Wednesday, 29 April 2009

Apprentice UK: Did I mention my Sandhurst Scholarship?

I was going to title this blog post "obnoxiousness reigns supreme", celebrating the return of the Ben Clarke we know, but over this episode of The Apprentice I think Ben reminded us that there are other things about him worth celebrating such as, his constant reminder to us that he turned down a scholarship to Sandhurst and his recurring refrain asking people to "please let him finish" as he launches into another bout of waffle.

Even worse (or better depending on your viewpoint) today we discovered he is ultimately spineless but more on that later.

The task this week was simple, both teams were given a similar set of items of varying value. The teams had to go out, sell these items and the team that got the most money won. Sir Alan appointed Phil Taylor as team leader of Ignite and Ben as the team leader of Empire

We turn our attention to Phil first. I used to like Phil but as we get further into the process I feel the worse aspects of his personality are coming to the fore, especially when it concerns Lorraine Tighe.

Last week they bickered endlessly over the choice of advert, with Phil dismissing Lorraine's concerns of his 'Pants Man' marketing idea. This week Phil promised to listen more and that seem to augur well for his his leadership. That entente cordial however did not last long. Lorraine had at the beginning of the task correctly pointed out that one of the items, a rug, looked promising and they should investigate a little more into its value. Phil wasted no time in dismissing this idea totally.

A fatal flaw but fortunately nothing in comparison to the shambles that Ben considers team leadership. He was unforgivably rude about the buyers behind their backs, he pushed through deals that were clearly unprofitable and his overall strategy was aimless, so no surprise that he lost.

For all his bravado when it came to the point at which he selects the two to go into the boardroom and face Sir Alan he showed why Sandhurst and the British Army were lucky that he chose not to go. For the nominations he initially choose James McQuillan and Noorul Choudhury but when he heard the sound of incredulity in Sir Alan's voice on hearing James nominated, he performed one of the fastest, most spineless flip-flops in apprentice history dropping his nomination of James and going for Debra Barr instead.

Sir Alan always asks that team leaders bring in people who led to the task being failed implying the boardroom judgement was to be based on the task itself. Very rarely is this the case. If that had been the case today we would have been saying bye-bye to Ben, but instead the judgement seemed to made on the series as a whole and once it headed in that direction it was clear Noorul was a goner. For a man who as been so quiet all along he did put in an incredibly spirited defence, but it was too little too late.

Noorul Choudhury

To be honest I think the moment Noorul was nominated, Sir Alan had him down as fired. Plus for some unfathomable reason Sir Alan's side kick Nick Hewer seemed to go out of his way in the boardroom to defend Ben's performance, something that drew Debra's ire and boy did she let it rip, so much so that Sir Alan to issue her a warning about her tone with Nick.

Standouts this week:

Debra Barr : Say what you like about Debra, as long as you say she has balls. Yes, massive cojones as they say in the country that gave us Swine flu. It is not often that candidates defend themselves in the face of criticism from Nick but Debra did that and more, albeit maybe a tad too aggresively. It tells us thoough that you know she isn't going down without a massive fight and she doesn't care who the opponent is.

Noorul Choudhury : There is a inner beast in all of us, we just need the something to bring it out, for some it does not take a lot, for others it takes quite a prompting, for Noorul it just takes Ben. Noorul found his voice in the boardroom and what a performance he gave. Sadly the baggage of poor performance from the previous weeks was too much to overcome.

Ben Clarke : All I can say is thank God, Ben did not go to Sandhurst. Thousands of young men put their lives at risk in the Army to defend this country. The thought of Ben leading these guys into action is not even worth thinking about.

Sunday, 26 April 2009

Flawless versus Diversity: Street war on Britian's Got Talent.

With all the hype Susan Boyle and Shaheen Jafargholi have generated you could easily be forgiven for thinking Britain's Got Talent (BGT) is all about singing. You could be forgiven but only if you had not seen the auditions of either Flawless or Diversity.

We have have had dance acts on BGT before and even a winner (George Sampson) but to be honest none of the dance groups or dancers that have gone before are a patch on either of these two groups. They have raised the bar and more. Granted they both been around and in competitions over the years, and it shows as their routines are tight!

Folks, we have dilemma, it is unlikely both groups will make the finals (although it would be great if they did) but I will bet that one of them does. So at some stage we are going to have a dance-off in a sense; Flawless versus Diversity.

