'New Sue Perkins show fails to rise above The Apprentice'

Sue Perkins has returned to Channel 4 for Double the Money after quitting Bake Off, but is the entrepreneur show worth your investment?

Pictured: Sue
Sue Perkins is going solo as the host of new game show Double the Money. (Channel 4)

If you settle down to watch Channel 4 tonight you may come across Sue Perkins giving her opinion on some lovely cupcakes that a mum from Hackney has just baked. No need for Alison Hammond and Noel Fielding to worry though. Sue hasn’t barged into the Great British Bake Off tent and stolen her old job back from them. Well, not yet anyway.

She is, however, hosting Double the Money, her first show for Channel 4 since she and Mel Giedroyc decided not to be part of Bake Off’s big money transfer from the BBC back in 2016.

What has persuaded Perkins to take a job at Channel 4 this time? Who knows, but the programme in question is called Double the Money, so if you were feeling mischievous you could speculate about offers that could not be refused.

I’m happy to explain here what Double the Money is all about, although it would be really helpful if you’ve seen The Apprentice. And Dragons’ Den. And Bargain Hunt. Oh, and maybe Race Across the World. It’s basically one of those quick profit tasks Alan Sugar routinely sets his contestants, only stretched out over six episodes and with a considerably smaller prize on offer.

Sue Perkins has plenty of experience with cupcakes. (Channel 4)
Sue Perkins has plenty of experience with cupcakes. (Channel 4)

Perkins' lot can win up to £20,000 in cash, as opposed to Sugar’s famous “quarter million pound investment”. What Sue and Channel 4 want to know is this: “How easy is it for ordinary people to turn a small investment into big bucks?”

In order to find out, Perkins goes to a posh, businessy-looking building in London like the ones Sugar frequents when he can actually be bothered to meet his contestants in person rather than via videolink.

Once there Perkins chucks some 250-quid bundles at 13 pairs of ordinary people (close friends or relations with back stories aplenty to tell, just like in Race Across The World) who fancy trying their hands at this entrepreneuring lark. Then, with one (extremely hopeful) eye on a catchphrase, Perkins orders them to “Bring me back £500.”

Read more: How to apply for Race Across the World

If they succeed, she will then chuck the £500 back at them and say, “Bring me…” well, given the show’s title you can probably guess what she will say. For health and safety reasons I should point out that Perkins doesn’t actually throw the cash at them. Which is a pity, because that would have livened things up a bit early doors.

Pictured: Harvey washing cars
Double the Money sees the contestants looking to clean up. (Channel 4)

It would certainly have given us a break from all that drone footage of the skyscraper-filled London skyline. (Honestly, Channel 4, why don’t you just marry The Apprentice and hold the reception at the Gherkin already?)

Perkins was playing a little fast and loose with the words “ordinary people”, by the way. It soon becomes clear that quite a few of the contestants are already business owners — and are therefore, one might reasonably presume, at a slight advantage.

It’s a flaw in the format that becomes pretty clear in the opening episode when Sussex pub landlords Jack and Natalie’s amazingly inventive money-making scheme is to, erm, sell tickets to a pub quiz. In their own pub.

Still, if Simon Cowell and his fellow Britain’s Got Talent judges can pretend to know nothing at all about their COMPLETELY RANDOM contestants until they actually appear on stage, I think we can let Perkins get away with suggesting the Double the Money lot are a bunch of wide-eyed dilettantes when it comes to business.

Pictured: Jack and Natalie
Jack and Natalie use their initiative as they attempt to double their money. (Channel 4)

In any case, years of business experience doesn’t seem to help the likes of divorced dad Dale who thinks it’s a great idea to start a car washing business with his son Harvey on an industrial estate miles out of town where there is next to no through traffic.

Dale’s idea to dress up as superheroes doesn’t really help matters, although I guess it does add a certain Del Boy and Rodney feel to the proceedings. To be fair, Harvey and Dale’s soapy enterprise is the closest we get in the opening episode to the sort of feckless cock-ups that make The Apprentice so brilliant to watch.

I mean, it would be lovely to see Perkin’s contestants making lots of money. Of course it would. It would be a lot more entertaining to see a few more of them royally messing it up instead though.

It would have also been nice if there had been a few wackier ideas to kick the series off, particularly as Perkins herself said, “I don’t care how you do it. I’m not here to judge.”

Pictured: Geoff in a lemon suit
When life gives you lemons... (Channel 4)

I’m guessing there was something in Channel 4’s small print which prevented the teams from simply selling a kidney online or starting an OnlyFans account (well, Kallum did say his team mate, his nan Paulette, would “do anything”).

Likewise, I’m sure they weren’t allowed to just nip down the bookies and lump the £250 on a fairly safe bet — say, Croatia winning this year’s Eurovision.

I suppose as the stakes get higher and as they run out of sensible ideas — they’re not allowed to do the same thing twice — we might see some more off-the-wall schemes.

If I was taking part, I’d use Perkins' money to help fund a new business-themed reality show format that I’m developing which will feature absolutely zero arty shots of the London skyline.

Yeah, I know. It’s a crazy idea that’ll never work. But you know what they say: No risk, no reward.

Double the Money airs at 8pm, Thursdays, on Channel 4.