Damien Love’s TV high­lights in­clud­ing Curb Your En­thu­si­asm

THE UK’S BEST TV CRITIC DAMIEN LOVE RAMPAGES HIS WAY THROUGH THE WEEK IN TELE­VI­SION HIGH­LIGHT OF THE WEEK

Sunday Herald Life - - CONTENTS -

Wed­nes­day The Ap­pren­tice 9pm, BBC One

EIGHTY-SIX years on from the first episode of The Ap­pren­tice, as a new se­ries be­gins, few could blame Alan Su­gar if he sud­denly screamed a witty spin on the show’s beloved catch­phrase – “I’m tired!” – then sprinted across the board­room and, be­fore any­one could stop him, launched him­self, head­first, crash­ing out through the high window, to spi­ral pret­tily to earth in one of those ex­cit­ing look­ing­down-on-theskyscrap­er­rooftops shots they like so much, beard gleam­ing in the last red rays of the London sunset. Maybe, at the last minute, a glo­ri­ous big AMSTRAD para­chute would open behind him, like it did for Roger Moore. Maybe not. Actually, though, if any­thing, 97 years on, The Su­gar Man looks as ready for action as ever. But look close, and there is a cer­tain grow­ing rest­less­ness in his eyes. He seems bored, edgy, filled with a hopped-up, antsy en­nui: “I’m to­tally wired!” It is very much as though hav­ing to go through all this again, with yet an­other bunch of metroberks, is pre­cisely the last thing he wants to do. One-hun­dredand-four sea­sons on, The Ap­pren­tice is now into its Thun­der­birds Are Go era. Where, in years

gone by, the can­di­dates were all charm­ing wooden pup­pets and you could see all the wires stick­ing out of their heads, these days we get these soul­less CGI ap­prox­i­ma­tions that seem to have been quickly knocked up us­ing some 2008 soft­ware pack­age by a sweat­shop of tired 12-year-olds on a tight dead­line and a low bud­get. As they mouth the oblig­a­tory hate-me-hate-me non­sense, it’s like lis­ten­ing to a tired AI al­go­rithm that’s been fed a fi­nite amount of words, then or­dered to spew back as many gitty sen­tences as pos­si­ble un­til some­one pulls its plug. Among this year’s dec­la­ra­tions come, “I’ve got my own law firm, as­sist­ing land­lords deal­ing with prob­lem ten­ants and evict­ing them”; “I’m gonna throw peo­ple un­der the bus, I’m gonna throw peo­ple over the bus, I’m gonna get ON the bus”; and “I have size 10 feet.”

As the se­ries be­gins, The Ap­pren­tice voiceover god makes one of his rare, touch­ing, oddly punc­tu­ated at­tempts at pre­tend­ing the show has any kind of rel­e­vancy: “Bri­tish Business. Is in flux. The fu­ture. Far from cer­tain.” But as soon as that Brexit build-up is de­liv­ered, it is for­got­ten, and we’re back into the same old Gen­er­a­tion Game rou­tine, watch­ing them trying to make burg­ers and run­ning around shout­ing while hold­ing meat.

Faced with this, you have to make your own en­ter­tain­ment, or you go in­sane. Or both. After 530 years in the role, Alan Su­gar’s faith­ful face­less sec­re­tary has a weird and sly pri­vate game going on. She’s re­alised that, if you mut­ter it fast enough, you can make the words “Rod Ste­wart” sound very like “Lord Su­gar,” and now she slips it in when­ever she can: “Rod Ste­wart will see you now.”

As for Su­gar, Karen and Big Claude, they look close to snap­ping, too. For a sec­ond, at the end of episode one, I felt sure Su­gar was just going to fire ev­ery­one, then give away all of his money – all ex­cept for a tiny seed fund of £600, with which he, Karen and Claude would run out into the streets barefoot, mak­ing burg­ers from mud and flog­ging them them­selves, seeing if they could re­build the multi-bil­lion pound em­pire from scratch all over again, like they did when the world was young and they were gam­blers. One last makeor-break mis­sion. A kind of en­tre­pre­neur­ial ver­sion of The Wild Bunch. Maybe next year.

Pho­to­graph: Matt Martin

Sa­man­tha Womack as Morticia Addams

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