It seems there are a lot of bad bosses in Britain - and they might be getting worse. A 2013 study by content Defined targetspecialist Video Arts has asked employees whom they'd least like to work for. The results suggest that a boss who tries too hard to be your friend can be worse than a tyrant.

Topping the poll of famous fictional bosses that nobody wants is The Office's David Brent, played by Ricky Gervais.

He heads up a list that includes Del Boy from Only Fools and Horses and Captain Mainwaring from Dad's Army, suggesting that hypocrisy and self-delusion are among the traits Brits hate most in their bosses, along with attempts to be "a friend first".

The creators of a previous 2008 poll on bad bosses suggested that some model themselves on TV characters. When they see characters who are self-obsessed, they behave the same way. Presumably they don't notice what other characters in those programmes think of that kind of behaviour.

This 2008 survey found several instances of bosses failing to understand what constitutes normal social boundaries. One dictated a letter while using a urinal, and another, probably no better liked at home, asked an employee to arrange a family funeral. A third boss revealed a Brent-like talent for organisation by phoning a staff member in the UK to arrange for a table to be booked in a US hotel restaurant - making the call from the hotel!

Other incompetent bosses featured in the 2013 list include Basil Fawlty from Fawlty Towers. He, of course, is also known as a bully, even attacking his poor car with a tree branch at one point in the series.

Bullying bosses are clearly a concern, with The Thick of It's Malcolm Tucker coming in at number two and Edmund Blackadder also making the list. Its only real life entrant was Alan Sugar, perhaps because it's difficult to tell when he's performing or being serious, but he certainly seems to instil fear. A 2010 poll showed that he was the boss people would feel least able to look in the eye.

Though bullying might be a serious worry - the 2008 survey revealed that one employee was asked to provide an alibi to cover for a boss' love affair - incompetence and sheer bad luck would also seem to be part of the equation.

Both Fawlty and Blackadder have a knack for getting into situations where things go from bad to worse and their cunning plans drag their employees (or servants) along with them. American employees seem to be more concerned by bullies than Brits are, with their worst possible boss being Meryl Streep's ruthless Miranda Priestley from The Devil Wears Prada.

The 2010 poll tells us that the boss Brits most fear would have the hair of Margaret Thatcher, the ears of Anne Robinson and the nose of Theo Paphitis, none of which would look good on David Brent.

All things considered, though, it might be employees who enjoy the last laugh. The studies suggest that 40% of them spend at least some of their time at work looking for new jobs.

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