Archives for the month of: December, 2016

So it’s the week 12, the final, and usual our finalists Courtney and Alana are expected to “launch” their businesses and present them to industry “experts” within 2 days. So Alana needs to be able to show she can build a small bakery to a giant brand, whereas Courtney needs to be able to pitch novelty shit to sell at large volumes (shouldn’t be any problem post brexit). First they have to pick a team from previous contestants and Courtney’s fairly bold going for Jess, Sofiane and Karthig, Alana actually chooses Rebecca and Grainne (thinking this is a good idea) and Frances as well as Sausage Man Olly for his foody business skills. Poor Angry Paul looks irate as nobody picks him till them end (Courtney: “Paul I’m gonna choose you anyway mate”).

Everyone including Claude enjoys scoffing Alana’s cake and it inspires them with business names (“Gooey” which I would have gone for) but they end up going for “Ridiculously Rich” which is terrible (surely it should match her name: “Alarmingly Anal”?) but at least better than Fran’s arse clenchingly awful ‘Oh My Bake’). Somehow drippy Rebecca is put in charge of logo and branding design. I hope Alana likes beige.

Courtney’s team brainstorm company names (“Bingo Bongo? Ringo Dingo? Pocket Pleasures? Bonkers Conkers” Paul “Grrrrrr! I don’t want to sound like the fun police, but no). Eventually Karthig asks Courtney’s favourite animal (“A Whale”) and his favourite colour (“Purple”) and an illogical but potentially brilliant brand name is born.

The teams have to design a “digital sign” and Courtney’s team subteam go for full on twat about with props and edit afterwards ending up with a jaunty story of someone wearing big false hands gesturing towards their testicles (Courtney likes this as it’s “clear, clean and simple”). Grainne and Fran represent Alana by getting Fran to dress up as an oppressed cupcake as Grainne chucks ricin laced flour at her, whilst bitching about how rubbish and “Womens Institute” lite Rebecca (Grainne: “Ridiculously Shite more like!”) is at marketing and making Alana fall apart a little bit (“What are you trying to achieve?!”).

Courtney actually y shows some nous by investing time in presentation coaching (where he gets to make angry bee noises whilst being held around the waist by his tutor)

The teams start shooting actual advertising videos, with Jess (who Courtney wisely gives “final say” to) trying to reign in Angry Paul and a permanently pissed off Sofiane whilst shooting an epic about Karthig forgetting his anniversary & phoning to order some love heart scoops thus winning his wife’s love (“You melt my heart just like this ice cream is melting). Karren points out the product is online not over the phone and they

Alana wants a video suggesting repeat custom so Grainne invents Maureen a sad cake addict who keeps coming to the same shop (“Hi Maureen!”). Grainne and Fran get the arse with Rebecca joining their creative team (“Just because it’s luxury, it doesn’t have to be dull).

With no reference whatsoever to customer feedback (“tasty but dull”) Alana has a branding rethink and adds her signature to the box (“a bit of ownership”, realising the brand needs to reflect her. She leaves Olly to mind the brand, insisting that any reference to Wales be kept to wording and not a Welsh Dragon as he insists. So as soon as she leaves Olly asks for a Welsh Dragon. “Did she want that” asks designer Bloke. Olly does a big fib and the dragon remains unwanted on the packaging. Olly’s convinced he’s suffering for his art (“It’s my time to shine!”.

So at city hall the pitches are due before the industry names and Alana is losing her shit, whereas Courtney appears to have wisely had a bifta or two before gong in “If I wasn’t nervous I wouldn’t be human.”

Poor Alana goes first advertising the home spun business (a little country kitchen I started when I was 17 – yeah cos “ridiculously rich” fits with that story). She tries to tie together “luxury and home-made” by smiling fragilely and saying “that’s me”.

Someone in the audience questions her on price and she’s totally on the ball though. Whereupon Lord Sugar himself pipes up asks if she will keep production in Wales and she’s well up for it and I have no idea whether that’s sunk her because he hates the Welsh or not.

So now it’s Courtney time and everyone claps like a coked up seal. When Courtney finally speaks he’s a lot better despite his love of random things. His baby beaker cup gets some attention especially when its realised it can be coloured with football team hues.

Back in the boardroom and the ads are rolling with Courtney insisting K had to be in it because of his “acting skills”. Everyone’s bigging Courtney up with Sofiane amazed that the baby trophy beaker was designed and made within 12 hours (it looks like it took less time).

Alana however seems to be disowning her team’s advert (“Maureen is NOT me!”) and Sugar is dismissive of her chances (“how do people know YOUR brand… it’s just a cake” etc like he’s some Kung Fu expert trying to wind up his star student.

It transpires that Courtney would have to pay licensing to football clubs to use their colour scheme and he suggests cheekily just using generic colour schemes similar to say West Ham colours (this in front of Karren Brady). Still Sugz and Karren get to have some quality Lahnhan footy banter so it’s not all in vain.

Back in and Courtney’s fighting for this, putting Alana down as a humble baker, but when it comes to his own business he’s revealed as a cloud cuckoo land dingbat who has failed to fulfil orders in the past whereas everyone loves Alana’s sexy margins – so amazingly Alana wins and is waved on to the LIMO OF JOY like she can’t quite believe what’s happening!

Someone gave me a “spoiler” that Courtney won, and it’s amazing how that skews how you watch the show (I was going “Ooh Purple Whale sounds good!” as though Purple bloody Ronnie had never existed and cheap tut was a good thing, I almost forgot how much better than everything else cake can be, but ultimately the constantly overlooked and belittled vulnerability of Alana beat the weaselly and slightly stoned way of Courtney and I’m so happy that at least one decision went right this year. Have a lovely Christmas and eat more cake everyone.

alana

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It’s Week 11 and interviews are arranged with a day to prepare at the shiny hellhole of 122 Leadenhall where business plans are to be handed over as well as dreams and dignity.

