The Hotel, Channel 4, review: Tragic-comic scenes transcend show's usual format

Mark Jenkins, former owner of The Grosvenor, was still the star

Click to follow
The Independent Culture

There was a Sally Wainwright-esque father-son relationship in the new series of The Hotel (Sun), Channel 4’s fixed-camera documentary, which, after three series at The Grosvenor Hotel in Torquay, has moved to the Cavendish Hotel, also in Torquay.

If only all guests were as easy-going as Tim and his son Freddie, this family-run business might just have a fighting chance. These two found their room's "commanding view of a car park" amusing and barely raised an eyebrow when water began leaking from the ceiling. Divorced dad Tim was too absorbed in an increasingly forlorn attempt to engage his son in some nostalgia for when they were "a proper family".

Their tragi-comic scenes almost transcendedThe Hotel’s usual format, but Mark Jenkins, former owner of The Grosvenor, was still the star, to the annoyance of Mike, the bar manager whose territory he’d muscled in on. "I’m their only hope," said Mark, clearly labouring under some powerful delusions. The Cavendish needed the Hotel Inspector or Gordon Ramsay on energetic form: anyone but this pratfall-prone liability.

The flock wallpaper and terrible cabaret weren’t the only depressingly old-fashioned aspects of The Hotel.

Its focus on zany characters and contrived confrontations has also been rendered obsolete by Channel 4’s own innovations in documentary programming.

Series like 24 Hours in A&E have since proven that fixed cameras can find out the humour and pathos in human behaviour without ever trying this hard.