Week 9 slaps us in the face with a 5.45am shot of Steve in his bathrobe, taking the call to assemble at St Pancras International Champagne Bar (the longest champagne bar in Europe, enabling thirsty commuters to be ignored by unmotivated bar-staff by record breaking distances . Yet again any candidates hopes of being allowed to leave the country are dashed as Lord Sugar (I’m calling him LudSugar from now on. It won’t catch on, but it’s quicker to type, hope that’s liveable with) sets them the task to brand English Sparkling Wine so every thinks it’s much better than Champagne and we don’t end up importing so much of that French fizzy rubbish every year (apparently 35 million bottles). The teams have to design a website and an online marketing campaign then pitch to industry expert. Best one arbitrarily chosen wins.

First the lop-sided Pheonix (Adam, Jade & Tom) get to pick a member of Sterling to even up the teams. Adam goes all school football captain and picks flopsy Nick, confident that he has the finest website and hair-flicking skills of them all. It’s taken for granted that wine merchant Tom will lead the team and Nick will do all the online stuff.

Over on Sterling; Jenna puts herself forward as Project Manager. Ricky does too. As does Gabby (who’s done websites). And Stephen (“I am SO motivated”). “Shall we have a vote on it?” suggests Jenna our resident maths expert. D’oh! Ricky somehow wins most votes as he does a rousing 300 style “Spartans! We may be few in number and lack a wine merchant and a website expert with flopsy hair. But prepare for glory anyhow!” speech.

First of all Adam needs to clarify an important point with Tom. “Is Sparkling Wine nothing to do with champagne then?” he queries uncertainly. Tom of course is keen to share his vast knowledge and informs Adam that there are in fact many brands of sparkling wine from different regions, one of which is called Champagne. Adam flushes with happiness. “I get it! Brilliant!” Enjoying his role as wine guru, Tom takes his ruddy faced young acolyte on an apparently pointless wine-tasting tour (where a scary gruff man instructs them on how to taste wine) so that they can say things like “I’m getting notes of vanilla; that will be the French oak” (Tom) and “I can taste a tangy flavour like Granny Smiths” and “Can you smell Christmas cake?” (not Tom) and get steadily pissed. Meanwhile Jade and Nick have to do all the boring designing websites and not getting shitfaced work. As Tom and Adam lurch from a focus group/ tasting session where Tom “taught” a roomful of people how to drink wine, Tom declares “I’ve really enjoyed myself today.. we’ve really got to grips with the English win sparkle sorry English Sparkling Wine.. tee hee!”. Adam merely belches in agreement and they both agree that they’ll definitely win the task as they are in fact brothers.

Stephen’s eyes bulge from their sockets with creativity as he self brainstorms words as his sub-team-mate Gabby looks on incredulously. “I’m looking for one word that will represent English Sparkling Wine” he declares, before suggesting “cert” or the quintessentially English “grandeur”. Finally he comes up with the Father Ted-esque “chink”, and Gabby can’t hold her laughter in any longer. Stephen really is proving himself to be a prize donut as they then go to Tescos to research colours, designs and names for the website and branding (which is their job), and he starts snappily insisting that he speaks to a sales adviser about English Sparkling Wine (which is not their job). “Are you happy to leave here without seeing an English sparkling wine” he huffs at her. “Yes” she exclaims firmly. Back at their media hideout, Gabby designs a halfway decent logo (a wine glass in the shape of an English rose ), which I wouldn’t be surprised to see someone actually using.

Sterling’s other sub-team, Ricky and Jenna meet grape growers to ask them how they can bullshit about wine. The word heritage is important, but quality is so important that the plummy English grape grower lady has to say it three times in a row in that way people do when they think it will magically make something true (think Tony Blair). Ricky actually hates wine (he’s definitely more of a WKD man), but as he seems this as a pure marketing task he thinks it doesn’t matter as he reckons “Tom will do too much talking to prove he knows so much about wine”. Fair point.

Ricky plans the video shoot for the online advert. He wants a wedding reception to be shown to emphasise the point that you don’t always have to buy Champagne for these occasions. He and Jenna choose props in advance, although Ricky wrinkles his nose at a lavish throne that Jenna selects. Ricky thinks the Beckhams might have got away with thrones (they didn’t), but nobody else would without it being really cheesy. “When I get married I want a throne” Jenna giggles. Ricky then puts Jenna in charge of the video shoot, insisting that it must represent quality, and although there can be humour, it cannot be gimmicky or cheesy (sparkling wine and cheese don’t mix. You should aim to be fishy) . Yes that’s the Jenna who’s sitting in a throne pretending to sip wine and looking happy as Larry. Good luck with that one. The next day Jenna and Stephen arrive at Kenwood House for the shoot, and Steve contributes the half decent line “Less fizz, more sparkle”. Ricky’s sure that by organising the props in advance that even Jenna and Stephen can’t screw this one up. Cue a clip of the old boy playing father of the bride declaring woodenly “And finally our glasses are charged with a fine English sparking wine! Less fizz and more sparkle!”. Subtle like.

