Thursday, 3 April 2008

A load of old pants

Episode 2: A Dirty Job
Original airdate: 2nd April 2008

You know, the best thing about recapping The Apprentice is that the first three minutes or so of every week's episode are exactly the same. Sralan Sugar, hard to please, vast business empire, on the hunt for an apprentice, blah blah etc. If you want more detail, refer to Rad's recap from last week.

Previously: Sralan sent the teams to sell fish on the streets of London. The women were disorganised, but not as disorganised as the men, who underpriced their lobsters and failed to negotiate well with the customers. Both teams performed poorly, but the women performed marginally better, so they won, and Alex brought pompous Raef and Nicholas the Victorian Drag King into the boardroom, whereupon Nicholas was fired, experiencing failure for only the second time in his life, but surely not the last. [Poor Racey Lacey.-Joel]

Sunrise. London porn. The phone rings. Unaware that the correct attire for passably fit men when answering the telephone first thing in the morning is nothing but a pair of skimpy briefs, as demonstrated by Simon Ambrose last year, Alex instead chooses to sleepily wander downstairs in a Superman t-shirt. And matching boxer shorts. That sound you just heard was the noise of my erection withering and collapsing under the weight of such disappointment, never to be seen again [Waaay too much info there, Steven. They were cute, but no green pants - Rad]. Small respite arrives in the form of shirtless Ian, who's quite buff and hairy, but not distractingly so. I approve. The Disembodied Voice of Frances [Thank goodness she's back after that nonsense with NotFrances last week - Rad] tells the teams to go to their computers. This is all very Charlie's Angels, so again I approve. The teams troop across the house in their sleepwear, and Sralan appears on QuickTime video [on an hp laptop. His selling Amstrad presumably means we won't get to see any more of their kerrazy electronic contraptions this series. For shame. - Rad], claiming that he's been called away on an urgent matter. Probably a market shortage of e-mail phones in Kidderminster. Sralan tells the candidates that their challenge for this week is to bring back money to the boardroom "from virtually a zero position" - their task is to run a laundry business. Sralan has provided the laundry premises, but the contestants must find the punters, price the service, do the actual laundry, and return it all to the correct people (nb. this will be important later, so remember that). [Not really that much of a zero position. Giving them the laundry? Slackers.-Joel]Shazia looks a bit tearful watching this, for some reason. Sralan informs us, and Sketchleys, that when stuff comes back from the laundry that he doesn't like, he slings it back at them. He doesn't just return it, he slings it back at them. Because that's how you behave when you're a working-class boy made good, don't forget. The team that comes back with the most amount of money wins, the other team does not, and somebody from the losing team will get fired.

Narrator Mark tells us that each team has a laundry, but the premises are only available until 2am the next morning. I have no idea if that's standard laundry practice or just an arbitrary deadline to add a heightened sense of drama, and I'm sure I will never know for sure. All the laundry must be returned before they're due back in the boardroom tomorrow afternoon. Margaret and Nick will be watching, of course.

The teams choose PMs: Raef volunteers to lead the boys "if you're behind me", and several of them murmur "110%". GAH. Raef tells us that he is happy to be PM, because this is a chance for him to prove himself after the fuckup that was last week. Raef then demonstrates why absurdly posh people should never use the phrase "kick arse". Lee marblemouths that Raef is not sufficiently "wuuuurrrrggh" to be a leader. No really, that's what he says. Raef airily states that he will "take this, uh, you know, straight by the...uh...", leading several other team members to prompt him with "horns?", which I'm sure does little to inspire their confidence. Ian interviews that Raef has mannerisms that are unlike those of the rest of the team, possibly because Raef is the secret lovechild of Prince Charles. Ian says that Raef will need to pull his weight [I just noticed tonight that either Ian or Lee, the chisselled one, anyway, looks a bit like Rhys from Hollyoaks - Rad].

