Last Night's Television: The Apprentice, BBC1
The Speaker, BBC2

"We've had a bit of depression in this boardroom over the last few weeks... it's time for a bit of laughter," said Sir Alan, dispatching the winning team at the end of the latest episode. Something similar might have been said of The Apprentice itself at the beginning of last night's programme. So far, it's been fine, but not exactly vintage stuff... and decidedly short on YouTube gold, the sort of jaw-dropping, did-you-see-that-bit moment that gets a series talked about the next day. Last night, made up for it, with easily the funniest episode so far. The task facing the teams was to brand and advertise a new breakfast cereal, a worthy- looking combination of bran flakes and dried fruit. The teams had to come up with a concept, and a cartoon character that might persuade parents to buy this mixture, and their children to swallow it. The fun started almost immediately. "Has the cereal-killer thing already been done?" asked Philip. His team-mates gently steered him away from that mysteriously unexploited territory, where children's breakfast and mass-murder meets. But that deranged proposal was only marginally more misguided than what he came up with next. Thinking on his feet, which were by now lodged squarely in his mouth, Philip outlined his stab at advertising surrealism, a campaign that centred on the comic potential of underwear: "It's so natural that you feel naked... but with pants!" he said, in a eureka tone of voice. Creative excitement gripped him and he stood to audition the jingle he'd composed to accompany his concept: "When you waaaake up and your belly's rumberling... You've got to dance in your pants till you get your belly filled. If you are off to work or you are off to school, you got to dance in your pants until you get in the mood".

The exact nature of the sales pitch here was mysterious and it only got more opaque as the programme continued, reaching a delicious apogee of enigma when Mona pitched the commercial – starring a figure with a wild yellow quiff and a pair of Y-fronts over his tights – to an audience of advertising professionals: "The slogan we've come up with is 'Put your pants on the right way'," she explained, her voice reedy with panic. "So basically, when you eat our cereal you won't dress up like Pantsman because you're not Pantsman. Only Pantsman gets away with wearing his pants over his clothes." The experts looked unconvinced about the sales prospects of a cereal that sidelined nutritional value in favour of dressing guidelines. It didn't exactly help the team's cause that the pack design, a critical part of the task, had been done down a phone line because they'd spent so much time bickering about their basic concept. The result looked like the market leader from a Fifties Albanian supermarket. Staring at it bleakly, the team leader Kimberly, who had thrown herself forward as a marketing expert, tried desperately to think of something good to say: "I like the green," she muttered finally.

Things were going too well on the other team for them to be able to match this level of wincing embarrassment, but James (the one who can taste success in his saliva when he wakes up in the morning) did provide a lovely little Spinal Tap moment when his group went into the studio to record their jingle. Elated by the fact that his composition had been given a professional gloss, James bubbled over: "I feel like Ringo Starr," he said excitedly, a pitch-perfect line in its notion of rock-star glamour. Then he followed up with another: "I feel like a monkey learning to use tools," he added, beaming proudly. In the end, Kimberly took the long walk, having conspicuously failed to gild the turd Phil had forced on her, but she can at least pat herself on the back for having helped put The Apprentice back on track.

The Speaker continues to have problems, despite the fact that Alastair Campbell pitched up this week to give them a crash course in tricolons, anaphora and epistrophe, and other rhetorical tricks. Their task was to make a political speech to a group of Surrey residents about some local issue, with the "electorate" then voting to give the most persuasive speaker a free pass into the next round. Campbell was refreshingly direct about the fact that they'd all taken the line of least resistance when it came to pitching an argument, but the real problem here is that they can only show you tiny chunks of the speakers' performance without making you want to jab feverishly at the channel changer, and a challenge show that can't wallow in the way the challenge is achieved has a real editing problem. Watching became particularly difficult yesterday when the candidates for eviction were required to make a passionate speech in defence of one of the candidates who'd gone through, a sequence that was so toe-curlingly embarrassing that I eventually had to sleep in my socks.

