The Apprentice – preview

WARNING: Embargoed for publication until 00:01:00 on 27/09/2016 - Programme Name: The Apprentice S13 2016 - TX: n/a - Episode: n/a (No. n/a) - Picture Shows: * Strictly embargoed to 00.01 hrs Tuesday 27th September 2016 * (L-R) JD O’Brien, Natalie Hughes, Michelle Niziol, Karthik Nagesan, Mukai Noiri, Courtney Wood, Sofiane Khelfa, Frances Bishop, Alana Spencer, Samuel Boateng, Dillon St Paul, Oliver Nohl-Oser, Trishna Thakrar, Jessica Cunningham, Rebecca Jeffery, Paul Sul - (C) Boundless - Photographer: -

Apparently the first task involves testing the candidates’ negotiation and selling skills. As always, they’ve a shaky grasp of grammar and an inability to know when they’re talking bollocks.  Take a look at this year’s numpties:


The Tasmanian devil occasionally stirred up a tornado.  Not a torpedo. JEEZ.






Not a sentence, mate.



Because I’m worth it.



You play IN the team.



Close the door on your way out, love.



Except in order to win something, there has to be an element of competition.



“I’m short, so I’m, er, a pocket rocket! Aaaaaaaaand….. I’m fiery! (GEDDIT!) And I, er, nope, I can’t stretch this metaphor any further, soz.”



Likely to volunteer to be project manager in the first task, and also first to climb into the Taxi of Doom.



Hey, it worked for Frida Kahlo.



D’you want some wax for that cross?



Don’t look like him, pal.



And what do hustlers, walking the mean streets of Glasgow want?  That’s right. THEIR OWN HAIR SALON.



“And mummy says I’m the best at tying my own shoelaces.”



“And I am absolutely not whingeing when I say that people foolishly mistake my enthusiasm for silliness or positivity for naivety.  I’m not, I’m not, I’m not.  Stop being mean. IT’S NOT FAIR.”



“I’ve even adapted to getting to the age of 32 and not rising any higher up the corporate ladder than sales exec.  Go me!”



And nothing conveys the inalienable aura of strength quite like a bow tie.



“I’m better than Samuel at tying my own shoe laces, so THERE.”


Strictly Come Dancing – episode two

Strictly Come Dancing Ed Balls

The opening dance was so lovely this week I (almost) cried: children and old people,  waltzing to “What the world needs now is love, sweet love.”  Ain’t that the truth.  Donald Trump, I’m looking at you.  The pro couples joined the dance floor, then the judges were waltzing too, there was a choir, everyone looked absolutely delightful and it was all too nice for words.

Fortunately, normal service was resumed as your writer noted that Tess’s stylist still hates her, and now hates Claudia too, having dressed them both in bath towels, and that Louise Redknapp must have pissed off someone the costume department and they had repaid her by making her look like Shirley Temple in a supermarket overall.  The girl can dance though, her jive was terrific.

Next up was Melvin (no idea) and Janette dancing to that ghastly 11pm wedding reception disco favourite, “Going Loco Down In Acapulco”.   Melvin’s VT contained all of his family.  Too early, Melv.  You’ve got to go on a journey and whip out the relatives around Week Nine.

Daisy Lowe performed the waltz. She was rather good, in a mildly irritating fashion.   Despite it being Week One, Len completely lost his head and gave her nine out of ten.  It’s his last series and he obviously doesn’t care anymore.   By the time we hit Week Eight he’ll be holding up three paddles, shouting “FROM LEN, ELEVENTY TEN!” and Tess will be calling for the nurse to up his medication.  Then it was some chap from Hollyoaks – who knew that was still going, surely nobody watches it? – called Danny Mac, which sounds like a bar of salted caramel.  He danced the Cha Cha with his partner Oti to ‘Cake By the Ocean’ by DNCE.  It was fine, but I was after stronger stuff.  WHERE WAS ED BALLS?

Then it was an actress called Tameke from East Enders – don’t watch it, no idea – who clomped her way through the Paso with Gorka to ‘Y Viva Espana’ by Manolo Escobar. Meh.  Where was Will Young?

Oh, Anastacia. She made tons of mistakes but styled it out pretty efficiently and was rather likeable, which makes up some of the ground lost by being paired with the permanently chippy Brendan.

