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Dear Jim

Dear Jim, (1926-2011)

Please please please please please please please please please please please could you fix it for me to return to the simple days when your show was one of the highlights of my weekend?

Your death, whilst terribly sad, was not a complete surprise – I have never once seen a photo of you without a cigar on the go, and once even saw you jogging while smoking a fat one – but it drew something in to very sharp focus for me: Kids today are utter bastards.

'The Chair' allegedly nine immigrant workers were killed in its 3 year construction

I think back to the letters that you used to get. You’d be sat there, decked out in your finest gold like a bleached anorexic Mr T, sat on that giant chair with all the secret compartments where you’d hide cigars, gin, your gun and of course those famous ‘Jim Fixed It For Me’ medallions, and you’d read out a letter from little Kevin in Withernsea asking if you could get him in to London Zoo to see if elephants really are scared of mice; or if him and his mates in the cubs could go to Alton Towers and eat a Wimpy meal on the rollercoaster. You’d make some delightful quip and then we’d meet the little scamp. They were generally agreeable enough, polite and clearly delighted to be there. These, let it be perfectly clear, were not spoilt little bastards – even I could see that through my haze of envy as they got to be a passenger in a stunt car doing a wheelie, throw a million pounds into a fire or press the button that demolished a tower block – they were just normal kids with the dreams of normal kids i.e. silliness, messiness and a bit of destruction. And you made them come true. And they got a bloody medal at the end of it. Jammy bastards.

Do you know what Jim? Even without your incredible charity work, your pioneering radio endeavours or your unrelenting service to Elizabeth Duke and the struggling British shell suit market you’d be a shoo-in for a spot on the good side of the afterlife. I have no idea who you’ll meet there, Jeremy Beadle’s a 50/50 shot, as is Rod Hull – mostly thanks to Emu, but I would imagine Bamber Gascoigne’s going to be there – he’ll be great for Trivial Pursuit. Did you two get on? I digress, the point is that you made so many kids happy that your spot is assured (we won’t mention that you did introduce some kids to Gary Glitter – how were you supposed to know?).

You could, of course, have made a lot more kids happy had your show not been cancelled, and while many will argue that your time was up because you were a relic of a bygone era, those people are idiots barking up the wrong tree.

The writing was on the wall for the show when Jimmy fixed it for this little boy to have a free go on 'Miss Swallows' at the local knocking shop

The problem was the kids Jim. In your heyday in the 80’s the kids had simple dreams – dancing The Locomotion with adorable teeny pop temptress Kylie or driving a locomotion with gruff giant Northerner Keith – they were fun and, importantly, achievable. Then the kids changed. The bastards. No-one wanted to be a train driver any more, they wanted, neigh demanded to be famous – talent optional. No longer would they be happy smashing a fake priceless vase on Antiques Roadshow (that was a brilliant one by the way) no, they ran out of imagination and into the shopping mall, wanting expensive things like computers, they wanted the moon on a stick – and they wanted it now. If you’d carried on you’d have had to have a budget of several million a show,  and giving in to them would have just compounded the problem Jim. You were best off out of it.

One lucky git meets the legend that was Roger Hargreaves, this kid changed his name to Mr Spawny

You never answered my letter but I forgive you, you were a very busy guy. It was probably an unreasonable request any way, I wanted to have a go in a fighter jet. It was a lot to ask, especially bearing in mind the rapidly collapsing Communist bloc subsequent political upheaval and increased demands on the military, not to mention the vast costs that would be involved in taking a child far too unattractive to appear on modern television (but perfectly acceptable then – in your face ugly present day kids) on a ten minute joy ride that would inevitably end with vomit filling the control panels. Regardless, you prolonged my innocent wonder at the world for a bit longer, and I thank you for that. It saddens me to think that in order to have watched, understood and properly enjoyed an episode of Jim’ll Fix It you’ve got to be over 21 – that’s a whole lot of people who missed out on something really special. No wonder they rioted.

The world was a better place with you in it, so (lights cigar) now then, now then Sir Jim, you Rest in Peace now, you were a proper legend.

From

R (aged 34)

PS – If you still get the letters wherever you are I would still like that flight

PPS – Or a go on a hovercraft

PPPS – Or a go on Kylie. I’m not fussy.

 

 

 

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Dear Celebrity Big Brother

Dear Celebrity Big Brother, (every night @9ish, 5)

Welcome back, though I think it’s only fair of me to say that a) I was glad to see you leave in the first place , and b) I’m not particularly pleased to see you back so I suppose c) I shouldn’t really have said welcome back. I’ll start again.

Hello. You are back.

That’s better. Right, to business. I’m hoping that you can help me because, after watching as much

A scan of my weeping brain shortly after the 'assault' reveals several 'mind tears'

of your visual enema as I could manage (it was approximately 28 minutes before my brain crept out of my head, dragged itself to the bathroom and sat under the shower, gently sobbing and rocking – you’d violated it you see. You raped my brain) any way, none of that matters, we’ve made up, my brain’s going for counselling and I’ve promised not to leave you two in the same room ever again. Where was I? Oh yes, how you can help me. The thing is that I think, that is I’m concerned, worried even, that I might be, what you refer to as…a celebrity.

In truth I’ve had my doubts for a while – shows like Celebrity Family Fortunes, Celebrity Masterchef, and even the recent BAFTA’s have had me so bewildered about what actually constitutes ‘celebrity’ that I’m in constant fear that I myself might be one of the most famous people in Britain. What if I have a stalker? What if my fans think I’m aloof, arrogant or simply a prick because I ignore them? These are genuine concerns, and they’re only there because the likes of you and seemingly the entire commissioning board of ITV have decided that some cretinous spunk dumpster from Essex who says “Oh my God, I’m so jel” about anything and everything (though presumably it’s always about the same thing – the process of independent thought) is a genuine bona-fide celebrity. I shouldn’t have these concerns, unlike most of these fucktards I’m a normal person and wish to remain so.

Amy Childrens - just like a Barbie doll, but with fewer uses and less brain power

Let me tell you the reasons for my concern. They are manifold so I’m going to use a list. I hope you don’t mind but don’t actually care either way.

  1. I’ve been on TV several times.
  2. I am recognised by several people, probably in excess of 500.
  3. If I google search my name I get several results about me.
Now I realise that none of these results sound impressive enough to justify use of the term ‘celebrity’ – I certainly didn’t think so at any rate, not until I saw the rag-bag bunch that entered your house the other day (and will probably have left by the time you get this). I’m not going to pretend to recognise most of them, so here’s my understanding of who went in and why they’re famous:
  • Sally The Cow – Famous for marrying a man of arguable importance and then doing everything in her power to sabotage his career.
  • Little Bobby Staples – Famous for having pretty hair
  • Tara ‘The Defendant’ Reid – Formerly famous for being a small part of the American Pie team, now famous for her drink, drugs and fanny flashing debauchery. A classy lassy.

"Miss Reid, Miss Reid! You've accidentally covered up one of your breasts." Cries her carer forlornly

  • Paddy Doherty – Famous for being on a reality show about gypsies and being a bit fighty.
  • Amy Childrens – Famous for something called ‘TOWIE’, being jealous of everything, sticking beads and glitter on various lady gardens and having the intellectual capacity of a mollusc.
  • Viscount Lucien Von Trap III – Apparently an actor, famous for being very pretty.

What? You heard that Lucien had had it away with Kym Marsh? That's just Hear Say! Thank you, I'm here all week. Try the fish.

