I’m often asked what happened to all the people who starred in The Hotel (see here). Well, with one exception* they are all still with me, three years after the filming, which is good going considering the high turnover of staff which some hotels experience. Wayne is still wooing the customers as the Damson Dene’s manager – the Tripadvisor ratings speak for themselves**. Amos, who was portrayed on TV as the bumbling Romanian new boy, now speaks perfect English, and has been joined by his lovely fiancee, Florina, who also works in the restaurant. Paul and Lavinia have been promoted to joint deputy managers and Lavinia took a short time off to have a baby, the lovely Paula. Yvonne and Jean are still frantically handling multiple calls on the Damson Dene reception desk, and George in the kitchen has got engaged to Ada in the restaurant.
And there is the unexpected announcement of another engagement – Marta is to marry her boyfriend Rafal. He proposed on Christmas Day morning, just before she came on duty for the breakfast shift. Marta is now the deputy manager at the Riverside, after accepting the move from the Damson Dene in a tearful denouement in the last episode of the series. It’s lovely to see her so happy and with such a beaming smile.
* The Head Chef’s days were numbered as soon as the series was broadcast.
** The Damson Dene has received more five star reviews from Tripadvisor than any other hotel in the Lake District over the Christmas period – and Wayne is name-checked in nearly all of them.
I heard a scream and one of my girls came running out of the computer room. “There’s a massive spider on my keyboard” she cried. One of the pleasures of being a Dad is being able to deal with crises like this, which I did by grabbing the spider by its legs and flinging it out of the window, alive (just).
It’s a natural reaction to be scared of spiders, mice, bats and all small creepy creatures. The final episode of The Hotel included a hilarious scene when several housekeepers ran screaming when they saw a baby bat crawling along the corridor of the Damson Dene Hotel. I said at the time that it was a racing certainty that we would hear from some do-gooder pointing out that it is a criminal offence to harm a bat and sure enough, to my great amusement we did. They said, completely seriously, that we should have a programme in place to train our staff how to deal with bats.
What these idiots don’t appreciate is that the whole of Cumbria and much of the UK is alive with bats and that the laws to protect them do more harm than good (see my posting of November 30th 2010). How much harm has become apparent this week when a stray bat brought down a bank. The unfortunate bank is the Southsea Bank, based in Havant. The bank’s chairman, Bernard Stanley, explained that the bank had lent money to a property company, which was converting a building into 10 apartments- “We were very unlucky. Some chap from Natural Heritage happened to be passing when a bat flew out. Because of this construction of the flats was stopped for six months. No bats were found, but by the time the apartments were completed the market had gone flat”. The failure of the property company led to the collapse of the bank, which the government has refused to bail out. There will be compensation from the taxpayer for all depositors with balances up to £85,000, but any deposits over that amount will be lost. Which means that some people have lost most of their life savings. Even that, I’m sure, isn’t enough to wipe the smile of self satisfaction from the face of the man from Natural Heritage.
Tucked away behind the Damson Dene Hotel, underneath the Leisure Club is an old decrepit store room which nobody visits. Walking past earlier today, I was surprised to hear what appeared to be a party going on. I popped my head in and there amongst the old abandoned sofas and mattresses, was the astonishing sight of Wayne sounding very much like Elvis! In fact so much like Elvis, that I wondered for a moment whether he was miming into the microphone. Could this be the same person, who, only a fortnight ago was seen shirtless in his caravan singing an off-key Band of Gold to his faithful dog Fly? This, it turns out, was the key to his clandestine crooning. Wayne had been so shocked to hear his singing voice on TV, that he was determined to get it back into shape. This video shows what a brilliant job he’s done and I think the time is right for him to bring his singing out of the shadows.
“You must catch this programme. It’s going to be absolutely huge” Fern Britton.