Flawless for my money are the better dancers, but Diversity's routine is more entertaining and a polished entertaining routine counts for more than pure talent at these things. They both obviously need to bring a new routine for the next round and that will play a major part in the decider.

Ultimately I think Diversity will trump Flawless, for the reasons above and also they thrown in the cute kid factor with the two kids they have in their group.

What do you think?



The ruthless truth behind the X-Factor

Times Journalist Caroline Scott digs behind the shimmering feel-good veneer of Britain's most popular entertainment programme - The X-Factor and it is not pleasant. If we are honest with ourselves we all know the entertainment industry is ruthless, and more so because it attracts a significant share of naive and delusional folk, which makes it almost brutally ruthless, and X-Factor it seems behind the scenes is no different.

Caroline's article What happens to The X Factor runners up? talks to runners up over the years and unveils a litany of duplicity, delusion and ultimately despite their best efforts a sad gradual decline into obscurity for most of those interviewed.

It is hard to get the full story on all who have gone through the X-Factor conveyor belt as a combination of restrictive contracts and the fear of being permanently black-listed by the industry leaves many contestants fearful of speaking out about their time on the show, but some do:

Steve Brookenstein (Winner 2004)

“Simon kept saying, ‘I know what I’m doing,’ by which he meant, ‘I know what sells.’ But it sounded like karaoke to me. I was offered £12,500 to go away quietly, and when I didn’t take it, life got very difficult. My website came down, there was a lot of negative publicity…”

Niki Evans (fourth, 2007)
"I kept trying to tell Leon [Jackson, winner, 2007], ‘Yes it’s great you’ve got a £150,000 advance and they’re sending cars to Manchester to come and get you, but what you don’t realise, sweetheart, is that you’re paying for them."

Andy Abrahams (runner-up, 2005)
“Well, actually, I wasn’t really a binman, I just helped a mate out for a couple of months” — had been playing pubs and clubs for years.

Ben Mills (third, 2006)
“Every time someone buys my album I get 0.2p. The manager got 20% of my advance and 20% of every gig I did, and the record company took another 12.5%. Still, all I’ve ever wanted is to make a living out of music, and I’m doing that, but there was a point when I certainly felt I’d lost control of my life.”

Sharon [Osbourne, then a judge] wanted me to stage a walkout one week to generate a huge tabloid story and get me votes. When I refused, she didn’t speak to me again. Simon always pre-warned me if he was going to spice up the show a bit by slagging me off, but I’ve never forgiven Ray [Quinn, second, 2006, now playing Danny in Grease in the West End] for crying during the semi. I offered him 50 quid not to, but he’d made up his mind. You could almost hear the old ladies at home reaching for their phones.”

Wednesday, 22 April 2009

Apprentice UK : Kimberly Davis was just pants!

"I am a rough tough cream puff from New York " and so we were introduced to the American-born Marketing executive Kimberly Davis, shame though as it turns out tonight it seems Sir Alan Sugar is not a fan of cream puffs.

The task for today's episode was to design a marketing campaign around a healthy cereal with added emphasis on creating a cartoon character which would appeal to kids.

First though a few observations, one shocking and one not so shocking. Shocking: Ben Clarke was co-operative,a team player, gave some good ideas and there was no sign of his obnoxiousness. I still trying to recover from this.

Not So Shocking: Noorul Choudhury probably strung together no more than one sentence in the whole episode. I see a great opportunity for him at the end of the series as the new face of Nytol, or some other sleeping tablet.

Back to the action tonight and I have got to start off by laying down my respect for Kate as the Project Manager of the Empire Team. She has single handedly helped crush any lingering stereotypes about blondes, and in particular good looking ones. She led a tight team with everyone contributing and ended up with what in my opinion was a very viable product, a strong cartoon character and a pretty decent TV advert.

Alan Sugar thought so too and she and her team were rewarded with an evening with a 'laughing yoga' guru, as prizes go this one sounded like a bit of a joke....

Now onto Kimberely Davis she was well up for this task given her marketing background and her experience leading teams of "creatives", but that was just her problem on one hand there was Noorul Choudhury whose only creativty seems to be doing a season-long impression of a French mime, along side Howard Ebison and Mona Lewis who were only slightly more vocal, not that that takes a lot to do.