[Award winning saleswoman - Rad] Jenny Celery volunteers to lead the girls, and no one objects. Jenny informs Team Alpha that they're going to brainstorm, lay some foundations, and then work their cotton socks off. Meanwhile, Raef is delegating: Ian will be knocking on doors, and Simon, adorably, admits that he has laundry experience "in Bosnia", and waxes poetically about the many hours of ironing experience he accrued during his time in the army. He is just the cutest thing, I swear. He tells the boys that there are a lot of opportunities to fuck up, and points out quite rightly that even losing one sock is enough to lose a residential customer, prompting Raef to put him in charge of admin and logistics.

Upstairs, Jenny Celery [wearing a scarf that is knotted like a tie in a very WTF? moment - Rad] has been lecturing Team Alpha on sales for an hour, apparently. Foreshadowing rears its ugly head as Jenny bats away all attempts at questions from her team, and Sara interviews angrily that it's all very well planning what you're going to do, but you can't spend all day doing that. Margaret tells us that Jenny plays favourites, and her favourites appear to be Shazia and Helene, while Lucinda, it is safe to say, is not one of her favourites. She is also not wearing a beret of any sort, to the disappointment of an entire nation. She does, however, sport a chiffony lilac scarf as she interviews that there are already cliques in force amongst the girls, which she finds "irksome". To demonstrate, Lucinda tries to make a point about pricing to Jenny Celery, who stares at the spare from where she hears a voice but sees no real person, and absently tells the voice to speak to Helene instead.

Stealthy music plays as the boys come up with an idea: there are some "industrial-strength" irons in the house (and since we see them later, I really don't think that's accurate - they're common or garden domestic irons, as far as I can tell), which they plan to "reserve" by bringing them into Boy Space and hiding them away so the girls can't get them. Bad boys bad boys, what'cha gonna do? Michael Sophocles (I always have to say his full name, because it's fabulous) runs around gathering and hiding all the ironing equipment from inside the house. Raef interviews that the boys are going to "execute" this task with the "success" and the "vigour" that they need to, from which we cut directly to a shot of Raef outside, dropping all of his papers on the ground and walking all over them. Heh. This show's editors are for the win, let there be no doubt. [Srsly. They make the show. Dammit. Obviously they make the show, what with the editing and putting together footage. But they MAKE the show.-Joel]

The teams head off, but there is dissent in Team Alpha: they can't decide how to split the team. Raef has sent half of Renaissance out to go door to door touting for business, and Ian lets out some kind of war cry which sounds a bit like "hoo-cha!" and instantly makes it clear why he was the sort of person to inflict that horrid World Cup version of 'Is This The Way To Amarillo' on the universe. Narrator Mark tells us they are in one of London's "affluent suburbs". I'm guessing Chiswick, but I don't know. The girls have little luck with their initial doorstepping attempts. [There's a wonderful shot of the girls on a doorstep, with a disembodied posh lady's voice saying 'Not interested!'-Joel]

Narrator Mark tells us that Sralan has lined up some big business customers for the teams to pitch to, the first of which is a large hotel needing its bed linen cleaned overnight. Renaissance sensibly call some laundry services to get an idea of what pricing they should be aiming for, and we hear that a single bedsheet is 45p. In the car of Team Alpha, heading for the same meeting, Jenny Celery displays her acute saleswoman nous by suggesting a one-size-fits-all price of £4.99 per item. It's been a while since I outsourced my laundry, but I'm fairly certain that's expensive even for a single specialist item at high street prices, so to suggest that as a blanket (no pun intended) charge to a corporate client expecting a bulk discount is beyond absurd. Sadly, not one of the team considers this, and Princess Lindi even goes as far as to say she's "very confident" with Jenny Celery's pitch. Narrator Mark informs us that the job is 1,000 pieces of laundry, which normally costs the hotel £200, just in case we weren't fully aware of the scale of the epic fail we just witnessed [And here I note that Helene Speight is a Global Pricing Leader. I don't know what that is, but presumably she should have been able to help them price things more sensibly? - Rad]. [Maybe she prices globals.-Joel]

