Articulating the anger of viewers in dramas and soaps is commonplace; whether it’s ne’er-do-well Nick Cotton-types being verbally impaled by objective high court judges or Lotharios taking a toxic tongue-lashing from betrayed spouses
But such base trends have jumped the genre-barrier into the ‘reality’ of shows like Dragons’ Den. While lacking the prophetic apocalypse of Jeremy Kyle, Dragons’ Den sadistically savours those entrepreneurs who, far from being valiant St Georges, are a wretched jamboree of sacrificial maidens, myopic eunuchs or yapping yokels.
We always get a happy ending, in which the Dragons are tamed, everyone smiles, and host Evan Davis has a cosy chat with the victors – in this episode a pair of telepathic brothers flogging cheaper car care – but before that, dreams are burnt to cinders by the halitosis egos of the Dragons.
Worst among them is Peter Jones, who seems to methodically store up the fury in his brain like a drug smuggler packing their anus with cocaine, before unleashing his anger with such anodyne vapidity the insults could have been stripped from the verbal ammunition magazine attached to Simon Cowell’s serpentine tongue.
The victims this week were a couple hoping to expand their children’s hair care business. “Why have you valued the business at £2.2m,” Jones began reasonably before being overwhelmed by the compulsion to be rude to someone bereft of a multi-million pound fortune, “Your experience should tell you you’re an idiot. I’m annoyed, it’s a disgrace!” Of course that last sentence could perfectly sum up the reasonable response to that abstract abomination Tycoon, which Jones fronted with the ineptitude of a pair of lungs processing the atmosphere of Venus.
But along with the anger, the Dragons can also churn out compassion when it suits them. Twenty-year-old student Emily and her device for reducing blisters on rowing machines in gyms was going quite well until she started trying to bluff that she was au fait with the opaque argot of business. Peter Jones jumped in, insisting that she should be thankful to the Dragons that they hadn’t cackled and mocked her, before Duncan Bannatyne, who looks like he’s thieved his skin from an alligator and with eyes so big you could play baseball in them, said that he think about selling them in his health clubs, amid much praise that she’s done so well for one so young.
As Emily was cast out, the camera panned-in on her hand as it gripped the top of the balustrade before slipping off it like someone plummeting down a cliff face after losing their footing, further evidence that the Dragons imagine they have undergone some form of apotheosis and are the solemn celestial gatekeepers to financial success and happiness as surely as St Peter patrols the Pearly Gates.
Emily’s age was significant as a recent poll shows that today’s youth have as much ambition to be a business person as a pop star or footballer, which makes you weep (or rather it would if you didn’t imagine the tears would be collected and sold to aimless middle-aged women as the elixir of youth). And the last thing we need is more business people. One thing the recession has adroitly illustrated is that the economy is propelled by millions of people buying stuff they don’t really need – a perfect example being the Dragons-sponsored iPod in a teddy bear – to keep the hundreds of people producing this extraneous industrial refuse in a job in a nauseating whirlpool of such economic incest that even Odysseus wouldn’t be able to escape.
Even when the Dragons do invest, they make sure the entrepreneur knows how much of a favour they’re receiving. Worst here is Deborah Meaden, and her fingernails with such protruding ridges you half-expect to spot the Yeti on the higher slopes, who casually said she’d “take a punt” on the bin lid lifter of Frank and Lawrence only to correct herself, after a rival bid from Jones, that “punt” didn’t mean a half-hearted gamble on the 100-1 at Haydock Park, but the sort of focus, dedication and scrutiny that would shame even the Stasi as they spied on oblivious dissidents. Frank and Lawrence, not surprisingly, went with Jones.
And what of James Caan, whose liquid smooth voice resembles a pre-assisted suicide sedative? In his inquisition of two blokes involved in something to do with exotic animals, he snapped: “I think a £50,000 return in three years is a terrible return.” Given that this is about what many people can expect to earn in three years, Caan seems to be orbiting Saturn in a avaricious delirium while everyone else is mired in the earth shouting at him with one clenched fist of communal rage and rather quite enjoying the sensation.