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So, after Channel Four allowed Jamie Oliver's giant ego another bridge too far with 'Jamie's Dream School', where 'troubled' kids were put in a special school to be 'educated' by celebrities who specialized in certain fields like history and science, the plan to make lessons more fun (Jamie doing the home economics classes, of course) and so they learnt something, big rival Gordon Ramsay has hit back in the chef guru status with Hotel GB.
The reality TV concept here is that another group of disadvantaged youth (or plebs, as that MP called them) will learn all aspects of the hotel trade from scratch and then thrown in at the deep end to actually run a working hotel for a week, the week in question right now, the plan to 'change their lives' - and, inadvertently, give excellent exposure to all the celebrities that come on the show as guests or hotel workers in the process.
The show is a cross between Hells Kitchen and Jamie's Kitchen Nightmares and set in a working hotel in Bermondsey, South London, broadcast every night this week with a live update on their antics during an hours highlights show between 9 and 10pm on C4, hosted by the laddish Paddy McGuiness. The hotel is open right now and you can book a table or room online until Sunday night if you are that way inclined.
Gordon Ramsay is doing the catering side and fashion diva Mary Portas is running the housekeeping side of things. Both are helped by those various celebrities - mostly Channel 4 - to cover all the hotel positions, the current maitre being Kevin McLeod from 'Location Location' whilst his partner in crime Kristie Alsop is doing the concierge desk job. Other celebrity departments in the hotel include the cleaning done by that Aggy woman and that pretty girl who suffered the acid attack doing the solarium. Unfortunately, if you were a guest in her solarium and didn't know her back story you would think she has had too much surgery for vanity reasons and another reality TV wannabe. A brave lady to comeback the way she has after 106 operations but you can see why the cynical C4 producers cast her here. She does look good after her ordeal though and gives hope to others who have suffered facial disfigurement, her dream job as a kid always that of TV presenter, ironic that it would be her terrible attack that would achieve that.
Her first client was the suitably named David Guest (that weirdo who married Liz Taylor) with a suitable facial disfigurement of his own, taking the pressure off Katy some as he looks all very strange after going under the knife for vanity reasons, a cross between Pete Burns and Tom Jones. David demanded 'breast milk' on his first night stay, his luggage lackey and partner not allowed such a lavish treat.
The show is tenuously legitimized by all proceeds going to 'employment charities' (presumably A4E), rooms around £100 pounds per night and a working restaurant for dinner, a competition running between the two halves of the hotel all week on who can raise the most tips. If guests are unsatisfied with any aspect of service they can refuse to pay. It's unsure how big the hotel profits will be and if the celebrities will take their fees, and if running's costs are deducted from the final take, but either way great PR for them and C4. The best two unemployed youngsters will be given a job at the end of the show by Mary and Gordon respectively. We presume some of the regular hotel workers are somewhere in the background to make sure the hotel runs smoothly.
Gordon and Mary have a mix of morons, students and 'dole bludgers' under their wing for the week as their trainee staff, the interview process featured in show one clearly designed to wean out the capable ones and employ the more unstable, no doubt kid's staying unemployed because they have been waiting for this very chance to be on reality TV, their dream. Even that bloke off Shameless could get a job in recession hit London.
The only female graduate on the show has already left as she quickly sussesed out there would be no training and you were there just there to be abused and patronized by the celebrities and guests, Lizzie asked to run reception with just three hours guidance from Mary. Lizzie didn't appear too bright and described her degree as 'writing'. Gordon, on the other hand, was taking every chance to rant at the kids in the kitchen in front of the camera and the guests for the most petty of things. Will, the other university graduate, is far too clever for Gordon and so quickly put in his place by the pseudo angry chef. Will just grins at his rants with a nod and a wink. I like Will. And Mary Portas? Well it's still unsure whether she is working on the well published government push to refresh our high streets, which she says was a bit of a stunt, which is rather ironic as her whole career has been, or still involved in selling those British made knickers in her factory? She does seem to spread herself around. Gordon, on the other hand, will do anything to get on TV, his disastrous series teaching prisoners to cook from a few months back not likely to trouble the TV Quick Awards this year. It's a constant battle between the chefs and style gurus like Portas to come up with these reality shows to keep them away from their day jobs, it seems. Alan Sugar seems more interested on being on TV than actually running his business, hardly entrepreneurial.
On the front desk they have a trainee Gok Wong in the making (fitting as that irritant is in it too), unemployed 18-year-old John Harris a cross between Gareth Malone and the toothy bloke from the League of Gentleman, the one that keeps shouting 'Tubs'! He is clearly the star of the show for pleasingly thick and also the perfunctory camp one. He is too young to identify the celebs, which is the running joke on reception. Not that many people know who Jackie Collins is. Coupled with some excitable kids from the nearby Sarf Landan and young single moms 'on a journey', all the ingredients are present for some TV exploitation that the middle-class enjoy so much at home as they sip their Pinot Grigot.
The old drag bag that is Hilary Duval showed up yesterday dragging a couple of those ghastly yapping toy dogs around the place pooing everywhere (the dogs that is) with her wig in their mouths, and was assigned to run a 'pop up' shop in the lobby, selling her particular style of gothic clothing, a token effort by the oddball. Meanwhile Gok is running the bar and Jimmy Carr dragged into host a dog fashion show. No, Hilary didn't win. Hunky gay doctor Christian Jessen from 'Embarrassing Bodies' is the gym manager.
You start out wanting to hate these shows but they suck you in enough to get ringed in the TV guide for the next night, proof enough you have no life. In the early 'nougties' the trend was for celebrities to be cruelly humiliated in shows like I'm A Celebrity to earn their corn and for TV to run up phone revenue from those dodgy voting lines to remunerate the celebrity, whereas now it's come full circle with shows like this, revenge on those phone voters by the celebs. We get to see those wannabes made to look ridiculous and so see them off before any erroneous celebrity career should sprout. I'm sure the kids on the show are having a great time and they will make a few quid for charity but know your place is the message.
It's not too late to dip in Hotel GB as it runs all week and mildly entertaining, although Ramsey's angry chef routine becoming a little predictable now. He has been awarded his 12th Michelin Star this week and perhaps time to go back to his restaurant chain. Mary Portas is likeable in her own inspiring way but, like the Dragons and Alan Sugar, these gurus are really looking for the easy celebrity life and so no longer the inspirers they are pitched as and once were. Everyone wants to be telly these days...