Alpha goes in to pitch first, with Princess Lindi and Jennifer leading the charge. Nick and Margaret are sitting in on the meeting. To the manager's credit, he reacts levelly when Lindi quotes him £4.99 per item, even though his face suggests for a second that he's expecting Ashton Kutcher to appear at any second. He asks if that's their best price, since it would come to £4,999 altogether. Jennifer, rather weakly, as though she's suddenly realised how insane this sounds, confirms this. Princess Lindi, to her credit, instantly starts to try and brazen out the pitch, offering the manager a "24 hotline" with "personal account managers". The manager tells them their price is "not beneficial". Princess Lindi asks how much he usually pays, and while he refuses to be drawn on a precise figure, he tells them it's "in the hundreds". Jennifer's face falls [but she's the best salesperson in Europe. She should have been able to clinch that. - Rad].

Renaissance go in to pitch, represented by Raef and Kevin. Kevin quotes the manager £556 for the whole job. The manager is encouraged by this, and thinks there's room to negotiate. The manager (whose name is Scott) tells them he's looking to pay "around the £200 mark", so Kevin offers to do the job for...£200. Can no one on that team haggle, even a little? At least go in with an offer of £350 or something and see if you can get him to bump it up a little. Why not chuck in a couple of free lobsters while you're at it? Anyway, Renaissance gets the job, and outside they celebrate gleefully. Michael Sophocles, who was apparently sitting in the hallway guarding their coats while the hardcore negotiations took place, kisses them both on the cheek. Scott shows them to the laundry, which fills five large pallets. It's Kevin's turn to look thoroughly dismayed. Clearly he learned nothing from his attempts to interest Mr Mann in alternatives to a pirate memory game. Obviously his negotiation skills amount to nothing without Margaret the quadriplegic in the back room to call on for assistance. The boys load the laundry into their van - it takes up the whole of the back and quite a lot of the front seat. "That's an awful lot of laundry to do for £200," laments Kevin. And whose fault is that, eh?

Lee and Alex are selling door-to-door, and I've got to say that pairing these two up for the domestic rounds was inspired. If these two fine-looking gentlemen came to my doorstep, I would buy whatever they were selling. Paving slabs, double glazing, the Watchtower - you name it. I would be putty in their hands. Michael and Ian are on the other team, and take some orders for bedding. Alpha, on the other hand, keep striking out. Claire phones Jenny Celery for a progress report, and Jenny responds "we haven't won the contract, so it's becoming more and more obvious that the domestic market is going to be where the greatest margins are". I have no idea why that sentence made me laugh out loud, but it did. Lucinda winces. Margaret interviews that really at this stage they just need any business at all. Alpha abandons the residential area and heads to the high street, soon after closing a deal with a restaurant at a more reasonable £80 for the whole shebang. They bring in what looks like a lot of business.

The next set-up meeting is a fishmongers'. Jennifer and Princess Lindi go to inspect the pile, and Jennifer suggests offering £8. Princess Lindi thinks they should go higher, so they pitch £10 to the disbelieving fishmonger. Princess Lindi bargains him up to £15 with the ironing thrown in. Fishmonger Man can't believe his luck. The boys go in afterwards and Kevin pitches £49.50, which Fishmonger Man declares "a fair price", but he tells them that the girls quoted him less than half of that. Raef tells him they can't match that, so Alpha wins the business. [Good job girls. Good job.-Joel]

It's early evening, and Jenny Celery, Princess Lindi, Sara and Jennifer are going door to door, and manage to drum up some more business. Half of Renaissance (Ian, Simon, Lee and Alex) sets off, following Raef's orders to make a start on the hotel's bulk of laundry. It's sitting, rather unsecurely, in the pallets outside the premises. You can tell by their reactions that the four boys are acutely aware of having just been royally shafted. Simon rings the others to remind them of the magnitude of the task ahead; Michael Sophocles fobs him off by assuring him they were be there to help out ASAP. In the background, Kevin and Raef are mumbling "Just do the laundry!" Twats. Ian, Simon, Alex and Lee shed jackets and ties and get stuck in, while Raef, Kevin and Michael Sophocles giggle in the car about some of the stains that were on the hotel's laundry. Again: twats. Pleasingly, every time the camera cuts back to Alex, he appears to have unbuttoned his shirt further. The four guys look like they're doing a pretty good job [they did, and I thought Simon was particularly awesome here - Rad]. [This pissed me off so much. When a man who ran army laundries for several years tries to tell you something about laundry, might be an idea to listen.-Joel]

