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A minute on the clock… Imogen Edwards-Jones

26 January 2006
A minute on the clock… Imogen Edwards-Jones

Behind the scenes exposés of the hotel industry were the subject of Imogen Edwards-Jones's novel Hotel Babylon in 2004, which was written with the help of an anonymous hotel general manager. Emily Manson talks to her about its TV adaptation

How does it feel to see your book on the small screen? It's incredibly exciting but also a little nerve-wracking to have your head so high above the parapet.

Does Max Beesely fit your image of Charlie? Yes and no. He's butch and handsome and does an excellent job with the character, but I had always seen Charlie as dark-haired.

Do you think the mini series does justice to your book? Yes, but it's set in a much more contemporary style of hotel than I had imagined. They've also changed the plot quite a bit as there aren't any sweeping storylines that go through the book, so for the sake of drama there's a heightened reality through the series.

They've changed the general manager to a female - does this matter? It gives an interesting twist as she's a woman in a man's world and it's a very clever idea for the sake of the drama. Also Tamzin Outhwaite looks lovely and she has some very nice clothes - which adds a bit of glamour.

Does the book reflect the hotel industry well? It makes you think more and understand how hard people work in the industry. It's like learning about choreography before going to a ballet - you appreciate the hard work that goes into the service and beautiful imagery created by the hotel staff. Having said that, some characters don't come out of the story very well!

What made you write the book? I met "anonymous" through my agent and we just got talking and decided the stories would make a great book.

What was the most bizarre story you left out of the book? There were lots of celebrity stories I couldn't put in for libel reasons - mainly involving drugs and the disgusting chaos they leave behind in their rooms. But I wish I'd included how chambermaids wipe water glasses with the same cloth they've used to wipe the toilet seat, floor, etc!

What's the worst experience you've ever had in a hotel? In Uzbekistan, I stayed in a hotel that had scrap metal in the bath, the taps didn't work, there were cockroaches in the bed, no curtains, and the loo was a squat-and-drop thing outside and they still charged people to stay there.

There have been many other hospitality exposé novels. Why are the public so fascinated by back-of-house goings-on? I think people just like secrets, it's a very interesting and easy way to learn about facts, and it's gentle entertainment.

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