Thus ensues a shit montage of people fiddling with pens and pretending not to be worried and Courtney spraying himself with death-inducing quantities of Lynx(“Claude’s gonna make me perspirate”). At which Alana wins for making cakes instead (“It’s an important part of the plan. I just hope none of them has got a nut allergy or I’ll finish them off”).

Grainne remains an ice queen (“I’m gonna nail this”) because she is sober. For a fecking change.

Sugar greets them and hands the candidates and their plans over to his “trusted advisers” (some of whom we have never heard of before).

There’s perennial rottweiler Claude of course, and weird leftfield interviewer Mike Souter. However Karren confusingly misses out on the opportunity to be a complete bitch so we get to meet Claudia Collins who looks like a Coronation Street baddie but apparently runs a billion pound “media agency”, and Linda Plant who founded a “global design company”. Oh I’m sure they are real things but I’m too tired to google having returned late from a works Christmas do.

Anyhow they’re all Satan in various forms and the rest of the episode reflects this.
satan

Grainne falls foul of Mike Souter by having claimed 90% customer satisfaction, and having to admit to only having 6 customers and then not being able to confidently work out what 90% of 6 is. I would have said 5 too. Claude rightly reckons that Grainne is trying to do too much from a sole trader platform. It’s the next step she insists typically arsily. It turns out she’s never written a business plan before and he suggests she should have got help. He points out that her sums don’t add up and by wanting to run an Agency, course, business and personally doing make-up for people who want to look like the evil queen out of Snow White she might be spreading herself thin, and she admits she doesn’t know what she should be concentrating on. Claudia gets evil and brings a few products out of her bag for Grainne to proclaim what the USP is on each. They all look like out of date tampons to me, but Grainne equally fails earning NOTHING BUT SCORN!.

Jess admits to Linda that one of her many previous companies made a massive loss and essentially falls apart and has to admit to not having a fricking clue about business. Mike also has issues with Jess’s business plan involving so much payment to Z-listers with little guaranteed payback. It doesn’t help that Jess has a failed company listed at companies house that she’s not aware of. Linda’s toying with Jess as she’s been “in the same business” and ultimately proclaims our wacky Northerner is “dreaming” after tearing strips off her about product ranges and production. Jess just about avoids tearing up again “I lost my dignity up on the 42 floor”, and Alana starts worrying (“Is taking cakes to this woman a bad idea?”). Claude makes the mistake of asking Jess an open question about her life history and she’s off (“Ah started in night clubs……..”)

I love Alana in the lift to Claude channelling Sigourney Weaver’s “Lucky lucky lucky” in Alien (“Confidence confidence confidence confidence”). She presents her cake and he stares at her like she’s bowling a turd at him. “We’ll just leave that alone. Can you just sit back again?” he barks (DON’T TOUCH ME!). He then challenges her toughness and she admits she wanted to “walk” in the first few weeks but wouldn’t quit, though proving her toughness. He says “OK” but won’t eat the cake. He then bitches that she has been making good money but using it to save for a house and not reinvesting in the business like Lord Sugar would do. Alana stutters and I know that she wants to say “Yes it’s OK for him cos he HAS a fucking house!” but she has the grace not to and it’s left hanging.

Jess is still telling Claude her life story.

It transpires that taking cakes to Linda isn’t a terrible idea (“Is that a sample? Maybe you should unwrap it then! Nom nom nom!!”. However Linda is concerned that Alana doesn’t know her competitors and what they are making and alas this is true. Linda also questions the role of Alana’s boyfriend in the business and having argued him down from partner to employee rather evilly asks Alana “If you fall out with him can he be replaced?” which whilst Alana points out is a cold thing to ask, is not an obstacle “Yes he can be replaced”. Lets hope he doesn’t have a fragile ego.

Jess is still telling Claude her life story.

Claudia is unimpressed by the fact that when asked to describe himself in one sentence Courtney actually offered “I’ll give you one word – awesome” (So wrong in all ways). It turns out that he gave up everything to devote to inventing novelty products, living with friends and taking home little money. Claudia mentions the importance of charisma and he mumbles and pffts. Claude just wants “to slap” Courtney for his lack of passion. “But I’ve won 8 out of 10 tasks” Courtney drawls and Claude yawns. It turns out Courtney makes and sells novelty gifts, but its pointed out his company is underperforming and he’s living at his parents house and making £8k a year (“not due to my demeanour I can tell you, I work my bollocks off!”) and whilst he thinks inventing 33 products in 3 years is good (I would think so too but I haven’t seen them) the interviewers are all utterly unimpressed. Plus every time Courtney admits failure and vows to work harder in a faux passionate way, Claude acts like he’s on a HR Sex Line (“I WILL make it!, “Oh YES YES YES!”). I reckon I could make good money telling Claude I’ve been unambitious but now I have a dream! Mike points out the obvious bullshit that Courtney spouts (you say you’re the top salesman in Britain?” “Well I meant to say the County not the Country”). As Courtney’s also described himself as a top designer of novelty items Mike puts him on the spot (“Sketch me something!”) and he comes up with (at least something) a Lord Sugar Pez dispenser. Linda’s unimpressed by an actual product he brings in (a toy champagne flute I imagine is for christenings. “Is that a good message to children?” she asks “Oh lighten up!” I remark.

Jess is still telling Claude her life story.

Fran meets Mike and insists there is a gap in the market for her business plan of buying out of season kids clothes cheap and selling them on in her stores (which actually do sound nice). She’s all about the customer focus (“There’s a heart… we have breast feeding rooms”) but unfortunately she’s failed to mention the two failed stores Mike has discovered to her name (“It undermines trust”) and she emerges ashen like something out of “The Sixth Sense” (“They. Know. Everything”). She used to have someone who did all the maths and she is crap at them (perhaps she should have kept them onside as her business plan is mauled by Claude). I like Fran for describing her handbag as her filing cabinet (what do you mean that’s not normal?) but Claudia goes full on evil on it (Fran “It was a flippant comment, if I could take back I would”). Every interviewer is worried about Fran’s self proclaimed shitness at figures, but she’s feisty and unrepentant (“I have done an absolute lot”).

