Simon Hoggart

Dull but odd

We tend to import American television as seen — comedies and cop shows, mainly — whereas they create their own versions of ours: The Weakest Link, The Office and, perhaps apocryphally, a Fawlty Towers which omitted the Basil character because he was too offensive.

Now we make our own American hits. Take The Bafta Awards (BBC1), which tried to bring some glitz and pizzazz to this little island. The organisers hope that the Baftas might one day challenge the Oscars as the world’s greatest entertainment awards show. Not on this evidence. It was dull. Too few Hollywood stars had bothered to make the trip. The frocks weren’t bonkers enough. Stephen Fry is our new national master of ceremonies (surely he’ll have some role at Charles’s and Camilla’s wedding. ‘Ladies and gentlemen, will you be most deliciously upstanding…’).

His welcome to the guests was just plain odd. ‘You busy bees have filled our lives with so much movie honey. Let us smear ourselves with that movie honey!’ When he said, ‘Will you welcome an actress whose first name rhymes with the capital of Austria — Siena Miller!’ I wondered just what was in that honey. The Oscars are safe for a few years yet.

The Apprentice (BBC2, Wednesday) is a British version of the US reality show that had Donald Trump as the tycoon offering a million-dollar salary to the most successful salesman among 14 entrants. Except that our unlucky victor will get only £100,000 for a year’s work. ‘The contestants will stay in an eight-bedroom luxury house on the banks of the Thames in west London — a first glimpse of what the winner can expect!’ Not for a hundred grand, he can’t; those houses cost millions.

And the British version doesn’t have Donald Trump — absurd, over-the-top, and possessed of a sense of interior décor that would have made Louis XVI run away screaming — but Alan Sugar, of Amstrad computers.

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