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The Caterer

Time for Tim

30 November 2004
Time for Tim

No, he hasn't had any cosmetic surgery, and yes, 411/2 is his real age and not his television age. These are the answers to just two of the questions that hotelier Tim Hadcock-Mackay is getting a bit fed up with answering, following his appearance on Channel 4's Time to Get Your House in Order that hit our screens at the start of this month.

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"I am like the fool in King Lear. I point out what is wrong and make people laugh at the same time" Tim Hadcock-Mackay
But despite some unwanted attention from tabloid journalists - whom the chicly dressed Hadcock-Mackay describes as "scragamuffins" - the focus is, he says, positive for the hotel sector of the hospitality industry. Because suddenly is it not just effing and blinding chefs that we are seeing, but a hotelier as a presenter, using examples from the hotel sector for effective domestic management. If you haven't caught it so far, it works like this: some of the worst-run households in the country are selected as guinea pigs. Cue "Timmy" arriving in his Bentley, dressed in his tweed suit and waistcoat to sort them out. In the first programme, Shellie was so lazy that she would ring a bell to get partner Ray to bring her a cup of tea. But once presented with a timetable and more effective means to run the house, things take a miraculous turn for the better. So was it all just hammed up? "They were like that," Hadcock-Mackay says, "and she wanted to change, but just didn't know how to." Where the programme scores, Hadcock-Mackay claims, is in its use of the hotel industry to give examples. These range from the way things are arranged in the kitchen - going round it in one direction in a waltz-like motion, for example - to making sure certain tasks are achieved by certain times, or calling in a housekeeper from a hotel to sort out a family living in a confined space and quoting mentor Terry Holmes (from the Stafford hotel in London) at every opportunity. "Hotels are finally becoming a sexy business. It used to be that you would be frowned upon if you said you were going into hotels, but now that is beginning to change," Hadcock-Mackay says. None of what Hadcock-Mackay is saying is rocket science. But the point is it comes from the hotelier. "I am like the fool in King Lear. I point out what is wrong and I make people laugh at the same time." This is not Hadcock-Mackay's television debut. He made a series called Ditch the Day job on BBC 2, in which he showed entrepreneurs how to get started. But back then he was called the eccentric, aristocratic presenter. Now he is the hotelier. One article has still labelled him a "posh twit" but he says he finds this funny. So what's next for Hadcock-Mackay? A second series of Time to Get Your House in Order is in the offing, as is a series to feature on prime time BBC1. But he says he will not sell his soul for just anything. He was approached for Property Ladder and Dinner Party Inspectors, for example, but turned them down because he couldn't see their relevance. "I don't want to be on anything where I can't be the hotelier," he says. And he will give interviews to national papers and other populist press only if they will mention his charity, Sargent Cancer Care for Children, a cause for which he hopes to raise a lot of money - and of which Cherie Booth is patron. And whereas he claims no cosmetic surgery, he does concede that rather a lot of make-up has been used. But that's his image now, and he's not permitted to change it. Tim Hadcock-Mackay Hadcock-Mackay, 41, founded the 143-strong Grand Heritage Hotels International chain in 1992. It has just merged with Distinguished Hotels International in the USA. Hadcock-Mackay will serve as chairman of the new group, focusing on hotel membership.
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