  • Kerry Katona – Originally famous for being in the very first of the 96 incarnations of the pop band that will never die, Atomic Kitten, then famous for marrying Boyzone/Westlife (delete for accuracy) then famous for being famous, then famous for a lack of self control, then famous for being an utter fuckwit, now famous for being a famous fuckwit with no self control.
  • Darren Lion Bars – I know that he’s technically famous for taking photographs of mildly famous people, but you have to presume that in all actuality he’s famous for being a massive bell end.
  • Pamela ‘Not Anderson’ Baywatchface – Famous for being married to Mitch Buchanan, then divorcing him before he started drunkenly guzzling burgers on the bathroom floor.
  • Sickeningly the last thing that Tigger ever saw was a pair of happy morons. If rumours are to be believed they also have coats made from 101 Dalmation puppies and their wallets are crafted from the Little Mermaid's tail.

    Edwohn – Even I know these two crazy Irish bastards, genetically engineered by the finest Gaelic scientists as revenge for making their nation host Eurovision 15 years in a row. They’re famous for achieving a new level of mediocrity on a ‘talent’ show that already excelled in this department and being generally irritating. Still less annoying than Bono though, sorry Irish science guys.

Now I think you can probably see why I’m confused. I’m at least as famous as half of these buggers. Admittedly I’m not married to someone famous, but I have said hello to Mel Gibson (before he was a Jew hating racist mental case) and once shook hands with Michaela Strachan – and when you combine that with all the other stuff it’s a fairly compelling case I think you’ll agree.
Any way, that’s why I’m worried so if you could just answer me these three simple questions I can either stop worrying because (as I hope) I’m not a celebrity, or I can at the very least fire my agent (do I have an agent? Make it four questions) for not telling me I’m a celebrity in the first place.
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  1. What exactly is the cut off point for ‘celebrity’? Would, for example, the man who waxes David Beckham’s (where am I going? Balls or car, balls or car?) wife’s moustache (fooled you) be classed as a celebrity?
  2. Do I have an agent? If so could you please tell him to call me
  3. Am I a celebrity? You make the rules, you make the call!
  4. If I’m not then how come these no-marks are? Maybe you should re-name it Been On Telly Before Big Brother? Or ‘If You Watch ITV2 You Might Recognise Me But Probably Not Big Brother’.

One of the people who is probably a die hard example of those who are not my fans, but I can't be sure until I know if I have fans, or people who are intentionally not fans or if no-one really knows who I am. God I'm confused.

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Please let me know ASAP, I’m sick of trying to avoid people who probably have no interest in having their picture taken with me.
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Thanks,
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R
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PS – What were you thinking with Brian Dowling? Oh dear, oh deary deary me.
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PPS – Seriously, look up the word ‘celebrity’ I think you think it means something else.

Dear Torchwood: Miracle Day

Dear Torchwood: Miracle Day, (BBC1, Thursdays @9pm)

Well well well, you’re certainly not a kids show any more are you? Crammed into that very decent opening hour you had kiddy fiddlers being put to, well not death, but made to shake a bit by being given a lethal injection.

The kids hadn't been this scared since unwittingly agreeing to join Gary Glitters 'secret' gang

Well, not lethal, but unpleasant without causing any lasting damage. Any way, you had all that then you had naughty words being used – which is very grown up – and a bit that you borrowed from The Terminator where the torched body still has movement and that bit you took from Final Destination where a highly unlikely series of events led to Dr Pratt out of ER getting turned into a kebab. I’m pretty sure there was also some sexy touching in there as well. All things considered the message was well and truly sent out in that first show – “We are not for kids!”

And that’s fine, genuinely. Recent events have told us what kids like: rioting, looting, arson and the occasional murder, so if anything you’d probably be a bit tame for them any way. However the difficulty I’ve had is that as you’ve progressed, as you’ve lumbered along at the speed of a tired tortoise with chronic arthritis dragging a safe up a hill, it’s become more and more apparent that only a child would buy into your ridiculous story. What started as an interesting concept with a few plot holes has quickly deteriorated and is now one giant hole with a few wafer thin wisps of plot drifting across it. To add insult to what might previously have been a life threatening injury you’ve also got a host of characters it’s absolutely impossible to give a shit about because they’re all so awful and, I presume in an earnest attempt to carry some subtext, you’ve become dull. Last weeks episode saw me looking at the clock after ten minutes and wondering if our world had succumbed to ‘the miracle’ because it felt like a genuine lifetime had passed.

The TV shouted "Torchwood, right now" the kids of London misunderstood

You had a good idea for an episode – possibly even a double or triple episode – and you threw money at it and stretched it out until it was ten hours long. It doesn’t take a genius to work out that this is not a good move. In an effort to help you avoid making the same mistakes again I’ve compiled a list of some of the larger failings of ‘Miracle Day’ it’s not an exhaustive list because I don’t have the ‘gift’ of everlasting life, but it should be enough to start you off. So, starting with the characters:

1) Oswald Danes

One of these men is NOT Bill Paxton

Ooooh, edgy. Yeah, get Hollywood star and former cheese coated President of America Bill “Not Paxton” Pullman to play a demented and unapologetic murderous kiddy fiddler type, and then, here’s the twist, you’re going to love this because it’s so like, you know, unexpected, then you make him like, into a hero, a sort of spokesman for the masses sort of thing. Isn’t that just the most amazing thing you’ve ever heard? Well, quite frankly, no. You see what you’ve done there is taken it that one step too far and taken a giant leap into the utterly implausible. People don’t forgive those who fiddle with or murder children. It doesn’t happen. You murder an adult then there’s some chance that you can be redeemed, you touch a kid and you’re the devil – there was a mass public outrage when Myra Hindley was allowed out of prison on a shopping trip and when rumours spread that James Bulger’s killers (only children themselves at the time) were being considered for parole much of society was disgusted – in short the picture you have painted wouldn’t happen. No way, no how.

You’ve reached, and that’s admirable. You’ve tried to be contentious, and that’s good. You’ve written  storyline that only the most deluded paedophile would allow themselves to believe for the briefest of moments, and that’s just fucking stupid.

2) Oswald Danes

Yes, I know he was point one, but this is a much quicker one, and it’s connected. You haven’t had him do anything that might even come close to aiding him in this highly implausible ressurection of his. It’s all well and good bandying around phrases like “trending on twitter” and “followers on Facebook”, we get it, you’re down with the kids (no mention of MySpace or Bebo though, where’s their love?) but it means bollocks all if you don’t have the character do anything even mildly compelling to prompt this massive sea change. If you’re going to ask us to believe the impossible at least give us something to cling on to – to just presume we’ll go with it is arrogant in the extreme.

3) Dr. Vera Juarez

Now there’s a face you’d never get tired of punching. I know what you were going for, you were aiming for the feisty maverick who’ll do whatever it takes to get the job done. You missed. What you ended up with was the irritating bitch who spoke to everyone like they’d personally slighted her and treated everyone like they were incompetent halfwits not worthy of breathing ‘her’ air. I guess I was supposed to care about her, rather than cheer when she got shot (christ, she even got shitty with the bloke who’d just shot her) and holler when she got barbecued.

4) Mekhi Phifer

How did you coax such a poor performance out of such a good actor? Seriously. I mean he’s not even phoning it in, he’s written a note and stuck it to the fridge hoping we’ll read it when we get in.

