The Hotel is almost Shakespearean. There is enough comedy and tragedy in this Channel4 favourite to rival any of The Bard’s scribblings.
There are heroes (Mark), villains (Christian) and damsels in distress (Alison).
The past couple of series of this cult reality show, charting the check-ins and freak-outs of The Grosvenor in Torquay, have been farce-filled and Fawlty Towers-esque.
However, series three has taken a darker turn. The hotel is crumbling, the staff are useless and Mark, battered by the recession, has sold his beloved Bentley and is chain-smoking more ciggies than Dot Cotton and Deirdre Barlow combined.
The poor man is breaking down before our very eyes and it doesn’t always make for easy watching – for every light-hearted gaffe there is a moment of heart-wrenching reality, such as his mum revealing he doesn’t eat properly because of the stress or when he sat longingly in one of the guest’s Bentleys remembering better times gone by.
Those of you who, like me, couldn’t resist Googling what’s happened to The Grosvenor away from the cameras will already know the outcome of this story. And can we really say we’re surprised?
Last night’s show centred around the relationship between boss Mark and “events manager” Christian, which has been simmering away for years.
There has been mistake after mistake by Christian all series and last night, following him ending up in drag at what was supposed to be a respectable, sophisticated wedding fair, mild-mannered Mark finally snapped.
Tired of the hissy-fits and back-chatting, the boss hauled Christian in for a long-overdue meeting.
“I am fighting for this hotel’s very survival,” Mark stated bluntly from the off, before listing a number of genuine concerns about his employee.
And instead of taking his medicine and being apologetic, Christian, true to form, threw a strop, handed in his notice and stormed out. You just can’t get the staff these days.
So the others are left to pick up the pieces (as ever), including a wedding in a matter of days for which Christian gave away pink cava, duck a l’orange and doves – all at a time when Mark and everyone else are trying to make ends meet.
And, just when you think it couldn’t get any worse, up pops a debt collector demanding £55,000.
It’s pretty miserable viewing, and the sneak preview of next week’s programme showed a teary-eyed Mark saying goodbye to his staff. Gulp.
In the penultimate episode of the eight-part series, Mark decides that with his debts so high, he is past the point of no return
He looks to his advisor, a former chief AA hotel inspector, for support, with guests, like the staff, unaware that these are the last days of The Grosvenor in its current guise.
Meanwhile, front of house, The Grosvenor is as ‘fawlty’ as ever, with Mark trying to keep a smile on everyone’s faces by entering a staff team in the Torbay coastal rowing race.
But this is why The Hotel is such compulsive viewing. It really is reality.
There are mistakes, debts and people losing their jobs – things we can all relate to in this day and age – but at the centre of it all is heart, genuine friendships between the staff and a good dose of gallows humour.
Talk about a Comedy Of Errors.