Jess is still telling Claude her life story. “let’s move on” says Claude.

Finally they gather outside (“I am Strong! I am woman!” oh sorry Courtney, maybe girls names count). Alana is knackered. Grainne is too sober (“I could do with a large brandy”).

Sugar gets his evil pixies who did the interviews to spill the beans even though from day 1 this was probably going to the person with the most feasible business plan.

Everyone thinks Courtney is a weasel, they quite like Jess and worry if she’s feasible, they think Grainne’s trying to do too much (although Karren likes her because Karren is also evil) and they worry about Fran’s scalability. Alana doesn’t really get a mention (everyone is wiping cake off their faces though) apart from how difficult it is without actual data (that is publicly available) to estimate revenues (do-able – Alana give me a call!).

Back in the boardroom and Grainne admits to having too many eggs in one basket (“I should have honed in on….” *lists 20 things*). She admits she is only “half qualified” to teach the certificate that features as part of her plan and is doomed once she argues back over this with Sugar. As she’s fired she hisses “Good luck girls” and Courtney looks a bit doomed.

Sugar reckons Alana’s cupcakes are just a fad but she reckons she can sell her deli products “anywhere that sells coffee” and admits you have to taste her samples to understand (god I’m hungry!).

Courtney reckons his tat would be “up to date with current trends” and quickly produced which Sugar appreciates given the huge success of the Amstrad Email Phone.

Fran gets shit for her lack of scalability again but fights her corner (“I’ve been in this business for two years” (oh bless her!) “and I know it inside out – we only scratched the surface”). Sugar worries that Fran is rubbish on systems but she turns that round as the reason she needs a strong business investment.

Poor Jess is fired “with regret” (“You have great sales ability”). Fran fights her corner like a terrier whilst Courtney drawls nonchalantly and slags off his fellow candidates. However Sugar (having been warned who is most likely to be feisty enough to sue him if they were in business with him) sacks off poor Fran for her lack of scalability (as a fellow petite person may I just say that “lack of scalability” is a shit euphemism. As she’s the only one in the TAXI OF DOOM she trills about her bright future and lets face it with her pixie face, great design skills and quirky ideas about colonialism she could give Paul Nuttalls a run for his money.

So it’s Courtney and Alana in the final. “You’re the only person in my way” she muses in the car back to IKEA JOY HOUSE. “Maybe I could use the money to save up for my house – just saying” he responds with the air of a man who has no idea what “ZING!” means.

Next week the remaining candidates do the embarrassing school footy team selection thing with all the losing candidates to form their teams (I’m hoping sausage man Ollie beats the twat in the bow tie to being placed) and the last two have to launch their businesses. Bring food as we may get hungry. And booze as we may go mad.

It’s hardly worth pointing out I like Alana and dislike Courtney.

And goodbye to (soon to be seen again):Michelle, Natalie, Sausage Olly, Aleksandra, Mukai , JD, Rebecca, K, Sam, ANGRY Paul, Dillon, Sofiane, Trishna, Jess, Grainne, Fran

Hello and welcome to the first #NewsFromTheFunnyFarm where I will attempt to find out what is happening at the moment whilst making up composite swearwords like a proper flapthrusting pisshack.

So 2016 eh? What a barrel of laughs! That’s the topical stuff done. Anyhow never mind the endless death, mayhem and rise of far right bigotry. The thing that’s pissed me off the most about this anus horrible is how trolls have somehow managed to breed despite being defined as “Ugly cave dwelling creatures”.

Seconds after this photo was taken Terry the Troll called Gary Linekar a “Pooey panted Remoaner” on Twitter.
troll

I mean of course social trolls (they don’t just live on the internet (they also shout abuse out of the windows of moving cars), although lets face it the conditions online are ideal for them as they also enable a speedy getaway) who will say whatever they want in order to poke, provoke and gleefully spread lies and slurs for shits and giggles. They especially like to bully minorities or the vulnerable as they’re less likely to get called out, risen above or found out and twatted.

Trolling is nothing new, as any connoisseur of teenage graffiti from any decade will attest. They very quickly came to play on internet forums (anywhere where you can create anonymous usernames and create or edit content) and social networking is a trolls dream. Some proper old school trolls made lairs on sites where they could compare their exploits writing abusive messages on facebook RIP groups or targeting liberal talkboards. We all kind of accepted their existence and fundamental patheticness and became adept at spotting even the more subtle attempts to troll. That’s why “Don’t Feed The Troll” is such an old meme.

Sticks and Stones may break our bones but someone calling us a libtard will just make us sigh and roll our eyes.dont-feed-the-trolls

In 2016 these trolls have crawled out from their bridges and gone mainstream and legit. They have voted in troll politicians or for troll agendas. Oh come on, Trump is clearly a troll with his 3am Twitter badmouthing sessions and apparently ability to get away with saying stuff that most nice sensible people would at the least get a verbal warning and a trip to a diversity training course if they did it either in their workplace or public. Trump’s even got the stupid troll hair going on. Likewise Nigel Farage (with his tobacco stained troll-like face) trolled the British public with his xenophobic dog whistle “Breaking Point” posters showing swarms of (curiously brown skinned) migrants lining up to invade Britain should people vote to remain in the EU (the poster was actually taken of Syrian refugees fleeing war but a good Troll never minds about the truth).

Not everyone who voted for Trump or Brexit was a racist, but a fair proportion of them appear to have been trolling – and getting away with it. (I actually know people who voted Brexit “just to see what happened” – Trolls! ).What’s getting scary is just how much the news and search engines have been laced with fake troll news for trolls to share and wind up “Liberal Snowflakes” (Troll language rather sweetly tends towards the fantastic and fairystory – with swears thrown in).

The other day browsing the BBC Twitter feed, I saw a horrifying piece of news about a young woman kicked down the stairs in a subway station in Berlin. The video accompanying it is disturbing from the unaware victim to the apparent glee of the assailant and the lack of any concern from his cronies who watch the whole thing.

