Round 1: Robert Galbraith vs Marian Keyes

Robert Galbraith

Special Attack: Superhuman stealth


  • TOP SECRET identity
  • Mysterious wealthy benefactor


  • Might not be real
  • No wizards

Marian Keyes

Special Attack: Freshly baked bread distraction.


  • Bakes a mean Victoria sponge
  • Seen as a lighthearted pushover but is so much more


None. She’s lovely.


How we think it’d play out…

Marian Keyes looks up from her baking. She is surrounded by cakes. Each one more delicious than the last. Battenburgs. Brownies. A bit of banoffee. Muffins. Macaroons. Cakes made with coffee. Dobos, dundee and devil’s food. Mooncakes, cupcakes, coconut too. Look, we could sit here and reel off the names of cakes (and in rhythm!) but we couldn’t afford Stewart Lee so we’re just going to have to stop there. You get the idea. Loads of cakes, all perfectly made.

With more tupperware than anybody has ever seen, Marian packs her baked goods, bundles them into the boot of her car and takes them down to the bake sale. What’s the bake sale for, you ask? It’s to raise money to help the village build a brand new space elevator. The last one was damaged during The Fight. The village no longer talks about The Fight.

She arrives early and sets up her stall, waving a cheery hello to her fellow traders. As they set up she sees a shadowy figure hanging around in the car park a bit further down. She pays no attention. After all, all sorts of people enjoy cake.

Later on, once the stalls are set up, the shadowy figure wanders over. Close up Marian can see that he’s wearing a large-collared coat turned up to cover almost his entire face. A wide-brimmed hat, pulled down as low as it can be pulled, hides everything else the coat misses.

‘Hello, Mr…?’ Marian leaves the space for the surname with a pregnant pause and waits for the waters to break.

‘Galbraith,’ the figure says eventually. ‘Robert Galbraith.’

‘And can I help you, Mr Galbraith?’ asks Marian.

‘Yes,’ he says. ‘I’d love one of those cupcakes you’ve got on the shelf behind you.’

Galbraith waits until Marian turns around before slipping an entire cake inside his coat. When the Irish author comes back, he does his best DJ impression and changes the tune.

‘Actually, now I come to think of it,’ he says. ‘I don’t think I will have a cupcake. Diet and that, really need to cut down on the sugars.’

Marian understands completely and the two say goodbye. As Galbraith walks off Keyes sees the suddenly empty plate. She looks at Robert as he walks away, there are crumbs falling out from under his coat like a WW2 escape plan.

‘Stop that man!’ she shouts. ‘He’s a cake thief!’

Galbraith immediately starts to run, Marian vaults over her stall and gives chase. He runs away from the church towards the carpark, knocking aside the tombola and creating a shower of raffle slips. Marian runs through them like a sword. She’s not been stopped by a tombola before and damn it if she’s going to let one stop her now. She’s gaining ground. As her turns the corner his hat flies off behind him.

She loses sight of him and enters the car park alone. ‘Galbraith!’ she shouts but there’s no response. A crisp packet rolls across the tarmac. Marian looks around. She would have seen him leave. He’s got to be here somewhere. Something on the ground catches her eye. The crumbs from her cake! They lead her between two parked cars where she confronts the cowering crime writer.

‘I want my cake back, Galbraith. I don’t care if it’s ruined, I don’t care. I just want it back. And look at me when I’m talking to you.’

Marian pulls down his collar and finds a bandana covering the writer’s face. She pulls off the bandana to reveal a moustache and glasses combination set.

Out of breath, Galbraith holds out his hand over the glasses. He wheezes his response. His voice seems higher somehow.

‘Stop, please,’ he says. ‘You can have your cake bake but, please, don’t make me take off my disguises. Don’t look at my face. Nobody must know my secret identity.’

Marian Keyes stops for a second. ‘Your secret identity?’ she asks?

‘Don’t make me admit it, don’t make me say it. She who must not be named!’

‘I just want my cake, Robert. I’ll be happy with my cake. But leave the bake sale, I don’t want to see you here again. And if I find out you’ve been ruining any others, well, something tells me your identity won’t be so secret for long after that.’

The cake, squashed and ruined, is handed over by Galbraith, also in a similar state. Marian leaves him behind a broken…man? She returns to her stall, glad to find it untouched and gets back to selling her goods. The day goes on to be a great success. The village raises over £50 which turns out to be nowhere near enough to build a space elevator. Which cost millions.



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