Here we go again. Cue throbbing and cascading strings, thudding percussion, doomy choral undertones, and intermittent steely slicing sounds. Cue swirling overhead footage of monolithic Docklands office blocks and brown shoes traipsing round the City. Cue voiceover announcing “six ambitious candidates, all with one aim.”

Bankstone News is never happier than when settling down amidst the old crisp packets, papers and pizza boxes on the stained and battered office Chesterfield to watch the latest new season premiere of the insurance world’s most foremost reality show, Broken Apprentice.

If the entertainment edge of last year’s shows was somewhat dulled by the inclusion of several drearily competent candidates, BA 2016 so far shows no sign of similar shortcomings.

In Episode 1 ‘Meet the Teams’ we encounter for the first time the traditional complement of four boys and two girls (gender balanced, but not excessively so).

So who have we got this year? Well, there’s Craig, an amiably softly-spoken, vaguely Tolkienesque, well-padded presence, with shiny pate and farmer’s beard. There’s Frankie, a young woman whose superficial demuritude and conservative attire mask a will of iron. And there’s Jonathan, whose puppyishly eager – but somehow perpetually cowed – demeanour positively demands nurture and sympathy.

Then there’s Dean, whose peroxide-topped hairstyle and waistcoat-and-shirtsleeves look give him the appearance more of a tailor’s than a broker’s apprentice. There’s Szymon, who presumably once attended a CII local dinner and hence comes dressed as James Bond. And finally there’s Katie, who has clearly just returned from holiday and sports some dramatically sculpted eyebrows.

Asked to self-describe to camera, they respond as follows:

Craig emphasises that he’s keen to learn, describing himself as a bit of a sponge for knowledge at the moment.

Frankie says she is quite fresh in the industry but has a lot to bring and a lot of ideas.

Jonathan says he entered BA because he wants to build relationships with people, to put himself under pressure as such, and to show that he is actually capable of winning something

Dean says he likes to try new things at all times basically, because you can’t do the same thing everyday.

Katie says that, if she is looking at it, entering BA is a good opportunity and that she always wants to help herself develop, adding that she’s probably going to win because she brings many fresh new ideas, is good at working as a team and also really good at leading as well, and is constantly driven to succeed – to the extent that she is actually scared of not succeeding!

Szymon (pronounced, it seems, the way former King of Pop Michael Jackson used to mispronounce come on) says he’s very serious about his professional career and wants to start developing it as soon as possible, and also hints at a potential clash with Katie – because he too thinks he will win, due to his very strong personality and his belief that he is clever enough to do it.

Watching this lot go up against one another is sure to make compelling viewing!

The contenders are quickly split into two B-G-B trios. But there’s a problem, points out taskmaster in chief Mike Rain, MD of the best insurance company in the whole world, Elvy Broker Insurance. Mike is an “established insurance face”, the voice-over assures us. The problem is that Team 1 and Team 2 are not the kind of team names a show like BA can live with.

The contestants’ first task, accordingly, is to come up with something snappier, something with, shall we say, a touch of showbiz razz-ma-tazz, before retiring for some much needed rest before heading out into the City for some kind of treasure hunt in Episode 2.

First to tackle the name-choosing task is the team comprising Jonathan, Frankie and Craig. Jonathan suggests something along the lines of Assurance, Reassurance, something like Reassure, because, that’s what brokers do, really isn’t it. Craig is loving where Jonathan is going with this, beaming widely and getting it all down on his A4 pad. Despite some somewhat noncommittal nodding while Jonathan is talking, Fran is clearly not impressed. Skipping the customary line that goes something like “I think that’s a really great idea but how about…” she cuts in with “What if we just go snap and quick and like Team Elite or Elite Team or Invictus – something quite edgy and that has meaning behind it?” Her team mates wonder if Elite doesn’t perhaps sound a bit high net worth or elitist or something. But Fran has spoken and will not be swayed. Eventually the other two fall in to line. “Team Elite comin’ atcha!” declares Fran to camera in the style of Honey G.

When we drop in on the second nomenclatural conclave, Shzymone appears to be advocating a name that “says something about us as a team,” something, he suggests improbably, something… “fun”. “Popular at the moment,” Dean ventures, is Pokemon. “There is a Pokemon team name Valor,” he notes, which is “a good word for a lot of situations.” Could this be one of those situations? Perhaps it could – especially once Shamone recalls that there’s a DC Comics character called Valor (aka Lar Gand, aka Mon-El, aka M’Onel – you think we make this stuff up?!) which clearly adds a certain super-human frisson. Valor even sounds a bit like the English word Valour meaning courage or something. Glamorous Katie, cross-legged with a deal of limb-flesh on display, is sold. Valor’s a good name she reckons, because because it appeals to a business audience, to an “adult audience”, and to a “child audience”. So Valor it is, then.

Who’ll come out on top when the two teams are unleashed on an unsuspecting EC3 in an urgent quest for insurance related knowledge? We’ll have to wait for Episode 2 to find out.

Bankstone News for one is not at all sure it can!


Team Elite celebrate their aspirational self-identification


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