Tom also wants “quality” in his video, and he sends Adam and Jade (who really doesn’t like working with Adam on creative tasks) to capture this elusive er quality in an East London Gastro Pub where a group of diverse thirty something actors unite at a fake dinner party to celebrate the end of their careers. Now Adam’s learned how to drink wine, his role is to tell everybody else how to do it (“I’m not patronising everyone by any means”) and he insists to “choreographing” them, down to how high up the stems they hold their glass. Next he’s telling the make-up lady what to do (“Just touch everyone up a bit”). Jade rolls her eyes and growls “he can pretend he’s in charge and I will make sure the vision happens”. “Do you even know what choreography means?” Jade mocks him as the shoot ends. “I know! It’s having people in the right places and stuff.. it does mean that.. I checked with people” Adam insists, and to be fair he’s partially right, although I’m not sure he knows why.

There’s a suggestion that Pheonix have seriously misunderstood the brief when Tom advises Nick to add links to suppliers websites, and Karen Brady observes “They seem to have designed a website for existing users. They should be attracting new customers”. They also seem to have come up with a logo (some grapes with ESW on it). Exhausted by doing this much work without sustaining alcohol to help him, Tom falls asleep in the car home after the admittedly dull advert screening of “Holly oaks mums and dads go out for some English Sparkling Wine and nobody learns anything about themselves”.

At 7pm, Steve and Jenna finish their ad shoot (Jenna “Let’s hope it’s a win or it’s on my neck”) and Gabby and Ricky join them for a viewing. Ricky looks especially perturbed as a simple tale unfolds of an unconvincing posh bridezilla offered champagne (“Ugh! It’s a horrible! I want English Sparkling wine”) before gagging and collapsing (“She obviously needs English Sparkling Wine”). Stephen is all gurning grins and high fives as Ricky ventures “It’s a lot cheesier than expected” but Steve insists that it’s classy.

It’s pitch time and Ricky Martin wants to take us on a journey. One in which he says the word “heritage” a lot, and the word quality is said three times in a row just to prove how true it is. It’s all going quite well for them with the Anglo-vinophiles as they scroll through the website (in colours of “gold, black and white which are synonymous with luxury”.) with it’s free prize quiz which collects potential customers email addresses for their database and English Rose logo. They even think “Less fizz, more sparkle” has mileage as a slogan. So now it’s time for the thirty second video, which they watch with increasing bemusement until the last, killer line (“English Sparkling Wine. Oozing luxury with every pour” (oozing pores. Nice imagery, Stephen). It does seem to have livened them up a bit. In fact the oldest wine expert bloke is positively livid. “Why is it necessary to make it so flippant?” he demands, oozing rage with every pore like Roger Scruton looking at a picture of a living fox. “Could you find a Champagne website which would portray itself in that way?”

Pheonix go subtle to the point of invisibility apart from their idea of displaying the ESW logo on the neck of bottles (which I think is actually quite natty, apart from you need to make people aware that that’s a good sign too). Even the wine buffs are bored by the video and ask what’s specifically English about it. Adam defends it patriotically “The people were very English, the setting was very English, the occasion was very English”(they weren’t watching football or fighting though. Heritage fail!). Nick shows off his natty link to stockists via the website, but the wine experts point out a problem with getting stockists to interact. “They can just call up if it’s not up to date” ventures Tom, missing the picky wine man’s point that “it’s potentially more annoying to the customers if things aren’t up to date”.

We get treated to a montage of the wine experts opinions designed to make us think that Sterling have this one in the bag as Pheonix didn’t deliver according to the brief and then it’s Boardroom time.

Tom’s backed by the rest of Pheonix despite him going off on a wine jolly on day 1. Nick’s proud of all the pretty pictures on his website (LudSugar: “It’s a field”), but along with the video LudAlan finds it all a bit “www.yawn.com” and suggests it seems more like a sales pitch than awareness raising.

Over to Sterling and Ricky says he saw it as an online marketing campaign, suggesting that given the teams skill sets that on paper it seemed like “David versus Goliath, but David always wins” (Tom laughs at this, but to be fair he’s probably still pissed. Sterling failed to come up with an overall name for ESW oh sorry English Sparkling Wine, and Stephen’s “grandeur” only ended up on the bottle label in the advert due to what Ricky describes as its “French connotations” (Nick Hewer “It’s a French word”). Sugar quite likes Gabby’s English rose logo too, although again it all falls apart with the video screening (Sugar: “This is a serious product, where’s the quality in that?”). “Our passion can overcome our lack of expertise” insists Stephen emptily and you just know he’s a crap shag.