5) Esther Drummond

Again, a character I’m sure I’m supposed to be sympathetic towards, but I find myself wanting to scream at practically every time she opens her mouth. Is she the wettest character ever to appear on grown up TV? She might

Esther was distraught to hear that the rats she'd called the council about had been killed

be. My favourite bit was where she seemed not only devastated but genuinely shocked when she heard that her niece and nephew had been taken away from her sister, whose been taken for psychological evaluation and put into care. I agree that this all sounds quite harrowing, but there are a finite number of things that can happen when you call the authorities telling them you fear for your niece and nephews safety because you think your sister might have gone bonkers – and this is top of the list. Swinging wildly between confident and terrified, competent and useless Esther isn’t a character as such, merely an entity with a script, an afterthought or an amalgamation of many characters the budget simply didn’t accommodate.

Now that we’ve dealt with the biggest character problems let’s have a quick look at those giant plot holes shall we? Okay:

1) Security

The world, the whole world mind, is in crisis and  yet it’s easy enough for people to walk around the most closely guarded places on the planet unhindered. No disguises, not even a costume change – Harkness doesn’t even have to take off his coat – come in, have a wander, rummage through our files, try to take your dad home. It’s all fine. Come off it. I have to provide two forms of ID to join Blockbuster but Rhys ‘Gwen’s Husband’ Williams who must be on any number of security forces watch lists and who was, let’s not forget, in hiding in the back of beyond when this all began, can get a job in a secure area that starts that day. Yes. Very good.

2) Travel

Cholera is rife, tuberculosis is spreading, typhoid and the plague are on the way, but we wouldn’t want to make it difficult for people to travel now would we? Come on Torchwood, come on Russell, that’s just plain lazy. You know as well as I do that way before it reached this point all air traffic would have been grounded in an attempt to stop the spread of these (and worse) diseases – ah, but that would have made it really hard for the irritating Juarez to get down to California or for the really very entertaining Gwen to get home to Wales wouldn’t it? Best to keep them flying. Do you know what though, I think I’ve inadvertently stumbled on another problem – assuming the authorities had taken the bizarre decision to allow air travel to continue the airlines would probably be a bit busy don’t you think? Flights booked up for weeks or even months, airports crowded and chaotic as people try to sort their lives out. Nah, that sounds too much like hard work, let’s just have people turn up at the airport and jump on a plane quick sharp.

Dust - this is how you stop international air travel. Take that Ebola virus!

3) Medical Staff

I realise that the scenario painted in Miracle Day is a tricky one – what do you do if nobody dies etc – but I’m pretty sure that what you don’t do is suddenly switch from a compassionate care giver who’s in the business of saving lives to a callous shit basket who seemingly couldn’t give the tiniest little chuff about any human life or the emotions of their loved ones. Strangely though that’s what seems to have happened to all the doctors and nurses of the world in your little drama. They no longer care, and not in a “The situation’s changed, we have to stay detached in order to do our jobs” sort of way, but in a “I really couldn’t give a shit” sort of way that is, once again, implausible.

We can only assume that The Doctor was busy settling some 'unfinished business' in another dimension...

4) The Doctor

Or the absence thereof. Are we really to believe that The Doctor, who has turned up on Earth countless times to investigate relatively piddling little problems that would have probably blown over without too much of a fuss any way, who can’t help but get involved whenever anything even vaguely interesting happens, who is inextricably linked with Harkness and Gwen and Torchwood as well as the rest of humankind, are we really supposed to buy in to the idea that he wouldn’t turn up to see what was going on? We are? Oh, right. You see there’s the problem when you create a universe with rules – you probably need to follow them. That doesn’t necessarily mean that he turns up and saves the day, but you’d at least think that Jack might question where he is when he’s so clearly needed and there’s a case that’s so very much his cup of tea. If I, a mere mortal who has neither met The Doctor nor saved the Universe with him, have queried his absence then surely someone who has spent a considerable amount of time with him would do. To not is, guess what? That’s right, implausible.

5) Life

Early on in the series an unconvincing Dr Pratt said something flowery and nonsensical about people having “So much life” or “Being so alive” or some such bollocks. Which is fine. Except they’re not are they? The whole series has become firmly focused precisely on the fact that people are weak and feeble and barely alive at all. In all honesty this is probably the pettiest of my points, but it’s such a huge contradiction that it can’t be ignored. It all adds to the general feeling that the premise of the show is flimsy and ill thought out. I’ll buy into anything if you give me reason to, I love buying into far-fetched stuff – it’s escapism at its finest and I’ve got a lot to escape from – but what have you given me to latch on to? Contradiction and inconsistency – that’s not a sound investment opportunity. It’s implausible and for that reason I’m out.

Well that’s far longer than I anticipated, but this is what happens when you’ve got me riled up.

You didn’t need to take American money and confuse yourself, but you did.

You didn’t need to take ten hours to tell a three-hour story, but you did.

And you didn’t need to add controversy that adds nothing other than an extra layer of implausibility into the mix, but you did.

It’s almost like this ship has several captains and they couldn’t agree on a route so instead they just allowed it to float with the current and, unfortunately, that’s seen you hit some pretty big rocks and now it looks like you’re going to sink. And that’s a shame, it really is.

R

PS – I really like Claire out of Six Feet Under, she’s brilliantly manic.

PPS – I didn’t like the bit with Pratt and his dad, that was utterly pointless.

PPPS – Seriously, no mention of The Doctor? At all? Think about it Russell…

Dear Lovely Tom (Yes, it’s another Apprentice one, what of it?)

Dear The Apprentice, (Not on any more, finished for now)

So you were reading! That’s a relief, I’d started to think that I must look a little peculiar, but as you followed my instructions in the final – practically to the letter – there can be no doubt that you saw my advice as sage and onion, sorry, was just thinking about roast dinners. You clearly recognised sage advice when you saw it and acted accordingly. If only I’d been around when you invented the emailer.

Any way, looking back over the course of the series it’s actually been clear from the off that you were going to choose Tom, a cynic might even say that the entire series was a 7 minute Dragons Den segment extended to a quite remarkable 12 hours. Fortunately  for you, I am not such a cynic, I’d never suggest that a quarter of a million quid is an incredibly cheap way to invest in someone who already has a successful invention and an ‘in’ at the worlds biggest retailer. I’d certainly never imply that, with the backing of Petty Officer Sugar’s henchmen and number crunchers, the money invested will almost certainly be recouped within the first six months of trading, and I’d certainly never insinuate that the business plans became an utter irrelevance the minute Sugar Daddy was informed that one of the applicants had created, patented, marketed and successfully sold an invention entirely of their own to the aforementioned worlds biggest retailer. No, only a cynic would suggest any of these things, and I am not a cynic – I am a crackpot – and the two are very very different.

So, let’s have a look at why none of the others stood any more chance of winning the contest than I do of winning the dressage gold medal at next years olympics – an award I won’t win for three reasons:

  1. Dressage - why not just give Olympic medals for flower arranging or hairdressing?

    Dressage isn’t a real thing. Horses wearing hairbands dancing sideways?  It’s like awarding people gold medals for sculpting their hedges or getting their dog to fetch the paper – quite impressive, but not a sport. Topiary. That’s what the hedge thing is, topiary.

