This Week in TV: The Apprentice, Chris Moyles’ Quiz Night, Holloway, Newswipe and Skins

Thanks for joining us for an action-packed Week in TV

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He’s no Elton John, he can play you like a bongo drum and he is Britain’s most entertaining Jew (FACT!) of course its Siralan Sugar and the new series of The Apprentice. If you read my preview blog you’ll know that there’s only fifteen contestants thanks to one of the boys dropping out, more on that later, but Sugar referred to him as matey boy a lot. Sugar seems to have calmed down a lot having a bit of a laugh and a joke with the contestants rather than seem completely cold and frosty. Also back where Siralan’s ‘eyes and ears’ Nick Hewer and Margaret Mountford, the undoubted real stars of the show they spend most of the time sucking lemons (Nick) or rolling their eyeballs to heaven (Margaret) and both come up with some choice phrases, as Sugar says their not to be underestimated. Of course it being a recession year the tasks have to reflect the budget available for the series, so siralan provided the teams with some cleaning equipment and a £200 spending budget and sent them out to clean anything from cars to loos. Obviously being a group of senior sale consultants and business development managements they were never going to have to get down on their hands and knees and scrape faeces from a dirty bowl, even though with the current economic climate they might have to get used to this type of job in the forthcoming months. The girls team decided to call themselves Ignite after rejecting ideas from gobby American Kimberley and one of the others who came up with Latin names, they then decided to elect , or sacrifice depending on your viewpoint, Tanzanian Beauty Queen Mona as their team leader. Meanwhile the boys took a lot quicker to get started picking the name Empire and choosing the very grey Howard to be their team leader. Howard told them that he’s got a quite manner when it came to managing a team this was evident as he seemed to be bullied a lot of the time by Geordie Estate Agent Philip who lead half the boys off to clean cars after securing a contract with a taxi firm, while Howard and some lackies went off to polish shoes at a train station taking Margaret with them. Meanwhile the girls decided to clean cars exclusively and Anita who claims to have a rainbow a skills totted up the amount of stuff they’d need and it came in about four pounds under budget while the boys spent a lot less.

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The taxi company meeting paid off and the boys got to work straight away however the cab boss said he’d only pay for cars that were satisfactory and it was pointed out to them that they could get the seats wet if they cleaned it with the windows open. After an hour they’d only cleaned one car, the shoe-shiners weren’t doing much better as impressively-bearded Maj was told by an aging army vet, that people should shine their own shoes he could do it in two minutes, maybe he should be the 16th contestant. The girls got two contracts one from a classic car company and the other from a limousine hummer company, the latter was bullied from the company after Mona’s formidable negotiating style meant that the hummer vehicle manager seemed scared not to accept. Things weren’t going too well for the boys as the shoe-shiners headed back from the station to help the other boys clean less cars as Mags said, never have so many cars, be cleaned in little time by so many people. The classic car company also decided that they’d hired women who couldn’t clean so got rid of them meaning they had to think fast going to clean cars in ASDA car-park. This seemed to be more profitable even though spiteful Debra called Anita a muppet or a puppet to team-leader Mona. At 7pm all the squeegees were put down and the hoses dismantled as the teams came back to see Siralan.

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As anyone following my live Apprentice tweet would know I thought the boys were done for at this point and predicted team leader Howard would be the first one to go. But the girls fell for that classic Apprentice first-task pitfall: overspending. They made slightly more money than the boys but despite rainbow girl Anita’s celebration of being on budget, this was clearly not the point. The boys were the first to see the swanky new apartment and were also greeted by two very over eager vodka bottle jugglers who were meant to make them cocktails although I saw very little being drunk. As the girls left the boardroom I couldn’t help but think that the business that profits the most each time The Apprentice comes round is the Bridge Café in which the losing team seems to bicker each time they are sent away, unless like fake secretary Frances, the Bridge café doesn’t actually exist. As the girls came back to the apartment they all claimed they didn’t want to be bought back into the boardroom and at that point there was friction between Mona and Debra you knew that they would both be in the boardroom. I also spotted a very ominous telescope in The Apprentice apartment maybe there’s a star-gazing task at some point or maybe Siralan just likes a bit of a perve from time to time. Mona did bring back Debra as well as budgeter Anita and as predicted Anita didn’t stick up for herself and was fired over Debra who seemed to be the more likely choice but had a more entertaining way about her arrogance just like Claire did last year. Anita rightly commented that Siralan doesn’t like lawyers and this is true fully qualified barrister Nicholas D’Lacy Brown was the first firee last year and
Anita who is also qualified was the first to go this year.

