Awaking with a start on Friday morning from the four-day stupor induced by last weekend’s festivities down the Badgers (and subsequently back at Gareth and Kayleigh’s with Deano and the Hove Edge lads), Bankstone News stretches, scratches, and staggers across the office to slump down again in front of our trusty Star-Boy E17 Multimedia PC.

Having chipped and chiselled away sufficient curry sauce to get the keys moving freely, we quickly and expertly log in to the world wide web and check in with ever-reliable online insurance news oracle Insurance Ache to see what we’ve been missing this week.

Imagine our consternation, Readers, to realise we’ve entirely missed the launch of this year’s long awaited Broker Apprentice web-TV spectacular. There it is: Episode 1, Meet the Teams, just waiting to be clicked and viewed.

Pausing only to scurry over to the office mini-bar and fish out a still surprisingly fresh prawn korma for brekky (nicely ‘set’ now and thus easier to eat with just a wooden chip-fork), we get stuck in straight away, to both prawns and Apprentice. Let’s see what sort of a shower they’ve rounded up this year to raise awareness of the manifold attractions of a career in professional insurance broking.

Cue dramatic thudding bass. Cue frenetically swooping and scraping string section. Cue carefully enunciated female voiceover declaring: “Six up-and-coming brokers. [Dramatic pause.] Six ambitious candidates.” Just a hint of saucy provocation on the word candidates.

How Bankstone News’ heart pounds! Our slackening jaw still rising and falling abstractedly against a crunchy paste of grease-steeped spicy crustaceans, we’re right back under the spell of general insurance’s most compelling reality TV substitute.

So who have we got this time? First up, there’s beardy slicker Daniel Abbot, visually a young Dave Gahan of Pesh Mode fame crossed with Strictly’s Robbie Savage. Dan thinks he’s going to win because “I’ve got something about me that I think people would like to see,” and because he follows the emerging market.

Baby-faced Charlie Barrett freely admits to having no technical knowledge whatsoever (“that will come”), but reckons forging relationships is his main strength. By a mile. Intriguingly, he also appears to claim he can think with his feet. Whether this unique ability will give him an edge remains to be seen.

Plaintive-sounding Virginia Church hints obscurely that she is “part of different groups within the insurance industry already.”  She is clearly confident drinking coffee from a paper cup in profile, and thinks her strengths lie in “being ambitious and trying to think out of the box a bit more”.

21-year old Nick Magee has “grown up with a lot of things” and has a lot of things he can bring to the insurance industry, on to which, he says, he offers “a fresh pair of eyes.” (Hope these prawns are still alright.) All of which, Nicky suspects, should enable him to clinch this’ year BA crown.

“I’ve not been back into the insurance industry for a long time,” declares Emma Garrity as she breezes through a swinging glass door. It turns out she’s popped out to have a baby, but now she’s back. “I’ve got to the finals,” she declares with a hint of giddy disbelief, and… “Here I am!”.

Ché Chesterman lookalike Tristan Antrobus-Holder (not half as posh as the name suggests) cheekily confides that he has “a fairly innocent take on the insurance industry,” but then claims he can see things that other people cannot. Things like technology and stuff. Could this special power prove his trump card?

Also on board for this season is seasoned insurance veteran, and accomplished touch typist, Jonno Rork of L0V= Insurance (along with his faithful sidekicks L0V= Broking MD in Waiting Mike Crayne and L0V= Personal Limes Director Michael Lorrance).

Jonno says he’s looking for “real people”, so any undeclared fictional characters or robots or whatever should probably do themselves a favour and quit the process now before they get found out.

Congratulating the contenders for having already beaten off a “wide number of your peers to get to this level,” Jonno sets them the challenging first task of coming up with Team Names.

In Huddle Number 1, Beardy Daniel (teamed with Charlie and Ginny) likes Triumph or Indemnify. Stony silence ensues. Charlie proposes Evolve, which Ginny gives a cunning twist by transforming it into Ee… Volve! Deal done.

In Huddle 2, Emma suggests they look for something “insurance-y but not too insurance related”. Tris and Nicky nod appreciatively at the subtlety of this nuanced approach. “I really like the word Re-broke,” says Emma. “That’s cool” nods Tristan, hand on chin. Aspire says Nicky, before worrying that it sounds too much like Perspire. Inspire says Nicky. That’ll do nicely, they all agree.

So there we have it: the battle lines are drawn. Team Ee…Volve! will battle Team Perspire. Gloves will be removed, eager platitudes mouthed with heartfelt vehemence, and, for all Bankstone News knows, all hell will break loose in Episode 2 when the two teams go literally head to head on the mean streets of Wimbledon armed only with chocolate eclairs.

Can’t wait!

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