You’re damn right it contains “upsetting scenes” BBC http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-38297302

One thing it does not contain however is a clue to the origin of the assailant. The victim has her back to us and is wearing a hood (at first I wondered if it was mistaken for a hijab – then I realised it doesn’t matter – whatever the motive – this crime shows violent bullying misogyny in action and the people who took part in it are terrifying sociopaths.)

So I was curious as to why the BBC Tweet containing this article was jumped on by so many people insisting that the perpetrators were “Muslims” or “Immigrants”. I could find no reference to this on the news and many who claimed to have seen news sources did not cite them.

tweet1

And more

tweetmore

And more (if you really want to click on the BBC Tweet).

So why this proliferation of unsubstantiated claims? Some of the responders almost look like they could be spambots set up to blame immigrants and Muslims – but someone’s clearly made the effort to write out the allegations in response to this story and tweet it ad infinitum. Obviously for some proper racists it might be worth retweeting something that fits in with their world view. But it’s starting to look like a lot of people don’t really care whether something is true or not. Whether Trump is a saviour or a nightmare, whether Brexit is the answer or the path to doom. These people don’t give a flying monkey bollock, they just want an outraged response and they will keep posting to get it.

The problem is whereas the best way to troll a Troll or at least deal with them on a personal level was to block and ignore them, depriving them of the validation they crave; nowadays letting bullshit go unchallenged also supports the views of genuine hateful lunatics with Nazi agendas and doesn’t stop these lies causing genuine harm to minorities. And the trolls are even helping these people win the search engines when it comes to spreading false news.

I googled “Kicked Stairs Berlin ” this morning and even on the first page (last item) I found a piece blaming immigrants.

howtrollsspreadtheirversionofnews

I searched again two hours later (yes I do need to get a life too) and the first page had even more links blaming migrants – those stories are getting higher up in the search results too.

itgetsworseongoogle

If you share something enough it starts fitting Googles search algorithms more. Most people only look at the front page of google results, so the higher an article rises on the first page, the more likely it is to be consumed as “reality”. Even seeing the title could convince some searchers that there was a shred of truth. There must be – it’s page one on Google!

The first article blaming Migrants to appear in my search from “South Front” – which regardless of its agenda (and I am sure they are a lovely bunch of lads really) is known for publishing unvetted conspiracy theory articles.

The next Immigrant blaming result to appear comes from The Gateway pundit, a blog which appears to present people’s tweets as genuine evidence. Although at least it has the grace to use a question mark in brackets after the word “migrants” in its headline (“Horrifying Video! One of Merkel’s Migrants(?) Kicks Unsuspecting Woman Down Stairs at Metro”).

I wish I hadn’t clicked on either link now to be honest for fear of even further skewing the search results, but other than sighing and clutching at pearls what can one do to stop the Troll articles taking over? How can we balance media perceptions of outsiders in a post truth world when there’s often reason not to even trust everyday press sources?

We are all “journalists” (some less worth following than others) nowadays so maybe the only way to now out-troll the trolls is through spreading accurate stories. For every negative story attacking the vulnerable, for every lie blaming those who are thought of as “different” share accurate positive stories. For every lie without any evidence spread truth with evidence. And call out bullshit without getting stroppy or defensive (“there is absolutely no evidence for this so I call #bullshit”).

So when I see things like this

http://www.christianpost.com/news/kenya-al-shabaab-bus-terror-attack-muslims-save-christians-lives-give-hijabs-passengers-153279/

Or this

http://www.standard.co.uk/news/world/heroic-muslim-man-saved-jewish-hostages-during-paris-siege-by-hiding-them-in-chiller-9970051.html

Or this

http://www.nbcnews.com/id/22013748/ns/us_news-life/t/illegal-immigrant-never-thought-leave-boy/

Or this

http://www.nydailynews.com/news/national/hero-saved-6-year-old-girl-antonio-diaz-chacon-illegal-immigrant-article-1.949066

If there’s a credible enough source and quotes, I’m sharing it. It’s not enough as it needs to keep being shared (and that’s why the source has to at least be credible) and shared again to keep the story trending on Twitter and appearing on the first page of news sites or Google. If these sites won’t police the hatemongering crap people are using them to spread, then maybe we need to mix some love and positivity into the equation when we find it?

If 2016 was the year of the emerging Troll maybe 2017 could do with some Peace Spamming?

Anyhow must go off and Macrame a Yurt in my Metropolitan elite dreamland!*

 

*drink a can of lager in my terraced house in Essex. Us liberals are all the same!

 

 

 

Week 10 sees our remaining six be-suited shitclowns assembled at the Old Royal Naval College in Greenwich and tasked with creating and flogging their own brand of gin. “You may be wondering why you’re here” Lord Sugar muses. Another tenuous link perhaps? Ah yes “During the 18th Century” continues the be-knighted hairy walnut “The navy helped to make gin” (really?!) “and loaded boats with the spirit to pay their sailors”. (Er hang on wasn’t that rum? Oh whatever!).

He mixes the team so Nebula is now Alana, Jess and Courtney whereas Titans consists of Grainne, Fran and Trishna.

Courtney is still pretty cocky despite being the only chap left in the process whereas the remaining women dream of an all Y chromosome final. “Who’s going to win?” they chant in the car. “The girls!” they conclude because nothing screams ambition like infantalising yourselves.

It’s time to pick Project Managers. Alana points out she works in the food industry, but Courtney says ambiguously he’s from a “product background” (well aren’t we all?). However Alana insists she’s “surrounded by alcohol all the time” (I know the feeling), but Courtney buts in moaning he hasn’t had the chance to lead a creative task before. Alana says as we’re all thinking that it’s not all about Courtney, it’s about winning and poor Jess sits there dizzily (“I’ve got faith in both of you”) until Courtney forces her to pick who’s best and she wimps out and picks him. Courtney wants to do the branding with Jess so he can send poor sidelined Alana to the kitchen/distillery by herself. He then insists on patronising Alana a bit more by worrying she’ll even be rubbish hidden away from public view making gun. “This is very close to what I do” she points out and he backs down. They taste a load of gin and wastefully spit it out into a big bucket. Alana suggests that fruity flavours sell the most, and has the idea of “raspberry and pink pepper”, and Courtney meekly agrees. Maybe so he can blame the flavour on her later?