FINALLY! It was Ed Balls, looking terrified. Those of us worried that he would dance like a partly mashed week-old potato were relieved to see that he could waltz reasonably proficiently, and although he went horribly wrong halfway through he kept going and got himself back on track.  “There were glimmers of an elegant gentleman,” said Darcey, kindly.   “I was pleasantly surprised,” added Len.  Ed looked relieved, although his marks were pretty rubbish (5,5,6,5, since you ask).

Claudia Fragapane (gymnast, appaz) and her partner AJ, who looked to be waiting to celebrate his 11th birthday, danced the Cha Cha to ‘That’s What Makes You Beautiful’ by One Direction.  Obviously, they threw in a load of back flips because gymnastics, which backfired because it ruined the rhythm of the dance, as Bruno pointed out.

Hurrah, Will Young!  Will is the only person I have ever voted for in a reality competition, when everyone I knew, and Simon Cowell, was sure that Gareth Gates would win Pop Idol.  I felt so indignant about this assumption I called up and cast my vote.  I’m practically a suffragette.   Will performed the tango to Bowie’s “Let’s Dance”, wearing very strange Michael Jackson-esque trousers, and sweating like an ice lolly in the sun (apparently he smokes like a trouper) but he was bloody marvellous.  Craig agreed with me, as indeed he should.

So that’s it for the first week.  God I’m glad it’s back.  It’s The Apprentice  on Thursday too, so it’s practically Christmas.  No YOU shut up.


Strictly Come Dancing – episode one


Let’s start by setting out the rules for Strictly Bingo.  Knock back one measure of your chosen drink whenever:

  • A celebrity starts quacking about having sore muscles in places they didn’t know they had muscles (or variations thereon)
  • Len whangs on about it being more difficult for the male celebs
  • Craig pronounces some poor sod’s performance to be a “diss – arse – terr”
  • Absolutely anybody mentions it being Len’s last series
  • The song is a laboured explanation of why the celeb is famous (the excruciating combination of “Keep On Running” playing as Iwan Thomas performed a routine that involved him pretending to run remains the stand-out definition of the genre)
  • Len whangs on about it being more difficult for the tall male celebs
  • Len whangs on about it being more difficult for tall, ex-sports male celebs
  • Tess walks onto the floor like a rugby player suffering a particularly aggressive case of thrush

Proceedings began with Tess clumping downstairs wearing a shapeless white bandage, whilst Claudia appeared to be wearing two dresses, both of which were bizarre.  Darcy looked sensational.  Yay!  Nothing has changed.

First up was Laura Whitmore (the showbiz interviewer who caught the eye of Leonardo DiCaprio, appaz) and sweating Italian 2015 champion, Giovanni.  They danced the Cha Cha to ‘Venus’ by Bananarama and were boringly good.  Props to Laura for dancing first though, which must have been horrible.   “Wot a luvverly way to start fe show,” burbled Len.  “First art, first clars!”  None of the other judges approved of her bent knees.

Pasha (my fave pro dancer, ever since he partnered the sweet and talented Chelsee Healey) danced the waltz with Naga Munchetty.  There was a lot of love in the room for Naga, who looked absolutely terrified but clearly has a lot of potential.  “You have a great neck,” oozed Darcey, weirdly.   Naga and her neck trotted off, relieved.

Ooh, (Judge) Robert Rinder.  Partner Oksana looked beautifully fierce.  Judge/Robert was dressed as a judge, banged a sparkly gavel and danced to “Mercy”.  Because he’s a judge, GEDDIT?  Jeez.  And, er, DRINK. Actually I think he’s a criminal law barrister, but let’s not get bogged down in piffling details.  Anyway, he was absolutely terrific, got his chest out, had hips that moved like well-oiled castors and Craig hated him.   Judge/Robert looked like he wanted to sentence Craig to 20 years hard, but managed a fixed smile nonetheless.

Dancing the waltz were Lesley and Anton, to the tune of “What’ll I do?”,  the theme to Birds of A Feather, just in case you weren’t sure why she is famous.  DRINK.   She looked fabulous and danced with genuine elegance, although her shoulders were so hunched she could have worn them as ear muffs.  Darcey warned her not to get “lost in Anton’s chest.”  Is Darcey on drugs?  We should be told.  When would Ed Balls (Ed Balls) be on? Where was Will Young? Let’s face it, that’s why we’re all watching.  Twitter informed me they wouldn’t be dancing until Saturday night. Pah.