Kimberly Davis

On the other hand were the constantly bickering pair of Phil Taylor and Lorraine Tighe. It was Phil's forceful nature that was really the undoing of the team. He railroaded through his idea for "Pantsman" a carton character that wears his pant outside his trousers supposedly to remind you that if you have your cereal you wont be caught out doing this. Ultimately the reponsibility was Kimberley's for not being forceful enough to stamp this ridiculous, ill-conceived idea on its head.

Despite all this she could have still saved herself if only she brought Noorul into the boardroom Sir Alan has his card marked and is gaging for the day he can sack him. Like so many before, Kimberly made the classic Apprentice mistake she went for the big egos, the big players rather than picking off the small fry, Phil for coming up with the pantsman idea and Lorraine for bickering.

No surprise when it backfired. Lorraine held her ground and defended her position strongly, Phil whom Kimberly had hoped would help bring Lorraine down, instead turn his anger on Kimberely for having the audacity to bring him in, the man's ego is monumental. It also helps that I think Sir Alan has a soft spot for Phil and so the axe fell on Kimberly.

p.s. We saw the first sign of Phil Talyor's rumored romance with Kate Walsh as the pair shared an intimate peck after he survived the board room...

Stand outs this week

Kimberly Davis: She was weak and ineffectual, but her greatest failing was not being tactical enough, instead allowing her emotions to determine who she brought into the boardroom. The lesson here for future Apprentices focus on surviving, not on getting your opponents fired.

Philip Taylor: In darts they love their nick names and a great darts player of the past was Phil "The Power" Taylor, if our Phil was a darts player he would definitely be Phil "The Ego" Taylor. I like Phil because he is a trier. His failing though is he is a poor listener because he is so cocksure about his ideas being the best, and that will eventually be his downfall.

Lorraine Tighe: First time I have really seen Lorraine in action. While she did come across as a bit negative in this task fundamentally her concerns was valid, the idea was pants. She just needed to have articulate her concerns better, admittedly Phil's "my way or the highway" attitude didn't help.

Richard Branson and Sebastien Vettel share a passion for the ladies.

Sir Richard Branson, billionaire business tycoon and Sebastien Vettel Formula 1 racing driver it seems have a shared passion when it comes to the ladies as Branson has revealed in his blog.

Branson was revelling in another superb outing by the Brawn GP Formula 1 team in which his Virgin brand has invested $30 million. After two victories in Malaysia and Australia, where BrawnGP driver Jensen Button won both races albeit on technicalities. Jensen grabbed another podium finish in Shanghai last weekend coming in third behind Sebatien Vettel (Red Bull) and Mark Webber (Red Bull).

It seems Branson has shook off reports in the British tabloid News of the World of a bust up between Jensen and himself over Branson's alleged over-familiarity with Jensen's girlfriend Jessica Michibata.

In the blog Branson who has given several of his planes fairly saucy names like "Hot Lips", "Mustang Sally", "Pretty Woman" and "Miss Behaving" revealed;

A last word on the winner - Sebastien Vettel - who I read likes to name his cars after women and called his first car of the season Kate. We do the same at Virgin Atlantic - where each plane is given a distinctive female name.

Vettel smashed Kate up at the Australian GP and had to rename the car. He called it “Kate’s Dirty Little Sister” as he said this winning car was “more aggressive and faster!” I am not sure we could get away with that at Atlantic!

Monday, 20 April 2009

Britain's Got Talent : Why did Shaheen get a second chance?

Yes we're back on the the BGT trip. I made my feelings known about the whole Susan Boyle phenomenon. Apparently, despite my concerns, she is heading on to be one of the most viewed clips on YouTube ever having so far notched up 34 million views, go figure.

Enough about Susan, today we turn cast our beady eyes on a enough BGT phenomenon, the youthful prodigy that is Shaheen Jafargholi. Just to clarify Shaheen is clearly very, very talented which is all the more why I am bemused by the nonsense that surrounded his audition.

It started off with Shaheen coming on stage and proceeding to sing 'Valerie" the Zutons song made famous by Amy Winehouse. Now I am no music Svengali but I thought it was a decent performance and the crowd thought so as well as they were cheering along.

