Channel 4 have commissioned yet another outing for William Harcourt-Dodderington-Smythey Twart, his awful family and his chocolate fascism. This follows his first series – in which we followed the exploits of the thoroughly dislikable apeman, his self-important wife and their squealing offspring as they tried to produce weird little chocolate nugget things – and, latterly, Willie’s Chocolate Christmas – a knuckle-bitingly smug stool of aspirational bullshit.
This time, Willie endeavours to create a popular chocolate bar to rival your Twixes, your Dairy Milks and your Aeros. He gets off on entirely the wrong foot with a snobbish diatribe regarding the chocolate we Brits consume, and follows up with a section in Barcelona where a vendor of high end chocolate products gags on one of our high street efforts.
Willie’s on a ‘quest’, we’re told. This is his ‘campaign’, he roars, before making his daughter some ice cream which they eat in the enormous back garden of his mansion. His wife, ‘the lynchpin’ of the operation moans about having to do ten things at once, despite apparently not having a job.
And we’re meant to relate to these people…
Finally, after an hour of chocolatey tedium, Willie jets off to Venezuela to seal a deal with a chocolate kingpin. They settle on a figure in moody, looming darkness, the scene reminiscent of Scarface. The show is shot in that moody stock they use for The Apprentice and every cut, slice and chop has its own camera angle. It looks like a fortune’s been spent filming it while the incidental music indicates it’s something that should be taken very, very seriously.
The problem is, it’s impossible to take seriously. Willie and family are completely dull, upper middle class non-entities and chocolate is just fucking chocolate.
Watching a successful businessman build his brand – when he’s not having the time of his life in the countryside or in the sun-dappled jungle – isn’t really the sort of eye-fodder I’m after in the midst of a credit crunch-saturated media environment. And if this is supposed to be escapism, why all the hand-wringing about Willie’s created-for-TV business problems?
If I want to escape, it won’t be in the company of this lot. Which begs the question, who is it that actually watches and enjoys this guff?
Do they exist solely in the mind of Channel 4 Executives?