Wednesday, 28 May 2008

Jesus Christ, supercars!

Week Ten: Original airdate 27th May 2008

I've just noticed this week: the opening titles of this show clearly include Sralan Sugar saying: "Don't start telling me you're just like me. No one's like me. I'm unique." So why, precisely, is Michael Sophocles still there, if not the fact that he reminds you of a young you, Sralan? This show makes less and less sense every week. If I tuned in to next week's show to find Margaret speaking Urdu while hanging upside down reading a Candace Bushnell novel and Nick clog-dancing on a panel of glass while Lucinda makes curds and Alex sits in the corner gibbering "I'm a good boy" over and over again, I wouldn't be in the least surprised.

Also, whenever he exclaims "this is outrageous!", I want to shout "this is contagious!" like in that song from Peep Show, but maybe that's just me.

Previously: Sralan told the teams to advertise tissues, and Raef promptly had a heart murmur at the thought of doing anything so shamelessly commercial when there is art to be made. Raef hired Sian Lloyd and didn't use her, Lucinda fought with Lee and Alex, not that I can blame her, Michael Sophocles was responsible for everything that was ever awesome, and Raef got the boot. Now, six remain!

Early morning, establishing shots of the house in broad daylight at what is apparently 7am. Isn't it normally a lot darker than this at 7am? Did the clocks go back at some point during filming [probably - it would have been in the Autumn so that would make sense - Rad]? Anyway, Claire answers the phone, dressed in a vest top and trousers with her hair fairly neat which suggests she's been up for a while. NotFrances says that Sralan would like to meet them in the breakers' yard in Wembley, and they must be ready to leave in half an hour. A bleary-eyed and shirtless Michael Sophocles (DO NOT WANT) asks Claire where they're going. A suddenly bedheaded and white towelling robe-clad Claire relays this information to Lee. Bad continuity editor! No biscuit! "It's not going to fucking stop, is it?" whines Michael Sophocles. It will when you get fired, asshole.

Michael Sophocles interviews that he's worn out, and says that in the past few weeks he's had it harder than anyone. Primarily due to being shitter than anyone, but that's not for here. In a rare moment in which he's actually quite sweet and endearing, Michael Sophocles confesses that he needs to win this task, but he keeps saying that and he keeps losing. Aww.

Random shot of a nightgown-clad Lucinda walking down the hallway and kicking what appears to be her pink beret out of the way. If so: awesome.

London porn. Breakers' yard in Wembley. Alex is wearing that ridiculously overstated coat with the collar popped which makes me want to punch him, and he's not even said anything yet. Lucinda is disappointingly sporting just a plain black dress with a red overcoat and no sign of a beret. Perhaps she's ill.

Sralan explains the task: it's all about cars. The teams will be finding customers to rent "very special cars" to, but not the scrap cars, but supercars. The aforementioned cars drive into the yard, and Alex and Lee pretty much ejaculate on the spot. For a second I think about poor useless Kevin and how much he would've loved this task. And then I forget all about him again. The team that returns with the most amount of lease money will win. Michael Sophocles will be the Renaissance team leader, and Lee will lead Alpha.

Narrator Mark informs us that supercar rental is a fast-expanding business. I don't really get that, personally, because I'm not really sure what the point is of hiring a flash car for a couple of days. Surely the whole point of being seen in one of those is so everyone can coo over it and go, "ooh, is this yours?" I would've thought it ruins the effect if you have to answer "until 5pm tomorrow, yes." But then I drive a Ford Fiesta and I earn less than £30k a year so I suspect I'm really not the target market here. Lee interviews that it was a jaw-dropping moment when the cars arrive. True to form, he sits in one revving the engine and says, "That's what I'm talking about!" Sigh. I've grown so very, very tired of Lee and his novelty catchphrases [catchphrase, surely? There's only one - Rad]. [Well there is also CUMOOOOON which normally preceeds whatever it is he is talking about- Fiona]

Each team must pick two cars, but the cars vary in rentable value, from £600 to nearly £3000 a day. Michael Sophocles interviews that he abhors cars and that they're alien to him. Oh dear. He and Claire eye up a Ferrari at £675 per day, which is one of the cheaper options. Lee likes the Zonda, which is apparently one of the rarest and most expensive cars in the world. Also: one of the ugliest. Trufax. Also, it can't be rented by the hour. This one is £2750 per day. To anyone reading this who's considering renting that car: I think it's only fair I warn you now that we will never be friends [However, I'll be friends with you if you buy me lots of nice food and drink and lend me money without expecting to ever get it back. I've turned so amoral since I stopped going to church on a regular basis- Rad]. Claire engages in one of the first of many shots in tonight's episode of women struggling to exit the car in an elegant fashion while keeping the colour of their underwear a mystery.

The PMs have to choose which cars they want, and Michael Sophocles wins the toss. Michael Sophocles picks the Ferrari F360, while Lee plumps for an Aston Martin which is the same price as the Ferrari. Michael Sophocles's second choice is something called a Spyker (don't look at me, I know as little about cars as he does), which is £1200 a day. Lee deliberates of his second choice, but goes for the Zonda. Lucinda looks apprehensive.

The task will end at Canary Wharf, and Sralan has arranged for marquees to be erected for the candidates to sell to city boys. I steel myself for the possibility of seeing my ex-boyfriend at some point during the show. Before then, they have to decide where the big money punters will be. Personally I would've spent the entire day at Canary Wharf, but perhaps that's against the rules.

Alpha are brainstorming ideas, and Lucinda suggests a promotional raffle, which Alex thinks is a great idea and Lee concurs. And I think we all know that where these three are involved, such mature and harmonious professionalism cannot last long. Alex suggests 100 tickets at £30 a pop. Lee's impressed.

9am. The cars are outside the house, and the teams are looking at where to take them. Claire is being very efficient and telling Michael Sophocles where all the city boys and stockbrokers can be found, identifying areas such as Spitalfields. Nick interviews that city boys like fast cars, but since Nick also interviewed that rich people would never go to Birmingham, I don't tend to take anything he says as gospel any more. Michael Sophocles is already floundering. In a meeting, Helene puts forward the brilliant notion that they need to find people with a lot of money. Well, duh. She then grouses in an interview that Michael is miserable and doesn't like cars. I'm sure Helene is doing a lot to rouse the team's morale in the temporary absence of her team leader's spirit fingers, though. To conclude the general sense of epic fail, Michael Sophocles can't even remember the name of his cars [of which there are TWO, it's hardly a stall full of fish - Rad].

Over on Alpha, Alex is confident of a win and loves selling, so he can't wait to get out there and start. I feel really sorry for Lucinda, being stuck with Lee and Alex on this most testosteroney of tasks. I'm surprised it didn't cause her to spontaneously grow a beard. Risk Manager Lucinda, however, is scared of sales, but promises to try her hardest.

At 10am, Renaissance leave. Narrator Mark explains that the two teams must split, which means one person from each team must work alone. On Renaissance, this person is Michael Sophocles, who explains that this is because he wants to prove that he can do something on his own. Cut to Helene and Claire in the other car. Claire: "How do you think Michael is?" Helene: "Shit." Claire: "I think he's shit as well." Heh.

Back at the house, there's an argument breaking out over whose idea the raffle was, since Alex is trying to claim it was his. Lucinda points out that it was hers, Alex disagrees, Lee sides with Alex. Lee then correctly says that it's not relevant right now whose idea it is, which causes Lucinda to snit that it's "so unjust", and Alex to say in the most passive-aggressive way possible, "you can have the idea if you want." Oh, how magnanimous of you. TWAT. God, I hate him. Lucinda complains about not being given credit, and Lee complains in a separate interview that Lucinda won't let it the fuck go. And really, everyone's right and wrong all at the same time here, so let's just move on. There's then a scene where they're trying to open the ludicrously large glass doors out of the house and Lee drops his papers on the floor while Lucinda strides outside and ignores him, which I expect to turn out to be important later and yet it doesn't. Hmm.

Lucinda does not want to be by herself, and Lee assures her that she won't be. Alex says that "if it was [sic] me, I'd want the two best salespeople selling the most unique [sic] product which is the Zonda", and grammar fans across the country gently weep. Lee then says that he agrees with that, but he doesn't want Lucinda going on her own, in the sort of manner in which one might talk about sending a four-year-old into a public lavatory, while Lucinda is right there. Ass. "That's your decision," says Alex, every bit as passive-aggressive as before. He is such a shit. Lucinda gets on the passive-aggressive bandwagon, saying that if they want her to go on her own, and they obviously do, then she can go on her own. Lee enquires if this means she wants to go on her own, and Lucinda confirms it does not. Jesus wept. Put together, this team has a collective level of emotional maturity just shy of that of my slippers. Lee and Alex set off with the Zonda, leaving Lucinda to fend for herself.

Michael has taken the Ferrari to Knightsbridge, for reasons best known to himself, since I would've thought your average shopper there on a weekday would be older and female and therefore not even remotely your target market. Michael Sophocles interviews that he is a born salesman. He erects a sandwich board on the pavement as a bunch of teenagers look on with barely-disguised amusement. Claire and Helene, however, have gone to Spitalfields with the Spyker, and soon gain the attention of nearby office workers.

Helene interviews that people don't always like the cheeky sales patter, and sometimes people want a professional chat. Helene tells a prospective punter that the car is very unique (AAAAARGH), and that it's important that you know how to drive it and know what you're doing. If anyone's keeping score, that's totally the moment where she would've lost me. Claire, on the other hand, has got the patter going with a besuited chap, and gets Helene to rev the engine for him. It pays off, and Claire gets a two-hour rental worth £250. The man says his wife is going to kill him. I am so Team Wife.

Lee and Alex arrive at the London Stock Exchange with the Zonda. People everywhere are photographing it with their camera phones. Losers. Lee tries the patter with a few people. For the record, Alex and Lee are dressed up in dinner suits with bow ties (Alex's is done up, Lee's is hanging rakishly around his collar) and look utterly ridiculous. Alex in particular looks like a little boy playing dress-up, and Lee really needs a fucking shave. Lee's sales patter seems to amount to "can I interest you in a Zonda today?", which isn't hugely impressive [Alex's sales patter probably revolves around flirting, just like he's flirted with all his team leaders and thus avoided the boardroom so many times. But knowing Alex, it will be passive-agggressive flirting. If you can get passive-aggressive flirting. - Rad]. [Believe me you can, remember my university stalkers? - Fiona]

The Aston Martin is being sold by no one, because Lucinda is being kept busy perforating raffle tickets, which she considers to be a very important job. Oh, Lucinda.

Knightsbridge sidestreet. Michael Sophocles stands all alone with his sad little sandwich board. He phones Claire and tells her the area's dead, and Claire says that she doesn't know what to say to that. Heh. Narrator Mark says that Londoner Michael Sophocles uses his local knowledge to pick a new location. This would, presumably, be the same local knowledge that led him to deduce that central London is nearer to north London than it is to south London, yes? Michael Sophocles's brilliant new plan? To go to Portobello Market. Oy. He thinks there will be more people there. More people, yes. More prospective leasers of a performance car, I very much doubt it.

Spitalfields, Claire racks up another deal for three hours. Helene appears to be standing there with her hands in her pockets spouting vague platitudes to Claire's customers. Claire gets yet another deal.

