Friday, 20 April 2012

Four in a bed: 70% less interesting than the name promises; great for nit-pickers

Scenes of bedrooms being meticulously checked for dust or men in anoraks sizing up the dimensions of an en-suite while a stern-faced woman with overly-dyed brittle blonde hair glumly inspects a travel kettle are pretty routine for Four in a Bed.

It's like a peep into a different world of small business: where your home is your work, and your day begins by resentfully making breakfast for strangers, occasionally very badly - and yet you still have to be nice to them.

The result is that the five-episodes-a-week show where four pairs of B&B owners test out the bed and the breakfast in each other's business is both an exercise in fascination and tedium - which in some respects is actually quite an achievement.

On one hand, there is probably nothing more charmless than 30 minutes of hearing the hard work of ambitious middle-aged couples, hoping for a bit of free publicity, criticised and pulled apart to a ridiculously petty degree.

But, when those same B&Bs are then exposed as having, say, a sofa bed with mice or a mattress with an unspeakably large brown stain, the programme's value both rockets and plummets simultaneously.

Who doesn't want to see a brown, permanent, gruesome-looking mark on a mattress at tea-time? And how does a stain that big get missed anyway?
A gruesome looking stain, no?
'Obssessed with pubes'

But the complaints from the show's participants come fast and regularly - there are frequent appearances from 'cups with marks', 'gaps under the door', 'soggy poached eggs'. And this week there's a man, Paul, who is obsessed with checking for pubes.

"I've found one!" he says, having stripped the bed of its sheets in his relentless and peculiar quest.

"Oh no! There's two!" cries his wife Jeannette, agog.

And with the programme's title coming straight from the same vaguely suggestive but ultimately a bit disappointing programme-naming office as Wife Swap, perhaps Four in a Bed needs to be more accurately named.

Changing it to Four in a Bed and Breakfast might work, or, even more accurately, Four B&B Owners Stay at Each Other's B&Bs and Then Find Fault to the Nth Degree - but that's a bit long and doesn't make you think of group orgies.

Or is that just tv-ooh?

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