Alpha are still in transit, fretting about the things that have gone wrong so far. Helene calls Jenny Celery (or possibly the other way around, it's not clear) and Jenny, looking increasingly with every passing second like Doon Mackichan playing a parody of a clueless businesswoman in a Smack the Pony sketch, starts rambling on about asking Lucinda to come back to her with information on tumble-drying earlier, and complaining that Lucinda did no such thing. Lucinda takes the phone from Helene and curtly informs Jenny Celery that no such request was made of her. Jenny Celery, ever the professional, sticks her tongue out and waggles her head as she listens. Lucinda continues, saying that she is more than willing to help, but insists that Jenny not pin questions on her that she was not asked to research. And yes, she went on a bit, but the kernel of what she was arguing was fair enough. Jenny Celery hangs up on her and bitches that Lucinda is behaving like a "spoilt, silly little girl".

Renaissance Laundry. Raef has landed another order to clean butchers' jackets. Michael Sophocles rings a hot and flustered Simon, who tells them it's about time they came back to do the dirty work themselves. Alex's shirt is now fastened by one button only. Hey, I'm just here to report the facts: this gives me no pleasure. Honestly. Raef patronisingly tells Simon that they have been busy "making money" but that they're on our way. I think we all just got a little look-see into what it would be like to be married to Raef, and it really is not an encouraging thought. Simon tells the other hot, sweaty laundry boys (and in fairness, again, picking Lee, Alex, Simon and Ian to be the ones getting hot and sweaty was another good move - imagine if the teams had been reversed, who would've wanted to see Raef and Kevin stripping down one button at a time? Not I) that they're on their way, while the three breadwinners order lattes like the clueless swines they are. Glorious juxtaposition of Ian and Simon working hard, while Raef and Kevin daintily sip coffee in their car. The editing on this show is a work of art, I'm telling you.

Some time has clearly passed, since it is very dark now, and the hot sweaty boys phone the prim boys for a status update. Simon goes to great pains to point out how they are literally sweating over their task; Kevin, hilariously, says in all earnestness and with a touch of indignation, "so are we!" Then he ducks out of sight because he thinks he can see Gargamel on the horizon, trying to kidnap him. More shots of the laundry boys working and the latte boys bitching. "I can't stand whiners," whines Raef. (Another shot shows Alex's shirt more fastened than it was a minute ago - clearly this has been edited out of chronological order, or Alex is just teasing us, the little scamp.) Ian phones Raef again, and Raef claims to be three minutes away. Michael Sophocles shakes his head (and is it just me, or does he bear an uncanny resemblance to Martin from Green Wing?). "How many times do they need to be told?" wonders Raef to no one in particular.

Half of Alpha goes to do laundry. Shazia takes charge of labelling and organising the laundry so they can be sure that everything is returned to the correct customer. Jenny Celery is still touting for business. Princess Lindi interviews they need to get as much business as possible in order to beat the boys. The Three Mochateers return to Renaissance Laundry, to much relieved cheering from the laundry boys. Everyone mucks in. Simon interviews his concerns that they now have to deliver on all the business they've secured. In a glorious throwaway moment, we hear Alex say that he can "smell burning" and Simon (I think) rushes to remove some sheets from a presser, blowing out a tiny tiny fire as he does so. Hee!

It's 11pm. Jenny Celery has amassed £100 of new business and returns to the laundry with her extra washing. Shazia tells them about their great system - she's labelled the machines so they know what belongs to who. They get to work, but Narrator Mark says that the laundry must close in two hours. So it took Shazia one hour to explain her labelling system? It must be more complex than we saw. Helene interviews that they didn't expect to have so much to do so late in the day, and that they'll have to take some of it home. Shazia plots to return home to bagsy the irons before the boys get back, unaware that the boys have already secured them. Jenny Celery grants her leave, and she takes off with Princess Lindi, Claire and Jennifer. They trawl the house, only to reailse what we already know - there are no irons.