1pm, and the Zonda isn't selling. Even with Lee's foolproof sales technique? Lucinda arrives in the hope that Lee will help her sell the Aston Martin, but no dice. Lee tells her he's staying there, and asks if she's happy with that. Lucinda reminds him that she said she wanted to be with someone, and Lee basically says "tough shit, you're doing it on your own." I understand his reasons for wanting to stay, but don't say "is that okay with you?" if you haven't got a plan b lined up in the event of a negative response. Lee tells Lucinda that he wants himself and Alex as the two strongest salespeople to stay with the Zonda, at which point Alex greases up and smarms "Lee, am I all right to go back to...?" and Lee dismisses him. Alex is so foul. Alex, Best Salesperson in Europe With The Possible Exception of Jennifer Maguire, then ambles up to someone and indifferently asks him if he's interested in renting a Zonda for a day. Yep, I can see why you'd want to keep those l33t sales skillz in the mad money zone. [I would have thought it makes more sense to have a 'strong' salesperson with each car Fiona]

Lucinda complains that she said from the start she didn't want to be left on her own, and Lee says he isn't going to hold her hand. Lucinda objects to his terminology, and Lee asks her what she'd call it, then. Oy. He is really not a people person. Lucinda says that she needs "support", and Lee offers her support - over the phone if she needs it. Lucinda accepts this with barely disguised ill grace and slopes away looking tearful. And just for the record, while I think Lee has handled most of these meetings appallingly, Lucinda has hardly covered herself in glory here either. Lee continues to push for deals, with what looks like little success, and by mid afternoon they still haven't got any deals. One chap, however, suddenly displays an interest and Lee invites him to sit in the car. Lee sits in the passenger seat and Alex hovers around the driver door, essentially blocking the guy in, and that's the kind of bullshit sales tactic that would have me out of there sharpish. The man does not agree with me, however, and books the package. Lee celebrates with Alex: "We done it together mate, thass what I'm talkin abahhht." Give me strength.

Portobello Market. Fruit and veg stalls everywhere, and an extremely incongruous Ferrari driving down the middle. Michael finds a parking space behind a lorry, and I can tell you now that in the unlikely event of me looking to hire a Ferrari, I would not lease it from a man standing next to a pile of cardboard boxes in a fruit and veg market. Many people look admiringly at the car, but no buyers. Michael Sophocles tells the camera that "without wishing to sound snobbish, these people aren't really wealthy enough." Yeah! Dum dums! His luck looks in, however, when one man expresses an interest, and all goes well until the man asks about insurance and Michael Sophocles admits there's a £5000 deposit. Fuck me. Yeah, now I definitely would never hire one of these cash-devouring monstrosities. The man is less enthusiastic at the prospect of losing five grand, despite Michael Sophocles's protests that if you have the car for half a day, there's only around a 2% chance of you writing it off. Heh. The man is not so keen any more, so Michael Sophocles pulls out his best sales pitch: "Go on! Go on!" The man says he has to walk away now because he's worried he'll sign up. Michael Sophocles tries to talk him into taking an hour at least, but the man cannot be swayed. Michael runs after him and asks if he can go with him to his meeting. This is just sad [and quite frankly terrifying - Rad]. [At this point I am sure Rent Boy has actually become seriously unbalanced - Fiona]

Lucinda in her car phones Lee to ask if she should sell the raffle tickets or not. Lee says yes, but not if she can only sell one or two. Lucinda points out that she can't tell at the point she sells her first ticket if she's only going to sell two more, and asks for clarification. Lee: "If you go to an area where three people walk past, don't sell them a raffle ticket each because you're only selling three." Yes, but I don't think it was basic mathematics that was troubling her here. They go back and forth like this for ages, with Lucinda asking him to make a call one way or the other, and Lee telling her to use her own judgement but not to only sell one or two. The whole thing is ridiculous - Lucinda may well be trying to utterly abdicate responsibility for the idea she fought so hard to claim for her own, but Lee's "sell tickets, but know before you sell how many you are going to sell" advice is totally useless and impractical. Lucinda hangs up and laughs despairingly. At the other end, Lee's all "just fucking make a decision, man", which: take your own advice, jackhole [And to think in the early stages, Lee McQueen loked alright. Now, like all the rest of them, he's just a dick - Rad]. [I don't think even referring to himself in the third person is going to save him now - Fiona]

Lucinda tries to sell the Aston Martin, but keeps calling it a Zonda. That's pretty unforgiveable. Not that it makes any difference because she's not getting any interest anyway, though she seems to be having fun. Nick observes that Lee and Alex have disowned Lucinda, and as a result she has retired into martyrdom, which is pretty much on the money.

5pm, and everyone's heading to Canary Wharf to go head-to-head selling to boorish bankers. Lucinda asks to shadow Lee before setting off on her own to pick up some sales skills. Unfortunately, Lee crashes and burns repeatedly, so what she learns is negligible. Michael Sophocles is trying to sell to some non-povs, and has written the name of his car on his hand. Heh. Claire continues to make deals, but for hours, not days. She interviews that it's difficult to get them to sign up for days or weekend. Helene tries to pitch to a really skeevy guy, who, when asked which one he likes the best, replies "You." Helene gamely flirts back with him, but I'm pretty sure she's mentally calculating the number of showers she will need before she can truly feel clean again.

Thus far, only Claire and Lee have made sales. Lucinda tries to sell the Zonda as being "almost like a Batmobile, but heavier." [Are they going to be lifting it? - Fiona] The inside of Lucinda's mind is truly a fascinating place. The Really Skeevy Guy gets a good grip on the gearshift of the Spyker while Helene smiles wanly and focuses on the smell of money. Lucinda mispronounces the name of the Zonda. Alex comes close with a couple of guys, but they need to go away and think about it. Alex interviews "Inside my brain, I am meant to be a high-calibre salesman. I've worked for ten hours, and I've not sold one hour of a car." The inside of Alex's brain sounds a lot less interesting than the inside of Lucinda's. Lucinda gets a sale! Only £65, but it's "better than a kick in the teeth", as she says.

Docklands porn. Michael Sophocles tries to flatter a man into a sale by telling him how good he'd look in the car, but it backfires somewhat when the man returns the compliment. I'm thinking Michael Sophocles and Helene might actually have had more luck with an out-and-out prostitution task this week. It's not like he hasn't got form, after all. Claire and Helene go to spy on the other team, just in time to see Alex do a day's deal on the Zonda. Noooooooooo! I do not want to live in a world where Alex succeeds! Michael Sophocles offers to throw in a bottle of champagne for a day with the Ferrari, and lands the deal.

9.28pm, with moments to go, so you know something crazy and last-minute is going to happen. Renaissance are winding down, but over on Alpha Alex gets a call from a guy he met earlier who wants to go through with the deal. They've got 60 seconds to get his signature, apparently, though I refuse to believe the footage that follows took place in less than that. Anyway, Alex's client signs, and Alpha are happy.

Boardroom. Sralan asks Lee about the distribution of the team. Lee admits that Lucinda was sent off on her own, and Sralan asks Lucinda if she was pushed to one side. Lucinda says she was, but says that she was impressed by her own improvement during the day. Sralan is amused by this, and asks if she landed any sales. Lucinda skates around the issue for quite some time before revealing her total as £65.

Sralan turns to Michael Sophocles and asks why he didn't go for the top price cars. Michael Sophocles says they didn't think they could shift the higher-end vehicles, and with him and Helene on the team, he's probably right. Sralan asks where they pitched up, and is perturbed by the revelation that Michael Sophocles went to Portobello Market. Michael Sophocles is forced to admit he made no sales during the day.

Figures! Margaret says that Renaissance did a number of deals for £2,114. Nick says that Alpha came roaring through with a total of £11,815, over £8,000 of which came from Alex, and Lee made £3,400. Sralan is impressed with Alex, who is so getting the winner's edit right now [which can so fuck off because he's an utter cunt. I don't like any of them much, but he's my least wanted. Except Sophocles, obviously - Rad]. Sralan twists the knife with Lucinda by saying that she's learnt so much over the past 10 weeks that she sold £65 out of £11,000, which is kind of a dickish move. Lucinda tries to protest, but Sralan cuts her off - probably for her own good. Alpha's reward is wine tasting at a Mayfair hotel. Renaissance are dismissed.

Loser Café. Michael Sophocles thinks maybe it was the choice of cars. Helene says that the other team managed to sell days and they didn't. She adds that she wouldn't have expected herself to do that, coming from a non-sales background, but she would've thought Claire and Michael Sophocles could've done it. Helene truly is the master of the post-failure CYA arrangements. Michael Sophocles thinks Helene should be fired for being "insignificant" in this task. Michael Sophocles vows to go to the boardroom "full of stout heart". He really isn't that annoying in this episode, which is annoying of itself.

Final boardroom. Sralan tells Renaissance he's trying to see where the remaining finalists would fit into his organisation. He berates Michael Sophocles for his lack of sales, to which Michael Sophocles responds that there were no customers. Is that the worst boardroom defence ever? It has to at least be in the top five. Sralan points out that they picked the locations, and asked Michael Sophocles to say what he's good at. Michael Sophocles says he's a fantastic salesman, but Sralan points out that he didn't sell anything, and was outmatched by Claire.

Sralan turns to Helene and says that her "posture" reminds him of the Mona Lisa. I suspect he means "composure" rather than "posture", unless he has a problem with Helene sitting up straight. Helene bats back that her "posture" may be restrained, but that's because she was brought up to show respect, and not to bang the table. Hee. Sralan repeats that he's trying to think where she would slot into his organisation, and that he's struggling to figure out what she does. Well, he's the one with her CV, so he's probably got a far clearer idea of what a "Global Pricing Leader" does than the rest of us. He points out that Helene sold nothing at all on this task, and that Michael Sophocles is a disaster zone and that she might be wondering what he's still doing there. SHE WOULDN'T BE ALONE. Sralan explains that Michael Sophocles (a) is very young and (b) has some good points about him. He doesn't elaborate. He says that Claire has a mouth the size of Blackwall tunnel (hardly fair, since Claire's really toned down the outspokenness lately), but is a great salesperson and presenter. He's seen nothing from Helene, however. Helene admits she's never done direct sales, and that this side of things was always going to be difficult for her, but she isn't riding on anyone's coat-tails. Sralan disagrees, and says he has intuitive feelings about people, which is why Michael Sophocles is still there, but he hasn't got a reason for Helene to be around next week.

Sralan asks Helene who he should fire. There's a Pinteresque pause while Helene tries to come up with the most valid answer that isn't "me" before she names Michael Sophocles. Sralan says it's easy to name Michael Sophocles because he's the team leader. Helene protests that she's stood up for him in the past, but he was extremely demotivated going into the task and failed to lift his own or the team's spirits.

Claire has been sitting quietly throughout, and is asked for her opinion on who should go. Claire says that in terms of figures Helene should go, but that Michael contributed the least as a team member. Michael Sophocles, clearly seeing the buzzards circling, says that while he is young and naive, he thinks he's shown "glimmers of brilliance" while he's been here. Sralan scoffs at this, as well he might.

Sralan begins to sum up by saying that he's at a period where he needs to get rid of no hopers in his organisation, and right now he's got two of them in front of him. I get excited at the prospect of another double firing, but to no avail: he sends them all out so he can have a think. When the candidates have left, Nick says that Helene has no impact and is unmemorable. This is true; half the time I forget she's still on the show. Sralan mulls over a double firing, but I will not be fooled again. NotFrances sends Renaissance back in.

Back in the boardroom, Sralan asks them all to explain why they should stay. Michael Sophocles begins by saying that he's only been working for a year, [a year?! - Fiona] and he's got raw abilities that can be shaped. Oh my God, he's Pirate Jessie. He adds that sometimes he miscontrues how much he wants this, but it means more to him than anything and he wants another chance [I am so sick of his crappy boardroom whies. He gives the worst boardroom of any candidate EVER - Rad]. Helene refers to her excellent track record with her previous company, saying that she delivered every year and was promoted annually as a result. Sralan says that he deals with big companies every day, and basically goes on a five minute rant about how he's a salt-of-the-earth type who grafts all the livelong day while people in big corporations sit on their arses and don't do any work. Michael tries to cut in and Helene shoots him down with a curt "this is about me, actually, at the minute" [win - Rad] and tells Sralan that her company doesn't suffer fools either and would've fired her if she wasn't pulling her weight. She says that she's here because she wants to work for him, and adds that what annoys her about the other candidates is that they think she shouldn't be there because she's from a large corporation. Sralan tells her that she comes "tainted" with seven years experience of an environment that doesn't exist in his corporation, adding that there are no "cosy carpets" at their place. What the hell? I now have images of the halls of Viglen being bare planks of wood with hooknails sticking out of them and all the staff walking gingerly along the perimeter, desperately trying to avoid falling into the various gaping chasms that exist along the way. Helene says that it would have been easy to stay, but she came here to challenge herself, and that Michael's inexperience doesn't make him any more suitable. [Helene so gave good boardroom here, and yet you could just see Sralan going 'but ya're a bladdy WOMAN' in his head at anything she said - Rad] [She has been unremarkable but I have a lot more respect for her after the way she stood up for herself - Fiona]

Sralan notes that Claire is "uncharacteristically quiet" and Claire replies that she's "trying to regulate how much I talk". Michael Sophocles giggles at this, as do I. Sralan tells Claire that he's seen improvement and results out of her in the past ten weeks, so she will not be fired. So it's down to Michael Sophocles and Helene. Michael Sophocles has been in the boardroom a lot, and has, by his own admission, fought hard. Sralan wonders, however, if his luck is running out. He turns to Helene, who tries to speak in her own defence, but is cut off [which he never did to Michael these last few weeks. But then Michael is like the son he never had. Helene, like Lucinda, whom he also cut off mid-speech, is just a woman. Gah. - Rad]. He says that he doesn't know what she's about, and all she has going for her is that she works for a big corporation known to be mercenary, but he worries that she'll expect too much cosiness, or something. Helene tries to protest again, and someone - I think Nick - coughs loudly, presumably as code for "shut up, you fool!"

