Tag Archives: Comic Relief

And So It Begins

In case you haven’t noticed the vast amounts of pre-publicity, tonight another batch of the self-proclaimed “cream of British business talentâ€? lines up to be Sir Alan Sugar’snew Apprentice.

As a precursor to this, we also had another round of Celebrity Apprentice which was notable for having two established business people in the form of Gerald Ratner and Michelle Mone leading the teams, and in doing so proving that, in the case of Michelle Mone even established and experienced business people struggle to keep a team together, and in the case of Gerald Ratner providing someone who didn’t agree with the assessment of the experts.

Anyway, back to the ‘real’ show, and from the clips seen so far it looks like the first task is a car cleaning business, and whether it is selling fish, washing laundry or cleaning cars, the same mistakes are demonstrated. In one preview clip we’ve seen the boys team trying to pressure wash the outside of a car whilst other team members have the doors open and are cleaning the inside, whilst on the girls side we have a classic example of way out pricing with the girls offering the owner of three vehicles the chance to have them cleaned for £300, when the same job would usually cost him £60.

Looks like we’re going to be in for an entertaining few weeks again.

Comic Relief Treats

So the iTunes Store seems to be getting into the whole Red Nose Day support, and already have a compilation of clips from the night available. However the real treats can be found if you take a look at the Best of Comic Relief Volume 1 which contains Blackadder: The Cavalier Years, Doctor Who and the Curse of Fatal Death plus Comic Relief contributions from Ricky Gervais, Catherine Tate and the Vicar of Dibley, and the Best of Comic Relief Volume 2 which includes a special Men Behaving Badly, and an infamous Ali G interview with Posh and Becks.

Sport Relief Does The Apprentice

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It looks like the BBC have decided that a celebrity special of The Apprentice for charity is a good prelude to the series, as well as being a good money-spinner for the charities. In much the same way as the Comic Relief special last year, this years Sports Relief included a celebrity version of The Apprentice, following much the same format.

This time around the two teams of five celebrities, again split men and women, were given adjacent retail space in which they had to set up shops, invite guests, and make as much money as possible for the charity in a one-night-only sale at the shops. On paper, the women had by far the stronger team with two people with business experience – Jacqueline Gold, CEO of Ann Summers and Kirstie Allsopp, who alongside her TV work has been part of several property companies. On the other side, perhaps the only person with any business experience was Kelvin MacKenzie, former editor of The Sun. Of course, as regular viewers will know, it’s not always the team with the strongest individuals or the relevant experience that does well.

One strong similarity between this and the previous Comic Relief special was how clearly it showed that the kind of person who becomes famous is more often than not really bad at working in a team. The men especially fell out fairly spectacularly, and effectively wasted the whole of the first day arguing after Kelvin MacKenzie refused to lead (he later stated that he thought his abrasive management style would be detrimental to the group) and Hardeep Singh Kohli put himself forward and then resigned after Kelvin MacKenzie made a pretty poor taste joke comparing his management style to Adolf Hitler. Following on from that, MP Lembit Öpik stepped in. It wasn’t all sweetness and light on the other team either. Jacqueline Gold was quickly appointed as leader due to her relevant experience, however her management style caused problems, especially for Kirstie Allsopp who objected to being micro-managed by Jacqueline. At one point she referred to Jacqueline as a control freak, and at another point just stormed out of the meeting.

The other big similarity this time around was the importance of contacts. The task effectively had two money making opportunities, the first being the sale of tickets, and the second being the selling of goods. The men lost out significantly to the women with regards to ticket sales by firstly failing to sell all their tickets, when the women sold them all, and also by not selling their tickets for as much money. The big star in ticket sales this time around was footballers wife and former singer Louise Redknapp who managed to sell several tickets at vastly inflated prices – including three to one contact for £100,000. The women also did well on their choice of merchandise, managing to get a good selection of quality items, including some notable support from Harrods. The men weren’t without support either. Although their merchandise wasn’t as upmarket as the other team, they did have a valuable contact in Bernie Ecclestone, the billionaire in charge of Formula One who generously offered to match all of their sales.

When it came to the boardroom, it was these contacts that became the key, whilst in terms of ticket sales the women were the clear winners, the effect of Bernie Ecclestone meant that the sales figures were a much closer affair – however in the final totalling up, it was the ticket sales that won it, and the women won the day.

