To watch the C4 short series of Gerry’s Big Decision with its touches of Dragon’s Den and The Apprentice, brings to mind the tragedy of what has happened this year in Waterford Crystal. In this series, Sir Gerry Robinson is called in to see will he invest and rescue failing firms. Sometimes television makes the problem seem obvious and the solution easy and in reality that is hardly the case.

In one programme you could see the conflict of father and son trying to rescue a family hotel chain, in another you could see that nobody wanted to get out and actually sell the product. As in the case of Chunk Of Devon, a pastie/pie making business, great pics, great quality but little sales. Or a furniture business where an inheritor/owner doesn’t get on with the manager the banks brought in to run the business. Too much talk of figures and projections and no bloody sales.

Robinson gives the impression that each week one of two projects will be saved and one allowed fail, as it is his own money he plans to invest, just as in Dragon’s Den. Lots of tears, heartbreak, pig-headedness and business-speak.

In my opinion, not that you are asking for it, but I believe a government could have saved manufacturing but when they saw O’Reilly et al walk away and take the hit, they didn’t have the leadership and promises won’t run a country.

A Thought

Watching Liz Smith come ashore in Venice, I couldn’t help but notice all the horrible graffiti and I thought of Jack Burtchall and his comments on Waterford’s blots on the streetscape and of Cllr. Mary Roche’s surprising annoyance about showing the city in a bad light.

Tough Guys

Imagine the setting, a tough area, gritty place, in seedy Manchester and pub owner, Bob Hoskins, on a pint of principle bars a young man for smoking in the toilets, but the man’s father, Liam Cunningham, is local gangster, benefactor and drug dealer cum builder who threatens serious violence on Hoskins if the ban is not lifted the next day. The Street is back for a third series and writer Jimmy McGovern is as gripping as ever in this almost old fashioned morality play of David and Goliath in High Noon. The tension was mighty, the possible twists clever but in the light of what happened in Limerick recently, this was tv hokum. Real life is indeed much more savage and disturbing.

Old Dear

What a dear old dear is returned actress Liz Smith, who became a household name as Nana in The Royal Family and as Letitia in The Vicar Of Dibley. BBC4 did her proud for her 87th year with back-to-back programmes about her life and a reward of a trip to Venice and Croatia. Still mentally sprightly, with a great cackle in her voice, she told of becoming an actress in her fifties to rear two children by going to act in shows at Butlins. She now lives in a retirement apartment complex and totters along on un-steady feet. She brought out her life story in a book at 85 and the trip or cruise was described as her first real holiday – or proper holiday – ever! No questions were asked about her two children, but if you needed an inspirational story hers was a shining, if sad, example.

Happy Cliché

Freefall on BBC2 had it all as it looked at the greedy jargonisers of 2007 when money and property were not dreams but signatures on forms. The magic time, the rush of money for investment. Invest, borrow and live the dream. There was Aidan Gillen, a moody banker who talked numbers to himself, a jargon-filled chancer who ripped off a friend who wanted to be upwardly mobile and the friend who couldn’t keep his feet on the ground until it was too late. This was a vision of now, post crash, deep recession and lots of disappointed lives. Where did it all go wrong? Was it ever right? The banker went under a car, the chancer just lowered his sights on lesser mugs and the hard working fool just moved back to a smaller, probable council house and his wife coped with that sad face of coping. We’ll get by, cue wild disco music – Get Down On It. Same old cliché, bad guy goes off the parapet and good guy – nice but dim – gets on with getting by.

Back Bytes

MISTRESSES returns for a third and final series on BBC1 with four, not six, episodes; a surprise in a ratings downturn. A long running show like The Bill will be moved to a nine o’clock slot and produce 52 episodes a year, not the 96. It will have significant cast reductions as contracts are not renewed and for a show with a production team of 180 people, this will drop to half that. A new theme tune will be used and family issues will not be abandoned or foul language used or any increase in sex or violence.

SEAN CONNERY has asked why the BBC sent more than 400 people to Glastonbury but nobody to the Edinburgh Film Festival. He claims the BBC forgets it represents four countries and is asking for equality.