Suddenly though Simon Cowell has his hand up calling proceedings to a halt, cue confused looks all around (or should that be supposedly confused looks) and Simon announces enigmatically to Shaheen"you've got this wrong". Now call me pedantic, but at this point isn't he supposed to press his red button to signify his disapproval, aren't Amanda Holden and Piers Morgan supposed to wade in saying how much they loved the act, which they appeared to be doing, wouldn't any normal 12 year old be reduced to a quivering wreck.

No none of this happened instead Simon asked young Shaheen what else he could sing to which the reply came "Who's loving you" by Michael Jackson. Off you go, says Simon and as it happens the backing track to the song is available (thank God for small miracles eh!) and Shaheen launches into an absolutely pitch perfect rendition of the song.

You might be thinking, OK it is not like this hasn't happened before, and you might be right Cowell has given others a second chance at an audition.

What if you learn that young Shaheen beat a bunch of other equally talented kid to nab the lead role in 'Thriller Live', a musical featuring the songs of Michael Jackson, that he has gone on tour to Germany, Holland and Ireland and that he is a veteran of stage school and has appeared several times on TV in shows like Casualty and Dr Who.

Not so blasé are we now. Nothing wrong with a bit of scripting but please make it realistic, this was just appalling. Anyway the bookies have Susan Boyle followed closely by Shaheen as the top favourites to win the whole lot...:-)

Sunday, 19 April 2009

Britain's Got Talent:: Is Susan Boyle mania all carefully scripted?

It is the audition rounds of Simon Cowell's latest celebrity search vehicle, Britain's Got Talent (known to aficionados as BGT). A dishevelled middle aged character comes comes on stage, looking out of place and somewhat overawed by the surrounding and the crowds.

The Judges - Simon Cowell, Amanda Holden and Piers Morgan - look on somewhat dismissively at the contestant who in a media age where physical beauty is paramount is severely lacking in that department. We the audience have become so used to equating physical beauty with musical ability that we expect this to be another one of those shambolic auditions added to give the show a humorous element.

The studio audience start booing and heckling even before the singer starts. In the background the backing track starts, it is a familiar track not to pop-y and well known enough to appeal to all ages, and from this unlikeliest of contestants comes a beautiful vocal rendition. Suddenly Simon with a pen in the corner of his mouth perks up and raises his eyebrows. Amanda looks on totally enchanted, occasionally turning back to to audience to be sure they are sharing in this moment of joy as waves of pure orgasmic pleasure envelope her. Piers stares ahead totally gobsmacked.

That was the reaction to Paul Potts in 2007, and again in 2009 when Susan Boyle hit our screens, but how real is it?

Shows like BGT do not get where they are without great attention to detail. There are armies of researchers and production assistants assessing and screening every contestant before they even make it before the Judges. By the time they get to the Judges the production team know exactly, who they are, what they do, how long their performance is going to last, etc...Are we to believe that the Judges are the only part of the team that don't ?

I don't buy that for a second. The counter-argument is that the Judges' reactions seem so genuine in these cases. That may well be the case, an act like that can be fascinating even after seeing it several times. So their reactions can be perfectly natural even with them in the know, particularly as they can feed off the genuine surprise of the studio audience.

What the Judges, researchers, production company unearthed when they stumbled upon Susan Boyle was this was a chance to repeat the success of Paul Potts. They know the BGT 'ugling ducking' to singing sensation is a winning formula and shows like this are all about squeezing a formula till it squeals.

When Paul Potts did his magnificent rendition of Nessun Dorma, the video was posted on You Tube by viewers and has gone on to be one the most watched You Tube clips in the world. With Susan Boyle ITV which broadcasts BGT haven't left anything to chance, a dedicated You Tube Channel - BritiansSoTaleneted was created allowing it to control and reap the benefits of any success on the Internet for the show which would include Susan Boyle's rendition of 'I dreamed a dream' from the musical 'Les Miserables'.

Also Given the global nature of today's world it came as no surprise that people in the US got caught up in what was going on, thanks to largely the Internet. As Paul Potts Internet fame grew he got invitations to appear on US Chat shows and Morning TV. With Susan Boyle the response from America has been more overwhelming and most importantly more immediate, suggesting either many of these US channels have just run short of things to broadcast or a lot this had been agreed and put in place before her audition was shown last week. Never underestimate how much influence Cowell has in the US media.