Final judgement time: Sralan has to make a difficult decision, but this time Michael Sophocles is fired. He thanks Sralan for the opportunity and exits. Helene and Claire go back to the house.

Coatwatch: long, dark, black, unremarkable.

In his cab interview, Michael Sophocles thinks Sralan liked him and saw echoes of himself in there, which he's pleased about.

Back at the house, Lee doesn't care who goes. Alex is wearing a stupid scarf thing. Helene and Claire return to moderate approval, and Claire gleefully relates how Helene was very nearly toast [which was weird, considering they've been portraying Claire and Helene as BFFs for the last few weeks - Rad]. Lee says that he's pleased to be in the final five, and Helene agrees. Lee's next goal is to get to the final, so he apologises that three of them will be fired. Har har.

Next week: interviews! Karren Brady! Lee squawking like a twat! [Alex getting fired? - Rad] [We can hope - Fiona]

Wednesday, 21 May 2008

'Snot Fair

Epiosde 9

Aired May 21, 2008

Last week our hapless heroes hosted stalls at the national wedding fayre in Birmingham. Claire sold some dresses well, Lee McQueen was FACKIN TALKIN ABAHT pants, Raef dressed as a teddy bear, Michael and Sara failed to sell any cake, Michael was an utter cunt in the boardroom as usual, and Sara was fired.

Claire is the one on the phone to (Not)Frances today and doesn’t sound all that excited. I think we need men on the phone in every episode, as they always give a little bit of flirt action to poor old Frances. The women just don’t seem to care. Anyway, Sralan wants to meet them at the National Theatre. There is a lot of piano music in the background. Is Myleene back?

We see Michael in his pants, which is an image made of DO NOT WANT. Alex is topless in bed, which is better, but the spoilsport only lets us see his shoulders and head. Booo, pretty boy! [At least we didn't have to see much of his weird scrotal chest hair. - Steve] Everyone knows that’s all you’re here for!

We see a VT of Raef ding up his cufflinks saying that everyone has got to that point in the game where they have realised there are six people stopping them. We see the candidates leaving. Lucinda is working a bright blue beret and a bright red coat. Brave, but probably foolhardy.

London porn, including added South Bank bonus feature.

Sralan is changing the teams again and it takes me ages to figure out which is which. Anyway, it transpires that Alex, Lucinda and Lee are this week’s Alpha, leaving Raef, Helene, Claire and Satan as Renaissance. Sralan sayss he knows Michael begged to be project manager, but Raef and Alex are doing it. HAH!

Their task is to produce packaging and TV ads for boxes of tissues (and we are back to rather tenuous locations for giving out the task, I think). I thought they said it was print ads, too, but seeing as there is no mention of a print ad ever again, I must have misheard. [No you didn't - that's what the poster image they were working on was for, I think. - Steve] [But other than that it was never mentioned again - Fiona] Now, let’s just recap the rules of the advertising task from previous years, shall we kids? 1) Both ads will be made of fail and will be absolutely awful 2) the one that plugs the product most heavily will win. That’s it. Do we think they’ll have got that?

Anyway, the voiceover tells us that the tissue industry is big business and Sralan wants the ads to be mini-dramas. I sense an ‘oh dear’ moment or two along the way. Raef tells us that he has theatre in his background and just loves advertisements. Michael Sophocles did drama and musicals too, and apparently he and Raef were both in Guys and Dolls. Though not together. As far as I can tell. Anyway, Michael starts singing, and please no. Raef is very excited about directing his own little 30 second feature apparently.

We are briefly at an ad agency, where Nigel from EastEnders tells them the box of tissues is the only thing they can’t change.

Alpha are having a branding session. Lee McQueen tries to plug the name ‘cozinose’. Lucinda says it sounds like a pair of socks. [It actually sounds like cosytoes whch is what you put on a pram - Fiona] He suggests atishoo, which they all like. Lucinda is working a nice black top and a black and white skirt with red scarf. Anyway, it’s all rather jolly.
Renaissance are keen on a montage for their advert, involving such exciting shots as a mother wiping a baby’s nose. They brainstorm names. Claire says they should go with ‘I love…’ like ‘I love NY’: ‘I love my nose’. Helene: ‘I love my tissues’. Hmmmm, hardly the snappiest name, ever. [In fact I don't get that particular mental leap at all - Fiona]

Back with Alpha and Lucinda is having a bit of a ball. She is brainstorming about a mother dropping a child off at the orphanage, which would be so win. Except they’d lose the task, but whatevs. She says they should use shock tactics so people will remember, and suggests homosexuality. [Last time this was used in an advert on The Apprentice it was made of epic fail, so it's good they didn't go with it. That said, I would have loved to hear more of Lucinda's idea, just because it's Lucinda. - Steve]

Alex doesn’t think anyone would buy it. He says Lee would come over to his house and say ‘there’s that gay box of tissues’ and that’s the reality. Lee McQueen doesn’t stand up and say he isn’t a homophobe, so maybe he would. The voiceover tells us Alex wants a family feel and he is going to meet the designer. Lucinda says she’d like to be there as well, and Lee probably would, too. The voiceover tells us that Alex has dispatched her to look at locations. Lucinda VTs that maybe Alex thinks she’s too domineering. I kind of like domineering Lucinda – well, she’s better than wet blanket Lucinda of a few weeks ago.

The Alpha boys are with the designer, looking at [vomit inducing-Fiona] pics of kitties and kiddies and probably hoping this will keep the ladies interested in them. Margaret tells us all the pictures they look at involve blankets and don’t go together well or help get the message across.

The voiceover reminds us that Raef and Michael have backgrounds in musicals and theatre and they start waxing lyrical about the roles they have played and Raef looks like he might cry/cum over one story but won’t tell it all to Michael in the car/in front of the cameras because it’s ZOMG too emotional.

Michael tells us he was in OLIVER - Cameron Mackintosh and Andrew Lloyd Webber, are you watching? He starts singing. Badly. But I’d still rather he was Nancy than Pirate Jessie Sidegob.

Claire pieces to camera about enjoying the brand task, and has been hanging round with Raef and Lucinda for too long, because she pronounces it ‘tarsk’. She says Girls Aloud will buy their tissues. Er…?

Raef has booked Sian Lloyd for their advert because she has a wholesome mumsy look. Which she really doesn’t, so big WTFs all round, I think. They discuss Lembit Opik and Raef says he had a thing for a cheeky girl. Michael says don’t we all though? No.

The boys' ad is set in a school. And for some reason, my brain hears this as a boys’ school and remains under that confusion for most of the episode, as you will soon discover. Anyway, they meet the contact lady there. Raef asks ‘are you Sarah?’ She replies ‘Louise’. It’s not clear if they got her name wrong or if this is just a different person from the one they spoke to on the phone. They are shown the kindergarten (which means this is a private school, as all normal schools would use the terms ‘nursery’ and ‘reception’). Michael says they could see Sian coming in here. Raef is unconvinced. He wants it to say school. Michael is bewildered and says it does say school. We see them outside on the crappiest playing pitch ever. It’s seriously the size of a slightly-larger-than-normal back garden. Raef says he can see Sian as a spectator, in this great space. He then pieces to camera about wanting to wear his cravat as director tomorrow and this is the moment where I fear that this could be the end of Raef, and Michael could well live to smite another day.

Alpha are holding casting sessions – Alex and Lee want the family in their commercial to include a sick child, which is all very X Factor. A cocky boy unconvincingly says ‘How can I go to school if I’m ill, that’s the thing?’ and sounds not ill at all, and would probably receive a clip round the ear and a ‘get dressed’ from his family instead. [Ah, so you've met my mother then? - Steve] [Well she's met mine...-Fiona] Desperate Jordan and Scary Sam are not Oliver and are now in need of work, get them in. Lucinda is not convinced. She says as a woman there are things she wouldn’t want in the advert and suggests they might be being a bit sexist by ignoring her opinion. Alex gets annoyed and he and Lee bitch about Lucinda not having any input, which shatters my dreams of Lee/Lucinda love a bit. Lee then says he’s never seen this side of her, and sounds a bit sad, so maybe all is not lost. Some more people pretending to be a family come in. Alex says he is ‘gonna let you freestyle, be off the cuff’, which makes him sound a bit Street . The parents go very OTT about the kid (a little girl who looks not unlike a baby version of the central character from Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit) [See they are sneaking in a subliminal gay message - Fiona]. Lucinda says it’s not interesting to see a bog-standard family, and you’d be better off watching Neighbours. Of course you would, because Neighbours is the bomb. Ahem. [I was a bit gutted to hear her dis the mighty Ramsey Street Residents- Fiona]

Back with Renaissance, and Claire says Raef is too much into the berets and big hair and cravats and she and Helene need to keep him in check. Seeing as they haven’t been shown together all episode, I’m not sure how this keeping in check is working. Raef and Michael are upstairs listening to music, miming being Sian Lloyd in a car. Michael is eating yoghurt, Raef says ‘look what you’ve done Georgie, all over your face’. I get the feeling we are watching Raef and Michael foreplay and it’s not a pleasant feeling.

Their brand name is Mytissues. The girls show them the box. It’s nice, all blues and whites, but perhaps a bit like every other tissue box out there. Raef tells the girls they’ve done a good job.

Alpha’s ‘Atishu’ box is yellow and colourful with pictures of families and kids blowing their noses on it. Lucinda says it’s ugly, who wants to see people blowing noses? Alex and Lee say they thought it was OK. Lucinda bitches to camera about Alex being useless, which may be true, but so were you for the first half of the series, so be careful. There is then a bit where she says Alex is naughty naughty naughty, but I missed what it was about as I was texting Fiona about our collective fears for Raef. Lee pieces something I don’t understand to camera about if you are short staffed you need people to come together, and this didn’t work for Lucinda. In the car, Lee asks why Lucinda volunteered to go to the house if she wanted to work on the creative side. Lucinda says ‘I didn’t fucking volunteer!’ (and her purple beret is back). Lee asks her why she didn’t say she was creative and wanted to work on that side of things. Lucinda points out that she did. We are seeing Lee’s ugly side, a la the week he yelled at Sara, and I don’t like it. Are the women in the house refusing to sleep with him or something? Cos he’s being a bit of a misogynist prick. [There is a misogynist theme this week, the voice over keeps calling Helen and Claire Raef's girls which pisses me off in several ways grrrrr - Fiona]

Back with Renaissance and dreamy music plays whilst the voiceover tells us they are waiting for their star. Well, Michael and Raef are. Claire and Helene are off somewhere being busy at not getting fired this week. Sian Lloyd appears, looking very blonde and extensiony. Michael almost bows to her. They show her the tissues. She says they are nice, did they design them? Raef says it was their colleagues. Had Michael got a word in, he’d have said he did it, blindfolded, with his feet, in thirty seconds flat, no doubt. Nick shows up after being absent all episode (this episode seriously lacks Nick and Margaret) and says you use a celebrity for what they are known for – Sian Lloyd is a weather girl, and they are getting her with a kid being a mum, wiping his nose. [They should've got Kerry Katona, wiping the kid's nose with an Iceland carrier bag and offering him a boozy brownie as consolation. - Steve]

Sian asks them why they don’t want her to do something relating to weather. Raef says she is wholesome and lovely, and I can only presume he wants to bone her, despite that mental image being wholly made of DO NOT WANT. Sian pieces to camera and says if they’d googled her, they’d know she has nothing to do with kids, she’s not a mum and she’s not really that wholesome (which makes me like her) although she’s flattered they think of her like that.