Elsewhere, both teams are finishing up in their laundries. Jenny Celery is packing up laundry to take home, but without Shazia on hand to help explain her obviously complex system. Sara finds some laundry without a label. Ruh roh! Renaissance folds its final sheet. There is much celebration, though the music editor misses a trick by not having 'Land of Hope and Glory' cued. Michael Sophocles wipes the "sweat" from his brow, despite the fact that he was only there for thirty seconds. Renaissance Laundry is closed for business.

Things are frantic at Alpha Laundry; Jenny Celery is trying to usher everyone to just shove everything into bags to take home, whereas Lucinda is a fan of the "shake and fold" technique which she thinks will save them having to iron things at all. I've got to say, if my laundry service pulled that shit, they would be getting some seriously soiled smalls in my next batch. Jenny Celery tells Lucinda to stop faffing and just shove everything in the van. In the car, Jenny Celery tells Lucinda that she "just wants to highlight" how appalled she was with Lucinda's behaviour. In front of Helene and Sara. Wow! Professional. Lucinda looks as though she has tuned out of Jenny Celery's frequency. Would that we could all be so fortunate. Jenny Celery busts out the incompetent manager's standby, that the whole task went to shit because she was too occupied with managing Lucinda. The fact that Jenny Celery barely acknowledged Lucinda at all during the task except to snipe at her as she walked past does not appear to have been taken into account. (For the record, I don't care for Lucinda much, but Jenny Celery is clearly a bitch on wheels and I would side with Satan himself if the only other alternative were Team Jenny.) Lucinda attempts to defend herself, and Jenny Celery refuses to let her get a word in edgeways, going as far as to tell Lucinda that she may not speak until Jenny Celery has finished. What a horrible, petty woman. Although in all of this I pity Sara, who's sat in the back with both of them, quite possibly wondering if it's too late to get a sex change and join Renaissance. Also, Sara is really pretty. It's not especially relevant, but I just thought I'd mention it. Jenny Celery continues to passive-aggressively browbeat Lucinda, including using the ugly construction "is that not fact?" You know what? I'm not going to recap any more of this exchange, because it is beyond tedious and I'm sure you get the idea by now. Sara is finally spurred into action, telling Jenny Celery that she zooms in on one little thing: "You focus on one side of the story, and then attack." With Jenny Celery's attention momentarily diverted, Lucinda cries quietly in the back seat.

As that half of the team arrives home, Princess Lindi notes that Lucinda appears to be crying, which merits an "oh for fuck's sake" from Jennifer. Nice. [Jenny is a stone-cold bitch, but I kind of agree. In the words of Martha Stewart, 'Cry and you are out of here. Women in business don't cry, my dear.'-Joel] Devoid of irons, the girls vote to get some sleep now and get up early to finish.

7am. Alpha calls a meeting, but Lucinda doesn't show until the meeting ends. Jenny Celery asks Lucinda to generate some invoices and they snap at each other, to everyone's great surprise. The boys, for their part, return the irons since they have no use for them. It was a cheap trick, but I do at least give them props for not being any more assholish about it than they already had been. Team Alpha does the ironing. Margaret turns up and voices her surprise that the girls have not yet finished. The suited and booted boys head off to return their laundry. The girls take another hour to finish, and there is still confusion about which laundry goes back to which person. I don't see this ending well, somehow. Shazia tells Claire that they shouldn't have left early because they were in control of what was going on. Well, yeah [I was really confused about what happened - did Shazia get told to leave, or choose to, or what? - Rad]. [I got the impression that Shazia suggested that someone secure the irons and Jenny sent her home to do it, rather than someone who wasn't in charge of an integral part of the proces. Jenny knows how to manage, you see.-Joel]

The boys return their laundry to their satisfied customers. It looks like they did good work, in fairness. In the Alpha Cab, the girls have a plan to maximise revenue: Princess Lindi thinks they should aim for at least a 15% tip from all of their customers. Lucinda is wearing a black cap, a sleeveless top with a plunging neckline, and fishnet tights. I'm hardly a prude, but that's not really acceptable business attire, is it? They return the laundry, and actually ask for tips, which is pretty cheeky, although also kind of genius: given that the majority of their customers were plummy sorts with obvious breeding, they wouldn't dare not give a tip if directly asked for one, lest their place in Debrett's Peerage become jeopardised.

Renaissance return the linen to Scott and his hotel - he hands over the agreed £200. They cheer. Note that all of the boys who did the actual work are not present for this ceremony and celebrate on their own. I'm guessing it's not just the girls who have cliques.

Jenny Celery drops off her domestic laundry, and attempts to be charming by apologising for the fact that she's come to collect money. It's about as convincing as Kevin's Fisher Price business suit. Jenny Celery tries to get away without giving a guy his change, but he calls on it. She busts out an unconvincing, possibly spur of the moment motto: "If you're happy with our service, please give us a tip. If you're unhappy with our service, please give us a tip on how to improve." The chap doesn't sound too impressed, but agrees to tip them a couple of quid. One woman checks her laundry before she offers a tip and finds that she's missing a checked shirt. Jenny Celery goes to look for it, but is informed it is not in their van. The involuntarily tipping man from earlier reappears with his cute posh son, who is in his pyjamas: they've got two shirts that belong to someone else, and are missing two of theirs. And they don't know which ones are missing because it was the lady of the house who handed them over in the first place. Oh dear. Narrator Mark warns that if the teams lose the clothes, they face fines. Jenny Celery returns the missing shirt to the first lady, who declines to tip them. Another lady spots that she's missing four pairs of boxer shorts. Claire rings the other van to see if they've got the missing items, but Princess Lindi informs her that everything has been returned to the correct customers from their end. D'oh! Shazia begins to look worried, as well she might.

Boardroom! Sralan asks Alpha who the team leader was, despite the fact that the team leaders always sit in the middle of the table, so it's obvious. He asks if Jenny Celery was a good team leader, and Claire says they had their ups and downs, but overall they were happy. Sralan asks Jenny Celery if her team worked well for her, and Jenny Celery singles out Lucinda as someone she had issues working with, not realising that this makes her look every bit as bad as it will make Lucinda look. Margaret mentions the lost items of clothing, and Sralan is not impressed; he asks Margaret to deduct £50 from the girls' total. He asks the boys if Raef was a good team leader and gets a firm chorus of approval.

Numbers: the girls' team took a net profit of £195.55, so it's obvious that the boys have won since their hotel order alone was worth more than that. Nick tells us that Renaissance's profit was £328. Their reward will be going to the Ritz for tea. Alpha will be returning to the boardroom so one of them can be fired. Outside, Michael does literally the gayest dance I have ever seen (and I've recapped Same Difference) and there is much homoerotic hugging. They have tea at the Ritz, and it is swanky. Simon interviews that he can't figure Raef out, claiming that even the officers he worked with in the army weren't as distinguished as Raef. Raef congratulates the team on a job well done.

Alpha retreat to a café for a summit. Princess Lindi says that she thought Jenny Celery was a great team manager, and every time she did something good, she got praised. So apparently this isn't so much big business as it is Crufts. Helene interviews that it's daunting to head to the boardroom. Shazia interviews that she doesn't believe she should be in the boardroom and will fight to be Sralan's apprentice. Jenny Celery is happy to go to the boardroom because she thinks Sralan needs to know what's going on in the women's team at the moment. Quite why Jenny Celery thinks she's qualified to judge this, I have no idea. She clearly doesn't even know what's going on inside her own teacup.