Even if it is all stage managed, is it such a bad thing? Well not for either Paul Potts or Susan Boyle, they get the sort of exposure even established artistes will give a lot for. Not for the TV companies it gives them a packaged product without the flaws and uncertainties a real unscripted show can bring. For the audience maybe, but only if you believe wholeheartedly that TV by pure chance stumbled on an "ugly duckling" and gave it the opportunity to turn into a glorious singing swan.

The Wire : Season 1 ends on BBC

Season 1 of the Wire came to an end this week on the BBC. People have been going around saying this is one of the best TV shows ever. That's is a load of BS. It is THE BEST TV Show ever.

Despite the BBC for some unfathomable reason scheduling it at midnight, the show has been madly addictive not just for me, but for about 600,000 other hardy folk, who have tuned in for each showing. A fantastic viewership for that time of the night and on BBC2 as well.

The show has everything, the character and plot development is superb. It is telling that despite an above-average sized main cast, you still feel a strong connect with all the strands involving the various characters.

You see the bleakness of "the game", the euphemism for the world of drug dealing infesting the Housing Projects of Baltimore that has entrapped Avon Barksdale, Stringer Bell, D'Angelo Barksdale, Wee-Bey, Poots, Bodie, the tragic Wallace and others. The frustration, corruption and machinations that engulf the Baltimore police force, McNulty, Kima, Bunk, Lieutenant Daniels and the rest of the cops.

You see glimpses of the how tragically officialdom is disconnected from the realities of crime and policing on the street, as it chases statistics, closure rates and photo opportunities for the media.

You would be sorely mistaken if you think this is some sort of police procedural drama or a Cops and Robbers thriller. The Wire doesn't do simply analogies, it explores the complexity of all the characters, it delves into why there is very rarely black and white, but only endless shades of grey.

The tragic story of Wallace epitomises what The Wire is about. Born in to drug infested world of the Baltimore projects he knows no world outside "the game". He has no moral reservations about "the game" itself, in his moral code "the game" is a given the only questions are how "the game" is played.

He is the witness to a particularly brutal murder and he begins to question the rules of "the game" he is abiding by. A fatal mistake, the life he lives tolerates only absolute loyalty, and when the loyalty is under question tragedy swiftly follows. It is the tragedy of Wallace that gives us two of the most powerful scenes in season 1 of the Wire.

The murder of Wallace by "his boys" Poot and Bodie on the orders of Stringer Bell.

D'Angelo who had tired to warn Wallace of the danger his doubts would put him in confronts Stringer Bell over Wallace's death

The season 1 of The Wire has delivered in spades and with four more seasons to go, it going to be a great Spring TV-wise. BBC has taken a break for snooker (typical!) but The Wire will be back for season 2 on the 4th of May.

Saturday, 18 April 2009

Funny Advert : Specsavers

Just saw this advert on TV and it brought a smile to my face. It is the latest in the "Should've gone to Specsavers" series...

Wednesday, 15 April 2009

Apprentice UK : Sandalwood or Cedarwood, the difference is in the price....

...and its huge, at least that was what Paula Jones found out today.

It is our weekly dose of The Apprentice and this week's episode should be probably re-titled 'The Great Escape of Noorul Choudhury'. To describe Noorul as useless would be an affront to genuinely useless Project Managers the world over. He gave uselessness a bad name and it is going to take a while for it to recover.

Noorul Choudhury

The task was to create beauty products from natural ingredients and once again Sir Alan Sugar tinkered with the teams and Noorul emerged as Project Manager for Team Ignite on the basis of his Chemistry background while Empire team chose Paula Jones.

My first thought when I saw this is where did Paula come from?, I hadn't noticed her before, has she been with us all along? You got to give it to her, so far she had executed the low profile strategy perfectly.

Ignite chose a honey based range tagged 'Honey I am home' and away they went with Noorul deciding nothing, selling nothing, coordinating nothing, but simply being a witness as the other team members busied themselves around him.

Paula by contrasts was deeply involved with her team, probably too involved. In a crucial moment that decided her fate she and team mate Yasmina Siadatan got in a spot of confusion over whether they would use Sandalwood or Cedarwood as the essential oil in their products.

To the uninitiated not a big deal, but in the world of essential oil and fragrances Sandalwood is king costing 500 times as much as Cedarwood! Guess what they choose, yes they went for Sandalwood. Unfortunately theydidn't pick up on the cost implications, although Paula had asked Yasmine and the extremely obnoxious Ben Clarke to watch over the costs

At this point the rest of the script writes itself. Despite a high quality product and a good team effort at selling, the high cost base wiped out Empire's profits. To add insult to injury, Noorul's failure to make any decisions meant he failed to make even bad decisions, and slipped through almost by default to win.

