The Hotel: Rain, Regret and More Than a Few Reservations.

The Hotel: Rain, Regret and More Than a Few Reservations.

Channel 4 must love Nigel Farage. They’re starting to give him almost more airtime than the BBC.

No sooner has he spent a day with the country’s favourite inebriates from Gogglebox, than he’s holed up like some pie-eyed and less liberal Colonel Blimp with Andy and Vicky. “Who?” I asked myself the very same thing. Apparently, they’re the owners of the Cavendish in Torquay.

Compared to the Salutation (hic), Steph and Dom’s infinitely posher hostelry, the Cavendish is a slightly down at heel seaside establishment. Frequented not so much by the bucket and spade brigade as the soon to kick the bucket brigade. Everything about it is grey. The skies overhead, the hair and pallor of those staying, not forgetting the food, which has all the appearance and probably the taste of freshly dredged sediment. If we didn’t know better, we could be in a care home. Don’t check in, you may never check out again.

It’s a mystery why Nige is there in the first place. UKIP do admittedly perform better in coastal towns, so maybe that’s the reason for his five week extended stay.

A clue came in the first couple of minutes of the new series of the Hotel (Sundays, 8pm) when without a hint of irony, he proclaimed: “If someone said to me tomorrow, we’d like you to be Prime Minister, I wouldn’t really know what I was doing, but I’d have a go”.

You can’t say fairer than that, can you? At least it’s honest, almost to the point of stupidity. Still, a bit of truthfulness is what we’re always demanding we want from our politicians.

What next, Cameron admitting he’s pretty much clueless and has been ever since he stepped into Number 10? It would certainly confirm what we’ve suspected all along. And we’d feel warmer towards him as there’s nothing we Brits admire more than an unconfident underdog and a trier.

Doubtless, Miliband would then chirp up that he’d also be similarly useless if he were elected and that he’d promise to be every bit as ineffectual and hopeless as his predecessor. Before you knew it, everyone from cabinet ministers and mayors to MPs and humble councillors would be jumping on the bandwagon to boast about their ineptitude and unsuitability for public office. In return, we’d shout ‘Hurrah’, vote for them in our millions with a turnout of 96%.

Hold on a moment though. Upon closer inspection, it isn’t Nigel Farage at all. Sure, he looks like him, especially after one too many sharpeners. On occasion, he sounds like him. He even dresses like him; blue blazer and beige slacks, all very Burton Menswear 1957. However, the person in question is none other than Mark Jenkins.

Back for another series, this time he isn’t in charge. Instead, he’s now an employee. More precisely, he’s the new Entertainment Manager for the summer season. You can’t help wondering if they’d wanted someone to be in charge of the creche, they’d have hired Herod.

Mark was the man who formerly owned the Grosvenor, which was the main focus for the show in 2012/2013 before everything went spectacularly tits up and it had to be sold to pay off his increasing mountain of debts.

In a quest to ensure that the Cavendish doesn’t suffer the same fate, he isn’t exactly assisted and supported by the rest of the staff. He hasn’t started yet and they’re already wishing for him to fail, particularly Head Barman, Mike, who used to be responsible for keeping the residents amused.

To make matters worse, Mike was employed by Mark 12 years ago. Obviously, the experience has left him psychologically scarred and damaged because he seems hell bent on revenge.

“He messed up his three hotels, if he messes up this one, I’ll mess him up”, threatens Mike.

For Mark, the impossible is his speciality (that’s one up on the Chef, who plainly doesn’t have a speciality to his name) and he isn’t about to let a little thing such as Grievous Bodily Harm get in the way of his success. He retaliates in the way he knows best. Not with fists, knives and guns, but something, I’m afraid, far more ghastly: bingo, happy hour and Dave Hughes.

Usually when one mentions instruments of torture, it’s pliers, chainsaws and blow torches that spring to mind. But this is the Hotel, not Eli Roth’s the Hostel, so naturally it’s Dave’s electronic keyboard to which I refer. Fingernails down a blackboard would be more musically pleasing.

Despite Mark’s valiant efforts, the takings increase by a derisory £180 compared to the same night the week before, which is hardly a ringing endorsement of his impresario talents.

While the Cavendish has a meagre 2-star rating, the programme itself deserves more. Not quite 4 stars, but definitely 3.

As expected, it’s contrived in the extreme. All the same, that’s par for the course for ‘real life’ fixed camera documentaries. No huge surprise then that the paying guests come across as being planted and pre-arranged. In part 1, they were a middle aged playboy barrister by the name of Tim and his spoilt university son, Freddie who were supposedly spending a few days away together in an attempt to bond and become closer.

This is never going to happen in the case of Mark and Mike who are a star double act in the making. 60 years ago, they’d have been women played with bitchy splendour by Bette Davis and Joan Crawford.

In the following weeks, it will be fun tuning in to see who has the bigger set of (bingo) balls.

As for Nigel Farage, well, I fully expect to see him in a forthcoming episode of Come Dine with Me, naturally serving traditional British grub.



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