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At this stage in the game it’s hard to see who’s in for the long haul although the cameras seem to be focusing a lot on Debra and Philip at this point in future weeks I expect to see Kimberley and Rocky as the fore-runners although I do really want Maj’s beard to win. By the way the one who bottled it was Adam Freeman a man who’d left school when he was sixteen and had already made his first million in novelty ringtones, he said because he was so similar to Siralan he didn’t think that the two would be able to coexist, bollocks I Say. Siralan does seem to have simmered a little bit and become a bit more realistic and more time has been given to the Mountford-Hewer double act. All in all The Apprentice is always entertaining and next week’s task involves food so that’s always a good laugh where The Apprentice is concerned.

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Channel 4 made a big deal about getting Chris Moyles to present his Quiz Night on Sunday nights, an advert promoting the show even saw beautiful women having to kidnap him in order to get him on the show. In fact this wasn’t Moyles first attempt at T.V. stardom at the height of his popularity in 2002 was given a show on Channel Five, Live with Christ Moyles which was a huge rating flop and Moyles left after over three months on this nightly show and was replaced by more likeable XFM DJ Christian O’Connell. And as well as this he also hosted a show on legendary digital station Play UK. But now he’s climbed up a mountain and we all like him or at least mildly tolerate him so he’s back again. To be fair Chris Moyles’ Quiz Night was a good enough format, instead of interviewing or quizzing the contestants he plays along with them as they are ask questions by a question master this week it was Sharon Osbourne along with various other faces including James Corden and Jeff Stelling and the Countdown team. His involvement was also amped up as the winner would get his actual T.V. but the loser would have to sing Mama Mia over the closing credits. The players this week were giggling Babs Windsor, the ever cool and slightly bored Mark Ronson and the butt of everyone’s jokes Louis Walsh. I think the choice of guests was a good one as there wasn’t one big OTT personality, apart from Moyles, but there was never a boring moment. The quiz element also helps as people can play along at home and when Babs had to sing at the end everyone helped her along. It seems that now Moyles is more likeable on T.V. than he is on radio but as this first show only got 1.2 million viewers it remains to be seen if he will be kept on the air.

