The last apprentice

Look, there’s no beating about the bush today. The final of ‘The Apprentice’ with Alan Sugar is on at 9.00 and I have to make myself a salad and stop crying. No, I have not turned into a sniveling feeble wet but today I had some news that so upset me, I can hardly dare tell you. I made phones calls about it. Talked to my husband. Cried to my osteopath, shouted at Rob, who I think is probably the best agent in the world, and choked when I talked to my friend Annie. When the chips are down, none of it really matters. After all, I am healthy, well and I am not living in a war zone, although sometimes I do think telly is just that. It’s like the Gaza Strip with designer labels.

Today has all been a bit topsy turvy. I scrubbed the kitchen floor with all sorts of floor scrubbing utensils, silver scourers, green sponges, creams and liquids. My lovely Gae helps me out once a week but there has been a build up on the flag stones since April. So, I entered the kitchen wearing my bathing suit, the turquoise one with the baggy gussett, wrapped a blue towel around me and, looking like an Hawaiian Madam, I commenced my cleaning. Ninety minutes later, with the perspiration dripping off me, I had a clean, really sparkling kitchen floor.

Jackson observed the activity patiently waiting for his carrot and vitamins.

I organised the cleaning route so I had a little window of floor to stand up in at the end. The dog and I exited to the garden. I wrote my affirmations etc. whilst Jackson lay patiently under the pungent Philadelphius, the first shrub that I ever planted 24 years ago. By noon we were ready for our perambulation in the forest.

Oh, before I forget, Jackson peed on the rug this morning. I was advised that the the best way to get rid of the smell of dog ammonia is with – wait for it – tonic water. I bet you knew that! It just so happened that I had some on the cellar steps, so the Persian rug is now covered in Schweppes tonic water with a twist of lemon.

The sun was shining. I was feeling almost together when a pack of rescue dogs decided to terrorise us. They were so excited. Their walker started to shout at them like they were troublesome children. ‘Shut your gob’, she said to the collie cross, ‘sorry to put you on the lead’, she said to the lurcher. ‘It’s Trixie’s fault for making such a racket.’
All this done in the middle of nowhere with acres of space and they had to run into ours. Their walker, short cropped grey hair, white vest, shorts and sandals, seven leads round her neck and a mobile surgically attached to her ear, was totally unequipped for the job. I nearly told her to stop yapping on her mobile and get a grip of her dogs. But I didn’t. This is Sussex after all.

By the time we got back, I was soaked. Trixie had jumped in the only existing pond and decided to shake 38 gallons of turgid water over my nice clean trackies. Jackson was of no help. He calmly flopped down in a pile of badger pooh just to make my day complete.

I drove to the shops and parked my car outside Waitrose. I have a problem with supermarkets, as you know, but I had to buy the newspapers, more floor cleaning products and on my way round the aisles I came across a really good local range of vegetables. I was just putting a punnet of tomatoes in my trolley when a voice over the tannoy said. ‘Would the owner of car no K$8+!7 please go to the front of the shop…’

What’s interesting is that I don’t know the number of Jackson’s car. It is called the ‘Jackmobil’ because it’s a tin can and it’s only fit for driving the dog around in. It smells of dog, looks like dog, all the seats are covered in golden labrador hairs, and apart from an old blue sweater and furry bath mat, has nothing in it except dog. Anyway, the girl who made the announcement, ex-Halifax Building Society who gave up her job because she couldn’t stand Howard on the ads, repeated the registration number and I just knew it was my car. I left the trolley by the organic lettuces and dashed outside.

‘Is there something wrong with my dog?’, I anxiously asked the traffic warden. ‘No’, he said, in that officious voice that men in ill-fitting uniforms use. ‘No’, he repeated with an upward inflection. ‘No, madam but you have parked on a double yellow line and your dog is hot in the back.’ How did he know? Jackson was covered in badger pooh and as cool as a cucumber. ‘I won’t nick you this time’, he said, ‘but…’

Before he could finish, I leapt into the Jackmobil and drove home, dumped the dog on the clean kitchen floor – I know, don’t tell me – drove back to my trolley full of tomatoes and thanked the lord that I had bypassed a traffic fine.