We cut to the shoot. Raef and Michael have their boy wank club behind the camera and Raef tells Michael he should be the next Fellini. There are no words.

Back with Alpha, and Alex is directing. A blonde mum asks the Oranges… kid how she feels and gives her a tissue. The parents improvise really fucking badly and the dad says the tissues are anti-bacterial, she’ll be fine. He rubs her nose, which is a bit eww, considering she is al germy as she hasn’t used a tissue yet. The kid doesn’t look very ill. Alex can’t work his black and white stripy shirt, but it appears he is friends with Lucinda again.

Back at the school (which I still think is a boys’ school at this stage). Raef and Michael are with some naughty boys on a bench. They say this is the final scene, where the tissue is handed from one kid to other – he says to the right hand boy that when you wipe away the tears you can smile and OH SO MUCH HOMOEROTICISM. They stole Lucinda’s idea about tissues for the gays. Raef says something incomprehensible about wanting something like Woody Allen, or DiCaprio, and they think they’ve got that with the bench scene.

In the edit suite, Raef asks about a close-up of the product. Michael says that it looks bad. We see Sian telling the boy he’s forgotten something. Raef says ‘The close up is tackiness par excellence’ (which Michael ends with personified. I don’t think tissues personify tackiness, but then I believe giving 110% is mathematically impossible, so clearly I’m not smart enough for this show).

Alpha are looking at their pack shot. It’s surrounded by greenery and pink flowers. Lucinda is distraught that there are some dead flowers there. Bless. [In fairness to Lucinda, that's exactly the sort of thing I'd expect Sralan to pick up on. - Steve] Alex says that Lucinda wants to be in control and if sitting in the middle in the edit suite makes her feel good, it’s fine by him.

The voiceover tells us that the ads are to be thirty seconds long and that Michael and Raef are viewing their directors' cut. Heh. ‘When you say nothing at all’ is playing and Raef clicks his fingers and pulls a ‘hey’ face when the chorus kicks in. The commentator tells us their epic movie is twice as long as should be. Michael asks if they need the first scene with Sian Lloyd. Raef says, of course, where is he going to get the tissue from? (OF COURSE) Michael, for the one and only time in his life says something sensible: ‘but does it mater, can’t he just produce the tissue?’. Raef says ‘but she’s a celebrity’. Michael would rather keep the homoerotic scene. VT of Raef saying he and Michael have a symbiotic relationship but he’ll still put his foot down if Michael doesn’t agree with him.

Claire and Helene reappear from nowhere, where they have been hiding all episode. Helene looks good in jeans and a vest. She should give up on the power suits. She’s scrubbed up much better in the dress last week and the casuals this week. Helene’s portrayal is the most inconsistent of all the candidates this series. She’s either bolshy and bitchy or competent and COMPLETELY SILENT. It’s weird. Claire says they can’t see the product in the ad at all. Raef says the close-up looked tacky. Which it did, because you didn’t take any time to film it properly, Mr Cinematographer. Claire tells the camera that the branding is bad and she says she can see Sralan saying ‘I can’t see any bladdy tissues in the ad’. She says it’s embarrassing, she wouldn’t show it to her family, let alone the biggest ad agency in the UK and would leave it out of the pitch.

Raef says that if one thing will fail it it’s if people don’t believe in the product itself. What, if they don't believe in tissues?

We are shown that the audience for the pitch includes several people from the ad agencies (who no doubt all begged to be there for the lulz) and Sralan.

Claire is going to pitch for Renaissance, she tells us that she and Helene created the brand whilst the boys were busy playing director. She blahs in the presentation about this being a unique thing for the tissue market – to fill a gap in the market for something fun, as opposed to other tissues that are like politicians. Que?

Cut to Lee blahing in Alpha’s rehearsal about when people think of tissues they thought Kleenex... now they think Atishu. They all start arguing. Margaret says the last thing you need 20 minutes before a pitch is two other people telling you what to do.

Back with Renaissance, and Helene says their ad is the first in a series. That appears to be her only line this week, folks. Still, I have her in a sweepstake, and not speaking usually = not getting fired, so that’s fine by me.

We see the advert. Michael voiceovers that in any kind of relationship we all need a little bit of comfort. Sian Lloyd is only shown giving the tissue to the boy, no face or voice. Here comes the homoerotic scene – oh no, it’s a girl!!!!!! Ooops! A tissue box is shown underneath the image at the end. Helene says (oh, a second line) their ad shows the relationship between boy and mum, boy and girl, tissue and consumer. It’s bollocks, but confidently presented bollocks.

Lee pitches for Alpha. He says he’s here to introduce a new product, the name is derived from us all needing tissue and it also says what it is. It’s aimed at the female genre, and I think he means demographic. He says the ad depicts family life, happy family life and the reason why is that Annie has a cold and their tissue has allowed the family to come together and spend quality time with each other. He doesn’t sound like normal RUARGH confident Lee Mcqueen at all. He doesn’t seem to know WHAT HE’S FACKING TALKIN’ ABAHT.

They play the terrible family ad. There is a deafening silence.

Alpha come off and feedback to the camera. Lucinda says the audience were fidgety and bored. Alex says yeah, but it was the first time with a real audience (and it’s a pitch, not a play, you don’t have EIGHT SHOWS A WEEK to get it right, like the Nancies do), they thought there’d be three people, then they found twenty, and Sralan, and Nick, and Margaret.

Nigel from EastEnders and two other people sit with Sralan deconstructing the adverts. The comments generally go along the lines of ‘awful’, ‘crap’, ‘made of fail’. Or words to that effect. One man says something positive, which perplexes me.

Claire and Lucinda give pre-boardroom comments. Claire says the task has shown that behind every successful man is a woman and that she and Helene were managing the boys. From another room, apparently. Lucinda says she is ready and prepared to fight her corner, (NuFierceLucinda rocks) and she does think they may be going in.

In the boardroom of blue, Sralan asks Raef how he broke the team up. Raef says he thought the best two people for packaging were Claire and Helene. Sralan asks who was responsible for cinematography. Raef says he and Michael have had experience on the stage and Michael has directed. Sralan says ‘have you?’ Michael says he had his own theatre production company at uni. I predict this was a one-man operation. Still, it’s not quite as audacious a claim as Tre’s five international business offices or whatever it was last year. Sralan jokes to Alpha that they are in trouble as we have Spielberg and Fellini in the room.

They show the ad again and the girl is smirking, not crying (so much for acting ability) and Sian Lloyd is really not in it much at all.

We move to Alpha. Sralan says Lee’s presentation was fumbly and poor and he lost him out of boredrom. That’s not what I’m fucking talking about, indeed. Nick continues his love for the lady candidates this year by saying Claire didn’t have one note. Sralan says, quite proudly, she did it straight out of her head, a bit jabbery, but that’s Claire. Sralan loves Claire long-time.

Sralan asks Alex about his team. Alex says Lee was fine, it was his first time with Lucinda and she was abrasive. Lucinda says she wanted to do the creative part as she used tissues. Lee tries to drop her in it as he did in the car by making out she didn’t ask, and he really is being a bit of a bastard again today. Lucinda reiterates that she did. Sralan says their garish box might stand out, and he likes the name.

He shows the video and Renaissance wet themselves at the crappy family ad with the ‘You are the Sunshine of My Life’ soundtrack, as well they might, had they not produced an equally terrible advert, with Ronan fucking Keating on. Sralan asks their opinion.

Raef uhms and says the telly ad lacks any subtlety. I understand you need to make it clear what selling, but… Sralan interjects: do you? And Raef completely fails to read Sralan, who is sending out clear THIS IS THE ADVERTISING TASK. THE TEAM WITH CLEAR BRANDING ALWAYS WINS messages. Rafe burbles about artistic quality. Michael has read Sralan and says yeah, ours was better quality but theirs showed the product more. Indeed.

Sralan jumps in with you can’t tell what your bladdy product is (an almost exact copy of what Claire predicted) and YOU LOST not just for me, but for the people wanting to sell tissues. Your ad was better quality but you couldn’t tell what the product was. Which I believe is the exact same boardroom scenario we have had for this task four years running. Sigh. He points out that the other team with their crappy ad and crappy box kept saying tissues, antibacterial, kept throwing it in people’s faces.

Their prize is shopping at Harvey Nicks, which beats archery any day.

Sralan is working quite a nice white tie with blue circles and spots on today. I feel I should compliment his vast image improvement this series. [That eye bag plastic surgery gubbins didn't make much difference though did it? - Fiona]

Michael says he feels terrible, he’s never felt this bad in life before, he put his heart and soul in etc. In the café of crap, Helene says she feels she did an impeccable job, which she may have done, but we didn’t get to see it. Raef says the boardroom can be a place of fireworks but they will present a unified front. No-one echoes this sentiment, least of all Michael. Raef says he and Michael were in the editing suite, period. He says the other team’s ad was vulgar, and if that’s what ads about these days, god help us. Oh, Raef, you’re so not cut out to work for Sralan. [And have obviously never seen a real advert - Fiona]

Havey Nicks porn, all lights and snazzy oufits. Lee tries on a boring suit, Alex looks funky in a hat, scarf, jeans and jumper combo, Lucinda wears a sparkly ‘Cant Get You Ouf Of My Head’ type dress. They all say it is the best treat EVARZ.

Salan tells Raef, ‘I didn’t send you out to remake Ben Hur’. Raef says yes, but he wanted it to be artistic, quality direction. Sralan points out that artists’ bread comes from clients like him who want to show the product. Raef says there was a close up and he will take responsibiltity but YOU (MS) said it was vulgar. Michael says we both were, we both removed it. Sralan asks where does I love my tissues come from? Do you love your towel, your bar of soap? Claire owns up (unlike a certain toady someone beginning with M) and says it was her idea, it was late in the day when they came up with the brand.

Sralan asks why Sian Lloyd was there: why cast and pay for a celeb if you don’t use them? He says he can understand if it’s about the weather or being upset cos her boyfriend blew her out for a cheeky girl, but she’s not even a mother, what’s the point? Raef says they wanted a celebrity, we live in a culture of celebrity. Sralan says but I didn’t notice her, I blinked and I missed her.

To no-one’s surprise, Raef will bring back Claire and Michael. With regards to Claire, he says, she has worked in marketing and he and Michael haven’t.

Sralan, Nick and Margaret chat. Sralan says 'poor weatherwoman what’s she doing there'? Margaret says the box was awful, the ad was awful, the name was awful. Sralan says they have two despondent gentleman (Raef is a gentleman, Michael notsomuch) and Claire will come in with 50 rounds of bullshit and deafen us all. They’ll have to see which one really wants to stay in.
He calls them in and says Raef has experience in acting, so needs to give a rendition of why he should not be fired. Raef says there are times I fall flat on my face and I will learn and get up again. I’ve only been in this threesome once (unwanted mental image. Very, very unwanted) and that was in week one and I will pull my socks up.

And here, kids, is where it gets just bizarre. Michael says ‘everything you liked in this advert, everything good about it was DOWN TO ME’. Of course. And I invented the wheel and sliced bread yesterday Sralan, pick me Sralan, I could play Oliver Sralan. Raef is, rightly, all ‘what the fuck?’ Michael continues: ‘the emotional pull, the only decency in this task came from ME’. The scary thing is that I think he actually believes it.