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Thanks to ITV player cocking about I missed having the opportunity to watch the first episode of prison documentary Holloway it mysteriously has since reappeared but this week’s second episode is absent. This is the first time anyone has ever been given the keys to Holloway prison and producer James Cohen was able to go wherever he wanted and film whatever he wanted. The result in this case anyway was a story about the prison where a lot of girls come in and out of but a lot are repeat offenders. This first episode featured four women the first was May who’d got herself put in prison deliberately so she could go on Holloway’s detox programme and ultimately get herself off methadone so she could be a better mother to her five year old daughter. May’s story wasn’t as big as some of the others on the show but we saw her queuing up for her drugs which were smaller and smaller every week and the voiceover told us that she was successfully cleaned up and attending rehab outside of prison. Next was addict Nicola who was about to leave the prison after a three week stay and had her hair done at the prison hairdressers, although there was the warning that she may come back and after 30 hours on the outside she’d failed to go to her probation officer and came back into the prison. Her story was reflective of the way that the prison system has a revolving door and she is currently back in Holloway again serving five months for assault. For me the most interesting story involved 41 year old mother-of-three Lorraine who came to Holloway to wait to be sentenced and returned to do an 18 month stint. At first she was hesitant and didn’t like the prison but slowly got herself a job and bonded with several inmates but then she got the news that due to over-crowding she had to be moved to a prison which would be a distance for her family to travel to and she kicked up a fuss. Luckily we are told that she is no out of prison and on a tag. The most tragic story of all though was from Chloe a repeat offender who had never been out of Holloway for more than three weeks in part because she had nowhere to go. She had to be moved to a secure unit after repeating trying to self-harm and often attacked officers that went into her cell. As the news came out that she was released she got more violent as she realised she be destitute but calmed down after a letter from her mother saying she could stay with her. Since the programme was made, Chloe had gone back to prison but was now living in a secured accommodation. This documentary was very well made and without frills or sensationalist behaviour presented a very honest portrait of what women have to go through at prison and some of the things that happen there. Cohen is a very apt documentary maker the voice-overs presented over a series of shots of prison corridors with an elderly inmate in a wheelchair going up and down. ITV may be onto a winner here putting good programming ahead of crappy reality shows or soaps and the fact that it beat BBC’s wishy-washy Mistresses in the ratings means that a lot of other people think so too.

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Guardian critic, screenwriter and general misery guts Charlie Brooker was back this week on BBC4 but not with Screenwipe. Instead he presented us with Newswipe, a satirical look at the news based on an earlier edition of Screenwipe where he looked at the news. Whereas some of these original stories crept into the first episode of Newswipe this was mainly a mocking of the way the stories and in particular the recession was handled. It also featured other segments including some very hyper girl trying to sex up the recession and that horrible poet that he often has on reading some more horrible poetry. If I had to compare this show with anything then it would be The Daily Show but while Stewart presents himself as a straight comedian, Brooker’s jokes are more subtle, for the most part anyway, and he pokes fun at how the news dumbs things down or jazzes them up to make them seem worse than they are. Only Brooker could get away with some of the things he does as its not as quick as something like say TV Burp as he looks at things deeper than others would. And I guess in a way its hard to describe without watching the show what he’s actually like but he certainly is able to pick into the little things that the news tries to patch over.

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Finally this week, a little scan over the new series of Skins which finished this week. As you will know I had an instant dislike for the new series I thought all the characters were too broad and that they shouldn’t have tried to carry on the format without any of the original characters, apart from Effy who didn’t really work as a main character. There were two reasons that the first few episodes were bad a) because a lot of the characters hadn’t met before so there wasn’t an instant gang feel of togetherness like there was in the first lot and b) because Effy was presented as not a very nice person stringing along half the characters add to this the loudness of Cook who was overused too much at the beginning and was the wrong person to have as the first solo episode as he was ubiquitous enough it would’ve been better to focus on someone like JJ earlier on as it wasn’t clear he was autistic till much later on. However the show started getting good with the introduction of Thomas and his relationship with Pandora and the best story on the show being the sweet lesbian relationship between Emily the twin and rebel Naomi. The last episode even presented Cook in a favourable light as he was given a reason for being a prick in that his dad (Super Hands from Peep Show) was an even bigger prick and him throwing his dad off a boat at the end of the episode was a mark that he’d matured. Similarly it would seem that Cook and Effy’s love triangle with Freddie resolved itself when Effy slept with Freddie but this is Skins so who knows. Some of the cameos also saved the show especially those from Ardal O’Hanlan, Olivia Coleman and Simon Day although there were also some missteps including Mackenzie Crook’s laughable gangster character. The fact that it has got a fourth series may mean that these characters have some time to grow and I feel that this is the best thing to do if they’d have cancelled it then it would’ve been a shame as these young actors deserve a chance to create something as long-lasting as the previous set of Skins stars.

Next Time: Robin Hood, All the Small Things and The Inbetweeners

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