It was Sir John Harvey-Jones that started BBC's Troubleshooter back in the early 90s, while Sir Gerry Robinson, started his stint with Granada TV and Allied Domecq, and fronted a Troubleshooter remake known as I’ll Show Them Who’s Boss. Now, Lord Digby Jones, former Director General of the CBI, aims to revive the franchise again in Digby Jones: the New Troubleshooter, a three-part series that starts tonight.
The title is not the only thing that is coming back on the show of late Harvey-Jones; Digby Jones holds half of the originator's surname and also has similarity with him such as tubby and bluff, with hair worn long at the neck in compensation for a bald scalp. One added extra that the hyphen-less Jones brings, though, is his patriotism – the camera cuts frequently to his union flag cuff-links.
On screen, Lord Digby Jones – like Sir John and Sir Gerry that came before him – is essentially a capitalist paramedic, called to the down-lining profit graphs of businesses. But, somehow that structure has been adjusted to fit the television. There are only two significant things that had happened in business television since the first Troubleshooter: The Apprentice and Dragon’s Den – to which both of them have the same format. Just like Lord Sugar, Lord Digby Jones can’t get into a car without the classical music on the soundtrack and close-ups of his tyres crushing gravel.
Once that the new Troubleshooter goes and attended the business of Hereford Furniture, the family house-stuff company may need to reduce its product lines and glamourise its branding, as they might introduce a new concept to design tycoon Emma Bridgewater.
It is not unpredictable as both The Apprentice and Dragon’s Den got a huge impact on how business grows. The difference between the two tycoons is that Harvey-Jones give his opinions in wry, kindly lines while Lord Sugar yelled at his people.
Taking over what Harvey-Jones's had started is Lord Digby Jones, who is seen together with Russel Norman of The Restaurant Man – as part of an anti-Sugar axis, which proves that masterclasses do not need to have a nasty attitude. The new Troubleshooter laughs often along with the lads on the factory floor, and although LDJ can sometimes be very direct (telling the makers of Hereford Furniture at one point that their goods are "functional, decent, value for money – and boring!"), compared to Lord Sugar it is only mild.
To test a business programme, there must be a balance between entertainment and inside insight on how commerce works. On this scale, The Apprentice brings lots of fun but not very handy while The Restaurant Man seems to do both. Digby Jones: the New Troubleshooter can also do this.