Along with many other telly addicts across the UK, I’ve recently started watching The Apprentice.
Coming from a business background – degree and career – I started watching because I felt I was ‘meant’ to, but now I’m hooked! The arguments, the ridiculous decisions made, the brilliant aerial scenes of London and of course, Lord Sugar himself, all make up great TV viewing.
This year I’m even more interested because there’s a lady from Sunderland on there. At this early stage, we’ve no idea how good, or indeed, how annoying, she may turn out to be, but as a fellow north-easterner, I’m rooting for her.
It’s lovely to hear her unique accent over the top of the many southern ones during a debate. But even on episode one, we saw Chiles from Shropshire joke with a client that James from Chesterfield was northern, so “don’t worry about him”. The comment was made when James got overexcited during a pitch process, and it was meant in jest, but as someone who’s been on the receiving end of banter like this, it can get tedious.
I felt so strongly about this subject that I wrote about it for Caitlin Moran, who is known to have an opinion about discrimination against sexes but also against a person’s social background, or that age-old term of ‘class’. I wrote this article while living in London, as I was getting sick of receiving that look that says a young, 5’3” female with a northern accent doesn’t have anything important to say. My finishing point was that just because I don’t pronounce my ‘Ts’ when ordering a latte, doesn’t mean I can’t write eloquent copy or make intelligent decisions.
I hope we don’t see any more jokes about northerners doing business on The Apprentice as it doesn’t give a good impression. Will all of the candidates who happen to have been born and raised in the north be singled out? Is this just an issue in the capital? Now I’ve moved back to the north, obviously I don’t feel this prejudice anymore (and yes, I’m calling it that). I may not be with other north-easterners, but there’s something comforting about hearing northern accents surround me. To me, it signals friendliness. Perhaps that’s the quality we should be valuing anyway.