Raef says that’s gibberish and they both did it together in the edit and if he’s taking credit for it, he has to stop being the person who tries to escape sinking ship. Word, Raef. I hate Sophocles so much. I know in a few weeks it’ll all be over and I’ll be hating on Big Brother contestants or something, but right now, so… much… rage. [But then, Raef wanted Michael Sophocles to take full responsibility for the removal of the pack shot about two minutes ago, so he's not coming out of this with a particularly bright halo either. - Steve]

Claire says they both said they got lost being artistic, and they needed tissues in there. Sralan says Claire is always self-preserving in the boardroom why didn’t she act like that on the day? This is a pretty good echo of what he said to her the week he fired Simon, so let’s hope she pays attention.

Claire says the situation was emotional, they’d been in there all day and there was too much testosterone and spunk flying around. Except she only implied that last it. Sralan asks why she wasn’t forceful in there and putting up a fight. He says not wanting to salvage a win for the team shows selfishness. [What bollocks. She told them, if they didn't listen it's no one's fault but their own. I'm sick of Sralan blaming the women for not stopping the men from fucking up. - Steve] [You and me both Steve - Fiona]

He turns to Michael and says ‘you think you’re proud [of the ad], but I’m not looking for art directors’. He turns to Raef: ‘You put yourself across as Mr elegance, perfect. You have all the words, enthusiastic, ‘will do this for you’… but I’ve never said this before, I think you’re lucky that you’ve only been in this boardroom once. The one of you that is going is the one I think is full of hot air (which could be all three, surely)… Raef, you’re fired’. And as despondent as we all may feel by this, I think we knew it was coming. Michael Sophocles is a cockroach. [And a cunt. I was surprised by quite how angry I felt about his survival - Fiona]

He has nothing more to say to the others and sends them back to the house. Margaret says that was a close call, Sralan agrees. Nick says he’s sorry to see Raef go because he’s a decent bloke but behind all the elegance and all that flowery language, there ain’t much there.

Coat watch – black, formal, high collared, boring. Raef, you disappoint me so much.

The house look a bit shocked but also a bit resigned at who comes back, seeing as I can’t remember the last time the boardroom didn’t have Claire or Michael in it, they probably partly expected it. They asked what happened. Michael says nothing much happened except Raef’s gone and it was a difficult ordeal cos he was a good friend to me. Yeah, but not so good that you didn’t stitch him up. Raef in cab says he is sad because of Michael and him and their friendship. And this is all played out like an epic love story, except they haven’t been on teams together for ages, so it seems a bit out of the blue.

Anyway, join us next week when the teams have to rent sports cars to special clientele, and Lee and Lucinda wear matching clothes. Yay!

Thursday, 15 May 2008

Birmingham prefers knickers to cake

Week Eight - Originally aired 14 May 2008

Sralan. London. Tycoons [of tomorrow - Rad]. Blah. 15 minutes later the show starts. Previously on the Apprentice, the teams went to Marrakesh, the better to prove to Sralan their mad haggling skillz. Lucinda looked fabulous. Sara proved able to bargain. Claire wished she were Alex’s girlfriend. Alex pouted. Again. Some more. Lee acted a bit of a twat, but less than he has done. Raef was a gentleman with some strange ideas about dressing up in ethnic garb. Helene was invisible. Michael claimed to be a good Jewish boy but didn’t know what ‘kosher’ meant so Sralan threatened to strip him off in the boardroom and find out just how Jewish he really was. Jenny Celery was vile, cheated, lied, and was fired. Jennifer was fired…for being a girl, maybe? It’s hard to tell. No valid reason, anyway. Nick and Margaret pwned all and sundry, including Scottish seats of learning. The mystery of NotFrances continued apace.

Early morning call. 6 am. Raef answers in his smoking jacket. Danse Macabre plays. (Not)Frances tells them that they’ve got to go to a church, bringing an overnight bag. Claire feels that she is gaining momentum. Helene would fire these people but has to work with them and doesn’t like it. Shut up. They arrive at the church, and it’s the one used in Four Weddings and a Funeral. In a far less tenuous way than normal for this show, the task involves weddings. They’ve each got two stands at the National Wedding Show in Birmingham. The team that sells the most will win.

Sralan rearranges them teams. Alpha is now Raef, Lee, Lucinda and Claire, while Renaissance is Helene, Michael, Sara and Alex. That hardly seems fair, in terms of putting all the likeable and/or competent people together [Alpha is always team likeable though, so it's not that unfair - Rad]. At the wedding show, they will sell dresses and ‘romantic accessories’. Dildoes?

In the car, Claire goes on about being a girly girl who loves dresses. Raef doesn’t fancy marriage. I love Raef the Toxic Bachelor.

Helene tells Renaissance that she used to model in bridal shows, looks around desperately for validation that she still could, receives none, and becomes PM.

Lucinda is PM for Alpha. We don’t see the discussion but presumably it’s because she is always stunningly well turned out. Claire suggests that one pair go to all the dress stores and one to all the accessories stores, so that they can make informed decisions, having seen all the options. I’m loving Claire again. [Me too - Fiona] [Me three! - Steve] She’s generally right, and ever since Sralan said, ‘stop being a bitch’, she has done.

Michael says split up the teams into north and south London for convenience. Helene agrees.

Michael says that they need to be professional and passionate. Sara agrees. Michael and Sara go to see designer Ian Stewart. His dresses sell for £2,5000. Michael says he likes that it’s not the same line of dresses and goes on for a bit about how he loves the dresses. Then says to camera that he feigned interest very well and that’s what he does for a living. For, like, a minute, he's just like 'yeah man, I can be interested in any old shit'. Sara and Michael slag off the dresses in the car and say they’re hideous. They’re in Brixton.

Helene sees another store. It sells coloured dresses (as opposed to traditional white or ivory) for less than £900. One is called soft scoop? Helene says it’s an acquired taste. The lady says celebrities like coloured dresses and raises the spectre of Jordan’s toilet-roll cover pink monstrosity as if it were a good thing. [Jodie Marsh wears them too, also said as if its a good thing - Fiona] Helene says the price offsets the objections about the dresses being kind of repulsive.

Claire and Raef visit the Ian Stewart dresses. Claire was chuffed to see the dresses and thinks Lucinda knows she’s a girly girl, which is why she let her see the pretty dresses. She asks where they are sold, he says worldwide. On the phone, Claire tells Lucinda that she was in wedding dress heaven. [I do wish Alex and Claire had been on the same team, so we could have seen the Morocco sequel - Rad] Mr Stewart won some wedding designer prize for four years running.

Lucinda and Lee are at a cake shop. Eating cake. To ‘test’ it. They cost £600. ‘Is that expensive?’ For a cake, yes. For a wedding cake, not really.

Raef and Claire are at a Bigger Brides store. Claire holds one up and says ‘Oh Raef, maybe I should get a boyfriend’. Love Claire. In the car, Claire and Raef discuss the fact that maybe selling Bigger Bride dresses and also cake might be a bad combination. Raef says, let’s face it, they’re fat because they love cake, but then he laughs so I think he’s being silly and not a cock.

Sara and Michael are at a cake shop. Sara’s been on a cake course. Sara loves cake.

Alex and Helene are looking at personalised wedding lingerie. Like, cheap red nylon pants with your name written on it in rhinestones. Apparently that’s nice. Alex is a bit horny and carried away with the panties. Helene loves it. She uses ‘yourself’ wrongly, telling the pants lady that she love it and ‘if the team chooses yourself too’ they’d love to work with her. No no no no no. The team can’t choose ‘yourself’. Yourself is reflexive and the only person that can do things to yourself is you. Gah! Fire her right now, just for that.

Michael’s cake seller is £545 for a 5-tier. Which isn’t that expensive, really. In the car, Michael says that they should have seen all the dresses to decide. Which, yes, that’s true and it was a good decision when Claire made it across the team barricade. But given that you suggested a geographical split, it’s a bit late to start kvetching (you see what I did there, Michael? Kvetch is a Yiddish word. You should know that, as a good Jewish boy.) about it.

Helene says that no-one will buy the cakes at a wedding fair. And, damn straight they won’t. You’ll have come from miles to the wedding fair, but you’ll want your cake to be local, apart from anything else.

Lucinda also likes the slutty wedding underwear. It’s cheap, so it will sell, is the apparent logic, rather than it is being nice, which it isn’t. Lucinda is resplendent in scarlet and black.

Raef and Claire dash to a BHS. They sell mix and match separates for bridal wear. Some of the stuff is actually really nice, in a simple, non-meringue sort of way. And they only cost £95. Claire likes it the most. Raef likes Ian Stewart the most. And no matter how pretty they are, you’re going to have to sell about 30 dresses for every one Ian Stewart dress to make up the price difference, so they’re not a good choice. [Besides a woman spending £95 on her wedding dress won't be arsed to travel all the way to Birmingham NEC - even if she lives in Birmingham - Fiona]

Helene and Michael are on the phone. Helene asks about the Ian Stewart dresses. Michael says they’re like from Beauty and the Beast and Les Miserables. Although he pronounces it LEZ Mizrahb. Helene says that she doesn’t want Ian Stewart because if you’re spending that much on a designer dress, you want the designer there. Which is a fairly good point. Only fairly, though.

Lucinda and Claire discuss over the phone what to do. Raef likes Ian Stewart. Claire likes the BHS ones. They discuss and decide on Ian Stewart. It’s all very civilised. Raef argues his point, Claire presents hers, then comes round to his point of view.

Both teams want the pants as their second range. Helene tells the pants lady that they’ve secured White Rose Collection. Which made me lol, because one of my journals at work is for stoma care, and the White Rose Collection I know is one that makes clothes for women that they can discreetly hide their colostomy bags in. Maybe the pretty colourful dresses do have colostomy pouches in. It would explain some of the ruching.

Lucinda tells the pants lady that they’ve got Ian Stewart and explains who he is. The pants lady is thrilled, because she has heard of Ian Stewart and would love for her cheap viscose and glitter crap to be associated with the other end of the market. The pants lady wants Ian Stewart dresses and therefore she apologises to Helene. She takes it in her stride but is clearly disappointed. Lee arroogas some more. I like you Lee, when you’re not being a cock, but stop with the ‘Come on! Arooga!’ nonsense. [Unless its during sex - Fiona] [I will never be able to look your husband in the eye again - Rad]

Helene’s team end up selling cakes. Michael says they’re expensive so if they sell a few they’ll make a lot of money. Yes, but see above re: Helene’s objection to selling cakes at a fair. And it does seem a bit unfair if there was only one non-cake option in the ‘accessories’ bit of the list, because…what if you don’t want to sell cakes? What about a florist? Or a shoe designer? Or hats for the mothers? [I thought this too, I can only guess they thought whoever went for designer dresses would also go for cake? -Fiona]

Lucinda was ecstatic when she saw the dresses. Claire tries one and cackles and says ‘it’s massive’. [Massive maybe but notice she couldn't do it up - Fiona] Lee asks if people will pay £2k for a wedding dress at a show, with the implication that only poor chavs would go to a wedding show.

Over with Renaissance, some of the dresses are short and slutty and gross. They didn’t get the dresses they saw at the store, so they’re a bit miffed.

The day of the fair. They’re selling until 6 o’clock in the evening. There’s a cake stand right next to Renaissance’s stand. They’re like, ‘oh balls’.

More than 70,000 visitors expected. I think I might have put an extra zero there when I was taking my notes. ‘Perhaps perhaps perhaps’ plays. Helene says to camera about how it’s all about the soft sell, the magical day, making the bride feel like you care about what she wants and that sort of thing.

On Lucinda’s stand, the big name brings the people in. There’s even a queue. Lucinda says ‘it doesn’t even need fitting!’ to one woman trying on a dress. The lady looks a bit ‘hmmm’ when she hears the price. As well she might.

Across the way, Alex is trying to sell a dress to a girl, telling her it’s a good colour for her skin tone, and it’s short, which is nice. The girl buys it. Fair enough. If Alex told me something made me look pretty, I’d buy it.