  2. I’m not a horse. Let’s be honest, if any bugger’s going to get a medal for this farce then it should be the one doing all the work, not Zara bloody Phillips whose job basically consists of putting on jodpurs, looking good and sitting there.
  3. I fear horses. Not because they’re particularly sinister or anything, but they weigh a ton and can run faster than me, jump over my head and kill a man with a single kick. Not only that but they get spooked and kick out over practically anything: thunder, dogs, cars, ghosts – there was even that one who leapt over a shadow thinking it was a fence. They’re huge and they’re muscular and they’re stupid – not a good combo. Also there was that one who could talk, though that might have just been on Rent-a-Ghost.
I digress, the basic point I was attempting to make is that – when you have a proper look at it – none of the others were ever going to win, thus making the 12 episodes – whilst incredibly entertaining – a bit superfluous. So, here’s why they were never going to win (in the order they were eliminated)

The group of people assembled to make going in to business with Tom more interesting

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Edward “It’s all there” Hunter (Accountant) – Whilst Edward might not have ‘fit the mould’ for accountants, he was still an accountant. As much as I would have loved him to stay in just so I could hear every single non-sequitur he had in his armoury, the truth is that his fate was sealed the second he wrote ‘accountant’ on the form.
Reason – He’s a service provider. And he talks gibberish.
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A Foxtons 'twat tank', they don't even have the decency to hide from the public.

Alex “I look suspiciously Californian” Cabral (Estate Agent) – Whilst estate agent’s might not be the purest form of evil on the planet they are pretty f**king close. I’m sure there was a time when estate agents did something to actually earn their money, but now it’s just become a systematic wallet raping machine. To para-phrase Sugar Pie – what estate agents know about anything other than greed and hair gel is f*ck all. If you need someone who can’t make anything and whose only role is to introduce someone who wants to sell something to someone who wants to buy it and somehow make them both feel utterly cheated in the process then call Alex or one of the identikit shitpots at Foxtons, just don’t expect to leave with your dignity intact.

Reason – He’s (technically at least) a service provider, the primary service being making you feel a little bit better about the choices you made in life.
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Gavin “I’m the Scouser” Winstanley (Online Retailer) – Hands up who honestly thought that La Sucre was ever going to hire a Scouser? Seriously now. There’s always a Scouser and they never win – why? Well it could have something to do with the fact that every ticket tout in the world is a Scouser, so when you hear that accent you can’t help but picture the speaker outside the Hammersmith Apollo offering you an overpriced ticket for Kings of Leon, or offering you a fiver for the one you paid £30 for.
Reason – He’s a shop keeper and as such doesn’t make anything. And I think he actually told people to ‘calm down’. Unforgivable.
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Felicity “Oooh, Arty” Jackson (Creative Arts sort) – Do you really need me to write anything here? I mean she’s a creative arts entrepreneur! You’d have

If the phrase "You're fired!" was a movement it would look a little like this...

thought she’d have workshopped the possible scenarios in which she might win The Apprentice and, upon seeing that they all involved all the other contestants dying in a minibus crash/monkey attack/Die Hard scenario she would have realised that never in a million years is Executive Producer Sugar going to give so much as a shiny shit about the business of creative arts.

Reason – He’s an electronics magnate, she gets people to use creative movement to interpret what sadness might look like – you figure it out.
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Ellie “The Northern Bird” Reed (Building Recruitment) – I’m Northern myself – and proud of it – so I say this with a sense of regret and with no malice. Ellie has accomplished a great deal and is, I’m sure, very intelligent – but by Geoffrey Boycott’s lady beating stick she doesn’t sound it. Unfortunately she’s from a band of the country (stretching from Hull to Blackpool) where even if you have a PhD in incredibly difficult sums you’re going to sound like you’d struggle with the complexities of working behind the counter at Gregg’s. It’s a curse.
Reason – She’s a service provider. Is it me or is a pattern developing here?
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" I'm fired? What a dreadful bore!"

Vincent “Disney Store” Dinosaur (Telecom Sales Manager) – I loved Vincent. Not for any good reason of course, more in an ironic way. He looked and acted like a panto villain and he looked greasier than a cast member of the musical Grease eating at a greasy spoon on holiday in Greece – and it made him brilliantly entertaining. He was also, of course, comically inept, but that’s not necessarily a bar to success. The main problems for Vince lay in the fact that, whilst looking a bit like David Niven, he had the business acumen of reptile fan David Icke and the charisma of Michelangelo’s David.

Reason – He’s a salesman. he produces nothing. Getting a bit predictable? I think it might be.
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Edna “The Three Degrees” Agharba (Business Psychologist) – In the world of service providers there is a hierarchy: Those who actually provide a service sit proudly at the top (IT technicians and the like), then it’s those who don’t really provide a service, but talk a lot to people who do (Consultants and that sort) and then, sitting at the bottom you’ve got those who don’t provide an actual service and talk a lot to other people who also don’t provide a service (Edna). It’s role creation taken to the nth degree – a job that is impossible to both understand or defend and unnecessary in every way imaginable (or yet to be imagined).
Reason – She masquerades as a service provider, which is even worse than actually being a service provider.
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Glenn “I’ve reserved you a bed in the Emergency” Ward (Design Engineer) – Glenn was a funny one, a bit like Marlon Brando he coulda been a contender but it all went wrong. Why? Well it wasn’t the fact that he had the cold dead eyes of a killer, it wasn’t his performances – he showed creativity and ingenuity – no, it was his job description. By calling himself a design engineer rather than an inventor he shot himself in the face with a gun loaded with Sugar and prejudice. Big Al don’t think engineers can be creative.
Reason – Bad luck and poor research, Glenn actually did fit the brief on this one.
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Leon “I’ve got a girlfriend” Doyle (Fast Food Entrepreneur) – Leon’s another one with a made up job. Ronald McDonald and Wimpy are fast food entrepreneurs. Colonel Sanders took the time not only to achieve

Colonel Sanders - never heard of Leon. Also, not a real Colonel.

his lofty rank, but to perfect his secret recipe for delicious and fattening chicken, he too was a fast food entrepreneur. Leon, on the other hand, is a man who has a website. You can’t eat a website any more than you can properly digest a Big Mac. He is a fast food entrepreneur in the same way as I am the star of Channel 4’s mythical shitfest Camelot – i.e. not at all, but I have mentioned him on a website.

Reason – Not even a service provider. A non-service provider. It’s getting pretty obvious where this is going now.
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Zoe “Monotone” Beresford (Project Manager, Drinks Industry) – Zoe is possibly the dullest enigma in the history of television. She always seemed to have something about her – from the moment she utterly dominated Susan to her appearance as a stewardess on ‘You’re Fired’ you were always waiting for that moment when she’d spring out of her shell and reveal herself to be something. Anything – brilliantly creative, convicted killer, sexual predator. But nothing ever materialised. She was just wall paper, background noise to the interesting stuff.
Reason – There was simply no reason to ever contemplate hiring her. I doubt her business plan of ‘Belittling Susan until she cries’ would have generated much income any way.
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Melody “The Name Dropper” Hossaini (Bullshit Consultant) – Melody, half of the league of evil, talked more than all the other candidates put together, but despite this she never actually said anything. She talked herself up constantly, talked about her business, how Jesus himself taught her how to play tennis and how she’s spoken to every child in the Western world about what they want to do after school, and yet no-one knows what she does. Genuinely, hand on heart, do you know what she does? One things for certain – it has the word ‘consultant’ in it!
Reason – If she provides anything at all (other than a Melody Hossaini promotion service) then it’s a SERVICE! You’re really not getting this at all are you?
.

I think it's cute, you think it's cute. Natasha thinks it's breakfast.

Natasha “Puppy Killer” Scribbins (Recruitment Manager/Demon) – Completing the league of evil, Natasha took noise generation to a new level. With Melody you could be fairly sure that what she was saying was geared to promoting herself, whatever Natasha was saying was anybody’s guess. The only times she was ever direct and to the point involved her repeating something someone more intelligent and less sinister had just said or when she was blaming others for her own failings. A genuinely unpleasant human being (based on every nonsensical word she uttered).

