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The purpose of the introduction to The Apprentice is to introduce the programme to its audience; the main aim is to gain TV ratings so the first four minutes are crucial in drawing in the audiences’ attention and making the show interesting and appealing to the target audience so they continue to watch.
There are many visual codes in the opening of the programme. The contestants are first introduced and the camera is watching them enter the city of London. All of the contestants are shown near or on some form of transport, this could symbolise how the best people have been chosen from all over the country to come to one business orientated and busy city to compete for one life changing journey. Furthermore, the journey is metaphorically amplified by the contestants carrying suitcases and walking forwards, this creates a sense of them embarking on a life changing journey together with only one outcome. This is anchored by the dialogue the contestants use, for example “I am a winner” this shows to the audience that this is going to be an intense battle to find the winner.
The contestants are seen walking in a group together over a bridge, this could connote the ‘bridge to successes’ and they are walking over to the other side trying to gain the success that they want, which again signifies a journey and the camera movement used here is tracking the whole group so the audience know that they will be following them on the journey.
The programme is set in London which is pragmatically suggesting this is the centre of business in the United Kingdom and that’s why they have gathered here. In the clip the audience are shown how busy the city is by the amount of transport and people, this could suggest that there is competition between the contestants and also competition in the business world. The scene is set at dawn this connotes the idea that business never rests in London and that the business world is awake and ready. There are also visual codes displayed by the characters that anchor business; firstly all of the contestants are dressed smart, in suits or skirt suits.
They also all carry some form of briefcase which is stereotypically something that a business person has with them all the time. When the characters speak they pragmatically and stereotypically show that they are business minded people “I am the best” “I am what Alan Sugar is looking for” are examples of what are said and these are expressed in a very strong, arrogant and argumentative way.
In the opening there is a point where the audience are shown Alan Sugar on top of a large building in the central of London looking out to the city which suggests his power, this is anchored by the camera shot used here which is a low angle, this connotes the idea that he is a powerful man and the centre of attention, the use of the camera movement ‘crab’ also anchors his power as it arcs around Alan Sugar so we are given a 360 degree view of him and the city.
Sound is used to anchor Alan Sugar’s power throughout; the soundtrack and underscoring music builds up into a dramatic tension when he is talking to the contestants and when the camera is focusing on him. Furthermore, the iconic dialogue “you’re fired” is repeated more than once in the scene, something which is significant to his persona and something the audience recognise. This is reinforced with the crop shop of Alan Sugar’s hand pointing towards the fired contestant, in addition to this the crop shot also creates a
sense of mystery as the audience are left unaware of the contestant that has been fired and who he is pointing at, so they are left wanting to watch the show with the suspense that all but one contestant will be fired and they can try judge who he will fire within the programme.
The contestants are portrayed as weak when they are around Alan Sugar; there are lots of reaction shots used to show their expressions and reactions to the tasks and what Alan Sugar says to them, this shows his power over them and signifies the meaning of the programme and his role and the contestants’ role. The underscoring music also adjusts to the mood and atmosphere and is anchorage for what the contestants are portraying themselves as, at the beginning when the contestants are trying to display power then the music is louder and faster but when they are portrayed as more vulnerable facing Alan Sugar the music is quieter and slower and towards the end of the opening fades out into the beginning of the programme.
I think that the opening scene of The Apprentice is very successful in fulfilling its purpose. I feel that it engages the audience by the visual codes and they all create a strong anchorage for what the programme is about. There are many different camera shots, angles and movements used which again draws in the audience’s attention and makes them want to carry on watching the programme. Finally, the mix of the soundtrack and underscoring music with the dialogue allow the opening to intensify reality and give an insight into the programme and also the contestants and Alan Sugar.