Filler shots of crowds and a wedding catwalk show and that sort of crap. [Wedding porn? That sounds so wrong - Fiona] [Maybe, but I'm sure I've seen something like that. Not that I look at porn, of course. Ooh, look over there! *runs away* - Steve]

Lee is selling the pants and stuff. ‘It’s proving an easy sell’ says Voiceover Man. Lee says it’s doing well but they need to back it up with wedding dress sales. Claire tries to talk a girl into buying a dress. Raef says to camera high risk = high gains, but on his head be it if it doesn’t pan out and they lose. [Is it just me or is his hair very helment this week? - Fiona] A girl loves an Ian Stewart dress but doesn’t buy it. She wants to go away and think, which is fair enough, given that it’s £2,000 on a dress.

Nick says to camera, ‘we’re not in Knightsbridge, we’re in Birmingham!’, thereby making explicit the previously only implied ‘only chav scum will go to a wedding fair’ idea, with an added blow at the whole of Birmingham, for fun. [I was in Birmingham at the weekend. It's nice! Shut up, Nick. - Steve]

Alex keeps telling girls about their skin tone. It’s, like, his one selling point. ‘It looks really good with your skin tone.’ Sara and Michael try to sell the really expensive cakes. Sara tells some girl that they’ll liase on the cakes for months and discuss ‘the floral arrangements’. Which, outright lie, surely? Unless she just means the cake will match the flowers. Michael babbles on at some hapless women. Alex says to camera that Michael pushes too hard because he’s used to telesales and there it’s important to keep people on the phone by being talkative and energetic, but it doesn’t translate into face to face sales, because it comes across as aggressive. Possibly the most observant and intelligent thing Alex will ever say.

Some girls want to phone the groom to discuss the cake purchase. Sara is like ‘GIVE DEPOSIT NOW! PHONE LATER!’ and actively discourages some girls because she’s so pushy and they’re like, ‘um, no thank you, creepy intense cake lady'.

Lee has sold over £300 worth of pants. Lee guesses the size lower than the ladies buying actually are, to flatter them, which is a good idea, but he’s super-obvious about it, guessing a size 12 lady as an 8. But then, I can work out girls’ bra sizes just by looking, so… (I haven’t done it for a while. Don’t test me.) Lee says he’s buzzing and passionate. ‘Let’s sell more knickers!’ [Lee is loving the pant selling so much I can't help but giggle - Fiona]

Helene sells another dress. She says to camera that the price is the big selling point, in that they’re not a bisquillion dollars. Michael tells some girls they’re only giving the cakes to a few brides. If by few you mean none, then sure. [I don't get this either but then he is talking utter shit - Fiona] Michael says they don’t want to decide on cake without husbands. Obviously. As though this is some astonishing revelation, rather than something Helene alluded to about a month ago.

Michael says he’ll kiss a girl if she buys a cake and is generally slightly creepy and over-eager and fails entirely. [God, he is a dick - Fiona] Lee wants more footfall. We see another girl try on an Ian Stewart dress, but still no sales. Raef says to camera that at 4 pm he was questioning his judgement because they’d sold no dresses.

Lucinda puts Lee on dress selling, to use his mad skillz. In a rather bizarre little interlude, Raef puts on the pants company promotional teddy bear outfit. In order to sell designer dresses that cost a few grand. Because nothing says haute couture like a cross promotional giant teddy bear from a company that Bedazzles your name on the gusset of your panties. Lee says to a lady that it’s a beautiful dress, but then says ‘I’ll let you have a talk, I’ll step away, it’s a bit much pressure.’ Lee is good at sales. He understands that screaming ‘IT’S LOVELY BUY IT BUY IT NOW!!’ isn’t always the best tactic.

Raef wanders about in the teddy outfit and basically freaks people out. Lee says if they don’t sell a dress, they’ll lose the task.

Michael is still trying to sell cakes, and tells a girl that he doesn’t want her to regret not doing it. The bride phones her groom to get his opinion on one of those tower-of-cupcakes cakes. Michael has somehow convinced her that this is a revolutionary cake concept, and not totally Los Angeles circa 2002. Her groom wants a traditional cake. Michael then basically abuses this girl to her face, and tells her that it’s her bloody wedding, a traditional cake is dull, and if she doesn’t buy the cupcakes cake she’s a fucking pussy whose husband will probably beat her because she’s so incapable of asserting herself. When this fails to result in a sale, he pouts and nearly cries, and to camera calls people dumb-dumbs because they’re not buying his revolutionary cakes.

Earlier customers come back to the Ian Stewart stall. Lucinda tells one girl she’s stunning. Lucinda is wearing a wedding dress in purple – kind of a dusky night sky purple. She looks stunning. A girl buys a dress! Claire says to camera ‘it’s not like going to the supermarket to buy a chicken’ and that people have come for the whole day, so it’s not surprising they’ve taken their time over such a big decision. [This was what I'd been expecting to happen for about half an hour. A £2,500 wedding dress is not an impulse purchase. If Alpha were going to make any sales, they weren't going to do it until the end of the day - but they'd had Claire laying some excellent groundwork, so I was confident they would. - Steve]

Sara tells more women they don’t need their groom’s permission for the wedding cake and says that they’ve tried the cakes and know they taste good.. ‘They’re not disgusting, are they?’, she asks. She says again and again that what really matters is the taste. And, for a wedding cake, not so much. Taste matters, but appearance matters as much, if not more. It has to fit in with the bride, the bridesmaids, the floral arrangements and so on. And yes, some grooms won’t give two shits about all that stuff, but lots will. She doesn’t think she was too pushy. But she totally was. She says that she has to push or people will leave, which is fair enough – they say they’ll come back and don’t, and she wants to secure the sale. But she’s still wrong, Because if you say, ‘I know it’s a big decision, go away and have a think, and come back later’ people will do so, rather than saying ‘I’ll come back!’ as a way to extricate themselves from the scary woman shouting about cake.

Claire sells another dress, with a bolero jacket, noting that they’ll remove the flower from the jacket so it can be worn in the hair. There was something very efficient and pleasant about the way she did it that I really liked. [Totally. I think I said this elsewhere, but she was acting like she was there because she loved wedding dresses - which, in fairness, she probably does - rather than because she was there to make money. I'd have bought a dress from her, and I am neither betrothed nor a girl. - Steve]

Margaret and Nick take the money from the teams. London porn.

Claire says she might as well throw herself under a bus if she doesn’t win. NotFrances sends them through. Sralan comes in and asks how the PMs were. Alpha sing Lucinda’s praises. Sralan says they hated her a few weeks ago. Nice, Sralan. Lucinda explains the split of the teams – two to the dresses, two to the accoutrements. Sralan asks how the decision went and they tell him about the Ian Stewart dresses. Sralan’s, like, big risk! Raef says the whole big risk big reward thing. Sralan asks if he’s taking the blame and in a mealy mouthed way Raef eventually says, ‘if needs be' [I did think it was about time someone claimed responsibility and was all 'go Raef', until he then mumbled something about team efforts - Rad] ’. Lee confirms he was selling sparkling pants and is now a foremost expert ‘on how to sell a thong’. [You're Fired pointed out that Margaret's look at this point was priceless, the saucy minx. Someone, somewhere is writing Margaret/Lee McQueen fanfic. Not me, though, I'm still all about Lee/Lucinda - Rad]

Alex said that ‘myself and Helene’ (and Alex, see above my rant about reflexive pronouns. You’re using it differently wrongly, but you are still WRONG) saw two dresses and Michael and Sara saw the other two. Michael says it was a bad decision because they couldn’t decide on which dresses as they weren’t fully informed. And yes, but splitting the teams the other way was your idea, maggot, and you only said it was a bad idea in the back of the car halfway through the day, rather than mentioning it to, erm, your PM. Ass-hat. He wanted the fancy dresses of Ian Stewart. Helene loved the dresses they ended up with.

Nick says they made £5752.99, 600-odd on knickers, the rest on three dresses. Renaissance sold five dresses but no cakes and made about £1,900. zomg wtf pwned. Nick talks about Claire’s sterling sales work, which is nice. And she really has stopped being a bitch. Sralan’s got them a spa visit. Team Competent for the win! [I get the impression they all got on well and actually enjoyed the task which is a nice change - Fiona]

At the spa, Lucinda says they’ve done very well and thanks everyone. You see? You thank your winning team for their work! Well done, Lucinda. They cheers over some tea. Claire doesn’t like it. ‘Maybe I’m too northern,’ she says. They’re go into a ‘fire’ room and do some primal scream therapy shouting. Unsurprisingly, Lee is down with the shouting. Claire cracks up, then Lee. Scott turns to me and says, ‘more firing, less relaxing’.

In the horrible abandoned café of death. Michael says low-risk doesn’t pay off. Alex said no cakes were sold. Sara says they were all great except Helene. Helene’s like, they’re cunts when you lose, they turn on you all of a sudden. Michael’s like, Helene’s shit.

DLR glamour shot. NotFrances sends them in. Sralan asks why Michael didn’t push for the posh dresses. He says he did. Helene says he didn’t. Margaret quotes from her pad, ‘quite niche, quite expensive, not to everyone’s taste’. Ha! Sralan tells Helene off for the team split and she totally doesn’t say that it was Michael’s idea. Helene says he didn’t argue for the Ian Stewart dresses strongly enough.

Sralan turns on Alex, who is a six-time veteran on losing teams. Helene says he did really well. Sralan is like, yes, or maybe he mesmerises people because he always loses but no-one ever says he’s bad. [Alex is totally the Jennifer M of this series (not to be confused with the actual Jennifer M of this series, of course) - always getting away with doing fuck-all just because he's got a pretty face. - Steve] Alex says he made three quarters of what little money they did make and Sara should go cos she sold too little. Sara says, ‘but you said you’d do the selling of the dresses and I brought people over, so fuck off.’

Sralan says that the wrong dresses were double-fail because it meant the team didn’t get the pants, which were a good seller. (And made them sell cakes? I demand to know if there other, non-cake, options.) Sralan says ‘oh, you wanted cakes, Sara and Michael, didn’t you?’ They say yes and admit it was a mistake but claim that they sold hard. Margaret swoops. Too hard, she says, and gives feedback from customers, using the words ‘relentless’ and ‘bludgeoned’ and ‘scared to buy a cake’.

Sralan says Sara transmits but doesn’t receive. She talks talks talks. You have to be interested in people and converse with them, ‘not bang bang buy my cake buy my cake’. Sara cops to desperation in the last half hour and being too pushy to get a sale at that point. Michael says they were just trying to make a sale.

Sralan says, basically, you two suck and golden boy over there has an appreciation society [Although he did also point out that Alex always loses - Rad]. Helene says Alex doesn’t deserve to be fired. So Ssralan knows she’s not bringing Alex, and he grudgingly admits that maybe Alex is good (or at least, least worst – srsly, on what grounds could she possibly bring the man who did not make the decisions about cakes or dresses and made three quarters of the revenue) [three-fifths, surely? They sold five dresses, and Helene sold two. It's nothing to boast about, either way. - Steve] and not just doing pouty hypnosis, although pouty hypnosis does seem to be Sralan’s preferred explanation. Helene is bringing back Sara and Michael, just for clarity.

Sralan says two of them could go. Margaret says all three. NotFrances sends them back in.

Sralan tells Helene she chose the wrong dresses. She claims that nobody strongly advocated the Ian Stewart dresses. Michael says he doesn’t want to get upset but he’s getting upset and they lost because of poor product selection. Sara jumps in. Sralan tells her to shut up, pwning her from side to side about she’s supposed to be a barrister but a judge wouldn’t let you jump in so wait your damn turn, missy. Michael says he’s a scapegoat. Sralan’s, like, ‘what? You chose the shitty cakes and saw the dresses that won for the other team. It’s not scapegoating when it’s actually your fault.’

Sralan tells him off for the hard sell. Michael says he didn’t give it the hard sell. He totally did. And if he didn’t, I don’t want to see his hard sell. Presumably it’s conducted at gunpoint. [Or with GHB. - Steve] Sara says they started off being nice, talking about. colours and flavours and this and that. She babbles. Sralan wants to smoosh her face on the cake and tells sara to shut up. Again. Some more.

Michael blames Helene. Helene blames Sara. She speaks at people, and doesn’t read body language. Sara says what did Helene do, nothing that’s what! Helene sold two dresses. Sara goes on about teamwork and Helene says ‘it wasn’t a team’.

