I'm nearly too weak with hatred to type. It's one of the many reasons I try always to recuse myself from reviewing The Apprentice (BBC1). It's not fair on it, and it's certainly not fair on me.
But for the next three months it is hobbity entrepreneur Alan Sugar's world and we just live in it. The Apprentice is four weeks into its ninth series and as, unaccountably, no one has yet staked it or any of its vile progeny through their black, black hearts, we must review its doings.*
Thirteen of the hypergroomed skinbags surrounding the standard but rarely more futilely assembled collections of human organs – or "contestants" as we shall hereafter call them in grudging recognition of the limits of time, space and reserves of bile available – survive.
This week's task is to hang, disembowel each other and sell the entrails to the highest bidder on the black market. No, not really. Just a little dream I had. Instead, the teams are split up by Sugar – some girl-type things move over to the boy-types' team and vice versa – and are told to source farm shop products and stock a farm shop each with the kind of local produce people expect to find and buy in a farm shop. Whoever makes the most profit from their farm shop at the end of the one day they have to run the farm shop wins the farm shop challenge. The key words here are "farm shop".
Neil's first thought, as leader of Team Endeavour, is to sell cheese on toast. His second is to bow to the wish of Kurt – a health drink entrepreneur – to sell milkshakes. Someone else adds jacket potatoes and, on a burst of inspiration, soup. Team Evolve, led by Luisa, decide to sell buffalo meat, because Jordan remembers a van that used to sell ostrich burgers outside his school. This information seemed to me to raise more questions than it answered, but Evolve's is not to reason why, it is to buy up all the buffalo meat within a 10-mile radius and return to HQ. A splinter group heads out to buy some vegetables to decorate the shop. "Six corn on the cobs," suggests their glorious leader. "Enough to make it look farmy." Attagirl.
Meanwhile, Neil, Alex (the one who looks like he's stepped straight off the set of Gossip Girl – the Cardiff Years) and Natalie are out buying milk to shake. "Oh," says Natalie when they spy a herd of cattle, "what a beautiful horse! No – dog! Cow." Alex, a company director, does the calculations. "Seventeen divided by two …" he ponders. "It's so simple, I've just forgot it."
Let us gloss over the rest before we shoot ourselves in the head. Suffice to say, Evolve beat Endeavour by £91 and Uzma got the boot on the grounds that she was slightly less use than anything, anything else at all in the world that you could possibly think of. A nation did not weep, though it might before the next 12 weeks is up.
Speaking of weeping! BBC2's three-part series on Bankers (what they did to us, what they're still doing to us, what we should do to them) ended last night with Payback, a swift but thorough, infuriated and infuriating examination of the mis-selling of insurance products to an underinformed and trusting public still under the impression that banks are there to provide financial advice and services to people without their expertise, rather than exploit them for the bankers' and shareholders' own personal gain.
Alas, deregulation, competition, a fatal dependence on the banks' taxable profits by the government and the untrammelled exercise of human greed meant the stage was set for meltdown. Five years ago it arrived with a vengeance, leaving every taxpayer thousands poorer after the bailouts and some individuals facing ruin – such as the Fletts. Their tale of being sold a mortgage protection plan without understanding that they would have to pay the bank a small fortune every month if interest rates went down was delicately deployed by the programme makers to aerate the heap of facts and humanise the statistics on which it, naturally, primarily depended.
Not one person, it was pointed out, of the hundreds of thousands complicit in the mis-selling and other scandals has been arrested for, let alone convicted of, any of the millions of counts of theft and fraud a decade of deceiving the public must have involved.
It seems such a simple thing to do, doesn't it? They must just have forgotten it.
* Also because preview discs of most of last night's other programmes were unavailable. I must have angered God in some way, and will be seeking desperately to appease him before next Wednesday.
This article originally appeared on guardian.co.uk