Wednesday, 11 January 2012

The Hotel: A comedy documentary about a man who likes ketchup and gravy at the same time

It's been described as a modern day Fawlty Towers, and you can image The Hotel's pesky tv producers probably had just that comparison in mind when moving their fixed-camera documentary programme to the Devon town of Torquay.

The Grosvenor Hotel is what one would politely call an 'independent' hotel and is run by 'former millionaire' Mark, a divorcee who lives in room 46 of the hotel and says he hasn't cooked a proper meal for 15 weeks, and even then that might have just been a quick spag bol, which he enjoys with both ketchup and gravy.

What's more, his 'quirky' nature has meant he's decided for himself that the hotel is a 'three star' because he doesn't want to pay for the official classification.

Mark is supported - or, as he would have it, hindered - by a team of staff including attitude-heavy Reservations Manager Alison, who likes a bicker and a neckerchief, and Deputy Manager Christian, who likes a spray tan.

Christian also likes to drag up (badly) to be a 'dolly bird' for a disastrous in-house game of Play Your Cards Right - which, just like the hotel's decor, is straight from the 1970s.

There's a lot of scenes of staff moaning about each other while sitting around a plastic garden table smoking fags.

One of them used to be Phillip, who wisely left at the end of the first episode, and can be heard and seen talking about the experience of making the programme in the box below.

He seems quite chipper about it all doesn't he?

But although the hotel in The Hotel, which we're told is fighting for its survival, looks doomed from the outset, it's also in possession of those peculiarly British sitcom characteristics which means the show might be a success even if the hotel isn't.

Its mix of strong personalities who are perpetually stuck-in-a-rut, along with a steady stream of fresh guests with a story to tell, is what make the show spring in to life.

Mark signed up to the show because he basically fancies himself as an entertainer. He tells his son he's still to achieve the third of his three big life objectives - the first two were to drive a Bentley and to have a flat overlooking the local bay - but we can all see that taking part in The Hotel is probably not going to bring him any closer to his third: performing at The Royal Albert Hall.

A panto in Paignton might be the closest he'll get because, in the nicest possible way, Mark is essentially doomed - and tv loves a doomed comedy character.

So in one sense he should be pleased - he might have a failing hotel, but he might also have the beginnings of a minor tv career.

It won't last very long mind you, but let's not go into that now, eh?

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