Archive for the ‘ TELEVISION ’ Category


The Apprentice Week 9

 It is a rule of thumb-and unimaginative editing- on this programme that as soon as someone offers as their opening gambit that they are feeling positive and expect to smash it then they are about to fail dismally and be taking a taxi by the end of the hour. And so it was last night when perma-irritant Stephen used up his ninth life and put us –and him- out of our misery by ballsing up his task of finding and selecting luxury services for a discount website offering them to their high flying clients thus depriving him of the £250,000 win which, in all honesty, is little compensation for having to work for-or should that be with- Lord Belligerent himself.

He was not alone however as several other contestants failed to make their mark and were a little luckier in avoiding the axe due to highly efficient team mates saving their skin. This whole episode was extremely frustrating and what little charm these wannabe business moguls may have possessed at the beginning is wearing thin whilst there is a sense the series has run its course and the BBC should seriously consider telling the business world’s answer to Sid James to find some other medium for humiliating and bullying budding corporate cannibals other than a TV show.

Back to last night’s episode however and Team Phoenix were led by Jade who decided to favour quality over quantity when securing deals. At least this was the excuse-sorry reason- she offered when it became clear she hadn’t secured quite as many as expected. The failure to secure more deals was down to Tom and Adam who struggled to secure any interest in their proposals and matters were not helped by Adam’s street trader banter with high end businesses. Nick managed to slip under the blame radar yet again-this is perhaps his greatest skill- and by the end of the series he may actually fit into his own hair and lose those plumy tones which seem to have inflicted him with irritable vowel syndrome. Despite these drawbacks the team still managed to secure nearly fourteen thousand pounds in orders which even the old curmudgeon quiz master seemed impressed by.

Team Sterling on the other hand were a shambles from the get-go largely due to the auspice of having Stephen as a project manager. A shambling stressed out buffoon from the off it was pretty obvious he was unlikely to win the task or any commendations from his team in the inevitable board room confrontation. He was not alone in being underwhelming however as Gabrielle-who always sounds on the verge of tears- seemed to have resigned herself to the role of supporting cast member but this is never advisable when the process reaches this stage and there are fewer people to hide behind. Of the three, only Ricky Martin managed to impress and even he failed to secure anywhere as near as he could have if he had been a little sharper.

It was Team Sterling to the boardroom then and one of the more lively spats of the series so far. Stephen sensing he was cornered went immediately on the offensive and babbled and wailed but unfortunately Ricky was able to beat him down and expose him for the useless waste of space he has been for weeks-nine I think it is- meanwhile Gabrielle fought back her tears while standing her ground admirably. It came with a sense of disbelief when Sugar fired her and it seemed as if Stephen had miraculously survived another week. But no! Pausing only long enough for a hint of a smug smile  of relief to appear at the corner of Stephen’s mouth Sir Sugar surprised everyone-not really as he always does it around this stage of the series- by sacking him also, making it a double eviction. At last!

With the main irritant of the series gone there is no-one left to hate and approaching the final weeks we are left with bland and blander. At the moment it is still Nick and Tom who could be the front runners although both have under performed in recent weeks so the game is pretty open; if anyone still cares.


The Apprentice Week 9


With a series which has thus far been more of a whine it was fitting that last nights episode was about the wine. English sparkling wine that is.! It never managed to live up to Team Phoenix’s ad campaign however which promised less fizz and more sparkle represented by a shocking advert which had more the aroma of pungent cheese than an English alternative to Champagne. The episode did clear up one issue which has been troubling me for years however;  why does Alan Sugar think he is a stand up comic? The answer was delivered in an off the cuff remark by the grizzly one himself when he remarked how he may look a bit like Sid James. Immediately the cheap and lame ‘Carry On’ jokes made perfect sense when I realised they were being delivered by his self appointed doppelganger; it doesn’t make them any funnier though!

As I remarked last week this was Tom’s area of expertise and if he failed this task he was definitely on the chopping block. Putting himself up as project manager was also a risky strategy as he had such a narrow escape in the last episode therefore not following the brief closely enough and several cleverly edited shots led us to believe  he thought he had failed the task whilst his face had the expression of a man about to face the electric chair and was preparing himself to bid the game show-sorry, process- au revoir or more correctly, with this being a promote England task, cheerio. It was just clever editing however-the producers obviously felt the need to throw in a red herring to keep the audience interested or perhaps to simply resuscitate them from the coma this series is likely to induce-and Team Sterling’s boring campaign to raise awareness of English sparkling wine trounced Team Phoenix’s cheesy advert.