Arts and Entertainment
British author Helen Macdonald, pictured with Costa book of the year, 'H is for Hawk'
booksPanel hail Helen Macdonald's 'brilliantly written, muscular prose' in memoir of a grief-stricken daughter who became obsessed with training a goshawk
Arts and Entertainment
Tom DeLonge has announced his departure from Blink-182

music
Arts and Entertainment
The episode saw the surprise return of shifty caravan owner Susan Wright, played by a Pauline Quirke (ITV)

Review: Broadchurch

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Ava DuVernay and David Oyelowo are teaming up for a Hurricane Katrina drama

film
Arts and Entertainment
Just folk: The Unthanks

music
PROMOTED VIDEO
Arts and Entertainment
In the picture: Anthony LaPaglia and Martin Freeman in 'The Eichmann Show'

tv
Arts and Entertainment
Anne Kirkbride and Bill Roache as Deirdre and Ken Barlow in Coronation Street

tvThe actress has died aged 60
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment
Marianne Jean-Baptiste defends Joe Miller in Broadchurch series two

tv
Arts and Entertainment
The frill of it all: Hattie Morahan in 'The Changeling'

theatre
Arts and Entertainment
Gillian Anderson and David Duchovny may reunite for The X Files

tv
Arts and Entertainment
Jeremy Clarkson, left, and Richard Hammond upset the locals in South America
TV
News
A young woman punched a police officer after attending a gig by US rapper Snoop Dogg
people
Arts and Entertainment
Reese Witherspoon starring in 'Wild'

It's hard not to warm to Reese Witherspoon's heroismfilm
Arts and Entertainment
Word up: Robbie Coltrane as dictionary guru Doctor Johnson in the classic sitcom Blackadder the Third
books

Arts and Entertainment
The Oscar nominations are due to be announced today

Oscars 2015
Arts and Entertainment
Hacked off: Maisie Williams in ‘Cyberbully’

Maisie Williams single-handedly rises to the challenge

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Eddie Redmayne in The Theory of Everything and Benedict Cumberbatch in The Imitation Game are both nominated at the Bafta Film Awards
Arts and Entertainment

Academy criticised after no non-white actors nominated

Arts and Entertainment
Damian Lewis shooting a scene as Henry VIII in Wolf Hall
TV

Arts and Entertainment
A history of violence: ‘Angry, White and Proud’ looked at the rise of far-right groups

tv

An expose of hooliganism masquerading as an ideological battle

Arts and Entertainment

art

Lee Hadwin can't draw when he's awake, but by night he's an artist

Arts and Entertainment

TV

Arts and Entertainment
Michael Keaton in the 1998 Beetlejuice original

film

Arts and Entertainment
Olivia Colman and David Tennant star in 'Broadchurch'

TV

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Greece elections: In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza

    Greece elections

    In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza, says Patrick Cockburn
    Holocaust Memorial Day: Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears

    Holocaust Memorial Day

    Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears over Europe
    Fortitude and the Arctic attraction: Our fascination with the last great wilderness

    Magnetic north

    The Arctic has always exerted a pull, from Greek myth to new thriller Fortitude. Gerard Gilbert considers what's behind our fascination with the last great wilderness
    Homeless Veterans appeal: Homeless in Wales can find inspiration from Daniel’s story

    Homeless Veterans appeal

    Homeless in Wales can find inspiration from Daniel’s story
    Front National family feud? Marine Le Pen and her relatives clash over French far-right party's response to Paris terror attacks

    Front National family feud?

    Marine Le Pen and her relatives clash over French far-right party's response to Paris terror attacks
    Pot of gold: tasting the world’s most expensive tea

    Pot of gold

    Tasting the world’s most expensive tea
    10 best wildlife-watching experiences: From hen harriers to porpoises

    From hen harriers to porpoises: 10 best wildlife-watching experiences

    While many of Britain's birds have flown south for the winter, it's still a great time to get outside for a spot of twitching
    Nick Easter: 'I don’t want just to hold tackle bags, I want to be out there'

    'I don’t want just to hold tackle bags, I want to be out there'

    Nick Easter targeting World Cup place after England recall
    DSK, Dodo the Pimp, and the Carlton Hotel

    The inside track on France's trial of the year

    Dominique Strauss-Kahn, Dodo the Pimp, and the Carlton Hotel:
    As provocative now as they ever were

    Sarah Kane season

    Why her plays are as provocative now as when they were written
    Murder of Japanese hostage has grim echoes of a killing in Iraq 11 years ago

    Murder of Japanese hostage has grim echoes of another killing

    Japanese mood was against what was seen as irresponsible trips to a vicious war zone
    Syria crisis: Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more refugees as one young mother tells of torture by Assad regime

    Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more Syrian refugees

    One young mother tells of torture by Assad regime
    The enemy within: People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back – with promising results

    The enemy within

    People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back
    'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

    'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

    Survivors of the Nazi concentration camp remember its horror, 70 years on
    Autumn/winter menswear 2015: The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore

    Autumn/winter menswear 2015

    The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore