The Apprentice and making Margate matter

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As far as reality television shows go, The Apprentice is one of my favourites – and the current season hasn’t disappointed.

Every year, the episode I look forward to most is the one where they go abroad. Last year, it was bartering in exotic Morocco; this year, however, has been a rather more sober affair (the producers supposedly toned it down due to the credit crunch, I hear), with contestants visiting Manchester and Liverpool last week and Margate in Kent in the latest episode.

Wednesday’s Margate episode in particular made me think about the impact appearing on a show like The Apprentice can have for people and places. I haven’t been to Margate for years, but the programme did bring back some happy memories of riding on the town’s Scenic Railway – Britain’s oldest rollercoaster – as a child. Sadly, the attraction was partially destroyed in a fire last year but, as this Telegraph report details, plans to open again in 2011 after extensive refurbishment.

I know I’m not the only one to feel nostalgic about the destination. Yesterday, I was chatting to my neighbour over our shared hedge and he told me that watching that Apprentice episode was the solution to all his holiday woes. He and his family visited Blackpool last year, Bournemouth at Easter and are planning to go down to Eastbourne in June. He was looking for another short break destination in the UK for the August bank holiday weekend and it looks like he’s now going to Margate. After all, the re-branding campaigns thought of by the two teams of Apprentice hopefuls might not have been particularly exciting (I didn’t think either of them lived up to their potential), but they certainly did a good job of showing everyone watching that there’s still a lot to do and see in Margate, for both children and adults.

I guess that’s my point really – Margate is hoping that an extensive re-branding exercise will put it back on the tourist map. But I think that simply being exposed on a show with such high viewing figures as The Apprentice will go a long way towards restoring its reputation.

In the meantime, my money’s on Kate to win! She’s my favourite :)

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