Hands down Channel 4 have won the category for most bizarre show of the year with Hotel GB. On paper the show is just another attempt from the channel to help out Britain’s unemployed as 12 trainees are given the chance to work in a real hotel and maybe get a permanent job out of the experience.
However, Hotel GB is no ordinary hotel. Every department is headed up by a Channel 4 celebrity. Dr Christian Jessen from Embarrassing Bodies is the gym manager, Kim Woodburn from How Clean is Your House is the hotel’s cleaner and Gok Wan is behind the bar. Other positions of responsibility in the hotel have been given to Phil Spencer, Kirstie Allsopp, Hilary Devey, Katie Piper and Jimmy Carr.
If that not is enough name dropping for you then you will be glad to know the hotel managers are Mary Portas and Gordon Ramsay. Oh, and celebrities have also been staying at the hotel too.
On top of all this the show is also a competition to see whether hospitality or the kitchen will earn the most money therefore winning the show. It is also an exercise at giving money to charity as every penny earned throughout the show is going to The Prince’s Trust and Springboard.
That’s a lot for a mere week of television. Yet somehow I have really enjoyed watching the show. Just as you get bored with Gordon Ramsay shouting at some poor soul in the kitchen the show starts following Kirstie Allsopp and Gok Wan planning a surprise wedding for some of the guests. Unfortunately the celebrities tend to get more attention than any of the trainees. I can’t remember any of the trainees’ names so I am just reduced to remembering who they are by listing everything they have done in the show.
I think sometimes the trainees realise the show format is neglecting them a bit too as they sometimes have nothing to do and all that earns them is a glare and a telling off from a television presenter. And as only two will get a job at the end of the week it feels like the show is nothing more than a gesture to help unemployed people out, especially as in the UK over one million young people are without a job.
This year Channel 4 have liked helping unemployed people out, with Mary Portas starting a knicker factory and Gordon Ramsay’s attempt to rehabilitate prisoners by teaching them to bake. In some cases at Hotel GB the celebrity mentor figure works Katie Piper who is known for having her face rebuilt after an acid attack, is professional and good at training up her beauty therapy assistant. On the other hand Phil Spencer, from Location, Location, Location, is learning how to be a maître d’ on the job, as well as teaching others how to be waiters.
A lot more work has clearly gone into the show that the audience sees on-screen, but with relatively little time for preparation the hotel is working, and working well. The only real disasters have been a slow receptionist, someone in the restaurant getting champagne accidentally poured over them and one trainee leaving before the hotel had even officially opened.
Paddy McGuinness is presenting the evening recaps and has actually been really enjoyable to watch. His jokey approach has set the tone of the show quite well, with a sort of “no one knows what is really happening but we’ll appreciate it” approach.
Sadly though, once the Hotel GB doors have closed I can’t imagine them opening up again. Unless it creates a new variety of similar shows. Nick Hewer from Countdown and Channel 4 News anchorman Jon Snow could run a newspaper for a week. Jon Snow can do the journalism side and Nick Hewer can do the numbers. Alternatively Noel Edmonds and Kevin McCloud could open a call centre together. Kevin McCloud is good at organising people on building sites and Noel Edmonds has a lot of experience in answering the phone. The opportunities are endless.
The last Hotel GB is on Channel 4 tonight at 9pm, or you can catch up with the rest of the week’s shows on 4OD.