What's On: Hotel GB

Celebrity Faulty Towers: the famed staff of Hotel GB. Photography: Channel Four

“If Channel Four had a hotel…” The thought has probably never crossed your mind. Well guess what? Now they’ve got one: and they’ve created a monster says Josh Taylor.

Promising to be ‘big, bold, multi-layered and hugely entertaining’, Hotel GB has certainly aimed high. Managing the helm of this potential disaster is fashion guru Mary Portas and obscene, Michelin-starred chef Gordan Ramsey. Their aim: to train 14 unemployed job seekers in dire need of a decent wage and a day without Jeremy Kyle’s banal tones screaming through their television whilst running a hotel offering excellent customer service. They’ve given themselves a week to tackle the biggest youth unemployment crisis in over 20 years. We wouldn’t expect anything less of Channel Four of course.

But Portas and Ramsey are not alone – the fiery duo are joined by an unlikely ensemble of the channel’s celebrity illuminati offering a ‘helping’ hand. Amongst them is Embarrassing Bodies star Dr Christian Jessen, hoping to see less trousers dropped and more weights lifted in Hotel GB’s gym. Gok Wan is drawing rather tenuously on ex-catering experience in order to fulfill his new role as bar manager; the audacious queen of clean, Kim Woodburn, is keeping the whole place spotless, and Phil and Kirstie are once again bickering on screen in their new roles of Maître d’ and concierge.

Pitted against each other in gladiator-style boy versus girl competition, each team is going all out to try and beat their opponent – the team that has made the most money through tips and service by the end of the week securing the childish bragging rights to claim gender domination over the other.

Yet stripping Hotel GB of its ugly exterior we are able to see a glimmer of noble hope drowning in this sea of egotism. It is not yet the coalition trying to get people back into employment, but the attempts of the Channel Four regulars are at least showing that the problem cannot be ignored. They might be onto something. This is after all, not dissimilar from Jamie Oliver’s ambition with Fifteen, the restaurant turned charity that has just celebrated its tenth anniversary of sending under-qualified young people out into the world as trained chefs.

Hotel GB’s staff will not only have the chance to earn a golden ticket into the employ of Portas and Ramsey (earplugs at the ready chaps) but all proceeds of the venture go to two charities who really are trying to do something for youth unemployment, Springboard and The Prince’s Trust. And by golly do they probably need the funds.

But just when we believed Hotel GB might miraculously be doing something for both the economy and the great British public it had to deteriorate into regular, trashy viewing. Particularly grotesque sexual accosting from Kim Woodburn and Dr Christian, and a bizarre cameo from David Gest’s python had viewers recoiling in horror from their television sets. Ammunition threw itself into the guns of the critics; they’d just turned it into a fight for ratings and the importance of those 14 unemployed people desperate for valuable training had been shot in the forehead.

Hotel GB’s intentions, therefore, remain unclear. With a copied format close to Big Brother and The Only Way Is Essex there is not a grain of hope that the severity of the country’s problems will be grasped. From what’s been seen so far, Hotel GB is merely a charitable bandwagon that these Channel Four regulars are chasing to hell and back. Quite frankly we’ve seen enough diminishing careers for one week – and we’re not talking about the unemployed trainees. Welcome to Hotel GB: thank god it’s nearly over.

Hotel GB airs at 9pm on Channel Four every night this week.


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