Anyhow without actual numbers it’s all down to how LudSugar interprets the feedback from the industry experts and although they thought Pheonix missed the point and were boring, he’s convinced that Sterling’s advert was so unforgivably shit that they must be punished. So Pheonix get to win by default and are sent to a London rooftop Jacuzzi to soak in bubbles whilst inhaling smog (the only one I can think of is on top of the backpackers hostel on Borough High Street. I’m so classy. But I do drink champagne). Anyhow Tom feels fantastic to have won (by sheer luck) and gloats in the Jacuzzi about “More Fizz Less Sparkle”. Oh dear, it’s all going to his head and that’s going to make him a bit of a tit.

In the Bridge (of sighs) café, Ricky’s upset at being beat by a boring campaign. Jenna insists that everyone agreed that humour was acceptable and even Stephen states “I’m as accountable as anyone on that video”.

Back in the boardroom and Sugar still can’t get over the cheese factor “I didn’t want “Carry on Boozing”. I was expecting Kenneth Williams to pop up going “oooh! Maître d!””. Jenna’s in trouble for telling Ricky it wasn’t cheesy and she admits she “went for a bit of comedy” but it may have backfired. Nick Hewer, ever the force for justice reminds her that “Stephen was actually with you” and predictably Stephen starts talking his way out of the picture, telling Jenna “Maybe you had a bad day at the office and made a mistake and bad decisions”. Sugar’s not buying it “What about you? Didn’t you make decisions?”. Stephen ignores this and next starts suggesting that Gabby lacked contribution, which even Ricky has to refute given her design skills and the fact she did what he wanted her to.

I’m loving Gabby as she actually sticks the knife right back into Stephen by relating the story of him looking for a wine connoisseur in the supermarket when they only went in to look at the colours on the bottles. Stephen, knowing he’s beaten on this front then pats Gabby on the head for her “very good” logo. What a tool.

Uncontroversially Ricky brings back Jenna and Stephen, with Nick Hewer championing Jenna with faint praise (“She’s a good sport who tries terribly hard”) and Karen pointing out that given Stephen’s “articulate” (an incoherent buggle eyed babbler) in the boardroom, that he should have been able to step in and help Jenna out when she was going wrong with the video.

Anyhow the three are called back before LudSugar and Ricky’s asked what his aspiration for the video was other than it not to be like a bad episode of Midsomer Murders. He explains that his idea of humour was the bride refusing champagne and preferring English Sparkling Wine. Nick Hewer backs him, having written down that “Ricky pushed for quality and not gimmicks or cheese” (I like them reading the notes, it makes the boardroom a bit like the Leveson inquiry). Ricky finally susses that Stephen “let her run with her idea with no input” (Stephen “Is it my job?”).

Each of the contestants has to try to save themselves and although Jenna speaks sense I think her accent may doom her. Stephen insists that having never been in the final 3 before and because he’s been such a WINNER he would definitely win if he was Project Manager again. “Definitely?” muses Sugar. “I’d put anything I have on me right now on that” Stephen gambles. So that’s one shiny suit LudSugar stands to win.

It’s summing up time, and as much as I dislike Ricky, he gets an unfair beasting as Lord Sugar accuses him of a defeatist attitude towards the skill set of the other team which lead to “bad project management”. I must have missed that bit. Ricky’s also blamed for not going along to supervise the filming, but predictably and with an almost “with regret”, Jenna is fired “despite your hard work”.

Stephen’s card is double stamped with the word “Twat” and Sugar tells our bulgy eyed anti-hero “You are this close to going outside that door… But you did say give me a chance… so you are going to be the Project Manager next and I expect you to win even though you don’t know what the task is”.

Poor Jenna thinks that LudSugar missed out, but she’s even more “determined to go it alerrrrrn”

Back in the house whilst most people think Ricky or Jenna will go, Gabby thinks Stephen “has nothing left to back himself up”. I’m liking Gabby again. She may sometimes seem like she’s on drugs, but she’s pretty astute tonight. Ricky and Stephen return, and Gabby can’t hide her sad face as Stephen finds yet another way to dishonestly aggrandize himself “I made a bet to Lord Sugar… and he took it”. I can only hope they’ve got something pretty good on this prat that they’re saving for the interviews round.

Liking: Nick, Gabby (surely one of these has won?)

Liking with reservations: Tom, Jade

Disliking: Adam, Ricky

Really fucking hating: Stephen

Bye bye: Jenna, Laura, Azhar, Katie, Duane, Jane, Michael, Maria, Bilyana

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