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).