A Dog Called Duncan

Created by Henry Steedman, The Pitch 2016

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This is a comedy with dramatic punch. Boris Ballam Finn is a food critic sitting in his favourite fancy restaurant - he writes glowing reviews and they give him VIP treatment. The owner asks Finn to write a damning review of a lowly cafe nearby he dislikes. Such is the power of Finn's opinion and words that one bad review will curse any establishment to closure. Even though he quite likes the cafe, he agrees - he prefers being a VIP. He returns home and takes his dog (Duncan) for a walk. In the park Duncan suddenly stops, Finn yells at him and to his astonishment, the dog yells back in a human voice. The dog points to the spot where he met his wife, who died ten years ago. She always said that food doesn't have to be fancy to be good - it should be respected as a gift from whoever made it, as it contains a little piece of their soul. It was a view he genuinely shared but lost after her death, when avarice replaced love. Back home he writes a truthful, positive review. The next morning he happily eats meatballs at the cafe, alongside Duncan.

Biblical Connection

This is based on Balaam and the Donkey (Numbers 22), where a powerful prophet is asked by a new King to curse the Israelite's who are camping near his city. Balaam is offered riches and eventually agrees. On the journey his donkey repeatedly stops, causing him to beat it - suddenly the donkey complains in human voice and admonishes Balaam for treating him so badly. The donkey also inadvertently saves Balaam from an Angel of the Lord, who was sent to kill him for disobeying God. My version doesn't follow the details exactly but explores the wider theme of being true to oneself. The Doctrine of Balaam is seen as an example of man's fallibility - where one can be misguided enough to abandon your true beliefs for self-gain. Here God is represented by the love for his wife. In the current climate of political mistrust and corruption in sport I think this could be a powerful reminder of the importance of personal integrity. With so many opportunities to stand back silently when you could stand up for what you truly believe - this story, with the added comedy gold of a talking dog (without CGI...) couldn't be more timely.