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Uber’s first UK TV advert “Effortless Night” imagines a hellish date in the city

Somebody help these poor, poor people.

Have you ever been on a first date and thought, “Well, that was beyond awkward, but think how well it could have gone if only we had made 12 different stops?” No? Well, Uber thinks you have! The ride-hailing app released its first TV advert this week, in an attempt to improve its reputation after a political backlash, sexual harassment charges and questions over the future of CEO Travis Kalanick. It’s not the world’s most impressive effort.

The advert sees “Grace” and “Miles” on a first date in an unspecified city – during which they get no less than SIX Ubers. SIX. Who has ever left the house and thought, “Hope tonight goes well and I manage to drop 75 quid on at least half a dozen painfully slow car trips across town”? “Grace” and “Miles”, that’s who.

First, delivered by Uber, “Grace” and “Miles” meet (seemingly for the first time) at a gig for the much-hyped postmodern hip hop trio “Hip Hop Trio”. It’s awkward, they can’t decide whether to go for the handshake or the hug and they bump into each other in the crowd. But they get on with it, and have a bit of a boogie alongside their fellow cardboard music-lovers. Before you can say “Hip Hop Trio” they’ve decided to hop in a car in order to head to – a street food stall.

Yes, a cart that sells food on the street. A stall of food specifically designed for passing pedestrians. The kind of food stall that would probably create crowds in the neighbouring streets of a venue hosting “Hip Hop Trio”.

But “Grace” and “Miles” are mavericks, and decide it is worth their time and money to pay someone to drive them halfway across town so they can sample the delights of this specific street-side stall. They buy two tiny tacos which “Miles” promptly drops on the floor, squirt ketchup everywhere, and (stomachs rumbling and clothes soiled) decide that what their night really needs is more travel sickness, and promptly jump in yet another Uber. Yep, they got an Uber to a street food stall, that they didn’t actually eat at, that wasn’t even near their next location.

They arrive via Uber number three at a jazz club. “Miles” has had a costume change and is wearing “Grace”’s sparkly jumper to hide the ketchup stains from the street food debacle. We can only assume they both spent the ride in stony silence, texting their friends about how they’ve been on this date for three hours and have forgotten each other’s names and still haven’t eaten – but somehow they felt their lips moving and their voice say “Yeah, go on then,” when the prospect of going somewhere else was floated and now they’re stuck, stuck, for at least another hour when they live in the opposite direction and any semblance of fun conversation dried up before the support act finished at “Hip Hop Trio”. But they’re at a jazz club now because isn’t that cute.

Barely five seconds pass at the jazz club before “Grace” is calling another fucking Uber – surely to go home, I hear you scream? But no! They get an Uber to some steps. Some steps! Big stone steps! They go to the steps, and they stand there for a bit, and do absolutely fuck all, and get in another Uber! Why! Why is this happening to these people! Who are they running from!?

They ball themselves – sweating, frantic – into Uber number five. Presumably, finally, this is the car that is taking them to the safe house. But no, friends, they go where any two people always hope to end up after a four-hour date that has involved five car journeys, two gigs, and absolutely no food or booze – bowling! BOWLING! I can’t see from this distance, but is “Grace” crying? Is this man holding her hostage? We can never truly know.

Because they are absolute wankers, “Grace” and “Miles” end their five-Uber date by simply strolling out into the road like they haven’t been desperately hiding from the pavement for the last four consecutive venues. It was at this point that I felt my confused, melted brain sliding out of my ears. Off they trot, hand-in-hand, just two sweethearts having a totally fun time, as though they’re on the most normal date in the world and not exploring a dystopian hellscape populated only by cardboard bystanders and driverless cars.

It starts to rain, and “Grace” calls Uber number six faster than you can say “weather-related surge pricing”.

I think I’ll just stay home, thanks.

Anna Leszkiewicz is a pop culture writer at the New Statesman.

Photo: Channel 4
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Who will win Great British Bake Off 2017 based on the contestants’ Twitters

An extremely serious and damning investigation. 

It was morning but the sky was as dark as the night – and the night was as dark as a quite dark rat. He walked in. A real smooth gent with legs for seconds. His pins were draped in the finest boot-cut jeans money could buy, and bad news was written all over his face. “I’m Paul,” he said. “I know”. My hooch ran dry that night – but the conversation never did. By nightfall, it was clear as a see-through rat.   

Some might say that going amateur detective to figure out which contestants win and lose in this year’s Great British Bake Off is spoiling the fun faster than a Baked Alaska left out of the freezer. To those people I’d say: yes. The following article is not fun. It is a serious and intense week-by-week breakdown of who will leave GBBO in 2017. How? Using the contestants’ Twitter and Instagram accounts, of course.

