I can’t help but worry about the environmental impact of the opening scene, week upon week. A handful of housemates all getting ready, hair tonging, power showering and hair-drying – it must make quite an impact on the national grid. And that’s in addition to gas-guzzling transportation requiring two or three cars for a completely needless trip to Kew Gardens on the outskirts of London Town. Don’t they care that they’re destroying God’s green Earth, damn it? Couldn’t they just have set up a few shrubs on the industrial estate they ended up at?
Those rotten Apprentice bastards.
But after some male make up application (wake up! This is 2009!), Kew Gardens was the destination of choice and Sugar announced that the teams would be dabbling in the world of cosmetics. Noorul was directly given the Team Leader position as he’d been ‘hiding’, charged with responsibility over Lovely Lorraine, Kimberly Cream Puff, Phreak Out Phillip, Horrorshow Howard, Jumping James and Mona ‘Sex Face’ Lewis. On the opposing side, Paula led the remainder and, from the outset, seemed like a model professional.
With the brief of inventing a beauty product which they would then have to sell directly to punters, Paula’s approach to management was at a worryingly high standard, as though we had an actual leader in the room. Her choice of a seaweed product went down alright and resulted in a rock pool jolly for some of the crew. While James was fiddling with some crabs, they realised they only needed a handful of the stuff and so their complimentary boiler suits and waders were somewhat over the top.
It was in the mix where their troubles started. Paula had delegated costing to evil princess Yasmina and that poisonous little plop, little Ben Clarke, who appears to willingly make himself appear more horrifically deplorable as the weeks pass. Ben admirably refused to do any of the work assigned to him and announced that he was slinking into the shadows for the rest of the episode – a firing offence in any other episode. This left two pairs of eyes on costings, both of which royally botched the job in hand. Would this have happened with the assistance of a third party? Ask Ben, if you can find him in the murky gloom, trying to appear industrious.
And oh! How Yasmina and Paula botched the ingredient mash-up. Where cedarwood oil costs less than £30 per kilo, they blindly opted for £1,400 per kilo sandalwood oil – which is akin to wandering into Frank’s Second Hand Cars on the lookout for a second hand VW Golf and driving off in a Lamborghini. Furthermore, it’s akin to driving off in that Lamborghini, rounding a corner and pretending to one another that the VW is a really nice drive for the low cost and only visibly showing any regret when Nick asks you to wind down the window of your own denial and gestures at the oncoming doom in the distance.
‘Anyway – I’ll leave it with you’ he said when he broke the news, having pointed out their ruin in no uncertain terms, swiftly leaving them holding the baby as he had every right to do. A delicious moment.
Over on Noorul’s team, the main man was stumbling. His face turned inside out, his lower lip becoming his brow which he then scowled at anything that spoke to him. If anyone dared to try to come up with even the barest outline of a plan, he employed a weakening grimace to throw them into despair. An interesting tactic.
His grumpy puppy face caused the rest of his team to jump up and start doing stuff, in tune with one another, so who are we I to criticise his technique? I had a French teacher who allowed us to talk over one another while he drew pictures of frogs on trains on the blackboard and everyone in that class passed… so sometimes even the strangest methods succeed. Even the ones that involve silent treatment and gurning with malice at those among your number.
While the other team rock-pooled at the seaside, Noorul’s kids went bee-hiving for the audience at home. With Lorraine stumbling about like a drunken bumblebee, they gathered a harvest for their product – what turned out to be a soap bowl containing pure honey, inexpertly wrapped in cellophane so that it inadequately held the sticky nectar within. It looked bloody awful.
The key interaction in Noorul’s team was between young Phillip and Kimberly, both of whom are opposed to one another in every conceivable way – British versus American, soft versus harsh, calm versus energy… Instead of bickering in front of a terrified graphic designer, they should have gone through to a meeting room and had a quick, punishing sexy time to rid themselves of the sexual tension that was clearly running through their rampant veins. They’d come together because opposites attract. That ain’t bitching, just a natural fact.
Speaking of Phil, our man from the north is simultaneously finding his feet and collapsing. One minute he’ll make an inspired decision which contributes to a win, the next he’ll be rasping disagreement in an unprofessionally abrasive manner down a handset, ripping a few eardrums a new A-hole in the process. Last night, at one moment I could’ve sworn he was going to swing at the Cream Puff. He’s essentially a bright but unloved schoolboy in pinstripe – and quite funny to watch.
The selling process involved a ladyman who clearly wanted to be on TV, the GERMAN FOOD wagon from a previous series and the usual singling out of a hopeless seller. This time it was Noorul, who opted to go for the opposite of Lorraine’s insane word-gabble confusion and spoke in the most roundabout way to potential customers about the design and packaging of the soap, resulting in blank faces all round.
Ultimately and as suspected, it was the sandal / cedar confusion that made the result turn out the way it did. Making a loss of just under £70 quid, Paula chose toxic little Ben and the unusually silent Yasmina to join her for a knackering, as well she might’ve. At the top of the show, she’d assigned them the job of costing ingredients so it was seemingly a question of who would go – the fool who made the actual error or the unshaven moron who refused to do as he was told?
For television purposes, Paula simply doesn’t provoke the same skin-crawling reaction as Ben’s pompous superciliousness and probably wouldn’t have had as many male admirers as the elfin Yasmina. Her firing appeared to have been very much a Production agreement, as Ben – as far as I’m concerned – would have been shown the door at any normal business, by any untelevised management team. His approach in the boardroom is to check out what bassline Sugar’s pumping out on his Fender Jaguar and fill in the spaces with a few snarling riffs of his own. The only problem being, Sugar wants to solo. Ben clearly winds the boss man up, so the only reason he’s still there is that hollow reasoning we’re forced to assume every time a runtish little berk slimes his way out of a firing.
He ‘makes good telly’.
Personally, I can think of potential scenarios that’d make better telly than belligerent Ben repeatedly screaming ‘WILL YOU LET ME FINISH?’ – most of them involving more scenes of a honey-dripping Mona in the shower, perhaps joined by Yasmina – but crucially, it’s important that they don’t let the flushing of a turd come too soon. It needs to be allowed to settle, cloud the waters and cause a stink first.
They want Ben to peak in locking and loading his own self-destruction, then have The Sugarman pull the trigger – but only when the time is right. By my reckoning, that’ll be in about three episodes time.
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