Leave an impression - Tune in, switch off

19th June 2009 at 01:00

"There's little we can do about the economy. We're only the Government and we've got obesity to worry about," declared the two Johns, playing the famed stereotypical civil servants they've made their trademark in a timely return of Bremner, Bird and Fortune on Channel 4.

This was politics masquerading as entertainment. Rory Bremner was on top form, especially in the uncanny impersonations of the Prime Minister. How does he do that with his face? Bremner's YouTube spoof was almost as funny as the Number 10 original.

Dispatches: Crash Gordon (also Channel 4) though a serious documentary, could have been another sketch from the show. "No return to boom and bust," Mr Brown has apparently intoned more than one hundred times. Presenter Andrew Rawnsley treated us to repeat clips to prove it.

These were from the days when macho Gordon, like his namesake celebrity chef, believed he had an economic recipe that wasn't cooking the books.

Labour MP Frank Field suggested to roars of laughter (in my house anyway) that we should introduce Asbo-style behaviour contracts for the rich. Just run that idea past me again, Frank. Or was he being Rory?

Bremner presented this year's TES Schools Awards and he's as good in the flesh: cartoon quality faces and voices so real you think he's brought the politicians with him. I wonder why he's not impersonated Sir Alan, now Lord Sugar, yet. A couple of weeks ago, we had either The Apprentice (BBC1) or one of its off-shoot programmes nearly every night. Why not just an Apprentice Channel devoted to the life histories of these young entrepreneurs?

But in schools, we'll all applaud Sugar if he creates more apprenticeships in his role as government adviser, even if they are in chocolate manufacture.

Here's what Rory Bremner's Sir Alan might say: "Listen. I don't give a boardroom bollocking which of 'em gets through. As long they ain't costing me money. Show business is still business. You don't get to be popular by being popular. Any good teacher can tell you that.

"So when people wonder why I throw the nice guys out and keep the steaming, screaming hysterics, they just don't get it, do they? It's bleedin' obvious why I chucked the likes of Sandhurst Ben, who thought making money was better than sex, or that mousy Mona. And all the other limp shadows. They was as dull as daytime TV."

Cock-ups and tantrums make great telly. That's why The Apprentice is the most talked about TV programme. Forget Britain's got Talented Amateurs with Piers, Amanda and Simon.

As Sir Alan (or Rory) might say: "As I tell everybody each week, there is no second prize. There's only one winner. Me. The rest is just entertainment."

Ray Tarleton is principal of South Dartmoor Community College in Ashburton, Devon.

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