It was the turn of Ore Oduba (no idea, sorry) who was dressed in a particularly hideous shirt, bow tie and chinos combo in order to dance the tango.  It was odd, but also clear Ore can dance although the choreography sucked.   He’s one to watch.

Finally, Olympic gold medal winner Greg Rutherford danced the jive to “Get Ready” by The Temptations.  Put your drinks down, Strictly fans, this was a missed opportunity.  What happened to “Jump” by either Van Halen or The Pointer Sisters, Beeb?  Greg was a tad flat-footed, but clearly loved every second of it.  “It woz full on for a bloke oo larks abaht in a sand pit!” yelped Len.  “The jive is hard for a big man,” sympathised Darcey.   If you say so, love.

Tomorrow night, Ed Balls (Ed Balls) and Will Young. CAN’T WAIT.

The Great British Bake Off – episode five


Week five, and it’s the dreaded pastry week.  We kicked off with the signature challenge: Danish pastries. Two different types, 24 pastries in total.  My colleague Beth is fond of the occasional Danish pastry for breakfast, which she reasons is “mostly air” and therefore does not weigh particularly heavily on the calorific front.  I like this opinion.

Back in the tent, Cambridge-educated engineer Andrew manfully deployed his ruler (not a euphemism).  He measured precisely his pear and chocolate pinwheels and did something complicated with, er, right angles. I’m a bit hazy when it comes to Geometry, not considering it half as important as reading Philip Larkin when I was at school.  I like this opinion too.

Anyway, I missed the rest of this bit due to doing something important involving a cork and a bottle, but I can report that there was a lot of “good lamination” from Paul and “I’m not getting any ginger” from Mary.  A lot of stuff wasn’t cooked, which Val attempted to style out by pretending her family ate raw pastry on a regular basis.  Bad luck, Val’s family. Paul remarked that Benjamina’s butter had exploded (also not a euphemism – this week was stuffed with them).   Candice did well, which after her tears last week was particularly cheering.

The technical challenge was to make a Bakewell tart.  Crushingly for those of us over the age of 40 *ahem*, the young ‘uns looked puzzled, and claimed never to have heard of them. “What’s the top of one meant to look like?” enquired Andrew. Ouch.  Val, meanwhile, declared that she made Bakewell tarts all the time, and proceeded to ignore the admittedly fairly sketchy instructions, because of this superior knowledge. Brave move, Val.  Back at Andrew’s station, he couldn’t understand why his tart wasn’t baking. BECAUSE YOU HAVEN’T SWITCHED YOUR OVEN ON, ANDREW.  Andrew works as an aerospace engineer designing jet engines for Rolls-Royce, people.    Jane won the challenge, and Val looked at her darkly.  Val is a former primary school teacher, and looks the sort who would have made her own dunce’s hat and placed it on some unfortunate pupil’s head every half hour.

Finally, the showstopper, which this week comprised filo pastry amuses bouches.  For the uninitiated, these are placed, with an entirely unnecessary flourish, in front of you in smart restaurants, and which you eat not because you want them “today the chef has made a celeriac and goat’s ear blancmange with whisky soil and a hint of armpit sweat” but because they’re free and you’re frightened of the waiter.

Rav made chocolate samosas – WHY? – Andrew made deconstructed baklavas, Tom made chocolate steak – seriously, WTF? – and Candice told us that “it’s good to get a handful of sausage.”  I’m just going to leave that remark there, without comment.  Jane made filo cones which looked delicious.  Paul wasn’t amused (see what I did there?)  “Those aren’t amuse bouches. They’re too big.” Paul tasted one.  “They’re delicious.” Told ya.

Candice did extremely well (Star Baker) and then Rav nervously produced his prawns. “That’s just the sort of surprise I like before a meal,” declared Mary.  Anyone following the GBBO Innuendo Bingo game knocked back a triple and slumped to the floor.

Val was sent home, possibly with a note about doing her homework.

Next week it’s botanicals. Knowing Mary’s fondness for a tipple, the person who uses gin in all three rounds will probably win.