In the board room, it was clear that Alan Sugar had some people he blamed for the loss. First up he gave Kelvin MacKenzie a real hard time for not stepping up to the mark as leader, but ultimately it was Hardeep Singh Kohli who got the boot – both for his destabilising effect on the group, and also because he took responsibility for the shop – including arguing with the rest of the team over the logo, and also for not charging for food – something the women did and made money on.

Of course being fired from the celebrity show doesn’t really mean anything, as there isn’t a next episode, and no big job at the end, so certainly there isn’t the tension. Certainly various of the celebrities treat it as a bit of a laugh. Having said that, it still is an entertaining curtain raiser to the new series, and in terms of the charity, it raised over £700,000 for Sports Relief.

If you missed any of the show, the sixty minute first episode, the boardroom show and the final episode where Hardeep gets fired are all still available on iPlayer.

Having a Laugh with Comic Relief

Yesterday, this years Comic Relief appeal reached it’s climax with eight hours of TV on BBC1 and BBC2. Yet again it pulled in the donations at a fantastic rate, reaching the fantastic total of £40,236,142 by the end of the night (as a comparison, the BBC’s own Children in Need managed £18,300,392 last year).

The show included the conclusion of The Apprentice Does Comic Relief, that I wrote about yesterday. It finished up with Sugar choosing between Campbell and Morgan for the nominal firing – he went for Morgan in the end, which had been hinted at from the start in that in his start of show interview he was the only one seen commenting that he didn’t want to get fired! To be honest the best moments of that can be found in the first part of the show on Thursday – Campbell and Morgan trying to get the other one fired was amusing, but really a postscript to the main programme.

As usual, the show included a mix of hard hitting documentary sequences showing some of the areas the appeal aims to help in both the UK and Africa, and special comedy sketches. The comedy sketches were a bit hit or miss, with the Vicar of Dibley special, whilst having some funny moments, not being the best, and a live Mitchell and Webb sketch that was greeted with pretty well total silence by the live audience. However, Harry Hill provided what was pretty well a TV Burp Greatest Hits, and there were some star studded sequences from the special Little Britain Live. Peter Kay produced a memorable musical number to follow up Amarillo from last time. This time it was the old Proclaimers number, “I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles)â€? along with Matt Lucas. The video includes an unbelievable range of celebrities, including Lord Lucan and Shergar according to the credits. The video and song are available from iTunes and is going for a record in terms of being the fastest selling online song – we’ve been star spotting in the video, and about the only non-dead celeb who is credited that we can’t spot so far is David Beckham.

The sketches that we laughed at most though, were two of the Catherine Tate ones with a variety of famous people. The first includes David Tennant as a new English teacher, which if you watch, you’ll realise quite why Beth likes it…

The second was just amazing, as it includes Tony Blair, who actually gets a number of the funny lines…

All of the Catherine Tate sketches from the night, together with some bonus material will be available on DVD on April 9th, and is available from Amazon amongst others.

Whilst on the subject of fund-raising goodies, check out Shaggy Blog Stories, a book of one hundred funny blog postings pulled together by Mike Atkinson, and including contributions from a real mix of famous and not so famous UK bloggers, including Dave Walker from Cartoon Church.

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The Video They Tried to Ban

As you may be aware, Beth bravely volunteered to participate in a version of Fame Academy to raise money for Comic Relief, organised in her school by some of the sixth form, where a group of teachers were the academy students. Despite the careful plans not to preserve any incriminating evidence on video of the teachers singing abilities, thanks to an enterprising pupil and a mobile phone, you too can enjoy the atmosphere inside the academy (well the school hall actually), very definitely in the style of a secretly filmed concert video…

Was the Apprentice Comic Relief?

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Tonight we had the first part of Comic Relief Does The Apprentice, a special edition of the UK Apprentice with a mixed bag of ten celebrities taking part, including pop star Cheryl Cole, sacked newspaper editor Piers Morgan, former Downing Street Director of Communications Alistair Campbell, actress and comedienne Maureen Lipman and TV fashion guru Trinny Woodall amongst others. Actor Rupert Everett lasted mere hours into the challenge before he walked off, to be later replaced by Tim Campbell winner of the first series of the real programme.

