You may think that BBC’s The Apprentice is all about finding the best of British business talent. You may think it’s devised simply as an exercise to mock deluded corporate goons. You may think it exists so we can all marvel at someone who’s made an awful lot of money and has therefore earned the right to be rude and abrasive to his fellow human beings. In all of these instances you would be wrong.
The real reason The Apprentice exists is to showcase the best of London’s contemporary architecture via aerial footage. You can barely get through 50 seconds of the show without some shot of a shiny new building taken from a helicopter. Living in Brighton, personally I find it very useful. I don’t get to London much anymore, so it’s nice to see how my home city is changing/developing/being desecrated.
Of course, we all know that every era has its iconic buildings, and the aerial footage in The Apprentice is wise in reflecting this. When the show started in 2005 it was all Canary Wharf, Canary Wharf, Canary Wharf. Move on 3 years and the producers were positively orgasiming to get as many shots of The Gherkin in the show as possible. But now there’s a new beast in town. A beast so monumental, so domineering that it is demanding more and more of The Apprentice’s airtime. That beast is the mighty Shard, a beautiful 1,083 ft tower rising over the London skyline and designed by architect Renzo Piano for the specific purpose of winning the ‘The Apprentice Aerial Buildings Shot Numbers Game’. So far it’s walking it.
But exactly how many times has The Shard been shown in this series (series 8) of The Apprentice? Sure, we all watch the show and go, “oof, there’s that shard again,” but few of us have done the numbers legwork. I know, I’ve checked Google and nobody has had the decency to report their findings. I was sad about this so decided to fill the void.
The first thing I did was to make sure I had all episodes of The Apprentice recorded. Here’s the proof of that.
There are 11 episodes in total (not including the final, which at the time of writing has yet to be aired).
The next thing was to make up a tally chart. Here’s that.
All that was now left was to sit through 11 episodes of The Apprentice and count the number of times in each episode that The Shard was shown. To log the results I chose to use tally marks (a tried and tested historical method that leaves little margin for numerical error).
Not needing to watch the show in full, I did all 11 episodes with the sound down and on fast forward. On average it took 12 minutes 6 seconds to watch each episode. Occasionally I would need to stop and rewind just to make sure I hadn’t missed anything, or to reacquaint myself with one of Jade’s tight dresses. But as a general rule, this way of working proved to be more than fit-for-purpose.
4 hours and 13 minutes after I started I had my results. Here is the proof of that.
So what are those results? Well, I’m happy to inform you that in the 2012 series of The Apprentice The Shard was shown via aerial helicopter footage 71 TIMES Or, to put it another way, that’s one shot of The Shard every 9.14 minutes for the entire duration of the show. But, and here’s a twist. In episode 10, although there are 7 shots of The Shard, one of them is not an aerial shot. It is seen through a window when Lord Sugar is wanging on about something or other. I have decided to include this in the overall figures however, as it is a shot of The Shard during The Apprentice however the BBC choose to film it. That’s up to them.
Now that all of my hard work is done, I can just sit back, relax and letch over more of Jade’s tight dresses and her husky/30 B&H a day voice.
As an Aside, Here are Some Things I Have Learnt Along the Way
- The episode with the most number of shots of The Shard was episode 8 (10)
- The episode with the least number of shots of The Shard was episode 2 (4). I watched it twice to make sure.
- You are always guaranteed at least 2 shots of The Shard as the title sequence at the beginning of each episode is the same (except in episodes 10 and 11 where they only show it once and replace the second Shard shot with a building that has a large fan on top of it).
- There are an awful lot of aerial shots in The Apprentice, full stop. Mostly it is of Canary Wharf. Sometimes The Gherkin or The Post Office Tower gets a look in. There are also shots of the pointless places Lord Alan Sir Sugar meets the contestants in the morning, and also some shots of where the teams try and punt whatever tosh they are tasked with that week.
- Sometimes, when a contestant has been fired you’ll see footage of a road at night, just after they’ve got into the taxi. The taxi is, of course, a nice juxtaposition to Sugar’s limo. A way of suggesting that taxis are a sign of failure.
- Once the show moves to the boardroom (34 minutes in) I know I can relax my eyes a bit as most of this section will be largely (although not exclusively) Shard free.
- Each episode of The Apprentice is 58 minutes and 27 seconds long.
- The most number of different aerial shots in one scene was 4 (Shard, Canary Wharf, London panorama, road).
Exam pass rates in the UK are the highest in Europe. It’s no surprise really. Our GCSEs are so simple a bumble bee could get an A grade. Essentially we are a nation of idiots who could tell you the best way to launch a multi-media marketing campaign for a can of beans, without actually being able to open that can. So I decided to change things. I went onto the streets to give the public some knowledge.
I don’t often write things on this site that are not linked to some photo-fuelled nonsense project, but the events of Sad Friday (as it shall now be known) have made me want to put it down in print. Not that I expect anyone else to be interested in an event as insignificant as me losing 30 Twitter followers. No. But it’s good for me because one day when I’m 74 I will be sitting on a park bench and I will bore a stranger to stone with a woeful tale of how I once lost 30 followers in one day on a website that used to be very popular in the days before we were all allowed 160 characters and could send those 160 characters telepathically.