Reason – Other than the evil? Well, guess what she does? She doesn’t make anything does she, so what is it? That’s right, she’s a service provider.
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Jim “Puppet Master” Eastwood (Sales and Marketing Manager) – No-one could deny Jim’s rating as ‘most charming man in Britain’ and he could probably sell Hugh Grant an evening of chat and ginger sex with Rebekah Brooks such is his talent in that field, but get beyond people skills and what do you have? Seldom did Jim come up with any great ideas, and a business plan that revolves around a business that Sugar (they’re close, he can call him that) already has is an interesting approach. Like most charming men he was always going to lose out in the end – that’s why I’m never charming.
Reason – He’s a salesman. That’s the start of it, and the end of it. He could be the best salesman in the world – maybe he is – but he couldn’t sell himself (ooh, deep)
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Susan “100% Organic” Ma (Skincare Entrepreneur) – Having already explained in some depth my irritation at Susan’s immaturity I will forego the pleasure of repeating myself and instead go on to the small matter of her business plan. the most obvious business plan in the brief history of ‘guessing the business plan’, a game that’s only just been invented with this series. Her plan consisted of doing what she’s already doing, but more. The only problem with that being it’s just about the most congested and competitive marketplace in the entire world. Otherwise excellent.
Reason – Naivety. A great thing if you’re trying to talk a 21-year-old in to bed, a bad thing if you’re investing a quarter mill in their business.
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So let me get this straight, she's intelligent, beautiful and she works for Gregg's The Bakers? I'm in!

Helen “How sexy did I look on You’re Hired?” Milligan (Executive PA) – All the wins in the world couldn’t hide the simple fact that Helen is just an organiser. When I say ‘just’ I don’t mean it derogatively – if I wanted someone to run my business she’d be right up there – but ‘being organised’ isn’t a great business plan and that’s essentially all she brought to the table. She’s confident and capable and polished and good with people and assertive and organised and organised and boy is she organised – but she’s not creative. I doubt anything new will ever come from Helen, which is a shame.
Reason – She’s a service provider really, it’s just hers is a very personal service – and you can’t turn that into a mass market thing.
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So there you go. A sea of service providers, pseudo-service providers and sales people – a lot of the sort of people who you employ, not the sort of people you go into business with. If you were asked at the start of this process what kind of person Lord Sugar would have been looking for you would have given the answer “an ideas person” or “a creator” and really, truthfully and honestly speaking there were only ever two people in the competition who stood a chance – Tom and Glenn (I discount Susan on the basis of £250k is a drop in that ocean) – and Tom was so far ahead of Glenn in every department that really the contest was over long before Glenn got the boot.
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So yes, maybe I am a cynic, but I’d argue that the job was Tom’s from the moment he was cast, because looking back I can’t envisage it going to anyone else. Now that’s hindsight (a trait that Tom has never ever demonstrated, he showed quiet foresight).
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Thanks for the fun,
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R xxx
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PS – Next series maybe include a few viable candidates – it’ll be obvious if you do this again.
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PPS – Also next series can you replace “You’re fired!” with “Thanks for your participation, but you’re no longer part of this process.” as, technically speaking, you have to employ someone to fire them, and even then you have to give them written warnings and all that. Except in cases of gross misconduct of course, but that doesn’t cover ‘being inept’.
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PPPS – Also, “You’re hired!” bit of a patronising way to greet an equal partner isn’t it? Don’t be so condescending. How about “So, do you fancy going in to business with me?” it’s not as catchy, but it would make you seem like less of a presumptuous tit.

Dear The Final Four (Apprentice, obviously)

Dear The Final Four, (BBC1, Sunday (ooh, that’s new)@9pm)

Look, I know I promised to deliver my Unifying Theory of The Apprentice by now, but there’s been a problem. It turns out that the Brian Cox I was taking science advice from is not Professor Brian Cox, no, instead I’ve been learning about the laws of thermodynamics, quantum theory and fancy equations from Brian Cox the Scottish actor. He’s a lovely guy and a talented actor, but he knows bugger all about science. He knows a lot about the Nazis for some reason, but that’s no help at all. Why it took me four weeks to figure that out I cannot explain.

The 'other' Brian Cox heads to a rather suspicious party, he's not a scientist.

Any way, I’ve released him now and abandoned my efforts for the time being – I also realised that science requires cause and effect, consistency and logic, and the fact that L’Alan can (and will) ignore anything and everything he chooses in order to select who he likes means that none of those will ever be present in this process. For evidence of this please see almost every other series of your show where invariably the strongest candidate has managed to avoid being hired and on many occasions managed to dodge the final altogether.

If you’re interested, the science I did do would see Tom win. Not just because he’s so lovely (I only attached 10% of the overall importance to loveliness), but because he’s genuinely superior to the others. I’ll explain more in a bit.

So I'm like, basically, in actual fact, a tropical bird, yeah?

So, on to the important stuff, and I was sad to see Natasha go, not because I have any sympathy for her you understand, but because every pantomime needs a villain and that’s a role she filled with aplomb. In fact it’s the only role she filled. I find it difficult to believe that anyone has ever contributed less to anything and somehow made it so far. Everyone was really very generous to her on her firing, even Susan for some reason, but the fact of the matter is that she has done nothing of note during the entire process. More than that, the girl (if indeed she is human) can’t even speak. Nothing that comes out of her mouth means anything at all – it’s a series of words, often only vaguely connected, and seldom more than just a couple of bits of management jargon topped off with a couple of ‘yeahs’. More often it’s just repeating what the last person to speak said, but putting a couple of other words in like ‘really’ or ‘basically’ to make it sound like she’s got a thought that isn’t pure evil swimming around in that fringe she calls a head. I’ve got a mate who often repeats what people say, well, I say a mate, he’s a three-year old, and I say he, it’s a parrot – and I wouldn’t trust him with my business (he was declared bankrupt in 2010). So yes, she has the speech patterns of a parrot, and similar business acumen to boot.

Air Quotes. Only used by twats. 'Allegedly'.

Perhaps more importantly she doesn’t know how to use air quotes. Maybe she thought it would make her endearing like Joey out of Friends, but when we saw this exchange in the boardroom…

“I did do a degree, BA Hons, in concentrated evil, blame shifting and pulling a face like you’ve just tasted something that’s gone off in the presence of someone you really don’t want to offend, but I didn’t ‘claim’ to have expertise in it.”

…it was pretty nailed on that here we have a total dickhead. Using air quotes is bad enough, but using them wrongly? Totally ‘unforgivable’.

It should also be mentioned that this was the clearest cut task of the series. The right team won, and for the right reasons – yes, their history is more than a little shonky, and yes they missed a trick by not calling their menu the Pie Chart (TM Instantly Forgotten), but they nailed this task and it made such a refreshing change to know that one team had made it through competence – gives you real hope!

So, we’re now down to a final four, and whilst I might not have science on my side I’ve still got ludicrously strong (and often unfounded) opinions about everything, so please print off this guide and give it to Air Marshall Sugar before Sundays final, it’ll help him make the right decision.

So, we’re left with (in order of how successful they’ve been)

Like many gingers, Helen can often be found in the shade and near orange objects that detract from her copper top. She might be pretty, but she's 'one of them'

Name: Helen ‘Touch of Class’ Milligan

Record: An astonishing Won 10 Lost 1 – 1 Boardroom appearance

Strengths: She’s a very nice person, but not afraid of confrontation. Business wise she’s generally very astute and helps to get the best out of others. When she does sexy photo shoots she looks a lot like Shania Twain.

