Posted by: martinworster | July 12, 2007


Move over Simon Cowell, Peter Jones is the new pretender to the Bone Idol throne…

Simon Cowell is a one man media megalith out here. American Idol swamps the ratings and Mr Belt Halfway Up His Chest Cowell is watching the Bucks stack. Cowell is always in the media, grinning swarmily and playing the honest-but-brutal Brit card. Now it seems like he has a new pretender to the throne.

There’s a new show out here called American Inventor, a Pop Idol for Yank Clive Sinclairs and on the judging panel (and also one of the creators of the show along with Cowell) is Peter Jones. Peter Jones is an entrepreneur who I had never heard of. He didn’t invent the eponymous department store. He ran some telecommunications company and it looks like he’s trying to usurp Cowell’s Mr Bad Guy image. He does blunt put downs without blinking. Contestants who have invested life savings and years into their dreams are reduced to blubbering wrecks in a flash. Peter Jones has that nasaly drawl and brutality that Americans love. I suppose it must be refreshing as Americans are reknowed for hyperbole and being over the top. Everything is talked up, given a glean and over hyped beyond it’s worth so that unhesitated reality checks delivered in a Home Counties lilt are welcomed. Perhaps the biggest irony is that American Inventor is a British invention.

My new invention would be a show called Bone Idol for the laziest slackers out there. There were some amusing inventions on the American Inventor. A lot of hyperbole and emotion as it was American. Stories of individuals who had spent tens of thousands of dollars and the best part of a decade on trash that was laughed out the door. One guy invented a new kind of game and had a prototype table – it was like ping pong meets airball. He told us how he had spent ten thousand dollars coming up with it and years of research. It was just a round table with a rim, something you could come up with in woodwork class in a couple of afternoons. The mind boggles.

I haven’t had time to check but on one episode a young Latino was about to be ejected from the panel. Peter Jones had an earnest look in his eye and the viewers felt on a threshold of a moment. “I know what it feels like to come from nothing..” Peter urged to the boy. I bet you Peter didn’t come from nothing.

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