place, and the walls are covered in photos of celebrities – a bit like your standard Indian restaurant in Wigan. There is only one desk and an oily man is on the telephone to a customer. He has the look of a chancer with car salesman overcoat and flat-cap. He is clearly slightly dodgy. And unquestionably northern.
Proprietor: … I’m certain you won’t be disappointed, Mr. Jackson – Geri Halliwell is one of our most popular models. She’s circa ’96 with the Union Jack dress and the slightly fuller figure, if you catch my drift (he chortles filthily) – None of that anorexic post Spice Girls nonsense with the yoga and Chihuahuas – Our Geri’s got proper girl power and bangers you could hang your duffel coat on. For an extra tenner she’ll jump out of a massive cake, sit on your knee and belt out a few bars of Two Become One…
The door to the office opens and a smart-looking man in a suit enters. He looks around a little nervously before being gestured to sit down in the seat opposite the proprietor.
Proprietor: … very good, Mr Jackson. Enjoy. (Hangs up phone and looks up at customer) Good afternoon sir – welcome to Doug’s Doppelgangers. What can I do for you?
Customer: Hello. It’s my wife’s 40th birthday next week and she’s a big fan of George Clooney. I was hoping you could provide a look-alike to surprise her at her party?
Proprietor (thoughtful): Clooney, eh? That could be a little tricky, I’m afraid. What about a John Craven? We’ve got a cracking new John Craven who’ll do you a nice spoof Country File, complete with green wellies and stuffed badgers. Or… (sifts through file and brings out photo) … Ooh yes - we’re doing a special 40% off on Peter Shilton? Nice line in self-deprecating humour about taxation and he’ll do kiddies’ penalty shoot-outs if you give him enough brandy. Watch out though, he gets a bit competitive once he’s got a drink inside him…
Customer: Er, no thanks. It really has to be George Clooney. I actually saw this advert in the local paper (retrieves crumpled article from pocket) – That’s why I’m here. The resemblance really is uncanny.
The proprietor takes the advert and studies it carefully
Proprietor: Ah yes – dear old Frank. Real shame about Frankie. He’s in the hospital, see? Had a little accident at his last gig - Docs say he’s probably not going to make it.
Customer: My God, that’s awful! What happened to him?
Proprietor: Choked on his false teeth after a punter got a little over-amorous and tried to rip off his tuxedo. Johnny Depp gave him the Heimlich Manoeuvre but it was too late. He’s now in a Persistent Vegetative State and dribbles uncontrollably.
Customer (appalled): How dreadful.
Proprietor: I suppose so, yes. Still – it’s how he would have wanted to go - in the line of duty and all that. Besides – he’s had a good knock – he is eighty-three now…
Customer (grabbing back the advert): Hang on! You’re telling me this man is eighty-three?
The customer holds up the advert which shows a picture of George Clooney in a publicity shot looking debonair
Proprietor: Well clearly not, no. That’s George Clooney.
Customer (penny dropping): I see. Look - I may have missed something here, but I thought the whole point of a look-alike agency was to provide people that look like celebrities. You can’t just publish a photo of George Clooney in the paper – that’s false advertising.
Proprietor (slightly huffy): I can assure you, sir, that all our models go through a rigorous recruitment process to ensure they are up to the job. You don’t become a Doug’s Doppelganger unless you are the spitting image of someone famous.
Customer: Could I see a photo of Frank, then?
Proprietor: Ha! Notoriously camera shy, our Frankie – but, believe me, he has that smouldering, brooding look down pat – and since the hip replacement he’s been able to do a mean foxtrot…
Customer: Well that’s as maybe, but he’s not much good to me in a coma is he? You mentioned you also had a Johnny Depp? My wife quite likes Pirates of the Caribbean…
Proprietor: We do indeed. Ted’s a real pro – used to do a tremendous Dean Martin down at the Tea Rooms in the Sixties – the old dears couldn’t get enough. (Pauses and sighs) ‘Course there’s not much call for the Rat Pack these days, so he’s had to reinvent himself a bit. Luckily he’s a dead spit for Johnny Depp. Once he’s got the pirate garb on you can hardly notice the hair lip or the hunchback – especially when he does the whole “Ooh-arrrrr, Shiver me timbers” bit.
Proprietor stoops his shoulders and swings his arms like a demented cross between a baboon and Long John Silver
Customer: D’you know what? I think I’ll leave it…
Customer gets up to go and the Proprietor grabs him by the arm
Proprietor: OK, OK – so Depp’s not the one. Tell you what: I’ll do you a half-price deal on Clooney if you can get your Missus down to Sacred Heart pronto. We’ll probably be able to get the dinner suit back on him if he’s had his bed bath – prop him up on the pillow and get you a couple of nice souvenir shots. He’s still got that twinkle in his one good eye…
Customer: Are you kidding? I’ve half a mind to report you to trading standards! You’re nothing short of a disgrace!
Proprietor (offended): I’m sorry sir, are you doubting this company’s integrity? I’ve been in the look-alikes business for thirty years and never had one complaint. How dare you taint the career of a great performer like Frank Burroughs? OK – so he might not look EXACTLY like George Clooney, but my God, he could put on a show…
Customer (leaving): Good day.
Proprietor (getting desperate): What about a Robert Mugabe? He’s topical? Goes down well at dinner parties? No? I could do you a Michael J Fox??
Customer closes the door behind him
Proprietor (shouting fruitlessly at the door): HE REALLY DOES HAVE PARKINSONS!
The Proprietor slumps back in his chair. Suddenly the door opens again and a middle-aged woman enters. She is a real old boiler (think Karen Matthews) with lank, streaky ginger hair and awful skin – her gut is spilling disturbingly from her crop top
Proprietor: Look lively, Sheila. You’re on down at the Nag’s Head at 7. Last minute Emma Bunton cancellation - Maureen’s bunions are playing up again...