Weaknesses: Shania Twain hasn’t been famous for a long time. When she makes a wrong decision she makes it so wrong that it almost goes the whole way round the cycle to being right again. She doesn’t seem to be very creative. I think she’s ginger – you have to be wary of the gingers.

Business Plan: She might have considered opening a school for witches (not that she’s evil, she just looks like she might be a witch), or acting as a go-between for businesses and wholesalers (aka ‘a delivery business’), but I think her business plan will be to let Tom run a business and she’ll be his PA cum Boss and possibly wife.

Should Finish: Second, she’s lovely and certainly talented, but she’s not an entrepreneur – she doesn’t have ‘it’ whatever ‘it’ is (now that’s how you use air quotes!)

Moments in Time - If Susan had just leant forward and punched Natasha in the face the world would have been a safer place...

Name: Susan ‘That’s so unfair’ Ma

Record: A very respectable Won 7 Lost 4 and 3 Boardroom appearances

Strengths: Before the ‘Final Five’ show I would have really struggled here, I’d probably have said that she’s a great punchbag for teammates to take their aggression out on (which remains true). However, we’re now all wiser and she’s obviously got great big bucketloads of drive and determination and no shortage of business nous – anyone who can pay off their mum’s mortgage by the time they’re 21 (did she mention she’s 21?) is doing something right. Also she’s run her own business before and she speaks Chinese which can’t hurt these days.

Weaknesses: Everyone who spends any time with her, no matter how nice they are, ends up wanting to drown her in a canal. She’s far and away the most immature on the show, her regular cries of “That’s so unfair!” remind me of my 8-year-old niece being told she can’t have another cigarette just yet, and it feels like only a matter of time before she claims “I know you are, you said you are, but what am I?”. She also didn’t take the opportunity to stick the knife in to Natasha who so blatantly hated her she would have actually laughed in her face if Susan had been fired. Literally. In her face.

Business Plan: Almost certainly something in the world of fairness. Maybe an iPhone app that will determine whether something is fair or ‘so’ unfair, possibly a consultancy that will arbitrate on disputes both in the boardroom and on the playground.

Should Finish: Fourth. It’s nothing personal, but all of the other contestants are a similar age to me, so them being more successful I can just about take. At 21 she’s already achieved more than me and therefore should be barred from further success until I’ve got a piece. You might call it bitterness, I call it, well actually yes, that’s what it is. It’s bitterness.

Do not look directly into his eyes - even a still of Jim can control you

Name: Jim ‘These aren’t the droids you’re looking for’ Eastwood

Record: A loss leading Won 5 Lost 6 with 2 Boardroom appearances, both as PM

Strengths: The charm, oh the charm. It has worked on absolutely everyone – even Nick clearly got a bit of a man crush on him last week, and you could see Karen trying to figure out ways she could explain to her husband why she was on national TV having sex with Jim in a Mexican kitchen – I’d go with chilli fumes. He’s a strong decision maker who likes to get others involved. Seems like a very nice guy. Oh yeah, nearly forgot, he can control people with his mind. That’s an important one.

Weaknesses: He makes the wrong decision so often it would appear to be a hobby of his – and he tries to make each wrong decision more wrong than the last, like he’s in competition with himself. Sometimes he pours the charm on a little thick and all that serves to do is weaken the strength of his argument – it makes him seem like he’s selling snake oil when he’s actually got fair and valid points. There’s a 50/50 chance he might be evil.

Business Plan: It could be to build a giant space station and rule the galaxy, but I doubt it. I think his plan is to set up a shell company (front, not a company that sells shells) and use it to get close to Sugar Daddy, within a year he’ll be adopted, within two years he’ll be running the empire, within 5 years Sugar will be granulated – dead in a freak ‘dramatic entrance’ accident and Jim will own the lot.

Should Finish: Third, you simply can’t hire him because as Joaquin Phoenix once said “If you dance with the devil the devil don’t change – the devil changes you.”

Tom's cats - Emperor Palpatine and Seven of Nine - not only keep him company, but talk to him when he's lonely

Name: Tom ‘Lovely Tom’ Pellereau

Record: A shameful Won 3 (all when paired with Helen) Lost 8 with 3 Boardroom appearances

Strengths: You mean other than his loveliness? In all the important areas he is the stand out candidate – he’s creatively the best and logistically he seldom makes an error. Where he really comes in to his own though, is his foresight. He should be called Mystic Tom. Whoever he’s been teamed up with, and whatever the task, Tom always sees the pitfalls that await, marks them clearly and warns all his teammates who immediately head directly towards them and without hesitation dive face first onto the massive failure spikes he told them about.

Weaknesses: He has a tendency to listen to – and be influenced by – utter imbeciles, which explains his losing record. Can be too quiet in his opinions and often too nice when confronted, we’ve only seen his claws come out on Melody, and that was pretty much an open goal. Is dyslexic, which is fine up until he misreads a sign “Do not feed the bears” as “Feed the bears donuts” and you find yourself a business partner light. Looks sufficiently like Michael Sheen as to be mistaken for him – not a problem now, but if Sheen gets a crazed fan… Knows almost nothing about Columbus.

Business Plan: Battlestar Galacticat. A theme park for cats based around the cult sci-fi series Battlestar Galactica. If successful this would lead to other sci-fi based theme parks for pets: HamStar Trek; Quantum Leopard; Doctor Whorse and ultimately Flash Gordogs.

Should Finish: Top of the pile. He’s the obvious winner and the only one who would obviously make a fortune (or destroy the universe trying)

So there you go, make sure this is seen by the proper authorities and my instructions are followed.

I’m going to miss you

R xx

PS – Seriously now, why aren’t you honest when people like Natasha leave? Why not say “She was f**king useless” I’d respect you more.

Dear The (Delicious and Crunchy) Apprentice

Dear The Apprentice, (If you don’t know when and where by now there’s little point telling you)

I know you’re getting these letters, I also know that you’re reading them, so I’m going to take your refusal to respond as a sign that you’re ashamed that someone of Head Dinner Lady Sugars business accumen needs telling about his candidates by me, a humble internet crackpot. I understand, and rest assured that neither of my personalities take it personally.

Any way, as you’ve almost certainly said before (and probably after a dramatic entrance like emerging through a cloud of smoke from a secret entrance in the floor or something), to business! Week 9 really taught us almost nothing new: people like biscuits; almost everyone who applied for this years show is (at least on some level) comically inept; Natasha looks like she’s sucking a dog turd covered lemon whenever she’s listening to people; Melody looks like she’s talking whenever she’s supposed to be listening to people; and Jim really does have some magical mystical mind control powers and thus no need to listen to people. So far, so familiar.

Bunsen and Beaker have some controversial theories about partcile physics...

I have, however, been watching Through The Wormhole with Morgan Freeman (I haven’t been watching it with Morgan Freeman, that’s the name of the show, I don’t know him and besides he’d probably talk over it all and I’d get captivated by his voice. Any way, I’ve mostly watched it by myself) and it’s brought out the scientist in me. More accurately it’s brought out the delusion in me that I think in the same way as Nobel Prize winning physicists, cosmologists and maths dweebs – so what I’ve been doing is searching for meaningful patterns to try to formulate a ‘Complete Theory of The Apprentice’ that will hopefully help you make the right decision and let Tom win. Making a case for this is very difficult on a statistical basis.

So, here comes the sciencey bit! Sort of.

In order to properly ‘do’ science, you first have to establish the parameters and what you have observed, because I’m sure there’s some nonsense about how we all observe things differently and that the mere act of observing changes something – or not. I don’t care. Any way, to prevent my research being unduly criticised, I’m going to present to you the evidence on which I’ve based my findings – next week I’ll unleash my theorem and we’ll see what’s what yeah? Yeah!

