Karl and I met at the BBC where we both apprentices, paid nothing, but living the dream. We hit it off straight away, meeting every day in the canteen to complain about the rich and famous ignoring us.
A new show was launched, starring Lindsey Jennings, the biggest name in entertainment. Lindsey was 40 minutes late for the first meeting. The double doors were thrown open and a shimmering vision in white entered.
“This show” she said surveying us all, “will only fail if you get it wrong!” Lindsey was charismatic, mesmerising in fact, but I saw her for what she truly was. Ugly. Beautiful on the outside, but ugly on the inside. Cold, selfish, ambitious, unkind and cruel.
The show was a huge success and soon Lindsey was invited to present her own show in America. Leaving us with barely a glance or a word of thanks and taking her golden boy Karl with her. Karl had changed, he had a bit part in her show and now seemed to see himself only through the mirror of the TV screen and the reflective reactions of his adoring public. I had lost my friend, but worse still, he had lost himself.
Karl succeeded in America, but seemed to be living in Lindsey’s shadow, his career dependent on hers. According to the press they were living extravagant and selfish personal lives.
I was sent to America to make a film for ‘Children in Need’, with a girl called Alice whose dream was to meet Lindsey. We dressed Alice as a princess and built a castle set. Lindsey entered dressed as Cinderella with Karl following behind as Prince Charming.
My breath caught in my throat; I hadn’t seen Karl for two years, what would I say to him? I needn’t have worried as he didn’t even glance at the crew; we were all invisible. Alice was beaming as Lindsey approached, the cameras were rolling ready to catch the reaction, but it was not quite the reaction we were expecting.
“What’s wrong with her skin?” Lindsey asked in disgust, seeing Alice’s psoriasis. “I’m not touching her in case I catch something!” The atmosphere went icy.
Everyone stared as I walked towards the distraught Alice. “Don’t worry,” I said “she’s just the wicked Queen. I’m sure Prince Charming will come and rescue you.” I turned to Karl with a pleading look, hoping there was still good in him. I saw his shock as he recognised me. Approaching Alice, he kissed her hand and said, “I am here to rescue you Princess Alice, I will vanquish the Evil Queen.”
Lindsey scoffed, turned and exited the set. Karl didn’t even notice her go, he was on his knees hugging the joyful Alice. As he turned to smile at me I saw a single tear fall from his eye, as he mouthed the words, “Thank you.”
In that moment I knew he was finally free and the real Karl was back.