Thursday, March 26, 2009

Honking Box Review: The Apprentice

If you weren’t aware that the new series of The Apprentice came to BBC One last night, then we’d quite like to know how you manage to switch off from all aspects of popular culture so easily – perhaps it’s some sort of pill you can take to block out certain entities? If so, put us down for a full prescription of forget-Fearne-Cotton-entirely (max strength).

For the rest of you, we’re not even sure why we’re bothering to cover the first episode, given the saturation it’ll already have provoked across the media. But hey, never one to turn down the opportunity to slag off reality contestants,

The first challenge saw the suited smarmfests getting their hands dirty – just like salt-of-the-earth hardworking man’s man Sralan Sugar did back int’day – working as cleaners. Cue the same old blend of blaming, fingerpointing, bitching and whining.

At this stage, it’s hard to determine who we like or don’t like. Actually, strike that – it’s hard to determine who we like, but a piece of piss to pick out the real tosspots. Early fuckwittery comes from the Phillip Taylor, who looks as though he’s made of plasticine and sounds as though he should be voicing a sock puppet; gobby ballcrusher and chronic oldface sufferer Debra Barr; and Noorul Choudhury, who we’re sure is actually a struggling actor who’s created the archetypal Apprentice twat character and is seeing how long he can play him without being rumbled.

Also on our ‘no’ pile would be the gent who uttered the following words on discovering the plush surroundings of the contestants’ penthouse...

“It’s SO feng shui!”
“I feel like Diddy!”
“King of the World!”

Sadly, we didn’t catch the visuals of whose execrable mouth these came out of – we were only provided with the audio, so we cannot attribute such bastardly foolish quotes to a specific cock. However, we did see – repeatedly – Mona Lewis uttering “at the end of the day” to a magnitude only ever reserved for jelly-brained Big Brother housemates, which adds yet another specimen to the cons list.

Not that there aren’t a few likeable characters in there. Kimberley Davis, the seemingly-proficient American with an apparent penchant for honesty; Majid Nagra, who’s already carving himself out as an endearingly hapless buffoon; the marvellously ginger Paula Jones; and Yasmina Siadatan, who looks sort of like a mouldy clone of the lovely Grace Dent, all seem to display a few traits of normalcy, or at least as much as is feasible from an Apprentice contestant.

The rest, we’re yet to come to a conclusion on, or are too boring to suss out at this particular point in the game. Of course, Nick Hewer and Margaret Mountford remain the true stars of the show, and we await Margaret’s cutting eye-rolls and Nick’s outstanding expressions of bafflement with genuine excitement. Sralan, miraculously, comes across as significantly less cunty than in previous series, although just one episode in, we’re sure that’ll change.

But overall, one of the most interesting aspects of The Apprentice last night was the reminder of just how unbelievably stressful it is to watch. The backstabbing, the weaselry, the accusations... it’s a solid hour of televised office politics, and it’s far from entertaining. And sure, it’s always been a key component of the show, but it reaches a point where it begins to grate, and heavily at that. We’re sure that there’ll be another moment of comedy gold, a la Simon Ambrose’s accidental trampoline wank, or Tre Azam’s killer one-liners, but we’re unlikely to reach it before we’ve been prompted to report the entire series to HR for unprofessionalism and gross misconduct.

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