After unloading my goodies, the tomatoes were sweet and divine by the way, I went off to my friends for another 30 minute swim. The cover had been on the pool so it was warmer than yesterday. I still set my clock for 31 minutes and swum really hard so that I could get over my crying, having just had the news.

I opened my mouth to take in some air and a tiny little lizard missed my mouth by inches. I swam around the pool and the lizard for 30 minutes, pondering on amphibious creatures in Sussex, climate change and my ego.

I got home and, still in my damp swimsuit, decided to do my exercises. The Tibetan Five… but I’ll tell you about that another day.

I felt a little better having got Rob to email the perpetrators of my misery when the phone went and it was Lucy, the producer at LBC. We chatted through what I thought might work and parted company. In the middle of my sit-ups the phone went again. It was Rosie B, my ex driving instructress, who now drinks, sells and writes about wine and is coming down from Derbyshire so that we can slurp and chat.

Then it was off for my second session with my old osteopath who is remarkable. He looks like a brick-crap-house, has a shaved head, does martial arts and is as soft as butter. He is the most brilliant cranial geezer there is. He laid his hand on my head, then my knee, then my solar plexus and announced that my body was doing well, the slip on the kitchen step was only a blip, the de-tox hadn’t taken away my energy but the most recent news had hurt me badly and that my knee was a result of not letting go. I said that I had let go and that none of it actually mattered but he interrupted me and said ‘Oh, yes it does. Otherwise you wouldn’t be talking about it.’ The tears plopped out of my eyes like peas from a pod.

I got into my car and blubbed all the way home. I mean really cried, almost misting up my glasses. Jim said I was to do nothing and told me he loved me, which, let me tell you, really helped. Then I got a call from a girl friend who used expletives that only low-lives in the sewers of Carracas use.

Then I remembered ‘The Apprentice’ was on so I thought I would write up my day sooner rather than later and so, my blog pals, this is what sent me over the edge.

I’m not even sure I should be writing about it. It seems so petty now. I don’t know that it doesn’t breach some kind of code. But I’m going to tell you anyway. UKTV Food won an award for the best digital channel. Sybill, La La land’s greatest soothsayer, predicted it some weeks ago. A picture of me was used in a magazine that announced it along with dear old James Martin and the lovely Gary Rhodes. I’m not upset about them using the photo, so why am I upset at all?


Nobody called me to tell me the good news. Nobody telephoned Rob. Nobody invited us to the award ceremony. Not one word. I was so hurt, I went into a tail spin. But then you know all that.

I would love to say horrid things but they aren’t worth it. Five years dedicated to creating a programme that gets them an award and all the thanks I get is a perfunctory glass of champagne, last July, in scratched plastic glasses. I wondered whether it was my ego spiraling out of control but I worked it through. It was a shabby act by a bunch of folk who don’t seem to be able to face me. Maybe it’s because they axed a successful programme?

It’s not my ego that’s bruised, but I am hurt that they have shown no common courtesy and no heart. I am okay now. But I wasn’t.

I am now going to watch ‘The Apprentice’ and put the day to bed. GFL was wonderful. Those five years were great but all good things do come to an end and I’m certain more lovely stuff will happen. There are worse things in life than being ignored by a bunch of television players.

I’m off now to prepare my salad, eat my seed cheese and cheer on ‘The Apprentice’ winner. Which I believe, we all are, in our own way. Have a good night and all being well, I’ll cu2morrer.