Right, first of all let’s dispense with the theory that yours is a show determined to find the best and brightest business mind in the country. That would only serve to completely ignore the fact that, this series at least, the weekly results have fallen in to two categories:

  1. The wrong team won (as in the team that made the most wrong decisions. I know they won, so obviously in that respect they’re not the wrong team. Chill out.)
  2. The marginally less shit team won
Often these two acted together – a deadly combination. So, here’s the breakdown.
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Oranges Are Not The Only Fruit - insight into teenage sexuality, or instruction to Logic when going to the market?

Week 1 – Fruit and Veg

What Happened     Logic went, quite sensibly, for freshly squeezed OJ and simple tomato soup and targeted it at the wealthy city types around Liverpool St Station, Venture, on the other hand, opted for an overpriced fruit salad and pasta salad combo and targeted the vagrants, drug addicts and prostitutes commonly found near Euston Station in the not yet improved Kings Cross area of London.
Who Won      Venture, of course.
Why     Well, either it was down to Logic only squeezing a third of their oranges (and not thinking to sell the rest) or it was because crack whores really like pasta.
Reason  The wrong team won because they were marginally less shit
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Week 2 – Mobile Phone App
What Happened    Venture played to type and made a bewildering application that consisted of Melody talking  and other noises that tried, but failed, to be equally annoying. An App for those who want to finish the day by killing themselves – Ampi Apps. Logic saw a gap in the bad impressions market and decided that what everyone actually wanted was a posho doing a poor impression of a Welshman via a picture of a shouting black man with a flat cap on. Despite this being a Sophie’s Choice of shite, Slang-a-Tang was clearly the better idea, and better thought out.
Who Won      Of course it was Venture
Why     Because people hate themselves? No, it basically all came down to one self-righteous prick who declared that Slang-a-Tang was racist. It wasn’t. It was shit, but not racist. Also, proving that mobile phones definitely give everyone who owns one a massive dose of brain cancer, Ampi Apps was downloaded over ten thousand times. Unbelievable Geoff.
Reason The wrong team won because one man mistakenly chose the greater of two evils.
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Top Cat was not on the list

Week 3 – The Savoy  

What Happened    Mysteriously, one of the worlds greatest hotels had forgotten to buy some very important things like Top Hats, brass signs indicating wine, and light bulbs – all of which were desperately needed before opening. Inexplicably they decided to dispense with their normal, sensible, procurement procedure and send two teams of people they didn’t know to each get the entire list, with no specific direction on quality, sizes or colour. Best case scenario they have two of everything and some of it might be right. No wonder the rooms cost so much if this is the slap-dash fashion they go about their business.
Who Won      Guess. Yes, it was Venture.
Why  Because in a competition to prove who could fail most miserably at a seemingly (and actually) simple task Logic went the extra 12 miles across London to buy some gravy boats or something.
Reason    Venture were £8 less shit. They tried though, they really tried.
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Week 4 – Beauty Treatments
What Happened    Venture sensibly chose the flashy out-of-town shopping centre and the customer base with large disposable incomes, cleverly spotted the large treatment room it had, and enthusiastically went after the spray tan kit with its huge profit margins. Logic, in a bold display of ignoring both common sense and Tom that has yet to be matched, chose the more poverty-stricken surroundings of Birmingham’s Bullring, where Goth’s hang out and where there are such high-end shops as Primark and Iceland – nothing wrong with those, but you ain’t gonna shift a lot of £20 beauty treatments in there. Their folly was compounded by placing their tiny treatment room in Norwich, and the fact that they lost the spray tan simply by ‘not looking like they gave a shit’ and mistaking that for enthusiasm.
Who Won      Four in a row. Boom.
Why Because despite trying really hard to not do it well once they were on location they had made the right decisions early on, meaning even their massive personality issues couldn’t derail this.
Reason    The right team won (hooray) because they were marginally less shit (boo).
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Week 5 – Pet Food
What Happened    Challenged to produce and market a new pet food, both Logic and Venture immediately set about defying both common sense and the focus group who had somewhat foolishly believed they were present to offer a valuable opinion. Venture went for ‘Cat-Size’, a bag of flavoured cat poison with the flawed-in-so-many-ways-it-must-be-intentional tag line of ‘See their light’ (note, not ‘See they’re light’, oh no, that might have made a little sense). Never to be outdone, Logic proved they could ignore good advice even better than their rivals and plumped for ‘Every Dog’ a combo of horse entrails and sawdust that suits every dog in the world, because they’re like, all the same yeah? Venture backed up their poorly chosen tag line with displays of pitching and advertorial ineptitude beyond compare. Logic, and particularly Natasha’s ‘vision’ came across surprisingly well – seeing as that was also cringeworthingly awful.
Who Won      Team Clawed Balls somehow managed the win.
Why Despite the fact that Venture went out of their way to level the playing field by making an advert that merely made the point ‘cat’s eat’ and gamely getting Leon drunk before he pitched, they successfully appealed to an owners desire for a thinner, sexier cat. Logic’s refusal to acknowledge that a St Bernard is the equivalent of 23 Pugs and a Jack Russell was admirable, but cost them in the end.
Reason    The wrong team won when they were equally shit.

If you don't see all these dogs as the same then you're a racist. There. I said it.

Week 6 – Rubbish 
What Happened    Nothing really. Yes, there were some meetings and some bidding and some arguments and some trying to steal a barbecue, but this episode really was pointless. Actually, that’s not true, it did demonstrate that if you put any group of people into an incredibly specialised business they know nothing about then they’ll struggle, but this is a group of people who have struggled to impress in every area of business so far, so you may as well have made it more entertaining. Your task is to establish, market and run a team of Special Forces Commandos, operating in the Los Angeles underground as Soldiers of Fortune – that sounds like it could be fun…
Who Won      Logic finally made it onto the scoresheet
Why Why not? Essentially because they didn’t do what they should have done and charged to take stuff away.
Reason    Really, the wrong team won. Logic shouldn’t have taken stuff away for free – it’s not how the business works. This one, though, was the toss of a coin – or paper, scissors, stone eh Tom?
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Kurt Cobain - also alive and well in 1994

Week 7 – Freemium Magazines

What Happened    Venture, using skills seldom seen in this process – namely insight, common sense and listening to experts –  targeted a largely untapped market with a huge stack of cash to spend: the over 60’s. Logic, went the opposite way, listened to no-one other than Liam Gallagher and stuck their fingers in their ears and sang Blur’s ‘Country House’ while common sense was talking as they, or more accurately Natsha, targeted 1994. Both magazines were abominations. HIP Replacement continued the themes of shocking puns and ignoring focus groups and managed to end up looking like a Dignitas Catalogue, whilst Covered, although possessing a great name, continued the theme of ignoring the task and your team mates and producing something actually worse than you had originally imagined having seen the trailer. I can think of nothing less likely to make me want to ‘blow my load’ than Natasha and her look of permanently squinting at something she doesn’t like very much.
Who Won      Logic. Yes, seriously, that Logic, the ones who did a lads mag. In 2011. Them.
Why Because Natasha found the only other imbecile in Britain who thought Covered was hitting the mark, and he had sixty grand he needed to get rid of sharpish. Possibly dodgy cash. Yes, HIP Replacement was undeniably badly done, but it was the better idea.
Reason    The wrong team won. They were the wrong team by a distance, and they won by a distance.
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Week 8 – Foo La Fa Fa 
What Happened    There was one product that had a chance of selling in huge numbers, the baby seat, and Venture got it. Tom, leading Logic, wanted it but was beaten down by his team. In fairness, Melody had done intensive market research by asking four people at a Metro station if they used the car and, shockingly for people who’d just got off a train,they all said no. She followed this up by asking if they thought a baby seat that becomes a back pack was a good idea, and they all said yes. However none of this mattered as she didn’t like it so she told Tom that the French hated him. She then proceeded to form her own team, Team Melody, that was sufficiently aggressive to finish second in the task. Elsewhere, Helen did the best pitch of the series, and their was a lot of running around speaking English loudly  in a French accent.
Who Won      Seriously? Venture.
Why Because of the car seat. You’re really not paying attention are you? Mind you, I have gone on a bit.
Reason    The best team won, for the right reasons! Finally.
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Week 9 – Biscuits 

A host of things that aren't biscuits that Logic could apparently have used to win the task...