Led by Ricky Martin team Phoenix felt outclassed from the off and perma-irritant Stephen didn’t help matters much by getting up everyone’s noses more than any aromas of fine wine. Coining the inappropriate strap-line featuring the unappetising thought of luxury oozing from every pore he also thought it would be a classy idea to give the product a French name-Grandeur- despite the criteria being it was essentially an English and not French wine. After it was revealed they had lost the task I was convinced he was definitely homeward bound in the back of that ever present waiting taxi.

It was not to be however and foghorn Jenna- who I have always insisted was in possession of a voice which was a sackable offence in its own right-instead took her place in the cab’s back seat and Stephen was given one last chance to balls up which  in all probability he will next week in his already appointed role as the next project manager of his team.

Hopefully we will see a little more fizz and sparkle than this series has so far delivered and I am placing my money on Tom, Nick and possibly Gabrielle being the three front runners. Mind you Adam has constantly surprised us through this series and his comments made about various wine aromas – like Xmas cake and whopping great whiffs of boil in the bag shepherds pie- provided some much needed comedy relief and allowed Jilly Goolden to sleep a little more soundly. Also I think the Sid James doppelganger sees something of his younger self in him, though if I were Adam I would be worried about this and arrange for a personality transplant pronto.


The Apprentice Week 8


An episode involving the acquiring and subsequent selling of Urban Art- more often referred to as Graffiti- was bound to elicit at least one comment about the writing being on the wall and predictably enough it was left to failed stand up and head quizmaster Alan Sugar to deliver the inevitably cringe-worthy line. Less predictably it didn’t even manage to raise the usual amount of obsequious laughter from the boardroom of polyester suited sycophants. Perhaps this means that even they can no longer pretend to be interested in the tired format and limp jokes being trundled out week after week despite this being one of the better episodes in what is unquestionably the dullest run yet for this series.  The main attraction always involved a sense of superiority over the smug, supercilious cretins prepared to forego their last shred of dignity in trying to impress the curmudgeon-like one but unfortunately-for us the viewers-they seem to have wised up.

Last night saw Tom lead Team Sterling with, what at first, seemed like insiders knowledge of the subject at hand but somehow emerged as arrogance. This is probably his first serious mis-step so even though the writing was on the wall-sorry couldn’t resist it- concerning him securing the art which was going to win the task it was clear he was going to survive the inevitable boardroom bitching. The most surprising thing about this team though was Adam’s method of selling art as if he was still working on a fruit and veg market stall. Cue bad joke by stand-up Sugar about the Turnip Prize. Oh, how we didn’t laugh! Again!

Team Phoenix was led by the shiny happy person Gabrielle and a healthy dose of Prozac if her overly enthusiastic behaviour was anything to go by. It was ironic that her insufferable joie de vivre was used to secure a collection of macabre and brilliant works by an artist trading under the moniker Pure Evil. It was pretty obvious from the outset that this collection was the one which was going to clinch the deal as it not only encapsulated the spirit of the genre but was also extremely commercially viable.

So onto the boardroom and poor Tom there for the second week running and for the first time the stress of this game show was showing. It was one of the more feisty confrontations of this series with each contestant really fighting their corner whilst offering their opponents up as a potential sacrifice. Tom impressed the most however with his ability to finish what he was saying- and never raising his voice nor faulting in his delivery- as the others tried to interject and/or talk over him. It was Laura who eventually took the bullet as claiming sales is her area she failed to deliver and drastically fell behind the rest of the team in this department.