Quite how it all happened is somewhat odd. Now, I lose and gain followers all the time, I’m sure we all do. In fact I quite like the dynamics of how it all happens. My favourite loses are the people who have been following me for about 5 days after someone has kindly given me a #FF or something like that. I like how they give me a few days grace and then seemingly all together go, “Nah, this guy’s an idiot.” I notice it particularly when someone like a journalist makes the well-meaning error of recommending me to their followers. Usually the people who follow these sorts of clever journalist folk like to play intellectually, culturally and politically in areas I choose not to play in. Alas, they are led to me by the goodwill of someone they respect, and what happens? I tweet something like how a hot dog once reminded me of Canary Wharf. I really can see how those poor people would feel both duped and violated.
But Sad Friday was different, very different. It all started, as so many good stories do, with Chris Eubank. If you don’t know who he is, Google him (you’ll get a far better insight than anything I could write). But let’s assume you know who this wonderful man is.
Eubank lives in the same city as me (Brighton) and he’s somewhat of an eccentric – loved or merely tolerated in equal measure. Personally I love him. As a boxer he was wonderful (simply the best, in fact) and as a person his unique take on life draws me in. He came back onto my mental radar because a local radio station was running with a story about how Eubank was defending the honour of the City of Brighton against the ‘rival’ seaside town of Skegness after some truly shocking comments made by them. It was an enthralling story and one I followed with gusto. In fact, it was just the sort of story that I was put on this Earth to be interested in. I tweeted about it a bit and, because I like the radio presenter who orchestrated the whole thing, I got involved in my own little way by chipping in to the radio show with tweets and retweeting the odd thing that they said on the matter. All fine so far. Then I thought it would be a really good idea, as a tribute to Eubank and to honour the good work he was doing on behalf of the people of Brighton, to temporarily change my profile photo to one of Chris Eubank. In my head I also thought it would be a good idea if everyone on Twitter in Brighton did the same thing to show their support for the great man. Of course nobody did, partly because I didn’t ask anyone to and partly because nobody would have done so even if I had asked.
Then something odd started to happen. I started to lose followers at a rate I didn’t normally lose them. At first I didn’t think much about it. And then a couple of direct messages came to me. They both questioned whether me putting a photo of Chris Eubank as my Twitter profile was ‘slightly racist’. I didn’t really give it any thought as the suggestion is quite obviously ridiculous. Then I started to get a few other comments that suggested similar misgivings. Then I lost more followers, and then a few more, and then I wondered if I had turned into Nick Griffin without realising.
I’ll be honest with you, I knew I wasn’t Nick Griffin so I couldn’t understand any of it. How could putting a photo up of someone you like, someone who amuses you, someone who I would put at the top of any celebrity dinner party guest list (along with Holly Willoughby) be so misunderstood? Then I lost some more followers.
As it happened, I’d only planned to have the mighty Eubank up as a profile picture for a day anyway, so at the allotted time (11am) I duly reinstated the old photo of me holding a pineapple (I love pineapples) and that was the end of that. Eubankgate was over and I had survived largely intact but with 21 fewer followers. I knew in my heart that I was no Jim Davidson, so I was happy. The worst anyone can truly level at me is that I’m a child in the faded body of a 42 year-old who gets excited by trivial things and tweets too much.
You’d think now that I would have just shut up for a bit. Instead I decided it would be a good idea to let my followers know that I cannot stand zombies or anything to do with them. It was not a decision I took lightly, although I admit it was a decision I took with a considerable hangover. It is no exaggeration to say that I had wanted to come clean on the whole topic of zombies for some time, but I felt scared. There are many people, truly good people, (friends included) who like zombies as a concept and as a creative tool. But I just don’t. We live, however, in a culture where to admit that you’re not in on the whole zombie thing is a damaging admission to make. People judge you, dislike you and, as I found out, instantly stop following you on Twitter. Undead fascism I call it.
I was lucky though. Two of my favourite Twitter people (and big zombie fans) have, at the time of writing, stayed with me. They know that it’s not them I’m attacking, but just those zombies that I can’t stand (all of them). Look at it another way. I love a bit of brutal 1960s concrete Soviet architecture – always have done, but I don’t make judgements about the person if they don’t share my love. Now, people who don’t like brutal 1960s concrete Soviet architecture are clearly misguided – of that there can be no doubt, but that’s not the point here. The point is that immediately after my zombie admission I lost 7 followers. Shortly after that I lost another 2. It felt like the love of my life (TV’s Kate Garraway) had turned around to me and said, “I did like you, but when I found out that you didn’t like zombies I realised it could never be between us.” It hurt. I don’t mind telling you it hurt.
Now, I’m not a numbers person, I don’t mind how many Twitter followers I have, but it did slightly bemuse me that some folk think putting a photo up of Chris Eubank is, “mildly racist,” and others think they cannot be linked to me anymore simply because (very sensibly) I detest zombies (and I really do detest them). It truly is an odd world sometimes.
