Champneys, TV review: It's rather hard to discern what makes this spa hotel so special
Ellen E Jones
Ellen is The Independent's TV critic. She writes a daily review of Last Night's TV and a weekly 'Inside TV' column for the i paper, as well as a column on general topics for the main paper most Wednesdays. Ellen is a former Hollywood correspondent and a contributing editor to Little White Lies, she's written on TV, film, lifestyle, travel and politics for publications including the Guardian, The Times, The Sunday Times, Esquire and Total Film.
Friday 11 July 2014
There's nothing futuristic about the 90-year-old spa hotel and subject of ITV documentary Champneys.
Once a favoured spot of Princess Diana, these days you're more likely to see Bobby Davro sweating away on a running machine or Sarah from Girls Aloud treating her mother to a pampering weekend. The staff also spoke in hushed tones about the imminent arrival of "high ranking Arabian royals", but none ever materialised on camera.
This one-off documentary is also part of a series of fly-on-the-wall documentaries about the growing market for luxury goods and services on television lately. On last week's Inside Asprey and Channel 4's The Auction House we saw how the posh shop; this might have been an opportunity to see how they relax in between purchases. Instead, Champneys chose to film its scenes during the four-month period when owner James Purdew was refurbing his rooms and reforming the staff structure.
Guests in towelling robes competed for corridor space with painter-decorators in overalls. As one guest grumbled, when you're tripping over stepladders and faint from paint fumes, it's rather hard to discern what makes Champneys so special: "I think for £540 for two nights, in a hotel room that's akin to the Holiday Inn, it's just a bit much."
The production crew attempted to compensate for this luxury shortfall by stirring up some staff tensions – "But Irina, not everything has been right between you and Kerry, has it?" – but to no avail. On this point, at least, Champneys demonstrated its superior quality. Even the most inexperienced chambermaid knew her job was to clean the dirt, not dish it.
tv Jenny Lee may have left, but Miranda Hart and the rest of the midwives deliver the goods
Film The critics but sneer but these unfashionable festive films are our favourites
TV We're so close to knowing what happened to Oliver Hughes, but a last-minute bluff crushes expectations
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Planes go hybrid-electric in important step to greener flight
- 2 Antonio Martin shooting: Police and protesters clash over teenager's death just five miles from Ferguson, Missouri
- 3 British actor Idris Elba cannot star as James Bond because he is black, says shock jock Rush Limbaugh
- 4 Hip hop is both racial and political, and for Iggy Azalea to suggest otherwise is insulting
- 5 Man hospitalised with pneumonia after downing eggnog at office Christmas party
British actor Idris Elba cannot star as James Bond because he is black, says shock jock Rush Limbaugh
Rozanne Duncan: Ukip expels councillor for 'jaw-dropping' comments made in BBC TV interview
Germany anti-Islam protests: 17,000 march on Dresden against 'Islamification of the West'
Ukip member gets into Christmas spirit with Union Flag plea to Santa 'for our country back'
BBC director Danny Cohen: Rising UK antisemitism makes me feel more uncomfortable than ever
Alex Salmond has 'broken his word to the Scottish people' says Scottish Lib Dem leader