As it was all down to costs, Paula dragged Ben and Yasmina into the Boardroom. Ben dug into his seemingly unending stash of obnoxiousness as he went to battle in the boardroom with Paula firmly in his firing line.

Yasmina who apparently was Paula's good friend on the show also had no hesitation about stabbing her in the back. Poor Paula, who I thought was excellent (bar the Sandalwood \ Cedar wood fiasco) lacked the the ruthlessness to really go after either of the other two and ended up getting fired.

Paula Jones

Stand outs this week

Ben Clarke: Small minded, conceited and obnoxious. A walking advert for why people think extremely short men are driven by a powerful need to overcompensate.

Noorul Choudhury: Exhibit A: Initial Strategy Low Profile and cruise through the early rounds. Get to the middle round and show what you are made of. Answer: Nothing. One of the poorest candidates I have seen, will be out very soon.

Paula Jones: Exhibit B: Initial Strategy Low Profile and cruise through the early rounds. Get to the middle round and show what you are made of. Answer: you could have been a prime candidate to win it all but you forgot one thing, if you can't back stab, bitch and crawl into the gutter with the best of them, you are just another name to add to the list of those who didn't, and Paula you couldn't.

Friday, 10 April 2009

A letter to Billy Bob Thornton

Dear Billy Bob,

I can call you Billy Bob can I? I ask because recent events seem to show you are a bit tetchy about stuff and I just want to make sure I not crossing a line I ought not to. Particularly after I read about your recent visit to the Canadian Radio station, CBC.

Apparently you were there to promote your Band, The Boxmasters and got a bit peeved when you were referred to as an "Oscar-winning actor".

Now first things first. How did I miss this music thing? Are you doing a Joaquin Phoenix and completely changing career direction? At 53 that's seriously brave decision as they say, but if it is what floats you boat then cool.

However what ever you are doing or decide to do music-wise, it is worth remembering that the only reason a top Radio station like that is giving you the time of day, is because you are an "Oscar-winning actor"!

Dude you need to get real, if you were just ordinary Billy Bob Thornton from Wapello, Idaho or some other backwater do you you think you could just swan into a radio station with folks fawning all over you? No! Granted you've been doing the music thing for a while but lets be honest you ain't the first actor to dabble into other areas. Folks like Bruce Willis, Steven Seagal, Russell Crowe amongst others have all done it, but the key thing is to remember what puts food on your table, so to speak.

So by all means buy a tour van, get a few friends together, perform at trendy intimate gigs, but don't ever get upset about being called an actor, because to be honest that's the only reason millions of people like me have ever heard of you.

p.s. I was pleasantly surprised to see your band has an album for sale on Amazon and is the 836th best seller in the music section, so I guess you might actually not be that bad.

p.p.s The insulting a whole country thing, that never going to fly. You are probably now a persona non grata anywhere north of Niagara

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See Interview below

Thursday, 9 April 2009

Apprentice UK : Getting high on your own supply

Purveyors of illicit pharmaceutical - Drug Dealers to you or me - have a saying "don't get high on your own supply" and it seems that is just what team empire did in The Apprentice today, well certainly Ben Clarke and Majid Nagra were doing just that.

Sir Alan decided to mix up both the teams this week ending the boys vs. girls face-off, and the task was create and market a personal fitness product. Team Empire, which was formerly the boys team, decided initially to create something to tackle Bingo Wings. The team did a product survey and found the biggest sellers were the simplest products. The message to the Ben and Majid who were in charge of product development, keep it simple!

Did they heck, Ben obviously fancying himself as a ultimate body building dude was along with Majid, adds also sorts of bells and whistles. Well you know how a product tries to be "everything to everyone" well what Empire ended up was "nothing to no one".

It had defeat written all over it and so it proved. Enter the showdown in the boardroom and James the Project Manager took in Ben and Majid. James who had developed a reputation of talking a lot but not saying much, proved why this is the case as he astutely failed to point out his clear saving grace, which is that he had all along stressed the product should be simple.