Over on Titans Grainne’s pitch for leadership is “I’ll be honest.. I’ve tried a lot of gin” (Irish contraception) and she’s in. Job done. She picks Trishna to go to manufacturing and sends Fran to do the branding all by herself. They all get their moneys worth on the gin samples, swallowing rather than spitting, and plump for a spicy flavour.

Fran’s concept initially seems to be inspired by the Naval College (“a naval officer travels the globe and comes up with exotic spice flavours in India”), but gradually gets more sinister as she suggests the product be called “Colony Gin” and there should be a “colonisation map” on the label (“It’s a shame we can’t get England on there” she tells the designer, who simply moves everything about so India disappears from the label and Africa dominates with the UK in the top corner, “Oh there we go! I actually got an exam in geography you know”). Is Fran’s dad Godfrey Bloom or something? It could only get worse if she goes for “Bongo Bongo” gin. A young woman clearly somehow stuck in the 1970s she also likes the idea of an orange and brown colour scheme on label inspiring Trishna to make an orange coloured gin.

Alana gets to work with Thomas the distillery expert who informs her that colouring is frowned upon in the gin world (racist) and that raspberry is not a usual gin flavour. Undaunted she comes up with her own recipe adding yet more raspberry as Thomas looks worried.

In the distillery Grainne is starting to get a hot flush whilst sampling yet more gins as she and Trishna embark on a giggly gin bender (watched by an unimpressed Karren) whilst poor Fran tries in vain to call them to get the ingredients and alcohol percentage to go on the label. She ends up (“pissed off”) having to go with her own ideas and only by the time Project Manager Grainne finishes “making” gin (“I just need to sleep”) well after the deadline for branding does she realise she’s missed 19 calls. I now think every customer services department in the UK is getting pissed on gin whilst we listen to Greensleeves.

Meanwhile Grainne and Trishna have gone all “Gin Lane”600px-beer-street-and-gin-lane

Courtney’s “creative genius” shines through as he comes up with “giin” (the two is represent two people apparently because Courtney is all about ego). His next thought is spelling GIN “with an X”. Jess restrains the urge to shout “wanker” and asks what the X means. Apparently it’s a secret. Wanker. He fails spectacularly to make a decision despite Jess’s urge to “choose yer concept”, but eventually plumps for Giin making out it’s Jess’s decision as boardroom ballast. Apparently “giin” will be all about “drinking with friends”. Radical! What about the ever growing lonely alcoholic market eh? When they break it to Alana she thinks it sounds stupid and Courtney slams her down “just focus on making giin” (yeah shut up and get back in the kitchen I mean distillery!). He then tries to get her to make the gin pink. She explains this is not acceptable in the world of gin (apart from pink gin obviously but I think it’s to do with using non natural colourings) and Jess fortunately backs her up. Courtney then whinges that the gin doesn’t taste like raspberry when it arrives whereas Alana at least has the grace to decide to pitch like a beast for “giin” despite thinking it sounds like something a “toosser” would come up with.

At 7am both Grainne and Trishna look peeky as Fran breaks it to them that there are no ingredients on their label (“If you don’t like it tough!”) and Trishna descends into a depressive fug whereas Grainne tries to look on the bright side (“I know it was a mistake but”) by making sure Fran and Trishna take the difficult first pitch whilst she gathers customer feedback (and someone finally points out the “negative connotations with the word COLONY”).

Courtney seems to want Alana well away from the pitch and decides she should do consumer testing until she stands up for herself and Jess agrees to mingle with the plebs (who state they would prefer a pink label). In the car Courtney asks Alana about the pronunciation of giin (jiin) again and she clearly winds him up by getting it wrong. I like Alana.

First pitch of three is to pretend posh offy Majestick. Courtney struggles to erect his easel and stumbles over his pitch (Claude “Courtney is incredibly boring”) giving Alana little chance to speak. He’s obsessed by the word “concept” (“The concept is we are three er friends” “Why’s there only two ‘i’s?” “Er”, Alana “We didn’t bring her with us!”). The Majestick panel don’t taste the raspberry but decide it’s “different” which could be good (or shit).

Jess arrives and tells them to mention the label colour from the consumer research in the next pitch because she’s desperate to have some input. Courtney insists he doesn’t want to add doubt and Alana reiterates “do not bring negatives up in a big pitch” leaving Jess thoroughly “fuming”.

Whilst Trishna clanks around like bottles recycling day in a middle class suburb Fran pitches about “the colonies at the height of the British empire” and Trishna mentions the Colony gin contains “grains of paradise” which sounds like a friction rub you’d buy from Anne Summers. Majestick like the taste but hate the colour. “Is it from the orange?” they ask. “Oh yeah it’s utterly natural” fibs Trishna despite it looking like radioactive hobo wee.

Somehow Courtney gets to choke through another pitch (oh yeah he’s PM) to Tesco. Jess still wants to mention the market research and promises not to be negative honest (“We DID realise from consumer research that it makes sense to use a pink colour in the branding”) and everyone gets a bit carried away (Alana in the post-mortem “It was a bloody waffle off!”).

Tesco are even less impressed with Colony and don’t enjoy the drink even when still pissed Grainne extols the virtues of “Jupiner sorry Juniper”, pointing out it’s the same colour as a certain “Scottish soft drink”. “We could take the colour out” offers Fran prompting Trishna to declare that NEVER NEVER will they take the orange out of Colony (“Take away our colour take away our brand”). Trishna blames Grainne afterwards for not mentioning a woman who “didn’t drink gin” and said she enjoyed it in order to escape during the market research (“That was a key quote”) and Grainne gets consigned to a separate car whereupon angry Trishna gets poor Fran to phone her up and tell her the pitch wasn’t “structured” enough. Grainne gets all angry fishwife (“WHAT?! This is sounding a bit patronising!”).

