The Apprentice berk-athon is back... I blame the parents

Philip Larkin famously wrote that your parents '“ however unintentionally '“make a mess of your life by the way they bring you up.

Friday, 7th October 2016, 4:14 pm
Updated Friday, 18th November 2016, 12:21 pm
Anne Robinson (left) with Tiggi, Anni Jones, Jamie, Gianni, Shaune, Alfie, in the first episode of Robinsons new show, which looks at different aspects of British life

He put it in rather more earthy language, but you get the drift.

There were any number of different ways of messing up children’s lives on display in Anne Robinson’s Britain (BBC1, Thursdays, 8pm).

From Annie, who was an attachment parent and didn’t leave her kids alone, to preacher Steve, who seemed to have replaced his kids with impeccably-mannered robots, to ‘lioness’ Sherise, whose children had such a packed schedule of workouts, sports and tutoring, they seemed rendered mute by fatigue.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

Anne pressed her strangely motionless face against the windows of all these homes, peering through in an effort to find out what makes a good parent, or in her words: “There is no such thing as a perfect parent... but what sort of mum or dad is good enough?”

A hero did emerge from the show – Tommy, a single dad of five, raising his kids on £300 a week in part-time work and benefits.

On first sight, the kids were an unruly mob and their house was a bomb site. However, as Anne discovered, the children were bright, interested, independent, articulate and helped out around the house, which was clearly a very loving home.

Tommy was doing the nation a service, raising young people who, with luck, will become decent members of society, and should immediately be put on the new £10 note.

As you might expect, the doc didn’t really unearth any new revelations about parenting, except that whatever approach you take – as long as you love your kids and demonstrate that love through support, praise and setting reasonable boundaries – you’re probably doing a “good enough” job.

Quite what the parents of this year’s batch of capitalist running dogs infesting The Apprentice (BBC1, Thursdays, 9pm) think of their offspring is probably unprintable.

In this week’s opening episode, the men ran around bellowing corporatist techno-babble through a fug of Aramis aftershave and testosterone, while the women excitedly sold everything for a tenth of its worth and tried not to fall off their high heels.

Each year, as the contestants become a forlorn parody of successful businesspeople, I say to myself I will not watch it, and each year I am drawn in by Lord Sugar’s tractor beam of tut.

Sorry mum and dad, but it's your fault.