Establishing shot of the Gherkin at night [London porn - drink! London does actually look quite pretty in these shots though - Rad], to fool us all into thinking that Sralan Sugar's offices are anywhere at all inside the M25. Sralan summons Alpha into the boardroom. He tells Jenny Celery that her first pitch was underprepared, and asks her if the quote of £5,000 didn't sound ridiculous to her. Jenny Celery says that everyone was in agreement and she is not an expert on pricing (but interestingly does not mention that Helene is a "global pricing leader", whatever that is). Sralan rightly points out that one does not need to be a pricing expert to realise that £5 is too much to launder a pillowcase. He points out that you can buy a pillowcase for £5, and a disembodied voice (I would assume Margaret, but it doesn't sound like her so I have no idea who it was) says you can buy five for that. Heh. Nick tells them that their quote of £15 for the fishmonger's laundry was equally as ridiculous. Sara points out that when they went in they got £10 extra. "Yes, asking for tips!" spits Margaret with disgust. Sara splutters while Sralan asks what gives. Princess Lindi admits this was her idea, and Sralan tells her that their business should not involve tipping because they are not waiters - they should not expect to get extra money for doing the job they were contracted to do in the first place. He asks Jenny Celery if she condoned it, and she slyly admits that they were looking to maximise profits to beat the boys, so she considered it legitmate.

Sralan asks what other angles they were trying, so Princess Lindi mentions the 24 hour hotline. Sralan is not impressed by this, and asks who on earth would ring up to ask how their pants were doing. The man has a point. He asks who was responsible for losing the laundry. Lucinda explains how some people were sent back early, and that the people who were in charge of knowing what went where were sent back in the van. Helene pipes up that those delivering back the residential loads went through the embarrassment of missing garments because the last load was not labelled. Shazia explains that she was trying to secure an iron to get the job done, but Sralan is unmoved, and appears to be placing the blame for the lost laundry entirely at Shazia's door.

Next, Sralan asks Jenny Celery about her set-to with Lucinda, and asks if this was because Lucinda did not "step up". Jenny Celery says that it went beyond that; Lucinda actively caused trouble. She expands on this by pointing out Lucinda's failure to attend the 7am meeting, despite three separate members of the team attempting to wake her (and this reflects very poorly on Lucinda, I'll admit). Lucinda protests that this was not deliberate and she is being scapegoated. Sralan asks for Helene's input on why they failed the task. Helene says that she doesn't think it can be pinned down to just one person, and that what's clear from this whole scenario is that they do not gel as a team. I like Helene; she's opinionated, but she seems fair. Lucinda claims that this all comes down to the accountability of the project manager, a suggestion which is dismissed by Helene, who says they all have some degree of accountability. Sara joins in, and they all start arguing amongst themselves. Sralan says he's sick of listening to them all arguing, and that they clearly wasted time bickering when they could have been getting on with the job at hand.

He asks Jenny Celery who she'll be bringing back to the final table, and she opts to bring Lucinda and Shazia. Sralan dismisses the rest of the team, but not before telling them that they were a "bloody shambles" (drink!). Sralan, Nick and Margaret confer: Margaret thinks that Jenny was so fixated on being PM that she lost track of what was going on around her. She thinks Lucinda had her good points and her bad points. Sralan wonders if this is a case of clashing personalities, and instructs Invisible Frances to send them back in.

Sralan asks Lucinda why he shouldn't fire her. Lucinda over-earnestly tells him that team motivation and working within a group is one of her fortes, which causes Sralan to chuckle. She says that she was never wilfully detrimental to the task. Sralan turns to Shazia and asks her the same question; Shazia says she is an opportunist and a do-er, and that she doesn't know where she went wrong on this task, which is in all honesty probably not that clever a strategy. Sralan asks Jenny Celery where Shazia went wrong, and Jenny Celery says that Shazia lied and complained and "manipulated with other people". Shazia is very much "wtf?" in response to this, as am I, but I think Jenny Celery is officially Beyond The Edge Of Reason at this stage. Jenny Celery then moves on to the one genuine hold she has over Shazia; that she did not adequately perform the task to which she was assigned. Lucinda declares this "selective amnesia", to which Jenny Celery snits "be quiet". Lucinda points out Jenny Celery's habit of claiming to have allocated tasks to people when in reality she (allegedly) had not, and Jenny Celery snits that Lucinda has no idea what went on because she was in bed asleep. So the entirety of Shazia's lying, complaining and manipulation occured solely during that 7am meeting? I guess she's really not a morning person.