This is Wayne’s first appearance on a chat show but you’d never know. He’s completely natural; the audience love him and it’s clear that they love ‘The Hotel’ as well. Wayne isn’t at all put out when Fern invites him to sit in a ‘cutie-van’ and replies with the quip
“When the caravan’s a rocking.
Don’t come knocking”
Anything over a million viewers would have been acceptable, but Channel 4 were ecstatic to hear that 2.3 million viewers watched the first episode of The Hotel – and that it was the most viewed programme on Channel 4 in the entire week. I got a call not long after the programme ended to say that I must log on to #thehotel on Twitter. It was amazing to see the torrent of tweets – most of them favourable. Two things were obvious – all of the girls loved Amos and everyone loved Wayne, except for the girls who thought that he had been mean to Amos. For a while on Sunday ‘The Hotel’ trended No1 in the UK on Twitter and No2 Worldwide. The video shows an interview with Wayne shown on Granada Reports on Monday evening.
How often does the BBC cover a programme on a rival Channel and say that it is “unmissable”. This to our amazement was the verdict of BBC’s ‘Northwest Tonight, after they had come to Damson Dene to preview “THe Hotel”. And they weren’t shy about saying it again and again, as their piece was shown at breakfast, at lunchtime and in the early evening bulletin. Today’s papers have brought even better news. “The Hotel” was chosen by all the papers except the Guardian as their ‘Pick of the Day’ and all the reviews were upbeat, including the following gems:
“A sheer delight” , “A masterpiece in the art of editing” ,”It’s like Fawlty Towers in Heaven”
“TV Gold in waiting”
“Meet Wayne- from now on your Sunday nights just won’t be the same without him”
The publicity for The Hotel, which goes out this Sunday is gathering pace. The “listings” magazines came out today and they have all chosen The Hotel as one of the highlights of the coming week, which is all that Channel 4 could have hoped for. We have been warned that we might be taken by surprise by some of the comments which are made, not all of which will necessarily be flattering. The Radio Times proved the point very succinctly by beginning their review by saying that I “bear a distracting facial resemblance to Education Secretary Michael Gove”. Surely, I thought, they can’t mean that handsome young man who used to write for the Times? I googled him and was pleased to see that he is, indeed, 19 years my junior although his looks aren’t exactly matinee idol. There’s ample scope, no doubt, for him to improve with age, as the photo above suggests.
In TV-speak we have the TX date (transmission date to you and me)-of The Hotel Sunday April 17th at 8pm. Previously we had been told that the first episode would go out on Tuesday April 26th, and I expect that the date has been brought forward to get in ahead of the mighty brouhaha of the Royal Wedding. Wayne, the General Manager at the Damson Dene, and Paul and Lavinia, who are now his assisstant managers, joined executives from Channel 4 and the staff of Dragonfly, the production company and several dozen representatives of the press (“hacks” in TV-speak) for a preview of the first episode. We were at the plush cinema room in the Channel 4 headquarters in central London. The episode has three main themes- a proposal of marriage (the young couple were also there for the screening), the induction of Amos, a young Romanian recruit, and the story of an elderly couple who were having a short break before getting the results of a test which would show whether or not the husband had terminal cancer. This was the second time I had seen this episode and I found it to be just as funny and moving as the first. Most importantly, the hard, cynical hacks also loved it- in fact the Channel 4 guys said they had never seen such a warm reaction to a preview.
Afterwards, there was a question and answer session in which Wayne was brilliantly funny. I don’t think he realises what a star he is going to be.
"The wisdom of life consists in the elimination of non-essentials"
About Slow Life
The idea of Slow Life is to take the principles of Slow Food, which are “good, clean and fair”, and extend them to life in general.
Here in the Lake District, the air is clean, the pace is slow and the atmosphere is calm. If we don’t grow food ourselves, we can buy it in friendly small shops, where you know the quality is going to be the best.
This blog is a celebration of the Slow Life, with forays into the world of design, music, the arts, gardens, and my particular weakness, Japan.