Sralan summarises: Helene chose shit stuff and was shit. Sara has been shit for weeks and alienated customers. Michael is full of apologies and ‘putting your hands up’ but can’t actually stop being shit. Sralan has heard enough nonsense. He says he has a dilemma as to who’s going and then immediately says, ‘One thing I’m sure of, Sara, you’re fired.’ Not much dilemma there. She slopes off.

He tells Michael that he’s at the end of the rope. Yes sralan, I was wrong, no sralan, Blah. Michael is such a limp dick. Sralan is this close to firing his sorry ass. Michael begs to be project manager again, on the verge of tears. Let me prove myself, blah blah.. Fuck off, that trick is played out. I’d have fired him right there for even contemplating going back to that well. Don’t say that shit, and don’t fucking beg. Have some damn dignity. This isn’t the X Factor. [Not to mention the fact that he pulled that same shit last week and then didn't actually take the post this time around. Tit. - Steve] But Sralan is congenitally incapable of firing Michael sends them both back.

Once they’re gone, Sralan says ‘talk about cat with nine lives’. Nick looks at him with absolute disgust. Seriously, the WTFness of Nick’s expression is incredible. Scott says ‘talk about a dick who can’t see what’s in front of him’.

Eviction Coat Watch. Black. Vaguely military cut. Uneventful.
In the taxi, Sara says she’s cant have people telling her what to do so she’s not good in a team. Yu-huh. You do realise that even if you won, you’d be working for Sralan and not replacing him as Boss of NotAmstrad And That Computer Recycling Thing?

Back at the house, once she and Michael return, Helene says it was save yourself time, as there are seven of them and one job, so six are going to go. Which true, but you didn’t argue your case very well. You could have destroyed Michael if you’d thought about it for a moment, but instead you were fortunate enough that Sara turned out to be babbling aggressive freak in the end. [That so disappointed me. I really thought Helene would give good boardroom - Rad]

Next week, they sell tissues and make tv ads. Oh noes! They split up Team Competent [That's fine - less chance of one of them being fired - Rad]. Lucinda says, ‘I didn’t fucking volunteer!’ I love Lucinda saying fuck.

Thursday, 8 May 2008

Rock the Casbah

(Sralan don’t like it - this is not kosher)

Week Seven - Originally aired 7 May 2008

This is going to be a good one so lets not waste time. 16 tycoons of tomorrow, job interview from hell, London Porn, bloody clue (as in you haven’t got a) yadda yadda.

Previously the teams had to create an occasion and greeting cards to accompany it. Sadly no one went for a ‘sorry your 11 year old's been shot by a hoodie’ day and accompanying card and instead Matt Lucus went for the environmental soap box and Sralan went for him.

So to this week and first and foremost what we really want to know is who is going to answer the phone and more to the point what are they (not) wearing....? 7am, the candidates are up, which makes a change. Raef is already fully dressed but wait, whose that? Willie Winkie in his night gown? No its the lovely Lucinda in a full length blue and white stripped number- is there any look this woman can’t work? [Let's not encourage her. - Steve] Alex is ironing a nasty purple shirt whilst wearing an even nastier yellow one and scores nil points. Ooo the phones ringing and flouncing towards it like a big girl comes Michael.

‘Sralan would like you to pack for a two day trip to Morocco’ comes the voice of Frances/Not Frances/Someone else. ‘Really?’ asks Michael. ‘Na just a wind up’ she says. OK, I’m lying, they are going to Morocco. Jenny The Chin screams and jumps around like a demented school girl while Raef, Lee McQueen and Michael debate the type of clothes to pack. Raef does have a linen suit which would be ideal but not with him, still light colours are the best, cooler. Cut to girls in a car all in black.

Marrakesh porn.

6am - Lee Mcqueen appears to sleep in a hotel bath robe - interesting. Alex is bleary, ruffled and asking for breakfast - Oh practising his French I see. Michael is demanding his lunch. In French. Tit.

The briefing. Margaret and Nick, both in white blazers as their only concession to the heat, are here but Sralan is in London [lazy sod - Rad] so conveys the task via a video. Marrakesh is the bargaining capital of the world so they have a list of items to buy and woo betide em if they pay top dollar for anything, he/she who pays least wins. Its time to mix it up a bit Jenny Maguire & Michael are sent over to Renaissance and Sara goes to Alpha. Lucinda is looking resplendent in purple dress and matching shoes co ordinate with a hot pink pashmina. I think I might love her quite a lot.

Lee and Jenny Maguire are named project managers and are handed maps and tourist info and detailed descriptions of the 10 items they must buy. Sara is already well aquatinted with mosque alarm clocks, a sparkly bed spread and kosher chicken. ‘Is that Jewish?’ Helene asks but no one answers. Jenny Chin suggests making some calls but Jenny Maguire wants to get stuck straight into the market ‘and get the marbles out of our mouths with the French and the negotiations,’ I sort of know what she means, but still, what the fuck?

Margaret sits watching coolly as always. Not even desert heat's going to make her break sweat. I love Margaret quite a lot too.

Over at Alpha, Lee first of all wants the inside track from people who have been to Marrakesh before. Wise man. Step up Raef and Sara. Raef suggests getting into ‘the local garb so they don’t stand out’ hmm that accents not a give away tho is it? Sara looks dumb struck, Lucinda points out that even dressed in a burka they’ll still spot her blue eyes and then wonder if they are taking the ‘pee’. (I even love the way she tried not to swear.) ‘Just a suggestions’ huffs Raef, his Lawrence of Arabia fantasies smashed.

Before Alpha leaves the hotel, Lee McQueen wants them to pinpoint places each item can be found. I love Lee, I thought I was turning gay a minute ago but maybe I’m bi.

Sara pointed out they need to find the Jewish area for the kosher chicken, as this is a Muslim country it won’t be widely available. Why do I feel this may be important later? [Sara is the most clued-up of them all, I think, going on the past few weeks. - Rad]

Lee decides to keep Lucinda and Sara with him to see if the feedback regarding their (lack of) involvement with tasks is justified. And they are off, well Nearly. Lee has a question, ‘are you ready to win Alpha?’ Chicken noises or is that a retro Lenny Henry impression? ‘Comeon man’ says Lee McQueen. Careful that vain in your neck don’t pop, that's what I’m talking about.

And so to the market, Claire spots snakes and recoils. She's not near them or anything but she wouldn’t even for a million pounds, if Sralan said Claire kiss that snake or touch it she wouldn’t. Now I am going to try really hard not to say anything further about snakes, money, Sralan, kissing and touching.

Oh, Margret's got shades on and Jenny Chin has a head scarf to replace her neck tie. Renaissance split up, Jenny M, Alex and Claire wonder off after a man with a chicken... Jenny Chin tells Michael they have no strategy and are like headless chickens. Which is good because it saves me the trouble.

Despite no preparation Jenny M, Alex and Claire stumble across their first item, a Santos orange juicer. Claire suggests they try some role-play with Alex and Claire as a couple. After all the woman always has the final say when buying items for the house and if Claire is difficult and walks away it will help Alex’s bargaining. Right. Claire is well up for trying that, Alex is less enthralled at pretending she's his girlfriend. And before I know what's happening she's asking why after 7 years together they haven’t got married [this whole thing was very funny, but also very terrifying- Rad].

So asking prices of the juicer is 1200 dirhams, they have 600 dirhams. Claire looks unimpressed and says she's going outside. What? That's it? Isn’t she going to wrap herself around Alex, look pleadingly into his eyes and tell him she’ll do anything but she must have that juicer - and then flounce out? I would. Claire reappears and offers 1100 dirhams? No one seems to know what's going on.

Meanwhile Lee McQueen is doing a great alarm clock impression and Raef and Helene are off to buy a cowhide complete with tail. Raef pronounces this as ‘grass roots negotiation, as dirty as it gets’. Lee is ‘guided by his research’ and off for the green mosque alarm clock. Yes, OK, we get that Alpha planned [Alpha have all the competent and/or likeable people in this week, and Renaissance have all the 'baddies' and useless ones, anyone else notice that? - Rad] and Renaissance didn't. Sara’s negotiating, why does she suddenly sound like a character from Goodness Gracious Me? [It's a shame one of the items on the list wasn't a small aubergine. - Steve] The shop keeper isn’t impressed with Sara or with Lee McQueen getting ‘busted’ by ‘his people’ and proceeds to play an imaginary violin. I don’t love the shop keeper cos he's not my type but he is pretty cool all the same. The team walk away, but I bet like all good shopping trips they’ll be back to buy the first thing they found.

Jenny M and co have meanwhile ‘stumbled’ across the textile quarter and the berber bedspread (cream with silver sequins). Jenny wants Claire to keep quiet, drop the double act and let Alex negotiate but she fails on both counts. I think Claire likes being Alex's girlfriend and is living the dream.

Ah cut in interview with Mr Michael Sopocles. He is arrogant apparently. That's nice.

Back to the cow hide with tail, I am loving the miming so far although as Jenny Chin already has a tail to match her horns and pitch fork she could just show the shop keeper that. Now Michael is channelling dodgy ‘comedy’ Asian accent, seriously what does he think this will achieve? They get the cowhide for a third of the asking price and high 5 each other for a double act well acted. Raef and Helene are at the tannery which stinks. But their dedication to the cause pays off when they procure (from a very ill sounding gentleman) their cowhide for 250, didn’t Laurel & Hardy just pay 834? Even Raef can’t believe it.

Woohoo - as predicted Lee is back having his balls busted by the original shop keeper for the green alarm clock. 2 items down and they are off to the Jewish quarter (pinpointed by their research) for their 1 and a half kilos of kosher chicken. This means chicken that was butchered under rules of the Jewish faith - got that? good.

Meanwhile in the Muslim quarter Jenny M can find plenty of chicken but no kosher ones, they need a holy man to bless the chicken apparently. Why the fuck do they want to take a chicken to a mosque? They do know what kosher means don’t they? ‘O look’ says Claire ‘its head's getting cut off’. I assume she's talking about a chicken but Alex isn’t in shot...... Oh there he is. No Claire, you are not being stupid, Kosher is indeed Jewish and you are in a Muslim country... oh so nearly there and yet not - Muslims do not have kosher chicken, they have halal. I am shouting at the tv. Sorry. Alexs lip twitches but he says nothing. Jenny M is ‘foxed’ so she hands the chicken hunt to Jenny Chin and Michael instead. That's passing the chuck, gedit.

They have located a chicken but please Mr Butcher don’t kill that chicken until Jenny Chin can get it blessed by someone for the Mosque. Cos that’ll make it kosher? NO IT WILL NOT. WHAT IS WRONG WITH THESE PEOPLE! ‘Religious’ says Michael trying to explain himself to the bemused butcher and then looks as if he is about to cross himself. For fucks sake there are quite important, one could say fundamental, differences between Judaism, Islam and Christianity. I really am shocked at how unaware these people seem to be.

A bystander starts talking about halal, ‘is it halal?’ asks Jenny Chin ‘Can you make it halal?’ I am saying nothing.

Well, other than now the butcher's is a mosque, or the butcher is going to pray or has already prayed for the chicken. I swear I am abstaining from alcohol and recreational drugs in order to provide a clear headed re cap but I am starting to wonder if a combination of the two might help me make more sense of this.

As is usual in these sort of tasks Sralan is going to fine them for any items that don’t meet his exact specification. Quite what he's going to make of the chicken is anyones guess but I suspect the Chin and Michael's self congratulation is premature. Jenny Maguire buying a white rather than green mosque alarm clock rather pales (crap pun sort of intended) into insignificance.

Next Claire spots the tagines but are they 3 red Akal branded tagines? Well if they are genuine they should cost about 800 dirhams, these cost 100. Margaret's very disappointed. Nuff said. [I like to think Margaret has the proper, correct Akal tagines in her kitchen - Rad.]

The teams continue to work through their lists. Lovely Lucinda hot foots it out of the car and runs shrieking to the sports shop looking for tennis rackets (2, medium strung) to find The Chin and Michael already there. The way Jenny says ‘Hi Lucinda’ as she walks in makes me fear for her safety, what's she up to?

