Last Night's TV: Three in a Bed/Channel 4
Love Thy Neighbour/Channel 4
Women in Love/BBC4
Friday 01 April 2011
I would really not like to find anyone's pubic hair anywhere, thank you," remarked Frances Young, owner of Stoberry Park bed and breakfast. Ah, the irony. She is to be undone by such a follicle, lingering in the corner of a shower, just a few short hours later. But in the meantime, welcome back, Three in a Bed, the latest voyeuristic hybrid to reach our screens courtesy of Channel 4. Voyeuristic, but not bad. Part Come Dine with Me, part Ideal Home, it's a guilty pleasure of considerable proportions.
The premise is straightforward enough. Three bed-and-breakfast owners visit one another's establishments, spend the night, eat their breakfast, and then bugger off to bitch, moan and score one another in private. They slip their payment into an envelope, leaving only what they think the stay was worth. At the end of it all, the price paid to each guesthouse is revealed – the person with the most wins.
The Youngs (alongside Frances there's her second-fiddle of husband, Tim) are frightfully posh. So is their breakfast. Frances makes two types of yoghurt, and most of her jams and preserves her home-made, too. There are endless types of cereal, salted and unsalted butter, and cooked offerings, which come on silver platters. It looks delicious, actually, though it comes at a price: rooms cost £110 per night.
Their competition took the form of Debbie and Charlie Brown, who own a "boutique" establishment in Frome Dale, Dorset, and Ray and Marilyn, who recently opened the retro-themed Blue Pigeons at Worth. The Browns don't like snobs. Of course. "We're just council people who..." Charlie began, before Debbie cut him off. "Don't say that on TV! I wasn't council!" It looked like a class war in the making and – what do you know? – it did exactly what it says on the tin.
'Twas the pube that did it. In the morning-after session at Stoberry, Debbie revealed that she'd found one – horror – lurking in Frances's shower. Poor Fran didn't know how to react. "That can't be," she gasped. Ray and Marilyn, bystanders watching the opening shots of war, nicknamed the incident Pube-gate. Frances might call that an understatement. She began a campaign of the most deplorable snobbery, deploying a string of phrases to act as dog whistles to her class. "Maybe we had a slightly different take on the word 'boutique', having travelled so much," she observed of Debbie and Charlie's (admittedly not terribly boutique-y) house. "But we've all got to live somewhere."
The froideur didn't go unnoticed. When Frances spilled a glass of red wine on her bed, Debbie was certain it was deliberate (I'm certain it wasn't). When she went into the kitchen to ask for her coffee, Charlie muttered a string of obscenities. Poor Ray and Marilyn couldn't get a word in edgeways, though when they didn't, it was usually to say something nice. Happily, they proved the winners: a night at their Blue Pigeons for a custom-car and bike night earned them two over-payments from their competitors.
It was posh vs not somewhere else, too, in this week's episode of Love Thy Neighbour. Vicky and Andy – "a working-class couple," intoned the narrator, matter of factly – were up against Sunny and Anoop, a pair of professionals from London. It wasn't just class that stood between them: Sunny and Anoop both boast Indian heritage, a novelty in the Yorkshire village in which they were competing to win a cottage. They also boast a dazzling array of degrees. Anoop holds a PhD in astrophysics and Sunny one in education. When they announced this, in their introductory address at the local pub, it didn't go down too well. They're too smug, too self-satisfied, too type-A to win sympathy.
It's a theme that continued throughout their week in the village. There were smatterings of racism – "it's a long way to a mosque," remarked one resident to the camera – but, by and large, Grassington's inhabitants welcomed Sunny and Anoop's difference with open arms, flocking to their Bollywood-themed fundraiser and marvelling at their "exotic" beauty. The real obstacle was their demeanour. Though perfectly nice, they couldn't shake the Mr and Mrs Perfect routine. And so, despite their relatively feeble efforts, Vicky and Andy got the villagers' vote, more out of sympathy, I suspect, than anything. And, in a way, I'm glad. Given they both work in the finance industry, Sunny and Anoop's need for a free cottage in the country seemed rather less pressing than that of Vicky and Andy, who still live with their families in Surrey.
The second (and final) part of Women in Love saw our heroines in a rather different milieu from the first. Having given up on her bohemian set in London, Gudrun returned to the Midlands to pursue a life in teaching. The retirement didn't last long. After a liaison with wealthy landowner Gerald Crich, she was whisked, along with her sister, Ursula, off to Africa (a rather more exotic bolthole than D H Lawrence's Alps). There, the pair fulfilled last week's pledge to "feel the earth between their toes", though perhaps a little too much so. When Gerald and Gudrun fell out, she almost paid the price with her life. In the end, it was he who died. Transported from the sombre tones of the Midlands (by way of Cape Town) into the vivid orange and blue of the desert, the production took on a new vitality. It was an altogether more fiery instalment than we got last week, and the better for it too.
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