30 thoughts on “The last apprentice”

  1. Hi Jen,
    Really sorry to hear about your weepy day. You know that we are all behind you and will support and appreciate what ever is around the corner.
    I am assuming the award ‘they who can not be mentioned’ received was for last year, when GFL was going great guns. Perhaps next year they will realise what they have done when they come bottom.
    Enough said, you know our feelings towards that bunch of *******!!!***. They are the ones that will lose out in the end.
    I am sat at my desk…too early in the morning!! so excuse the expletive. Have a really good one today and beyond. (goodness..sound like buzz lightyear!) Therapy…must get some therapy 🙂
    catchyoulater x x x
    Dave and Andy

  2. Oh Jen, how ungrateful, how rude, no downright heartless, lets see them win a flamin award next year with that pile of crap they have on now!! (trying not to be rude myself but these are desperate times!) Whatever the TV land people do, we all know it was YOU that made GFL Great (it wasn’t even the same if someone filled in for you!), and it was YOU that made UKTV food great, so don’t forget that. We miss you and can’t wait to see you back on TV and we all love you too!
    Love you loads
    Marmite Girl xx

  3. Oh Jeni, what a bunch of tossers (could think of more ruder words but couldn’t spell them lol) It’s probably embarrassment that no-one told you simply because as you said, they axed a successful show. Rise above it girl you are worth more. Enjoy your “me” time while you can as I think you will be very busy once this huge blip in life is over. Take care.

  4. Hi Jenny,
    No wonder you feel so mad and sad,I nearly cried too and I don’t know you personally but like many others feel as if I should after 5 years of such a fabulous,cheery amusing,informative programme.I do think it’s because they’ve axed the programme as you mentioned and don’t know where the hell to look or what to say.
    Be brave,cos your day WILL come and we’re all rooting for you.
    Love Louise

  5. For a morale-boosting minute or seven, Jeni, I gently urge you to watch this clip from the second greatest TV food show of all time, Le Breton Gourmand, which I stumbled across the other evening on, er, WineTV (Sky 281).
    They should really put it on instead of Market Kitchen, which I attempted to watch again last night, ouch.

  6. Hi Jeni, It’s so typical…the “Suits” just don’t understand the “Talent”. And because they can’t understand us, they avoid us. They don’t get that people in this industry are used to getting criticized – actually, we need feedback, positive and negative. Instead, they lock themselves in a dry boardroom and “brainstorm” and think up new concepts. They can’t see the wood for the trees. The truth is, they had a great Show with a great host and a face for their channel, and have made a huge mistake. Now they have no identity and will soon be stuck with only repeats (MK can’t keep going like it is for much longer). Let’s see who’s getting the awards next year!
    BTW, glad you like Hamburg. I love it here, it’s the best kept secret in Europe. (I’m an Aussie originally)
    Love from the lake,

  7. Oh, how despicable of those suits at UKTV food. I understand how you feel. You put yourself into whatever you do (like this blog, which I look forward to reading every day: you’re a terrific writer!) and so when your work is apparently slighted, it feels personal – because for you it is personal. That’s what makes your work so great. That’s what made GFL compulsive viewing. It wasn’t just a job for you; like a true artist you tapped into your heart and soul to make it as good as you could. Well, if the heartless bean-counters and power-game-players of corporate TV are scared out of their good sense and manners by this, your audience really love it, and you. So please, never forget that.

  8. Dear Jen, I know exactly how you feel – something similar happened to me a couple of years ago. But you have to rise above the hurt and take the high moral ground – afterall, they’ve shown how ignorant and ill-bred they are. We all still love you, Jen, and haven’t forgotten you – take a look at the UKTVF message board, you’re still being talked about!
    Love, Sally x

  9. Hi jeni,
    What can i say, the bunch of cowards. They know they have made a huge mistake, roll on next years awards! Just to say we all love you and miss you. Am off now to watch a repeat of GFL on UKTV Bright ideas, the only thing worth watching on UKTV. Watched yesterday, and you got on so well with Simon Rimmer, i hope you have stayed in touch. Take Care xxx

