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

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