Jess pitches to the third client “Barworks” (me neither) and Nebula work quite well as a team. Barworks bloke even enjoys the flavour (“It’s got just enough raspberry”) until Alana almost blows it by presenting them with the uninspiring (“Raspberry eruption”) cocktail they’ve clearly devised to disguise ginns failings which barworks find too “gimmicky” (“It says Halloween to me. It’s ruined it for me”).

Nobody understands why Colony is orange as it doesn’t have a picture of Willy Wonka and the Oompah loompahs on the front. (“Nobody wants to order a gin and tonic and it come as murky dishwater” – or berrocca wee) and Grainne insists it doesn’t change the flavour. “Then why are you adding it?” ask Barworks and Grainne says it’s a “natural flavour”. “What?” “Er like a er food colouring”. Whoops! Barworks are tearing Colony apart and start on the geography of Fran’s map (“You look at the bottle you think Africa”). “India’s at the top” Fran tries gamely and they laugh at her.

Outside a twitchy Grainne takes delusion to a new level insisting “They didn’t say they hated it – we could still get sales”.

In the boardroom Karren grasses up Team Titans lushy ways (“The spit bucket was empty”, Grainne “We were researching gins”, Sugar “You must have been as researched as a newt”) and Grainne is forced to admit she didn’t take Fran’s vital call as “we left our phone in a separate room”. Was that cos you had too much gin?” asks Sugar and Grainne splutters meekly. Grainne then complains that “Fran was questioning my ability to hold a conversation in a room” and says she found it “Underminding”. Sugar sighs and turns to Nebula.

“Courtney you was PM” (“Yeah” sighs a long suffering Alana). Giin gets some stick although Courtney maintains not knowing how it’s pronounced is a talking point. Karren pounces “It’s good if you don’t know how to pronounce your brand?” but Courtney bats her away quite well (“Well Nikey or Nike”). Courtney’s pitching skills come under scrutiny (Courtney “You don’t get much time and it’s a new product” and boohoo everybody else is in the same boat) till Claude asks why he didn’t just get someone else to do it and there’s nothing he can say.

Anyhow results time.

Tescos brought 1200 bottles of Giin for £20400 (how fucking much?) but didn’t order any Colony cos it was too fucking orange for even their Essex branches.

Majestick ordered 240 bottles of Colony for their racist punters making £5280 but didn’t order any giiin because it sounds too foreign.

Barworks ordered 2000 bottles of Giin for £51000 (which sounds like a rip off when you look at what Tesco paid) but didn’t go for Colony at all.

So Nebula made £71,400 and Titan only £5280 and Alana and Courtney have to strap Jess down to stop her doing a victory dance. nebula go on a helicopter ride where Jess and Courtney big themselves up and Alana looks on the verge of vomiting.

Grainne looks frozen in horror as they leave to Sad Café where Grainne tries to blame everyone else and has a proper aggressive go at poor Fran like a nasty drunk “You PHONED ME 5 minutes before a pitch saying YOU’RE INCAPABLE” (er no she didn’t say that). Trishna goes very quiet – she knows she’s done bad.

So back in and Frances learns the difference between India and Africa (“I know now – India’s underneath” “No that’s the South pole”). Sugar points out that the most successful pitch didn’t involve Grainne and finally Fran is vindicated as it’s pointed out that Trishna got her to make the call (“She was just the messenger” , “Er I apologise, I didn’t realise”).

Frances gets stick for having lost 8 tasks but gamely points out she was only in the final three once before and won big as Project Manager.

Grainne blames Trishna for being moody on day 2 (“I didn’t go to market research with a horrible face” Trishna “It didn’t affect my performance” Claude “er what about your team’s performance”) and Trishna and Grainne launch into talking over each other until I’m begging for all of them to be fired. Sadly Lord Sugar blames Trishna too (“The colour was down to you” – Racist!) and fires her. Somehow Grainne survives.

In the Taxi of eternal regret Trishna thinks he’s made a big mistake. I agree if only because Trishna was clearly way more competent than Fran and Grainne – but that’s the curse of gin.

Back in the house Jess is singing a little song “3200 units please 70 grand in the bank”. If she doesn’t get fired next week someone MAY smother her in her sleep. “Shall we have a gin and tonic” she asks? “No a jiin” corrects Courtney. Oh fuck off.

Next week it’s the interviews round. Surely this is payback time for Grainne?

Liking: Alana. I want her to win which means she probably won’t

Liking with gritted teeth: Jess. She’s mad she is.

Next leader of UKIP: Fran

Weasel Boy: Courtney

She scares me. A lot: Grainne

Well I’m back away after missing last week’s episode due to gigs and a cheeky work jaunt over to lovely Lisbon, but it looks like I missed a corker in Week 8 as the teams had to put on ticketed entertainment, with ANGRY Paul’s team’s Casino night dying the death due to Jess promising punters hot food and Paul bawling her out in front of confused hungry people whereas Dillon went full on Bangkok showbiz impresario (“My vision has a sparkly grotto feeling”) hiring bored looking mermaid prostitutes to do a song and dance routine whilst releasing ping pong balls which somehow achieved 100% customer satisfaction. ANGRY Paul finally lost the plot by snapping at Lord Sugar and unsurprisingly had to sling his hook and go back into cage fighting or whatever it is he does.

So onto Week 9 and as the contestants appear to be having a relative sleep in at 7am of course Claude and Karren turn up at the door whilst everyone scuttles about in their pants. Courtney hasn’t even had his morning tea so does that classic gambit of offering Karren a cuppa in the hope of grabbing one. “No” she bitches sternly “Get down here so we can get on please!”

Claude makes them all put headsets on as though he’s about to execute them, but it’s actually Virtual Reality and through the wonders of technology a slightly slimmer looking buzzing Lord Sugar hologram says “Help me Obi Wan You’re My Only Hope” – or at least welcomes them to “the future” (if you live in the 1990s) where Virtual Reality is the “new” big thing in global gaming and instructs them they have to design a new VR game (in 3 days as opposed to the years these things normally take) and pitching it at Comic Con whilst remembering that the brand is key.

