Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

The Odd Couple

Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

The Odd Couple

Article excerpt

Byline: By Beth Neil

BBC2 is just about my favourite thing in the world right now.

They're already spoiling us with The Apprentice. But then to follow it up with The Armstrongs is a stroke of scheduling genius.

The Armstrongs (that's John and Anne) are, to put it bluntly, utterly bonkers. They run their Coventry-based conservatory business in such a way that I'd rather stick pins in my eyes than ever have the misfortune to work there.

After the first episode, viewers thought it was a spoof. Another Ricky Gervais-style comedy. Nope. This fly-on-the-wall is very real. And that's pretty scary.

This week Anne was booking the U-Fit Christmas bash. She and John had decided to take the staff over to Cork for the night for a slap-up meal. It was meant to be a surprise but after she admitted that workers had, for some time, been having pounds 16 taken off their wages to cover the cost of flights, I reckon they might have had an inkling that something was up. Merry Christmas.

Whether staff had a choice in a) having their wages deducted, or b) going to the blasted party in the first place, was never established.

Anne stumbled across the perfect venue in Cork to host the party.

"It's wheelchair-friendly and it's got an adapted toilet. I love Ireland."

John's been having stress sweats, worrying about trying to make ends meet. Anne says it's like sleeping with a snowman.

"In the morning I wake up and there's just a wet patch where John should be," she says solemnly.

Desperate to give their disillusioned a staff a kick up the backside, John and Anne haul in "motivational guru" Basil Meanie. He observes the sales team at work. Or not, as it turns out. None of them are making any sales.

Basil's solution? "Get rid of them all!"

John decides against sacking his trio of salespeople in favour of giving them "one last chance", getting right-hand man Andy to do his dirty work. Andy shouts and bawls at the sales team and tells them they are inches away from losing their jobs. …

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