“Do you want to Fruka?”

Wednesday, June 20, 2007 by

Sadly, knee-deep in various Other Commitments [shudder!], I don’t have the time to write a properly-thought-out-with-actual-arguments-and-that review of last night’s Tycoon, but I feel I must share some thoughts about this first effort from Peter Jones’ production company… starring Peter Jones.

The obvious things, first, then – ITV just shouldn’t go toe-to-toe with the BBC in this fashion. Aluminium-hued shots of the City prompt comparisons to (let’s get it over with now) The Apprentice, but then we get “Tycoon Tower”, a squat, anonymous building on London’s South Bank. Okay, it’s got a “Tycoon” sign outside, but it’s hardly a tower. 

Inside – and here’s the real pisser – nothing at all looks bespoke. This is just a fairly generic working space, hired out for the show. And why does Peter take most of his meetings in the carpark, or the communal coffee-sipping areas with kids loitering in the background? It all just looks so … cheap.

Peter, himself, is a weird sort of TV character. Nothing he says feels spontaneous, particularly in those candid moments it’s just him rattling away to someone off camera. He’s also hugely hung-up on names – his counsel to each of the contestants consisting solely of coming up with new monikers for their products. You can imagine him brainstorming programme titles – “What’s better than being an apprentice. I know, being a tycoon!”

And yet, by the end, I was rather enjoying it. It’s like a lowkey sitcom – and how can you not enjoy Elizabeth “I can move mountains. I CAN move mountains” Hackford, who looks like she’s dropped in direct from a meeting with Simon Harrap at Eyecatchers? Her attempts to get passers-by to name her product. Her pitch for investment money (“That’s not like my product – it’s a concentrate”). Her hackles rising as the Sod girls whirled the klaxon.

Yes, it’s aimless. Yes, it’s unglamorous. No, the “pier of fear” (as it’ll surely be dubbed) is never going to become an iconic element of the show. But people trumpeting their own ideas and talking rubbish – that’ll do me.

Best of all, you can watch the whole thing again courtesy of ITV1′s BBC baiting watch-on-demand service (which is really great) at:

Do tell me what you thought of the show. Meantime, I’m off to see if anyone wants to Fruka.


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