  10. Hi Jeni, what a great blog, I can almost see you in the blue cossie, bum in the air cleaning that kitchen floor (I find a small hand held steamer is great for really grimey areas) and as I’m thinking of getting a puupy the tonic water tip may come in very useful in the future. It would have been common curtesy to let you know about the award and invite you along. Sad, tragic people that they are must be realising what a big mistake they’ve made. Fear not dear girl, you’re not losing it, or over reacting it was a pretty heartless thing for them to do. And that’s you, all heart. You’ll get over it, they’ll always be sad gits.
    love and best wishes, maria

  11. Dear Jen this is my first time at comments on a blog but I feel i must to say how much you have done for so many. I found YOU&GFL when i was off work 3 years ago with heart probs, you made a dark time for me full of light you are a true star and I thing it is soooo out of order that you have been pushed aside for MK(will it ever end sooon we all hope!!!)and now that uktv wins award from your hard work it makes me spit taks sweetie. So just as others have said before me just keep going head up chest out(not to much you will have a eye out with them:-))LOL and we all love you enjoy your metime take care Andi L-V

  12. Your contract with UKTV Food came to an end, didn’t it? Therefore their obligation to you (and yours to them) finished? At least, that’s what happens in the real world. C’mon Jeni, you really need to move on now.

  13. Hi Jeni, not much more to say but I just wanted to lend my support so “Here Here” to all of the above comments. Keep smiling Jen. Take care, Jo

  14. Dear Jen, I agree with all of the above from everyone. The silly buggers at UKTV have no alternative really – they’ve ballsed up with bells on and you don’t seriously expect a bunch of terrified execs with the collective self awareness of a peanut to act with courtesy and heart do you? I can’t recall another case of the viewing public feeling so indignant, disappointed and frustrated, and whether they are prepared to admit it or not the ‘not very great and good’ at UKTV must be feeling rather vulnerable and resentful. Keep on going girl, you’ll be amazed where life is taking you now. We, your happy band of fans, wish you nothing but success and love. It’s all going to be perfect and amazing!

  15. What a bunch of w*****s! Did you read the Victor Lewis-smith column in Monday’s London Evening Standard? Saying you were the best food programme on TV, and especially UK TV Food, and what idiots the suits were to let you go and replace you with those planks in the market – I work just up from there and have never seen a studio… Channel 4 should snap you up

  16. You know what? Feck ’em. Their heads are so far up their own backsides they can’t see anything. Arrogant t*ssers.
    Sail on dearest Jeni and show them – you’ll rise and they’ll sink. One thing to be damned sure of, they certainly won’t win any prizes next year.
    If you’ve done all the positive thinking stuff in CALIFORNIA you’ll know that you have to learn from a crisis, so just teach yourself that they’re not worth getting upset about, you’re well out of it and be positive once you’ve got over your disappointment. And if you should ever see them again, be charm itself – go on you can do it.
    Onward and upward girrrrllll, and don’t ever look back.

  17. Jenni – So the suits didn’t inform you of this award – they are probably too embarrassed to admit they have made an almighty cock-up letting you and yours go. Feel sorry for them, it will most probably be the only award they will receive. You will go on to win others I am sure, especially swanning around in the blue cozzie and not much else – I do hope Jackson averted his eyes.
    Don’t feel sad.
    Lilo Lil xx

  18. I would have loved to have seen their faces when they knew GFL had won. Can you imagine how they must have felt, happy for winning but knowing what total ******s they must look for axing the best thing on tv. And having to defend MK to boot. No wonder they couldn’t look you in the face.
    I am sure something is waiting around the corner for you. Surely a talent like yours cannot be ignored.
    Looking forward to seeing you on the box soon. Keep on blogging.