And that is how I lost 30 Twitter followers in one day. By the way, have you heard my views on Tim Vincent?
It’s a simple question, an important question, but the possibilities for calculation errors are enormous. What I’ve done here is try to provide some guidelines that can help others work out (with some degree of accuracy) the number of showers they have had during their lifetime. I should point out that these guidelines only really work if you are a shower every day type person. And you should be one of those, you really should.
The first thing I did was to calculate the total number of days that I have been alive.
But wait. Don’t forget those leap years. These are the leap years that I have lived through.
So that’s 11 leap years = 11 extra days. That makes the total number of days that I have been alive,
Then you have to remember that we didn’t get a shower in our household until 28th February 1979. So I need to minus my days on this planet without a household shower.
But don’t forget those leap years.
So that makes,
But you then have to factor in the showers that I had before we had a household shower. For example, swimming lessons at school. I reckon this would be about 31. That makes,
From this figure I needed to work out the days that I missed having a shower. These were the days I spent at music festivals, or the days when I didn’t leave the house because I was sat on my sofa surrounded by chocolate, crisps and holiday brochures.
But that’s not all. What about the days when I had more than one shower? Now, I’m convinced that those days are more numerous than the days when I didn’t have a shower. For the sake of argument, let’s leave the figure as it is and add 250. I realise now that we have strayed into the world of mere conjecture, but unless you have logged every shower you have had above the allotted one a day this figure is never going to be accurate. In retrospect, I now wish I had logged those extra showers on an Excel spreadsheet.
So, with all of that taken in consideration, I am now at the stage to state that the total number of showers I have had in my lifetime is,
But let’s not leave it there. If I’ve had 12413 showers in my life and I average about six minutes in the shower each time (I timed this today, and my routine rarely changes) I figure that I’ve spent 74478 minutes of my life in the shower. Here’s the proof of that.
As we all know that there are 60 minutes in an hour, this means that I’ve spent 1241.3 hours of my life in the shower. Turn that into days and we get,
So, in conclusion, in the 15415 days that I have been alive I have had 12413 showers and spent a total of 51.7 days of my life in the shower. Or, to put it another way,
We live in an age of celebrity. Everyone wants to be one, and those who don’t want to be one want a retweet from one. Personally, I’ve never asked for a retweet. Well, I did ask for one off Michael Barrymore once, but that was a joke, and to be fair to the lad he obliged. I’m going off-track here.
The fact is that, as a nation, we get very excited by the concept of celebrity. I suppose I’m no different. I’ll slag Bono off all day long, but if I saw him coming out of my local Robert Dyas I’d probably get quite excited and text someone. I wouldn’t go up to him and hassle him though because that’s just wrong (even though it is Bono and, quite frankly, he deserves to have his life blighted by stupid members of the public day in, day out).
But yet again, I’m going off-track. What I’m trying to say is that I’m not the sort of man to hassle someone famous. I believe that (just like us pointless people) they have a right to go about their business unhindered and unhassled. Which is why I’ve decided, as a little person, to give something back to people in the public gaze. No retweet pleadings, no photo requests, no autograph demands from me. I’m going to reverse this relationship of take, take, take. It’s time to get altruistic with the well-known folk.
What I shall be doing is contacting the celebrities who I like via Twitter and making them a concrete offer. I will, at a time of their choosing, buy them an ice cream (up to the value of £2.40) when they are next in my hometown of Brighton. There are no strings attached. I’ll meet them by the pier, say hello, buy them an ice cream, ask them why they chose that particular ice cream and then be on my way. That is all.
I should make it clear that the ice cream cap of £2.40 is a very important thing. We live in a competitive and ego-centric world. It would be very easy to think that certain people, because of their fame, deserve better ice creams than others. Barack Obama, for example, probably deserves a better ice cream than David Van Day. But I’m having none of it. Everyone is equal in my offer, and that is why, Dalai Lama or Coleen Nolan, you’re getting no more than £2.40 spent on you. To put that in context, they can have a Cornetto, but not a Magnum Gold. I must stress that these rules are non-negotiable, and woe betide anyone who tries to get all diva-ish about it (Mariah Carey, Martine McCutcheon).
This morning I tentatively dipped my foot into the world of ice cream altruism by contacting Claire from pop band Steps. This is what I politely sent to her.
At the moment I’ve not heard a thing. I’m surprised to be honest. You’d think she would have jumped at the chance to have a free ice cream – everyone likes a free ice cream. But no, not a sausage from her. It’s odd, very odd.
But that was only the first offer. There will be many more to come, of that you can be sure. And this is where you could possibly be kind and help out. Do you know a celebrity (and my concept of celebrity is VERY wide) who would like a free ice cream (up to the value of £2.40)? If so, why not tell them about my offer and I’m sure we could sort something out. Like I said, there are no strings attached here. However, if any of the celebrities did want to enjoy their ice cream whilst strolling on the pier, I would be happy to accompany them and point out sights of interest and give them the historical background and relevant facts. Like I say though, that’s optional. I’m easy either way.
Here are some of my other offers.