TV Review: Coronation Street & The Apprentice

Hathersage Road Swimming Baths was the venue for the trial of the year, which commenced on Coronation Street on Monday night. Amongst the usual farcical courtroom scenes that Corrie does so well was this pearler from an annoyed Rita Tanner (Barbara Knox) when she said ‘Decorum to them is like a foreign word’.

Norris Cole (Malcolm Hebden), waiting for his golden moment in court, had the rug pulled from under him after Mary Taylor (Patti Clare) gave evidence that made his surplus to requirements. Carla Barlow’s (Alison King) revelations in court threw the cat amongst the pigeons, providing a testimony which caused considerable anxiety between her and her brother, Rob Donovan (Marc Baylis). The man we all know who had done the deed. Duh dum dum…

Friday saw the coup de grace, Peter Barlow’s (Chris Gascoyne) testimony. During cross examination, Peter said, to gasps in court, that he had tried getting Tina McIntyre (Michelle Keegan) out of his life for months. The trial concludes on Monday night; don’t ever let it be said that Coronation Street are squeezing this particular story till the pips squeak.

Running simultaneously on Weatherfield’s fabled cobbles, Roy Cropper (David Neilson) is being terrorised by a gang of youths, the youngest who by the looks of things, can’t be a day under twenty five. A further storyline centres around Audrey Roberts (Sue Nicholls) believing that Luke Britton (Dean Fagan), a lad who must be at least forty years her junior, is flirting with her.

Tuesday night brought us the long awaited return of The Apprentice (9PM BBC1). The sounds of Sergei Prokofiev’s Dance of the Knights, rung ominously as contestants and aspirants provided hilarious soundbites: ‘Team work makes the dreamwork…’ ‘There’s no I in team…’ Yawn… All these odious catchphrases were spouted from the protagonists without a hint or rumour of humour throughout.

For the first programme of the 10th series of The Apprentice, the curricula vitae submitted by these contestants would have had David Brent cringing. Did they really keep a straight face whilst typing this baloney out? The most memorable candidates were Steven Ugoalah, a social worker in the Arctic and Bianca Miller, whose biggest regret was not being a ‘scientist so she could clone herself’.

Sarah Dales who led Team Decadence (a name she selected as being “more elegant and feminine”), had a sales philosophy which was basically that women look better than men so they should sell better. Whilst I obviously agree with Sarah’s views on the aesthetics of women, I’m not sure how that works in a sales format. Sarah took her team (or sisters) and her unique form of feminism to Regent’s Park Zoo to try and sell five buckets of rubber gloves, toilet brushes, bleach and sponges for £250.00, which she had ‘knocked down’ from £300.00.

The boys meanwhile were led (in a fashion) by Felipe Alviar-Baquero, a Colombian who talked about himself in the third person and is possibly the most sedate export his country has ever produced. Under the name of Team Summit, Felipe’s boys were squabbling over which organic cheese they were going to use for their gourmet hot dogs. The debate took so long that any cheese they would have bought would have ended up smelling like Camembert. The boys then tried selling flowers to girls at random, with all the subtlety, charm and obvious desperation of a single bloke in a nightclub at 2AM.

Some things on The Apprentice never change. Nick Hewer exudes more eloquence with his eyebrows than everybody else in the show combined blurt out of their mouths. Perhaps the funniest thing about The Apprentice is when somebody tries flannel talking to Lord (Alan) Sugar. This is a businessman of nearly fifty years’ experience, a man who has come across every conceivable character you can think of (and no doubt some that you can’t) and some of these amateurs still try pulling the wool over his eyes. When Robert ‘Shoreditch’ Goodwin started going on with himself about edgy Shoreditch and Shoreditch hot dogs, Baron Sugar of Clapton’s response was hilariously robust. In the end, Chiles Cartwright was sacked by Alan Sugar, for somehow being even more inept than Robert. Unfortunately for Shoreditch Rob, he lasted only until the following night.

Wednesday saw Lord Sugar providing a task based around fashion, pitches and sales – a recipe for arrogance and humiliation in equal measure. As bad as the boys were, the girls somehow surpassed that with solar panels on the shoulders of the coats they had ordered. They had a jacket which had flashing blue lights on it which would either induce an epileptic fit or remind other people of when they got pulled by the police for speeding. The boys reaching some lows on the fashion front as well. Team Summit had what was described as ‘a Christmas jumper’ which bore the legend On Air with an inbuilt camera. The attire was so dire that when Alex Mills pitched the wares of his wear to the disbelieving stares of the buying team at John Lewis, he admitted he wouldn’t wear it himself. We had Scott McCulloch, as Project Manager for Team Summit. He lost control of the task and his team almost immediately. Scott clearly has a winning way with people… Nick Hewer described their work as ‘shambolic’, proclaiming this was nearly as bad as anything he’d seen in 10 years. For Nick, not a man known for hyperbole, to say this, is damning. They were that bad that Lord Sugar said the shoplifters would bring them back.

At the conclusion of the second programme, none of the girls had gone and they had wisely changed their name from Team Decadence to Team Tenacity. Three of Team Summit, Chiles Cartwright, Robert Goodwin and Scott McCulloch had been fired. This was appropriate; they had displayed entrepreneurial skills to rival The Three Stooges, with only a fraction of the charm. In his introduction, McCulloch had, with great modesty, compared himself to Ghandi (Mahatma presumably). To paraphrase the words of Ghandi’s great adversary, Winston Churchill, McCulloch is a modest man with plenty to be modest about.

This was first published on Quays News on Monday 13th of October 2014. The original article can be found here

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