Karren points out that Sofiane and Trishna’s business plans are both in technology so Sofiane is moved over to the Titans (with Dillon, Alana and Grainne) whereas Courtney is shifted over to Nebula with Trishna, Jess and Fran.

Trishna puts herself forward to Project Manage as she is an IT Recruiter and used to play a lot of computer games. Courtney reckons she should be alright “as you’re not competing against me this time” (Karren winces).

Over on the Titans Dillon reminds himself that he is an illustrator, but Sofiane reckons he once sold one of the very first virtual reality headsets in the country and takes over much to Dillon’s chagrin (“I could have led this team to victory”).

Nebula brainstorm and Fran points out that the target market is guys aged 15 to 34. She likes the idea of a “Martian adventure racing through the galaxy”. “I may sound like an idiot but what do Martians look like?” asks the ever literal Trishna until the more imaginative Jess points out they could just “create one”. Radical! Courtney just seems happy with everyone else taking the responsibility for decisions and is put in charge of concept and branding with Jess.

Dillon has a medieval concept of defending royals in a castle but Sofiane reckons you could “just play that on a normal games console” before suggesting playing puzzles. Cos you couldn’t just do that on a console or erm your phone. Dillon immediately comes up with yet ANOTHER colourful sea based idea (ANY excuse to get back into that sailors outfit he’s clearly brought from home specially) and suggests putting together different pieces of coloured shells. Alana agrees that underwater themes are “visually beautiful” and points out that she knows nothing about gaming so Sofiane recognising her arty fartyness immediately puts her and Dillon on ..erm…game creation rather than branding. Even Claude is shocked. Dillon keeps asking Sofiane “Are you sure you’re happy? I work in branding” but Sofiane is incapable of listening “Stay positive, I’ll call you and we’ll go through that again yeah?”

Jess and Courtney get in touch with their creative side which appears to have been inspired by the Mighty Boosh (Jess “He could have lost his pet” Courtney “Yeah it could be a badger!” Jess (sings) “Spaceman Sam and his cosmic badger!” Courtney “Galactic Gary!”). I want what they’re on!

Dillon works the underwater theme around a hunky “Atlantean from Atlantis” who likes to colour coordinate shells. Alana’s not sure who it’s targeted at (gay men with short attention spans?) pointing out that “If it’s a puzzle it needs to be a puzzle”, but Dillon’s carried away with his own creativity. She suggests at least an element of danger with jellyfish dropping onto the player but he thinks it’s “too complicated”.

Fran and Trishna decide to make their game more exciting with a timing element “If you run out of fuel you die”. They’re less impressed by the idea of the lost “astro badger”. “Why a badger?” Trishna asks and Courtney explains that “a cat or dog is not as exotic”. “We want people to experience something they wouldn’t normally” adds Jess to which Trishna deadpans “Yeah which is why it’s in SPACE!”

For some reason the branding subteams have to put on stupid panto style clothes relating to their game (I guess for Comic Con but seriously these clothes are shit and the sight of Sofiane’s little gut poking out from his not even maritime elf tights and tunic is now seared into my retinas). Meanwhile Jess wears a star outfit which makes her look like a sparkly sperm and Courtney dons a spaceman suit (“Does my bum look big in this?” “It’s an improvement actually”). They riff on game names rejecting”Badger Hunt” immediately even though it would probably go down well with farmers. Finally they decide on “Gordon’s Lost His Badger” which royally pisses Trishna off (“If we lose this task because of that name I’m not going anywhere”). She and Fran force their games designer bloke to create a frighteningly over complicated universe full of planets comets and space juice.

Sofiane and Grainne have creative block (“Ocean kid? Aqua kid?”) until Sofiane hits on “Coral kid”. “You know what coral is?” he asks Grainne. “Do you know?” she ripostes. “Yeah it’s like.. under the sea.” So is sewage Sof. He does a crap drawing whilst Grainne suggests the name “Magic Shells” which he latches onto in the absence of any other ideas. “It’s good.. a four year old would know what it is”. Uh oh. Remember that target age range… oh I guess you don’t. He tells Dillon who manages to stop himself saying “What the fuck” and turn it into a drawn out sarcastic “Wooooow… are you serious?” “I don’t know if these shells are particularly magic” Alana worries, adding later that the idea is more “tragic”. Sofiane then settles down to patronise his tame designer (“Do you know what I mean by 3D?”) and gets him to add a helmet to the supposedly Atlantean “Coral kid” (why not just give him an asthma inhaler and be done with it?) whilst Grainne just smiles and nods

Nebula’s branding is space badger obsessed featuring said creature with a rainbow mohawk and no sign of “Galactic Gordon” despite his name being in the game title. Fran’s devastated “It looks like an armadillo! the badger’s got a QUIFF!” before they both demand “Where’s Gordon?!” making me really hope Brian Blessed is watching.

At Comic Con Dillon’s not happy with the Coral Kid (“It’s more cutesy and less Atlantic hero which I would have liked”) and people testing the game all reckon it’s aimed at kids.

Trishna disses “Gordon’s Lost His Badger” claiming it lacks imagination and vision. Jess disagrees but Trishna reckons that doesn’t matter as she’s PROJECT MANAGER which prompts Jess to clutch an imaginary handbag and go “Oooooooh!”. Jess really wants to pitch (“I’m good at captivating a room”) but Trishna’s still peeved at being disrespected and tells Courtney to pitch. Unfortunately he’s happy for Jess to do it. None of the test audience can actually play the game due to lack of instructions and over complexity. Dillon and Sofiane decide to spy on them in their not at all fecking inconspicuous non-aquatic elf outfits and do mega muwahahahs at how rubbish the game looks.