What Happened    In an attempt to get the entire nation wanting a biscuit after the shops had closed, you had them design a new biscuit. Venture decided not to bother and instead made a flapjack, which isn’t a biscuit, topped with chocolate, which also isn’t a biscuit. Sticking so rigidly to the rules that they actually doubled up, Logic opted for a biscuit within a biscuit! And half of it was plain and half covered in chocolate! And you could split it in half and share it! Apart from the fact it tasted like gravel dipped in soy sauce, Bix-Mix was so far and away the better idea it wasn’t funny. Special Stars had so many problems it was difficult to imagine how they’d not deliberately set out to sabotage themselves:

  1. Special Stars – I have no problem at all with mentally disabled people, but Special Stars does have the ring of the Sunshine Bus to it.
  2. Any time is treat time – No, no it isn’t. That’s how you get a nation of morbidly obese kids who eat their parents, get diabetes at 7 and have heart attacks in the middle of the GCSE’s that they have to take sat at a specially widened desk on a strengthened chair in a portacabin outside the main exam hall because their mobility scooter won’t get through the door.
  3. £1.99 – You can get three packets of Wagon Wheels for that. If you’re going to give kids unhealthy treats you at least want them to be cheap.
  4. Flapjack and Chocolate – It’s not a f**king biscuit. Tom may as well have designed a muffin with £1.50 in cash on top of it if we’re just going to ignore the rules like that.
Who Won      Of course team bloody flapjack won.
Why Because sometimes life isn’t fair, the world isn’t fair, and if you give people a hit of sugar and a wedge of chocolate it makes them happy and they’ll buy 800,000 anythings after that.
Reason    The wrong team won. Simple as that.
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If you’ve made it to the end in one sitting then you have both my admiration and my pity – surely a busy TV show like you must have far better things to do? I would apologise, but full disclosure is important if you’re to take my theory seriously next week, so I assure you it was time well wasted. Spent. I mean spent.
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Yours, with a certain scientific dignity and a professorial beard,
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R
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PS – Next time can you put a warning on before the show, explaining the explicit biscuity images and warning that viewers of a snacky disposition might want to go and get some before watching.

Dear Columbo

Dear Columbo, (Loads of Channels, 1968 – 2003)

This is something of a first for me, a letter that is both entirely heartfelt and somewhat posthumous, I hope you don’t mind if at times it’s a little bit less than serious.

Basically I just wanted to say how saddened I am that Detective Columbo has now shuffled off this mortal coil, to know that the next time I see a detective he (or indeed she, for these are the times we are living in) will almost certainly have two functioning eyes fills me with both trepidation and an intense sensation of boredom.

Columbo - f**king ace!

In the last forty odd years there have been so many cop shows that it’s impossible to count. Actually that’s nonsense, it’s perfectly possible to count them, but it’s Friday night and I can’t be bothered. The point remains, however, that you can count the number of cop shows that lasted longer than you, Columbo, on the fingers of a dolphin. Or a jellyfish. Or a budgie. Basically you can count the number of cop shows that have lasted longer than the 35 years you have managed on the fingers of any creature that doesn’t possess fingers. It’s zero. None. Nada.

I should maybe acknowledge that I haven’t researched this, so it actually might not be true – I can’t think of a cop show that has lasted longer and do you know what, I don’t care. Columbo’s just died, if I want to say his was the longest running cop show in history I will. You can’t stop me.

Excuse my waffling, I’m emotional.

I’m one of the three billion people in the world (again not researched, sue me) who were born after your show began, so I feel like I’ve known you all my life. In a huge sea of cop shows that came and went, everyone knew Columbo and everybody, at least on some level, loved you. Yes we had our passing dalliances with others: the pastel shaded speedboat excitement of Miami Vice, they offered a glamour you simply never attempted; the tropical intrigue of Magnum who sported a moustache you couldn’t match; and the hokey old school warmth of Jessica Fletcher – who was also blessed with impressive facial hair. We fooled around with them, even loved them, but when they were gone we came back to you Columbo. We came back not just because you were there, but because we loved you.

Thomas Magnum - Sexy and undoubted owner of impressive lip upholstery, but a bit of a show off.

Why did we love you? How typically modest that you should ask you scruffy one-eyed midget. Well let me tell you why:

  • You possessed a natural charm that other shows simply couldn’t match, and trying to match it would have been a fool’s errand – because they didn’t have Peter Falk.
  • You drove a battered old car that looked ready for the scrap yard. Whilst Magnum and Miami Vice tried to engage the Yuppie audience with their flashy Ferraris you were realistic about your main audience: stoners and the unemployed. They don’t care about Ferrari’s, they don’t particularly aspire to own them – seeing a successful detective drive the sort of car they could afford was all they ever needed – and you supplied it!

He drove the sort of car that no-one ever aspires to. He was one of us.

  • Mrs Columbo. We almost never saw her, you made sure of that (we certainly never watched the ill thought out show that was Mrs Columbo), but boy we loved her – we knew all her little foibles you see, Columbo used to tell us all about them. The best character never to appear? Quite possibly.

Mrs Columbo. Yes, it was a real show.

  • The dirty Mac. Maybe my memory’s playing tricks on me, but whatever the weather, be it chilly (what’s that in LA? Low teens Celsius??) or if it was sweltering heat, you were wearing that Mac. I believe I’m right in saying that this also means you’re the only man ever to wear a Mac that often and never be caught masturbating in a public place. Bravo for that.
  • You had a glass eye! That’s cool enough, but the fact that you never got drunk, popped it out and dropped it in your bosses drink? That puts you a class above.

And they are the reasons I love you, I believe they are the main reasons that we – a couple of generations right around the world – love you, and why we’re very sad to see you go. The world is a poorer place now, but I will leave you all to your grief.

Sincere Condolences, and much love

R

Peter Falk - Legend

Oh, and just one more thing – you’re a one trick pony, but what a f**king trick! We knew who did it, we knew that you knew who did it, we knew exactly how you were going to pin them down but it was exciting every single time you did it. Just as you were getting to the door, or into your car, or as they were about to leave – it didn’t matter – you’d just toss it out there, all casual, like it was an after thought, like it meant nothing “Just one more thing…” and they were nailed, you had a piece of information, evidence or just a bloody hunch that they couldn’t escape from. Like Chris Waddle with his shoulder drop, it was the only trick you had, but you forged an incredible career out of it. It was brilliant.

That one more thing is why we loved, sorry love, you Columbo, and a big part of the reason that we will miss the awesome actor and human being that was Peter Falk.

RIP Columbo and Grandad out of The Princess Bride, you will be missed.

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