The celebrities were split into boys and girls teams, and given 48 hours to organise a fund-raising evening based around a fun fair. There was a fixed set of eight attractions, which the two teams had to divide between them, and in addition each team had a food stall, and then could do whatever else they wanted to raise money. A big part of that comes down to who had the most generous celebrity pals – Trinny Woodall managed to sell one ticket to a friend for £150,000 (and yes I have got the right number of 0’s there), much to the amazement of Maureen Lipman and Cheryl Cole. Other tickets go for tens of thousands of pounds.

It has to be said that, in most cases the celebrities seemed to be doing it for a laugh – however as often happens with the fund raising versions of the programmes, others take it really seriously. Campbell and Morgan especially seemed to be having a wail of a time, pretty well right from the start. For example in the opening board room, you got the usual silent round table pause where Alan Sugar is apparently psyching out the candidates. However the moment is broken by Morgan telling Sugar to get on with it, and being met by a swift “Shut up Morganâ€? in return. Piers Morgan also makes a number of Cash for Honours jokes in the direction of Alistair Campbell all the way through – although Sugar gets the first Cash for Honours jibe within the first few minutes of the programme.

Their double act gets quite amusing at times, especially when it transpires that neither are actually able to refill a stapler! Campbell admits that he doesn’t know how, whilst Piers tries, only to have to have Tim have to sort it out afterwards when he tries to use the stapler. Tim incidentally, as he did in the original show, just quietly and efficiently gets on with the work without complaining – quite amazing considering that he is about the only one on the boys team with any real business experience, and is largely relegated to being a PA for Campbell and Morgan.

Things however take a rather dark turn though when the hotel in which both teams are based, accidentally tells the boys team that a chef sent by another friend of Trinny Woodall to help the girls out has arrived. Campbell and Morgan basically think it’s quite a laugh to play along, and have the hotel send the chef up to their room, and start discussing menus. Certainly the impression I got was that it was primarily to make mischief as anything else. However Trinny is one of the ones taking it seriously, and really doesn’t see it that way. She is absolutely steaming at the boys having, in her eyes, kidnapped their chef. Bear in mind also, that the boys team had come out much the better in the negotiations over the choice of fairground rides when Campbell had forced the girls team to give up everything else for the dodgems.

What happens next is quite amazing for a show that is going out as part of Comic Relief. After a little bit of listening at the door, Trinny comes steaming in demanding her chef. Campbell and Morgan however, carry on with the mischief making, totally misjudging the state Trinny is in, and say that since the chef arrived in their room, he belongs to them, and try and stop the chef from leaving. She then tries to drag the chef out of the room, with Campbell and Morgan blocking the way. There is then a good deal of shoving, and she then proceeds to attack the back of Campbell’s shirt with a marker pen. At one point Campbell and Morgan even manage to get the chef locked in the bathroom! At this point Trinny then threatens the chef saying that she will get him the sack if he doesn’t fight his way past Campbell and Morgan!

Things don’t get much better later on with Trinny either as when working with an increasingly amazed Cheryl Cole she seems at times hyperactive, for example demonstrating a detox routine taught to her by a Russian who lives in Austria, and then almost obsessive as she makes an absolute mountain out of a molehill in a phone call with Maureen Lipman about Maureen’s guests. Trinny is meticulously checking off people against tickets, whilst Lipman is part way through the very messy process of making 400 portions of Chicken Satay. Lipman gets more and more annoyed with Trinny obsessing, and her refusal to wait and discuss it when Lipman has finished the Chicken. Eventually Lipman just hangs up the phone, and Cole is left trying to sort out Trinny.

Ultimately on the night the boys seem to make the best of their attractions, but it is the big spending celebrity pals of the girls that swing it. We are left to wait until tomorrow to find out which one of the boys gets fired, but from the clips, it looks like Campbell and Morgan get quite heated in the board room, so I’m betting it will be one of them who gets it. However, the endearing impressions I got from the whole programme were firstly quite how on edge and unpredictable Trinny is throughout the programme. I’m guessing that she is probably someone who is fiercely competitive, however when faced with Campbell and Morgan – who were basically playing it like a game, it definitely produced some fireworks. Campbell and Morgan probably didn’t do that much for their reputations – or maybe they just confirmed what everybody thought anyway – especially considering how much a simple stapler foxed the two of them. Having said that, it was all worthwhile in terms of the purpose of the exercise – between them the teams managed to raise over £1 million for Comic Relief.