Evil cow bag! She is trying to make the nice racket stringing man say he will string their rackets tomorrow, there's 10 dirham in it for him [which is about 70p, I believe - Steve]. He looks confused and possibly a little sick so they approach the manager instead. The Evil Chin now has a look of the snake from Jungle Book about her as she tries to convince the equally bemused manager to comply with their plan. The manager laughs, she doesn’t need their money.

The Evil Chin is on the phone to someone saying they have tried to delay the other team getting their rackets and ‘have been involved in espionage’ but frustratingly we don’t know who is is on the phone too. Damn.

2.45pm Claire realises they need a green clock, she remembers looking at the photo this morning ‘and thinking god that's green’. It really is amazing what goes on in their brains isn’t it? So they are back hunting for an item they already have, oh no balls to that, they’ll dump that on Evil Chin and Michael too. If they weren’t such evil, cheating feckless idiots, I’d feel sorry for them.

With an hour to go Lucinda measures and buys a large blue cactus, Raef and Helene buy the right tagines. They call Lee McQueen to tell him and he tells them he's just ‘nailed the fucking blue cactus’. O the mental image [ouch - Rad]. Raef apologises to the listening shop assistant for the bad language. He is such a gent, I can’t bring myself to love him too though.

Marrakesh is shutting up shop and going home while Jenny is still trying to find a green mosque alarm clock and Lee, Sara and Lucinda hunt for a Santos orange juicer. Lee and Sara swear a lot, meanwhile Lucinda is a woman on a mission running around finding second hand juicers. The word goes out tourists will pay good money for a Santos orange juice. Jenny meanwhile has found a shop with the alarm clocks. As the shop keeper opens each box checking the colour it reminds me of the hunt for the golden ticket in Charlie and the chocolate factory. Oh, and there is the elusive green one, there is much jumping and squealing. Oh and dancing to the call to prayer, nice work Jenny and Claire [it's not quite as offensive as Claire and Kevin's country yokel patronising the other week, but it's close - Rad].

Just before Alpha disappear into their cars, 2 juicers appear and they end up spending the equivalent of £75 on a scruffy second hand specimen, but at least they have one.

Lee McQueen shouts, gesticulates and ‘come ons’ a lot in the back of his car.

Back at the hotel the candidates stand in their teams while the lovely Nick & Margaret call Sralan and give him the facts and figures. Nice shots of Sralan talking to them whilst wondering through what I assume is his mansion. Nick says Lee did well and the ‘real revelation was Sara and also Lucinda, they did very well indeed’. Nice work there Nick. Love you. [N and M truly are the voice of the viewer. Now if only we could sneak them onto the panel for I'd Do Anything - Rad]

So Alpha got all items correctly with no penalties and spent £413.61. Renaissance spent £449.60 but 2 items are disallowed and they incurred penalties on 2 items bringing their total to £603.59. Hmm wonder what those 2 items were...

So Alpha's prize? A private air balloon ride. They all look excited till he adds it's at Leeds castle and well they might. An air balloon ride in Marrakesh would be exciting and exotic, not words I associate with Leeds [Leeds Castle isn't in Leeds, as far as I know. I think it's down south somewhere - Rad] [It's in Kent. I remember it being advertised a lot on local radio when I was little. - Steve].

Renaissance are in the boardroom tomorrow. Alpha are off for champagne cocktails and for the losers the ‘hotel cafe’. Hardly looks like a dive though does it? I mean this isn’t a caravan park, it looks like a pretty swish hotel. Michael and Evil Chin think that perhaps the cactus let them down because they didn’t count the prickles. Jenny Maguire tells them ‘if they know in their heart and soul they did the right thing today then they have nothing to be afraid of’. This isn’t confession or a fairy tale, there is nothing fair about the Apprentice.

Flying and hot air balloon porn. Aw Lucinda hanging on to the basket looking enchanted is so sweet. Raef brown noses Lee, he expected to win due to his managerial skills apparently and there is much clinking of champagne glasses.

On the way to the boardroom Michael is already concerned Evil Chin is going to put the blame on him. She's not back stabbed people before has she?

Renaissance greet Sralan with a chorus of ‘bonjours’ which goes down like a lead balloon. Not a good start.

First off the lack of research (not signposted at all by the voice over) and planning is pulled apart. So to the items they got wrong well the tagines weren’t the branded item and then there is the kosher chicken. That's kosher chicken blessed by a Muslim butcher. Sralan tells Jenny she's a ‘lady of the world’ (my Nan always used that term to infer a woman of lose virtue but moving on) ‘slightly older than the rest’ he continues. Evil Chin perks up, its my birthday today’ she says “i’m 36’. What's she expecting? Jelly and cake? [Green jelly, at that. - Steve]

36 she may be but she apparently has never heard the term kosher or knows it is a Jewish word. Sralan is flabbergasted and he’s not the only one. Sralan turns his attention to Michael, the first thing he apparently wrote on his CV was that he was a good Jewish boy. Michael doesn’t seem very willing to confirm it though but says grudgingly he's ‘a nice Jewish boy’. ‘If you’re unsure’ Sralan retorts ‘we can always pull your trousers down, we can check.’ LOVE IT! [Sralan is so fierce this series, bullshit firings aside. - Rad] Everyone giggles and Michael doesn’t look horrified but then he's probably used to having his trousers pulled down.

Back to the chicken, I don’t think Sralan is feigning disbelief about the origin of their ‘kosher’ chicken. ‘Are you havin a larf?’ ['Is 'e avin a larf? - Rad] he asks ‘I don’t know why you didn’t go the whole hog and find a Roman Catholic Priest to take the butcher to confession’ Michael is embarrassed. He doesn’t know the yiddish word Sralan just used but he does know schmuck. Hell, I know schmuck but then I also know what Kosher means. Anyway now he's half Jewish [which apparently is impossible. So he probably means he met a Jewish person once - Rad].

Sralan doesn’t give a shit, he’ll fire 3 of them, he’ll fire 5 of them it don’t bother him [Go on , Sralan, fire five of them! - Rad]. Alex interjects that he would be the first to put his hands up if he’d made a mistake. Sralan wants another expression for ‘put your hands up’, don’t start changing all the stock phrases now or how will we play the drinking game? Alex putting his hands up mainly involves blaming Claire for paying £60 too much for the bed spread.

Michael sees an opening to win back some brownie points. I was a good negotiator, I got some good deals he says and you can tell he believes it. Oh Michael, how your bubble is about to be burst. There was that piece of dead cow hide you got down from 2500 to 834 dirhams. The Evil Chin is not happy, she pipes up that she was there too, it was her negotiation. More to the point guys the other team got theirs for 250. Own goal there perhaps? O bless, his face, I almost feel sorry. Almost.

Hang on now the Evil Chin is trying to blame Michael for the ‘chicken article’. Michael told her it would be alright and with his Jewish roots - whoa there Nelly. 5 minutes ago you didn’t know what Kosher means but now you knew enough to think someone with a Jewish back ground would have more knowledge? Michael is right, it is a lie. Claire looks as confused as I feel.

Anyway, enough headless chickens. Margaret goes in for the kill and asks whose idea it was to try and persuade the sports shop not to string Alpha's tennis rackets *Fiona rubs hands with glee*. Evil Chin says that was her idea and then immediately switches to talking about ‘we’, we did, we thought, we asked. A cheap shot suggests Nick to which Evil Chin agrees. Sralan boots all of them out to ‘sit and reflect’, that's what they used to do to us at Sunday School (yeah I know) when we were naughty. Never worked then either.

Alex and Jenny M sit outside saying this is all news to them, SO WHO DID SHE RING AND TELL THEN? Claire is quiet....

The 5 are sent back in and Evil Chin is first up. Now she claims Michael told her to ask for Halal meet and give thanks to Allah. God I am bored of typing this, partly cos I can’t keep track of who she's trying to pin what on now, please save me Sralan...YES THANK YOU God/Allah/Sralan Jenny Evil Chin Celery is FIRED.

‘Who's next?’ asks Teddy Ruckspin

Eviction Coat Watch: black, long, instantly forgettable. Bah

Jenny is shocked, Michael was worse than her whinge whinge.

Back to the boardroom.

Maguire says she's owned up to her mistakes but she's prickly when Sralan says she can’t read I think its more a case that she didn’t read. She's doing Alex’s twisty lip trick - eek!

Michael says he owns his mistakes [Does he bollocks. - Rad] but he's not flash when he get things right. Alex is passionate and full of beans, he gave it 100% and he’d fire Claire for interrupting his negotiations. Is it just me or is that a shit reason? I’d fire Michael personally. Claire thinks Jen should be fired because there were too many mistakes, she bought the wrong items and had to re buy the alarm clock. Well that's a bit more of a solid reason (and Claire is my sweepie).

Jenny's straight back at you Claire, 'it's like working with a Tasmanian devil' says Jenny. It looks weak to round immediately on the person who has criticised you because whether you are right or not it looks like a knee jerk reaction. At least take a second and look like you are absorbing what they’ve said.

Michael steps up to the plate for Claire, she was a fantastic project manager and looked after him. Shocked.

‘Alex’ says Sralan, pause while Alex poos himself, ‘go back to the house’. [I would have loved it if he'd randomly fired Alex, just because - Rad]

The remaining 3 are sent out again. Come on already, just fire Michael for being a stupid tosser and I’ll be happy. Margaret deems him a waste of space and I agree with her (she scares me a bit too). Nick points out he is a Catholic, Margaret is a Protestant (nice to know Sralan does abide by equal ops) and they know what Kosher is. Michael did Classics at Edinbrough, he is a bright boy. Nick can’t understand it. But Margaret's not buying it, ‘Edinbrough’ she declares ‘is not what it used to be’. O they’ll not like that, might be a good idea to check the state of Hadrians wall...

The Boardroom part 576i769707

Jenny Maguire admits she lost control of the task but she still seems intent on blaming Claire but Sralan seems to be liking Claire and she's showing more signs of self awareness. This woman is shaping up to be this year's Badger [No, she isn't. This year's Saira, perhaps. - Rad] and he has softened towards her so I doubt this strategy is going to pay off. But come on it's got to be Michael for the chop.

Sensing that Claire's little speech has cemented her place for next week Jenny turns on Michael and the bribing fiasco. But it wasn’t him he just backed Jenny Chin up he says. Maguire points out you wouldn’t want a liar or a cheat in your company - she has a point. Michael ‘doesn’t want to go mental’ but he wants this more than anything and if Sralan is still apprehensive about him, he should let him be PM again. Can I say what a fucking lame card this one is? [Me, too. I HATE the 'make me PM' card. It was kind of cool when Alexa did it, but since then, no. I want Sralan to call them on that tactic next time - Rad] Of course you’ll try extra hard when you’re PM but you should try that hard every task ARGH!

Sralan can’t be have liars and cheats YAY... o hang on, he was young once, Michael reminds him of himself [At 22? Like fuck is MS 22 - Rad], confusing over enthusiasm yadda yadda WHAT? Fair play to Jenny Maguire ‘if you want liars and cheats in your company fire me now’. ‘You’re making a scapegoat, like a politician or something’ whines Michael. God he is a cunt, a whiny little liar and cheat whose got caught out. He wants his pants taken down and his bum smacking, and while you’re there check for evidence of a foreskin and we can settle that debate too.


Sralan makes it sound like Jenny Maguire is totally 2 faced which I don’t think is actually true. But he fires Jenny Maguire anyway. I don’t believe he's let Michael get away with it! Neither does Michael as he mops his fevered brow.

Eviction coat watch - black belted trench coat. She has a very waspy waist.

On their way back to the house, Claire says the boardroom is just people talking shit, she's been through it twice before and it's making her harder and more resilient. At work her name is the rottweiler. If I were her I’d stop equating myself with dogs, it makes it far too easy for people to draw easy and cruel comparisons.

Back at the house they all assume Michael playing the Jewish card has sealed his fate and are shocked when he walks in.

Next week
Its the National Wedding show, selling wedding dresses. Lucinda in a sexy red number with a tape measure around her neck *swoons and falls over* [Does your husband know about this? - Rad]