Alex Polizzi: The Fixer, BBC2 - TV review: The hotel-heir fixer struggles for the common touch

Polizzi looked uncomfortable when she set foot in The Singing Kettle and the Messers did not respond well to her ill-disguised contempt for their tatty tearoom

Click to follow
The Independent Culture

How to interact with Joe Public and other ordinary human plebians who don’t hail from the celebrity elite? This is a problem which seems to befuddle some television personalities more than others, and among the befuddled is the small-business advisor, hotel heir and presenter of Alex Polizzi: The Fixer.

She was in Torquay last night, where her grandfather’s five-star hotel The Imperial still presides over the seafront. Only she was there to fix a very different establishment, a dingy tea-room on an unlovely stretch of road, 20 minutes from the centre of town. "This is the one that breaks me?" asked an incredulous Alex at one point, "A tea room?"

But then The Singing Kettle was no ordinary tearoom. Each member of the Messer family could have single-handedly run a business into the ground and here they were, working in concert. Mum Marlene boasted of her love of baking but made her "home made" scones from a packet mix. Cassie was the grown-up daughter given to throwing teary tantrums like a six-year-old, and my personal favourite was dinosaur dad Ray.

His obstinate rejection of even the most reasonable improvement was utterly self-defeating, yet, also, strangely heroic. He struck a blow for curmudgeons everywhere when he cut short interior designer Tim, half-way through his presentation of an artsy-fartsy inspiration board: "You may want to talk about ‘visions’ and that, that’s not what I’m into," huffed Ray.

Polizzi had no trouble identifying the root of the Messers’ problems; the menu was cluttered, the dining area was dingy and their rose-tinted dream of a retirement business by the sea was preventing them from considering the real customers. Unfortunately, perceiving these problems and solving them are two very different things. Polizzi looked physically uncomfortable as soon as she set foot in The Singing Kettle and the Messers did not respond well to her ill-disguised contempt for their tatty tearoom.

Every poker player has her tell and Polizzi’s is that she begins calling people "darling" at the exact moment when she is finding them most exasperating. It can transform an innocuous enough line like, "darling, I don’t know what sizes you gave, but these seem like perfectly standard tables…" into an incendiary incitement to violence. 

Comments