The clues are simple but manifold, like a rat with cousins. They include:

  • The date a contestant signed up for social media (was it during, or after, the competition?)
  • Whether a contestant follows any of the others (indicating they had a chance to bond)
  • A contestant’s personal blog and headshots (has the contestant already snaffled a PR?)
  • Pictures of the contestant's baking.
  • Whether a baker refers to themselves as a “baker” or “contestant” (I still haven’t figured this one out but FOR GOD’S SAKE WATSON, THERE’S SOMETHING IN IT)

Using these and other damning, damning, damning clues, I have broken down the contestants into early leavers, mid-season departures, and finalists. I apologise for what I have done.

Early leavers

Kate

Kate appears not to have a Twitter – or at least not one that the other contestants fancy following. This means she likely doesn’t have a book deal on the way, as she’d need to start building her social media presence now. Plus, look at how she’s holding that fork. That’s not how you hold a fork, Kate.

Estimated departure: Week 1

Julia

This year’s Bake Off began filming on 30 April and each series has ten episodes, meaning filming ran until at least 9 July. Julia first tweeted on 8 May – a Monday, presumably after a Sunday of filming. Her Instagram shows she baked throughout June and then – aha! – went on holiday. What does this mean? What does anything mean?

Estimated departure: Week 2

James

James has a swish blog that could indicate a PR pal (and a marketing agency recently followed him on Twitter). That said, after an April and May hiatus, James began tweeting regularly in June – DID HE PERHAPS HAVE A SUDDEN INFLUX OF FREE TIME? No one can say. Except me. I can and I am.

Estimated departure: Week 3

Tom

Token-hottie Tom is a real trickster, as a social media-savvy youngster. That said, he tweeted about being distracted at work today, indicating he is still in his old job as opposed to working on his latest range of wooden spoons. His Instagram is suspiciously private and his Twitter sparked into activity in June. What secrets lurk behind that mysteriously hot face? What is he trying to tell me, and only me, at this time?

Estimated departure: Week 4

Peter

Peter’s blog is EXCEPTIONALLY swish, but he does work in IT, meaning this isn’t a huge clue about any potential managers. Although Peter’s bakes look as beautiful as the moon itself, he joined Twitter in May and started blogging then too, suggesting he had a wee bit of spare time on his hands. What’s more, his blog says he likes to incorporate coconut as an ingredient in “everything” he bakes, and there is absolutely no bread-baking way Paul Hollywood will stand for that.

Estimated departure: Week 5

Mid-season departures

Stacey

Stacey’s buns ain’t got it going on. The mum of three only started tweeting today – and this was simply to retweet GBBO’s official announcements. That said, Stacey appears to have cooked a courgette cake on 9 June, indicating she stays in the competition until at least free-from week (or she’s just a massive sadist).

Estimated departure: Week 6

Chris

Chris is a tricky one, as he’s already verified on Twitter and was already solidly social media famous before GBBO. The one stinker of a clue he did leave, however, was tweeting about baking a cake without sugar on 5 June. As he was in London on 18 June (a Sunday, and therefore a GBBO filming day) and between the free-from week and this date he tweeted about bread and biscuits (which are traditionally filmed before free-from week in Bake Off history) I suspect he left just before, or slap bang on, Week 7. ARE YOU PROUD NOW, MOTHER?

Estimated departure: Week 7

Flo

Flo’s personal motto is “Flo leaves no clues”, or at least I assume it is because truly, the lady doesn’t. She’s the oldest Bake Off contestant ever, meaning we can forgive her for not logging onto the WWWs. I am certain she’ll join Twitter once she realises how many people love her, a bit like Val of seasons past. See you soon, Flo. See you soon.

Estimated departure: Week 8

Liam

Liam either left in Week 1 or Week 9 – with 0 percent chance it was any of the weeks in between. The boy is an enigma – a cupcake conundrum, a macaron mystery. His bagel-eyed Twitter profile picture could realistically either be a professional shot OR taken by an A-Level mate with his dad’s camera. He tweeted calling his other contestants “family”, but he also only follows ONE of them on the site. Oh, oh, oh, mysterious boy, I want to get close to you. Move your baking next to mine.

Estimated departure: Week 9

Finalists

Steven

Twitter bios are laden with hidden meanings and Steven Carter-Bailey’s doesn’t disappoint. His bio tells people to tune in “every” (every!) Tuesday and he has started his own hashtag, #StevenGBBO. As he only started tweeting 4 August (indicating he was a busy lil baker before this point) AND his cakes look exceptionally lovely, this boy stinks of finalist.  

(That said, he has never tweeted about bread, meaning he potentially got chucked out on week three, Paul Hollywood’s reckoning.)

Sophie

Sophie’s Twitter trail is the most revealing of the lot, as the bike-loving baker recently followed a talent agency on the site. This agency represents one of last year’s GBBO bakers who left just before the finale. It’s clear Sophie’s rising faster than some saffron-infused sourdough left overnight in Mary’s proving drawer. Either that or she's bolder than Candice's lipstick. 

Chuen-Yan

Since joining Twitter in April 2017, Yan has been remarkably silent. Does this indicate an early departure? Yes, probably. Despite this, I’m going to put her as a finalist. She looks really nice. 

Amelia Tait is a technology and digital culture writer at the New Statesman.