Instead he engaged in circular arguments with Ben. As the bickering went on Majid just looked on confident that the likely apprentice to be fired wasn't him, think again Majid. In a dramatic turn, the searchlight switched to Majid and Sir Alan made clear his displeasure with what he saw as Majid just cruising along, needless to say Majid was fired.

Stand outs this week

Ben Clarke: Proved how obnoxious he can be, calling one of the other contestant obese and wallowing in narcissistic pleasure as seem more interested in demonstrating his physique than concentrating on the job at hand and to my money he should have been fired this week.

Debra Barr: Was the team leader of Ignite. Although she won, she once again proved why she will never win "cuddliest Apprentice of the year" with a barrage of snide comments and put downs.

Phil Taylor: Yes he is an estate agent, but he was the creative spark on the Ignite team and came up with the product idea that won the day. Early tip for the final.

Sunday, 5 April 2009

Jenson Button : New Kid on the Podium...

Formula 1 is all about speed and it comes as no suprise the speed with which you can go from zero to hero, take the case of Jenson Button. He debuted in Formula 1 in 2000 and over the next eight years he only managed one race win out of the 157 he took part in, not a sterling record by any stretch of the imagination.

While his record on the racing circuit over those years was nothing spectacular, his performance on the party circuit was earning him a lot of attention. Over the years he has been linked with string of beautiful young women including pop singer Louise Griffiths, actresses Florence Brudenell-Bruce and Rose McGowan and most recently lingerie Model Jessica Michibata.

All that changed this year, well at least the racing bit seems to have. As is the case with formula 1 it does not really matter how good or crap you are at driving, get the right car and you are up there battling for glory, and it seems the car lottery came good for Mr Button this year. His Brawn GP car has blitzed the opposition and seen him win the first two grand prix races of the season, effectively trebling his win record.

It also means their may be a change at the top of racing royalty, last year it was all about Lewis Hamilton and Nicole Scherzinger, this year maybe all about the new formual 1 power couple Jenson Button and Jessica Michibata.

Saturday, 4 April 2009

Thousands turn out to bid Jade Goody farewell

In scenes reminiscent of the funeral of Princess Diana thousands have turned out to bid farewell to reality TV star, Jade Goody. Jade had been dubbed the "Primark Princess", as a mark of her working class routes, was laid to rest at St John The Baptist Hill Church in Buckhurst Hill Essex this Saturday.

The funeral procession started early in the morning at the premises of F A Albins & Sons, the Funeral Directors from Bermondsey, South East London who handled arrangements. Bermondsey was where Jade was born and grew up and the funeral procession snaked its way through key locations of her life in the neighbourhood.

There was the Bermondsey market where Jade's Grandfather had a stall and there was the grim Council Estate, the Dickens Estate (see on Google Street View), where her mother Jackie Budden, struggled to bring her up.

The cortege then moved on to Essex the home to many of the happier times in Jade's life, her post Big Brother Fame, her kids and the family life she had built up.

Her final journey came to an end at the Baptisit church in Buckhurst Hill where celebrities like the SugaBabes, Kerry Katona joined family and friends to say their final farewell.

Friday, 3 April 2009

Madonna to appeal for Mercy!

....I like this headline, I think it is worthy of a Sun sub-editor :-) .

Well you have all probably heard the news by now, a Malawian Judge has turned down Madonna's plea to adopt Mercy James, the Malawian baby girl.

Madonna had hopped over to Malawi to pick up a baby sister for her son David Banda (also from Malawi) and things seemed to be going according to plan. There was the expected outrage from civil groups both in Malawi and abroad, but nothing she hadn't dealt with before. The Malawian government seemed happy with the whole arrangement, so what was there to worry about?

Or so it seemed, then enter Judge Esme Chombo. It seems this esteemed member of Malawian judiciary wasn't with the plan. The Judge turned down Madonna's application saying

"It is necessary that we look beyond the petitioner ... and consider the consequences of opening the doors too wide, by removing the very safeguard that is supposed to protect our children, the courts ... could actually facilitate trafficking of children by some unscrupulous individuals."

Chombo said while other foreigners have adopted children from Malawi, but the only case in which some residency requirement was waived was Madonna's when she took David Banda out of the Malawi in 2006 before the adoption was finalized in 2008.

The battle is not over as Madonna is allowed an appeal, and an appeal is just what she intends as her Malawian lawyer Alan Chinula has already filed notice to appeal for Mercy.