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Is entertaining TV bad for industry?

18 February 2010 by
Is entertaining TV bad for industry?

With strained budgets and so many hours to fill each day, it's hardly surprising that TV channel Five has commissioned another series of The Hotel Inspector.

To some, the programme offers intriguing insight behind the scenes of a hotel and the stresses endured by its hapless owners. To many of us, though, it presents a depressing reminder that any fool can enter the hospitality industry and fail because they haven't the foggiest idea what they are doing. In almost every edition, the victims have appalling taste, can't cook and don't like people very much. In every case, they lack the resources to put matters right and then, hey presto, Alex Polizzi appears to explain everything and wave her magic wand.

Like strong liquor or cigarettes, watching The Hotel Inspector is unpleasant at first, yet strangely addictive. I'll be glued to the next series for sure. But does it serve our industry to have its least successful practitioners revealed in this way? My fear is that viewers gain the impression that rank incompetence is common and that UK hotels and guest houses should be avoided at any price. If so, we have a problem.

Occasional rays of sunshine appear when the victims are taken to rival establishments to see how the professionals operate. Who can forget Michael Shepherd's calm tutorial on greeting guests as they entered the Hilton on Park Lane? Apparently it took a day's filming to garner those precious seconds on screen.

I have no complaint with the presenter herself. She exemplifies best practice and shares with the viewer her repugnance at the mouldy grouting, candlewick bedspreads or lack of welcome she so often encounters. No, my gripe is with the hoteliers for letting the side down so spectacularly. Whatever possessed them to buy hotels in the first place?

I realise television is all about entertainment so the producers would have no interest in pleasant, profitable businesses run by sensible people. X Factor would be dull indeed if all contestants in the early rounds could sing. I can't sing. That's why I went into this business instead.

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