It was mid-afternoon as a group of investigative journalists, Matt, Simon, Clarke & Dean arrive at Gatwick Airport from America. To find out more about a strange new talent show, called Monster Idol that had taken the world by storm. Dean & Clarke were both experienced journalists & authors in their early 30's. And were genuinely excited to be in the country.
On the other hand, Matt & Simon who were in their late 30's, were more world-weary, having formerly covered war zones. They were accustomed to such brutal environments having served in the military. Completing overseas tours in Iraq & Afghanistan.
The premise of the show involved various competitors, fighting it out in various brutal games and challenges. To try to claim the title of 'Monster Idol'. The show's creators insisted it was all choreographed like WWE wrestling, only better! They were uncertain what to realistically expect, as few private visitors were allowed into the authoritarian country. Since the financial debt crisis nearly 20 years earlier as a result of a series of pandemics. Causing the world to revert to a pre-globalized state that devastated Britain economically.
It was pleasant outside with a cool breeze blowing as Matt, Simon, Clarke & Dean step off the plane. Looking around the mostly deserted runway they observe very few aircraft about, and most of the ones they saw appeared to be either, obsolete military jets or run down civilian planes undergoing maintenance. With the tinged smell of jet fuel wafting through the air.
The journalists gather their checked luggage and walk through the terminal towards the entrance. They were notified that staff from the show would be waiting for them outside. It was relatively quiet, except for a few tourist groups and some patrolling soldiers. The staff was smiling politely as they waive them all through. While trying to distract them from the state of disrepair, the airport was clearly in.
Reaching the entrance, Matt, Simon, Clarke & Dean are genuinely surprised to see luxury cars, with people holding up cards with their names on standing outside. Walking over to them, Dean is instantly impressed with the luxury cars, saying eagerly
"I wasn't expecting preferential treatment like this!" As they introduce themselves.
The staff from Monster Idol graciously welcome them to Britain, stating they were here to collect them, acting as their local guides. And they would be distinguished guests for the duration of their visit. The journalists are then ushered into the vehicles. As the car pulls away, the staff informs them they would be accompanied to the Shard building where the program was filmed.
Matt, Simon, Dean & Clark are then given expensive gift bags, as Simon & Dean look through them. Matt & Clark look out the car window and are genuinely shocked by what they observe, as most of the buildings they drive past are run down, in an appalling state of disrepair. Along with the shabbily dressed people they note grimly walking by. Outnumbered by the heavily armed soldiers, ominously patrolling the streets.
Expressing a desire to speak with those who participate in the show, the staff were largely coy about allowing them to do so. Everything appeared to be tightly controlled, as the car pulls up outside the Shard. Getting out of the vehicle, they are surprised to see a glistening immaculate building, in marked contrast to its squalid surroundings.
Entering the Shard, they are escorted into the grand lobby. Which has a plush interior with marble floors and stylish furniture. With refined and smartly dressed staff attending to other distinguished visitors, with soldiers standing guard in the background. As they are ushered through the building. The staff eagerly brief them that Monster Idol was pre-recorded, being filmed in segments. With the introductory scene of the current series about to start filming in 15 minutes or so.
Matt, Simon, Clarke & Dean are escorted into luxury rooms with other foreign journalists and chosen guests. Attentive waiters courteously offer them refreshments, while they examine promotional videos on the large TV screens. Clarke subtly suggests they are being buttered up for something, as they appreciate the luxury food that was laid out for them.
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