Jenny Celery tells the other two that the entire process has felt like she was "breastfeeding" them, a visual which I feel fairly sure in saying is made entirely of DO NOT WANT, and Shazia reiterates that she doesn't understand why she is in this situation because she delivered on everything she was assigned. This is clearly not true, and is not a sensible strategy. Sralan accuses her of leaving the laundry unattended; Shazia argues that she did so with Jenny's permission. She adds that Jenny didn't get to the laundry until 11:30, and when she did she brought more laundry than they could cope with. Sralan rolls his eyes. He asks if there is a personality clash here. Jenny Celery lies through her teeth that this is nothing to do with personality and entirely a business-related clash. Lucinda and Shazia attempt to interject at various intervals, at which point Jenny Celery gets a murderous look in her eyes and starts droning "Can. You. Be. Quiet. Please." repeatedly. Margaret does a facepalm. Sralan asks Lucinda and Shazia who they would fire, and they both name Jenny Celery. Jenny Celery claims that neither of them have supported her one iota, and appears to be on the verge of tears as she denounces both of them as entirely incapable of being Sralan's apprentice.

It's judgement time. Sralan says it's a difficult decision because he has very good reasons to fire all three of them. He tells Lucinda she's been accused of not co-operating, and Jenny Celery that she is unable to control her team and he has to hold her [fully, apparently. And yet also, apparently not - Rad] responsible for not being able to hold them together. He then rounds on Shazia and informs her that the most heinous of her crimes was deserting her colleagues and the laundry. Shazia shakes her head and pleads under her breath, but to no avail: Shazia is fired.

Sralan tells Lucinda and Jenny that their behaviour does not speak well of them, and that they should be grateful he hasn't fired all three of them, but he's given them another chance.

And seriously, that was such a bullshit firing [totally. My notes at this point consist solely of a very large WTF? - Rad]. Shazia cocked up, yes, but far too much of that task fell apart for the blame to not lie ultimately with Jenny Celery. I can only assume she's being kept around because she "makes good telly", even though I'd rather pull my toenails off with rusty garden shears than put up with her any more.

Poor unfortunate Shazia gets into her cab in a flattering black coat, and blames Jenny Celery for stitching her up, which I don't think is that far from the truth. Jenny Celery and Lucinda ride back to the house in silence. Claire and Princess Lindi cheer for Jenny Celery's return. Alex is wearing a black vest. Again, just the important facts is all I'm reporting here. Lucinda drags her rolly-case back down the hallway.

Next week: the teams sell pub grub. Sara wants to do a Bollywood night. Kevin fights with Ian. Alpha is awash with infighting. And the boys are breakin' dishes up in here (uh huh) all night. Somebody will get fired. Just for a change.


Robert said...

Fabulous stuff. A rare combination of wit and stamina.

Joe said...

Thanks a lot for that - no, really - thanks. Now the whole office thinks I'm crazy for chuckling at my laptop for 15 minutes.

A great read though so well done and please keep it up!

Incidentally there's a small typo in there where you refer to an iron as an icon - although I'm not going to argue that the iron wasn't iconic in the context of the episode, so yeah, like, whatever.

Steve said...

Oh, thanks for pointing that out! After about twenty minutes of show time (I won't embarrass myself by revealing how long that is in recapping-time) my proof-reading skills were shot to pieces! I'll go and fix that now...

amanda50 said...

I chortled all the way through reading this, it was as funny as watching the actual show.Thank-you!

Anonymous said...

Excellent - many thanks. Only problem we're left with now is that sirallun has lost all credibility - what a crap decision! If there's a series 5, it's time for him to be fired.

Rad said...

Nah, Sralan has made crappy firing choices before: Miriam, Karen, Naomi...

I sense a theme...

Steve said...

Not to mention Kristina and The Badger, who weren't technically Fired but were nonetheless Not Hired, which is every bit as bad.