So with the number of contestants markedly depleted it looks as if Tom and Boris Johnson soundalike Nick are the two clear runners although Adam is a potential dark black sheep-or whatever- sneaking up on them from the outside. He is actually surprisingly becoming less irritating as the series goes on but this can all change. The perma-irritant Stephen must be perilously close to the end of the line in this show although the foghorn voiced Jenna-her voice alone is a sackable offence- has been unfeasibly quiet over the last couple of weeks.  Next week sees the teams try and sell sparkling English wine and with this being Tom’s area if he can’t pull it off he is unfortunately the next evictee


The Apprentice Week 7


After last weeks attempts at selling gourmet takeaway food in Edinburgh this week saw the corporate cannibals of the polyester suited version of the Generation Game on the more familiar terrain of offloading fake tan on the perma-orange denizens of Essex. With quiz host Alan Sugar, as an even less likeable and less funny Bruce Forsyth, claiming this is his manor the pressure was on to impress from the off. This was basically a selling task (aren’t they all?) and with Nick-who seems to have outgrown his own hair if not his Boris Johnson plumy vowels- in charge of Team Sterling and, the ever on the verge of tears, Jade helming Team Phoenix it was an open race headed by two strong candidates. It will however –thanks to Azhar who seemed to have the word stuck on repeat- be remembered as the ‘strategy’ episode.

It was Nick, who with a more relaxed approach to overseeing his team whilst also willing to listen to suggestions, edged ahead from the beginning by sussing that fake tan was the way forward. By concentrating essentially on this and working out a price with good margins it was clear he was going to emerge victorious.

Jade however adopted a more haphazard approach and refused to listen to Azhars pleas to clarify her strategy-several times again and again, on and on ad nauseum- and ultimately this cost her team dearly in the final analysis. It was amusing to see human irritant Adam bond with former nemesis Jade and finally find his niche in an Essex market whilst miraculously somehow becoming less irritating in the process.

Anyway not much else happened give or take the constant use of the word strategy and the almost weekly occurrence of traffic jams causing stress and unnecessary hold-ups. Is it just me or is this series less dramatic with fewer balls-ups than previous ones? I know it shows the candidates as more professional but is  dull to watch and lacks the bite and intensity of before as well as the schadenfreude of watching wanky, up their own arse know-it-alls get their comeuppance. The confrontational stances and face offs which characterised the series in the first place have now virtually disappeared and been replaced with low key grumbling and huffing and puffing with less bite than a toothless jelly baby.

Even the boardroom which used to see people fighting their corner and savaging any likely opponent has witnessed little in the way of fire and last night was no exception after Jade’s team fell short and were –marginally- beaten. By mistakenly choosing to take Tom- who is perhaps this years most measured and coolest candidate despite looking like Michael Buble after Weight Watchers- back into the final three and then immediately admitting she had made a mistake was perhaps not the most sensible –that word again –strategy. However somehow Jade survived and it was strategy fanatic Azhar and his downcast attitude- even winning tasks usually failed to elicit a smile from his lips- with Sir Bruce- sorry Lord Whatsisname- quite rightly stating there was no point going into business with someone no-one was prepared to listen to as what he usually uttered was a complaint of some kind. Then there was the part with the conveyor belt and the cuddly toy- or am I imagining this and confusing it with that other game show again?- and it was all over, unfortunately  bar the shouting of which there was simply not enough.


The Apprentice Week 5


Moving into the world of the fitness regime saw the two teams of, allegedly, Britain’s brightest entrepreneurial spirit enter into the burgeoning market of the fitness regime with predictably excruciatingly embarrassing results. Set the task of creating a new fitness programme last weeks winners -Team Sterling- seemed so overawed by their win of last weeks retro challenge they decided to stick with the same recycling theme by, at project manager Stephen’s insistence, recycling all the same ideas and introducing a vintage aspect into their efforts. Team Phoenix led by Ricky Martin on the other hand went for a dance inspired routine -without a Salsa move in sight- but incorporating the least convincing combat moves known to man, known as Beat Battle. Needless to say both fitness programmes  were shockingly bad although Team Sterling’s retro programme edged ahead in the mediocrity stakes by including Space Hoppers, Hula Hoops and embarrassingly tight red shorts for lycra virgin Azher, the reluctant star of their eighties influenced video.

The introduction of the video aspect in each series of this programme is usually the one where egos rise to the surface and clashes emerge as budding Hitchcocks and Spielbergs suddenly make their presence felt and last night was no exception. Phoenix had the uncompromising Duane, one of the more promising candidates, who had a vision blinkered to any form of negotiation eventually leading to his downfall. Team Phoenix had Jade who claimed she was the creative one on the team although perma-irritant Adam, who tried to assert his alpha male attitudes, insisted all she created was problems. Actually Adam was not the only irritant last night as the whole programme was ultimately frustrating.

