I’d heard about this programme on Channel 4 and been told I’d like it before promptly (and typically) forgetting all about it. Apparently it was mentioned by someone who thinks I can actually take these passing comments in…whilst doing the laundry, cleaning the bathroom, loading the dishwasher, preparing lunch, planning dinner….awww – just call me Cinders!
Sunday evenings are usually put aside for catching up on my American favourites. My HBO fix. Whilst getting settled with my spag bol and lining up the vodka and cokes for the evening, ‘The Hotel’ began…so I thought I may as well see what the craic was.
I don’t think I’ve ever complained quite so much the whole way through a programme. At least not since the first Big Brother over 10 years ago….which incidentally turned out to be the last time I ever watched that programme! I have a feeling my Sunday nights will be returning to normal too and that last weekend was a mere hiccup.
The programme is a ‘fly on the wall’ documentary (although there’s plenty of drama in it too – particularly from the manager!) about life for the staff and fleeting guests at at the Damson Dene Hotel in Crosthwaite near Bowness in the Lake District. Manager Wayne seems permanently stressed, always on his feet, always rushing somewhere, usually to locate another member of staff (a mixture of Polish and Romanian people) and mostly to reprimand them for their latest faux-pas.
So much of the dialogue between Wayne and his staff is completely lost in translation and amusingly (although not for the poor soul on the other end of his ranting) this just makes him say the same thing repeatedly….but LOUDER. There are a small group of Polish cleaning staff, who obviously all speak the same mother tongue and are able to comfort each other, explain things to each other and slag off Wayne telling each other to ‘ignore him’. My heart went out though, to Amos.
He is the only Romanian and really struggling to understand and be understood. He is certainly the most appealing character and the cause of many sympathetic ‘awww’s’ and shouting at the tv telling Wayne off on his behalf! Amos is such a hard-worker, relentless in fact, despite being incredibly clumsy and a little bit clueless. At one point Wayne asked him if he could possibly carry three rounds of toast out to the dining room and I heard myself screaming ‘No! Don’t ask him to carry three – he can’t!’. It was too late though as a slice of toast predictably fell to the floor ensuing in Wayne grabbing the third round and storming off with it. However, despite repeatedly pissing Wayne off by dropping things, spilling stuff and trying to drag huge tables across the floor with a glass vase on top…Amos never says ‘no’. He is so eager to please and do any task he is set. Often saying ‘yes, yes’ when he hasn’t a clue what he’s just been asked.
Cut to a studio interview where we hear about Amos’ childhood. Never knowing his father, sleeping rough, not receiving a proper education and from that moment on I have an excuse for him at every step of the way! I know, I’m such a pushover. He’s lovely though and tries so hard to do a good job despite the language problems.
Onto the guests! Oh my word! Another kettle of fish altogether. The episode I saw had a Christian couple come and stay a couple of nights. For a nice break you might think? Some romance maybe? Or just a dirty weekend?? Nope! They were on a complete mission to convert as many people as possible to Christianity! I couldn’t believe what they were doing. We saw them often praying in their room, sometimes just general stuff, one time praying to be protected from the ‘evil’ woman that was coming into the hotel that evening to do a seminar on angels! The next thing you know the guy has asked at reception if he can have a word with Amos, who is promptly summoned and directed to the dining room where the guy is waiting. My jaw hit the floor when this guy started questioning poor Amos on his religious beliefs. Asking him if he understood what it was to be a sinner and telling him that he ‘needed to turn away from sin’!! Seriously?? All because Amos’ mother had deigned to saddle him with a biblical name. It made me feel incredibly uncomfortable.
A lighter moment followed though when the Christian couple returned to their room to find the bathroom door locked and the shower running. There was a bit of a moment when staff were trying to find a wire coat-hanger to pick the lock (master-key anyone?anyone?) to no avail, so Wayne was drafted in to kick the door in! Who was in the bathroom? No-one! I still don’t know what happened there…I must have been in the kitchen getting another drink to see me through to the end!
I think, its actually a great programme. Like a real-life Fawlty Towers…although the owner Jonathan Denby is none too keen on that comparison but come on! You can’t watch a flustered, frustrated, intolerant Wayne and not think ‘Basil’. Just as you can’t watch a well-meaning but often confused Amos and not think ‘Manuel’!
I think we all know I’ll be watching it again next week….I’m a terrible liar!