  19. I am glad to see your output has increased. Although I don’t like reading about people upsetting you. Do you want me to send the lads round. As for a new signing off catch phrase I like to finish with…Up Yours! What do you think..does it need more work? leave it with me

  20. Oh Jeni – how could they!! I am speechless for once!! Try not to get to despondant, there are a lot of us out here who have loved watching you and know where the real glory lies. The good times will come back and we will all be here applauding you. Keep your chin up – can’t think of anything else to say I am so mad!!!
    Jenny B

  21. Jeni, Totally agree with what is written above. It’s amazing how they could treat you like that. Still, forget them and I know you will succeed in anything else you decide to do. I will shout “Go Girl” in your direction as I go down the A22 on Saturday!

  22. Hi Jeni
    Funny thing about awards……….they come back to haunt some people.
    For instance many good shows get canned then are put up for Emmys’ USA BAFTAS or such,
    Then the suits or ,,,,, ! put the show back on ermmmmmm!!

  23. Aw, Jenni. I’m glad you’re ok now, but I really can understand why you were so upset. What a bunch of shit-weasels, as a friend of mine taught me to say of the worst twits around.
    On a much nicer note, thank you for the seed cheese recipe! I’ve got some good organic seeds coming over the weekend and I’ll give it a go.

  24. Jeni – Sorry you’ve been going through such a tough time. You and your show always used to help lift my mood (and I’m certain countless others’) when I came home after a tough day. I no longer watch UKTV Food. I wish there was a better way that we your fans could tell you how much we all care and miss you on our screens. Without wanting to sound trite, I really hope and believe that this testing time will bring reinvention and new opportunities. Hang on in there – The best is yet to come.

  25. Hi Jen
    Well what do you expect from a bunch of ungrateful gits! The new prog is shit and I am sure wont last too much longer! Thought I would make you laugh with a funny thing happened to me but it may be too rude to write down. Anyways, your blog makes me laugh so loud my daughter is always asking ‘Mum what are you reading’ I told her Jeni Barnett’s blog and she smiles to herself as she has seen you in action many times on the TV. So there it is you cross many generations with your lovely personality and wonderful wit! Dont be sad keep smiling and dont let them get to you.
    Kathy R x

  26. Hi Jeni
    I’ve been reading your blogs since just before GFL finished and check regularly for the latest installment.
    I understand your feelings regarding the award for the uktv food channel as it seems as though your hard work is being recognised and they are taking all the credit for it and haven’t got the nerve to face you.
    Keep your chin up, i’m sure we’ll see you back on tv before long but in the meantime, enjoy a summer of brill weather (unlike todays – i’m a yr 1/2 teacher and our sports day was today – what a joke!!), good food, wine and plenty of r&r!!
    Natalie xx

  27. hi jen, sorry it hit you so badly, the cowards. try and look to the future girl, you and i both know its not healthy to look back though
    i know its hard. hey,guess what i did yesterday, i emailed to ask lbc if you are definitely going to be presenting for them and scott solder? swiftly replied back with a big affirmative. so will be listening to you on saturday at 6pm with great fondness and admiration. go girl! cant wait!
    lots of love bubbles

  28. back again jen!
    Had a long day and just ready for bed….but have just read all todays comments and must reiterate!! (however you spell it!) them all (sorry had a glass or two of wine and am tired!!).
    As you can see from the above… the suits know nothing and we will all be there when you return triumphant(big word after the wine!) to rub their noses in it! We all love you, as you well know by now 🙂
    Got to go now have to be in early again 2moro!
    Luv and best wishes
    Dave and Andy

  29. Ouch to what Andrew above has said. He has a point, BUT, not for this instance. I feel for you and imagine feeling similar and yet I bet you don’t even have any expectations of them…. but still UKTV could have dealt with this better. Much better.
    Sounds to me that people are too scared to face you – that’s what happens in these situations.
    Hugs to you (if I may!) and I am so pleased you are already getting over it, and that you shared 🙂

  30. That was a sore one for you to take 🙁 But what do you expect from the numpties running UKTVfood! Their p45’s must be in the post soon anyway for the disaster that market kitchen apparently is!
    Oh and Andrew from comment 12 trolling ain’t nice, behave.
    Hugs to you Jeni,

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