Despite having an awful product and pitch Team Sterling’s Groove Train routine amazingly won out in the final analysis though I am as bewildered by this result as everyone else in the process. It was then up to Phoenix leader Ricky to choose his sacrificial boardroom compatriots and in this he makes another mistake by bringing in the two who worked hardest on the project, Duane and Laura. I am still waiting for a showdown featuring Adam and human foghorn Jenna- surely her voice is a sacking offence in its own right- but they have slipped under the radar so far. Duane made the foolish miscalculation of absolving Laura of any blame thus making the fatal error of doubling his own chances of being fired which is exactly what happened. This and his unwillingness to listen made me wonder if he has ever seen the programme before as these are two fatal mistakes not to make as past series’ have revealed repeatedly. His fall when it came was swift, unexpected and unfair as surely Ricky should have taken the bullet.

This series, so far, seems to have run out of steam with most of the contestants being slightly more self conscious and less likely to blow their cool completely. It is unfortunate as this is the most entertaining aspect of the whole programme and hopefully next weeks task-set in my hometown Edinburgh- involves a fast food experience and as anything involving kitchens and food naturally induces extreme stress levels where people blow their lids I am hoping for a pressure cooker-like televisual experience followed by the explosive boardroom confrontation this series has so far lacked.


The Apprentice Week 4


Four weeks in and no major hate figure has yet revealed itself although there are several contenders for most irritating- Jenna, Adam and Steve thus far- and this weeks task involving the buying and selling of second hand, vintage or retro goods promised to be one of the most challenging tasks so far. The whole second hand/ vintage/ retro/ charity shop experience has recently undergone a makeover thanks to the intervention and-many feel-unnecessary interference by that other belligerent TV bully, Mary Portas; she of the metallic tangerine helmet, fashion victim attire and brusque manner which competes with Sugar on the downright rude scale. Under her tutelage all the fun and mystery and likelihood of stumbling on an unexpected bargain have gone and been replaced by overpricing and an eye on the middle classes, apparently currently depleted, incomes.

It was also quite an appropriate task for a programme which seems to have run out of steam and is recycling old ideas as well as its host’s decidedly vintage stand up routine. Apparently the main change in the format over the last two years has been that the winner no longer gets a job but instead is the recipient of £250,000 and going into business with professional curmudgeon Alan Sugar as his partner whilst assisting him in increasing his already multi-million pound fortune. I am not sure how the partnership works, or ever really can though, if one of the partners insists on being called the ridiculous name Lord Sugar in some constant form of deference.

This week the teams were shaken up a little more and Phoenix were led extremely well by Tom, who previously has just worked away in the background with minimum fuss and little bragging. He led his team with a firm hand, a conscientious eye and a clear vision whilst all the team retaining his cool. The coolest thing on display last night however were, stand up comic Sugar’s straight man sidekick,  Nick Hewer’s vintage shades. Hewer initially thought Tom’s strategy of a minimalist approach was a mistake but as his vision began to emerge in the shape of a sleek and stylish outlet which rapidly started to sell out of its stock he admitted his initial misgivings were mistaken.

Team Sterling was led by the irritating Laura who seemed to be languishing in Samantha Brick delusional territory informing us how attractive and efficient she was. You can always tell when a team is on a losing streak at the beginning of each programme, however, as the footage generally includes a particularly arrogant statement of intent by at least one team member. So step forward Duane and Nick who were this week’s culprits-alongside Laura who in the boardroom who in a non-ironic moment of self loving branded herself the most efficient member of her team- and in the process virtually guaranteed their teams loss from the outset. Actually the loss was more down to her strategy of buying any old junk, trying to tart it up and then, for some inexplicable reason, throwing dead leaves around the floor in some effort of style. The result was a mish-mash of ideas with substandard products on sale and little camaraderie in the ranks.

Needless to say team Phoenix had a clear win and deservedly so and it was time for Laura to reveal her rottweiler in lipstick side and this she did with little provocation and swift removal of her muzzle. Taking the pushy Jane and scapegoat Gabrielle into the boardroom another bitchfest ensued. The women in this series of the programme really are proving themselves to be a complete set of bitches who seem to only view their gender counterparts as competition not realsising this has weakened their position and left their ranks sadly depleted. There is little or no female solidarity-not that it is important in business- but instead a set of minor grudges and resentments which build into huge unnecessary and undignified outbursts. The human foghorn Jenna has yet to make her appearance in the boardroom and this is one encounter I am actually looking forward to as her adenoidal twang gets more and more irritating by the week so it would be interesting to hear what she has to say rather than just how she blares it out damaging eardrums and misguiding lost ships in the process.

