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His heart's in the right place...

Byline: Gereth lightfoot

REALITY television stars, like Jade Goody, can become stars in their own right, sometimes by sheer force of personality.

If anyone deserves a glittering post-reality career, surely it has to be Mark Jenkins of The Hotel, a man blessed with the gifts of boundless enthusiasm and a fabulous lack of tact, speaking his uncensored thoughts before his brain has spluttered into second gear, but with a heart essentially in the right place. He should present the Oscars.

I wasn't sure whether he or the show were real, or whether it was all a painstakingly naturalistic sitcom by Peter Kay, John Cleese and Ricky Gervais.

You have to sympathise with hoteliers in Torquay, forever living in the shadow of Fawlty Towers. This is no problem for The Grosvenor, which seems to operate at near-Fawlty levels of farce 24 hours a day.

"It's like being in an asylum," says reservations manager Alison.

Last night's episode makes this clear in a typically blunt opening, with shots of things smashing, plinky-plonky comedy music and manager Mark reeling off humdinger soundbites like "People don't have to go abroad for their holiday, we will bring abroad to them" and "The global credit crunch wasn't my fault!" If the idea is to showcase some inspired nincompoopery and get punters through the door for entertainment value alone, it deserves to succeed admirably.

Mark's latest idea is an Indian night. "Devon and Delhi in one night! It's two holidays in one!" he gushes before getting on the phone to seek out attire for his bemused staff - "A long skirty thing with a turban... no, Red Indian won't work."

Mark is surprised to learn that the Black and White Minstrel Show isn't so popular anymore.

He doesn't take the hint and upstages everyone - including an events manager in drag - by turning up with his face somewhat, well, over-tanned.

"There's no way you can go out looking like that. YOU CAN'T. DO THAT," Alison implores him.

"Course you can," Mark insists. "I'll look stupid otherwise! You've got a tan. You've been on holiday. I haven't been on holiday for years."

"You don't look as if you've been on holiday. You look as if you haven't washed! Your lips are, like, white. Your teeth are so white they're dazzling my eyes. I'm not being funny but you've gone way over the top."

"It gives the character. If I lived in India, I'd be this colour."

A team of the finest comedy writers in the land couldn't make this dialogue up.

The night is a success. Mark's guests aren't offended, realising his stab at multi-culturalism, clumsy as it is, is entirely genuine and good-natured.

He comes out looking harmless and quite sweet. You end up wishing him well.

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Title Annotation:Letters
Publication:Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)
Date:Jan 28, 2013
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