Trishna actually gets on better with Jess when they work on the pitch and Jess brings the narrative to life. Unfortunately in front of the experts and 300 punters from Comic Con Jess comes unstuck at first (“Ooh I’ve got a squeak in my throat”) and loses the magic of her Cosmic Badger beat poem (which if William Shatner recorded it would become a cult amongst stoners everywhere). She gets her mojo back when she’s off the notes (so maybe she just realised wisely that the poem was crap) and answers the experts questions well explaining that Gordon isn’t on the branding as “the badger is the key character” and that although an expert describes the game name as “a cry for help” that it’s randomness makes it unforgettable.

Sofiane plans to open the pitch then pass it to Dillon to tell the story. He wants Alana to demonstrate the game (i.e. wear a mask and not say anything) whilst Grainne explains. Alana’s not happy being sidelined when she worked on the game so Grainne offers to demo. Somehow Sofiane and Dillon have escaped their elf garb and wear suits whereas the women still have to dress in their stupid seaweedy Disney gowns. Sofiane explains that the “ocean is the most immersive place” (no shit) and gets Grainne to start the demo out of order with his instructions completely throwing everyone and turning the pitch into a farce as Grainne (who clearly hasn’t given the game a test drive beforehand) squeals and flails about and Alana blushingly tries to explain what’s happening. Dillon chips in to explain the coral kids mission before handing over to Alana whoops no Sofiane to finish the pitch. One of the experts reckons magic shells “sound like hallucinogenic drugs” (surely the Badger game is the more obviously trippy one? I’ve still got the Badger Mushroom song in my head thinking about it) and Alana tries to rescue it by claiming the game is fun for the whole family “round together” and points out that a kid has offered to create a comic book based around the “Coral Kid” which almost undermines the attempt to suggest it has a wide age range appeal.

Anyhow the audience vote for their favourites whilst the experts give feedback.

In the Boardroom a slightly more realistic Lord Sugar expresses confusion over Astro badgers whereas Karren just seems disappointed the badger is too small (apparently the expert said it needed “more badger”) and takes her anger out on Courtney by outing him as looking “terrified on stage”. However she does tell Jess that the experts found her “really engaging”. Don’t trust her Jess – she’ll turn on you.

ruth-badger
“More Badger Vicar?”

Sofiane bigs up Dillon’s creative genius and Grainne for coming up with “Magic Shells” (big wow!). “What did you do?” asks Sugar. “I came up with The Coral Kid” says Sofiane proudly, plummeting to earth as Sugar again points out the target age range of 15 to 34. Alana demonstrates the game (Sofiane muttering “Go for it Alana” whilst Dillon talks everyone through the narrative “Here’s a bad guy. he says ouch” *bad blob on screen says ouch*).

Sofiane admits he screwed up with the pitch order and there’s genuine tumbleweed when Sugar asks if Sofiane was a good PM. “I think we made a good game” Alana says brightly after an embarrassed pause.

Anyhow 5 of the 7 experts said they would invest in Gordon’s Lost His Badger (with some tweaks. Maybe changing Lost to Found and Badger to Uzi) . None of them went for Magic Shells. And the audience overwhelmingly voted for the badger (222 out of 300).

Nebula are sent to “Flavour” an “Immersive Dining Experience” which looks like a great place to go to if you’re an infantile tosspot with a stupid beard or something as you get to eat in a dungeon then jump around in a ball pit. Trishna’s practically orgasming with excitement at winning and rewrites history to one where she backed her team the whole way. Courtney is unimpressed.

Café Doom looks better than the fricking treat quite frankly.

Back in the Boardroom and Sofiane learns that kids games are the smallest market in Virtual Reality gaming. Sofiane has to admit that he thought of a kid as a character as opposed to Dillon’s “dynamic hero”. It turns out the experts hated the brand and Sofiane reckons it’s because he’s no cop at drawing. “You had access to a world class designer” Karren says coldly – surprised she doesn’t add “No not YOU Dillon” there. Sofiane claims nobody told him it was a bad idea and to be fair to him he probably didn’t hear the repeated times Alana and Dillon said just this (not Grainne – she was happy for him to screw up this task). Dillon also claims nobody else gave any other ideas (apart from Alana eh?) and refuses to accept that he ignored Alana’s ideas (“I’m VERY supportive but I had to prioritise the gameplay”) whilst still standing by his game as “creative” (whoops!).

Sofiane after more deliberation time than an Oxbridge team get from Paxman on University Challenge brings back Dillon and Grainne so Alana gets to scoot back to the house. He explains Grainne just stood by watching (“You’re a make-up artist but you let me draw”) although she probably saw no point in even trying to challenge him and then says he would have made a better game than Dillon (Dillon: “Hang on! 30 minutes ago I was a ‘creative genius'”).

Dillon gets all emotional about his struggle as a middle class white gay man “I had to leave a small town and go to the city.. as a gay man I came up with a lot of adversary” (I think he means adversity but maybe he had an adversary who was also a homophobic jellyfish which would explain his resistance to Alana’s ideas). Sugar points out we all have faced difficulties as Sofiane came to the UK by himself and taught himself English and Grainne erm er is a mother. Everyone thinks Sofiane should be fired but because he hates a sob story he fires Dillon (with “regret”) for “not listening”. There’s five minutes left so he fires Sofiane too (boo) and I’m hoping for a treble firing but somehow Grainne dodges the bullet.

In the Taxi of Eternal regret Sofiane’s shocked but determined to “Achieve my dream and build my empire”. Whereas Dillon is bitter but determined to “Get back to Dublin, get a spray tan and conquer the magazine world”.

Poor Jess waits for Dillon back at the house (“I will be gutted if Dillon goes”) and on Grainne’s return keeps looking behind her for her white haired Irish GBF until her little face drops and she realises he ain’t coming back. Awww.

next week the teams create gin. I may well drink some.

Liking: Alana

Warming to again: Jess

Unconvinced by: Courtney, Frances, Trishna

Secretly Evil: Grainne

Bye Bye: Michelle, Natalie, Lovely Sausage Olly, Aleksandra, Mukai , JD, Rebecca, K, Sam, ANGRY Paul, Dillon, Sofiane