In the end the overly pushy and desperate sales technique-combined with pitiful sales-deployed by Jane earned her the heave-ho while Laura somehow survived despite grave mismanagement of her team. There has yet to be a gargantuan flare up in the boardroom as, so far, it has just been bitching and petty jealousies rather than out and out warfare. Hopefully some balance can be redressed next week as surely there can’t be too many bitches left in the process, unless you count the ones of the male persuasion of course. Now there is something to look forward to.


The Apprentice Week 3


Three weeks into the ‘process’-we are constantly informed it is not a game-show although it so very obviously is-and this week’s task was to enlist two teams of corporate cannibals, who have very little experience in the field, to first create a condiment and then sell it onto either trade or the public; a bit like an upmarket polyester suited Generation Game. The first task for host and quizmaster Alan Sugar was to even the two teams up as the female team, Sterling aka SAS, are operating with depleted ranks after losing the previous two tasks.

So moving the unpopular Katie over to the male team-thereby allowing the other women to bitch about her to the new arrivals which they promptly did within minutes- Phoenix (Nights?) and two males over to the female teams the gender balance is still heavily unequal. I find it strange that a show which is supposedly of the twenty first century still initially splits its teams according to gender creating an immediate primitive sense of divide and showing a distinct lack of imagination for a programme which seeks to unearth new ideas. Also mixing the teams up a little inevitably lends itself to some seriously cringe-worthy flirting by some delusional Lothario which combined with the egos on display makes for highly unintentional comedy moments.

The programme threw up little in the way of surprise however as the products from both teams were decidedly uninspiring and uninspired as were the constantly lame jokes about relishing the moment and getting into a pickle whilst being saucy. Phoenix came up with Belissimo –which should have been spelt Bellissimo though no-one amongst this group of supposed highfliers spotted this crucial mistake until labels had been printed- but reaction to it indicated more than the spelling was wrong with the actual sauce within the bottle. Acting as project manager Katie’s right hand man, Stephen, blew his own trumpet heralding himself as an ‘ideas man’ but somehow revealing himself to be little more than a complete tosser.

Sterling opted for a pineapple, chilli and ginger chutney and even though I am adventurous in my food choices I could tell from the combination it would be vile, Matters were not helped by messing up the ingredients and overdosing on the chilli causing last night’s funniest moment as project manager Duane to cough his insides out onto the factory floor after a taste test. Ah! The sweet taste of success!

Selling the latter product proved more of a problem as this balls-up over the chilli resulted in the selling team trying to sell a product without having any product to sell. Obviously this set the team back a little but not as much as the complete disaster over at the other teams factory space. Here the problem was not so much the product but the fact they were going for volume of sales at a low price but a miscalculation resulted in not enough product therefore resulting in a higher price for a sub-standard product. From this juncture the writing was on the wall and Phoenix were well on their way to their first loss after having been extremely fortuitous over the previous two weeks.

So all Katie had to do now was choose her two fall guys for the board room, eventually plumping for anonymous bore Michael and the ridiculously named, totally up his own arse, Ricky Martin. Adam, who made the fatal mistake of trying to claim all the credit for the teams success before finding out they had lost, slunk unobtrusively into the background after the results were announced and had a lucky escape.  I was expecting more from this showdown in the boardroom than it actually delivered.

The previous weeks have seen the female team at full screech with stilettos sharper than daggers and talons poised to take out eyes as well as any opposition. The male team have shown divisions which could rival this bunch of harridans but the seemingly insipid Michael struggled to even raise an eyebrow never mind his voice and more disappointingly made little impression at all. It was evident he was going from pretty early on in the proceedings although Ricky shows great promise of becoming a hate figure for the series-human foghorn Jenna is his closest rival and probably has the edge so far, although Stephen and Adam revealed themselves as contenders- and a more worthy adversary than the insipid Michael will hopefully bring it out in him. I see him as a regular boardroom visitor over the weeks as he has the habit of being able to annoy without having to do anything much to elicit such a negative feeling.

I am hoping next week livens up a little as the last two weeks have been rather subdued. More fireworks are needed and mixing the teams up a little more, as they are already starting to become a little complacent, is definitely in order.