When historians examine the collapse of Western civilisation years from now, they may well pinpoint 11 January 1973 as the beginning of the end. It’s the day An American Family, often cited as the first reality TV show, originally aired in the US. Without it, MTV would never have unleashed The Real World, and without that, there would be no Survivor, no Jersey Shore - no The Only Way Is Essex. And without that, there would be no Five Star Hotel.
E4’s latest wheeze assembles some of the biggest (ahem) names in reality TV: Spencer Matthews (Made In Chelsea), Holly Hagan (Geordie Shore), Ashley Cain (Ex On The Beach), Lydia Bright and the ubiquitous Joey Essex (both TOWIE alumni) - which gives them a working hotel to run on the sun drenched Greek island of Ios.
Together, these five stars must create a five star hotel experience (see what they did there?) for their guests, most of whom appear to have escaped from a rehab facility catering to individuals with a chronic fake tan addiction.
Competing for Employee of the Season, the famous five must earn top marks from their guests, who provide marks out of five and joyfully blunt feedback.
Overseeing the pandemonium is seasoned hotelier Mario Armani (yup, real name), but it rapidly becomes clear that competence is a minor consideration as both male and female guests start doling out the highest marks based on who they fancy the most.
Given the celebrity staff seem to think they’re out there to party and the guests had their flights, hotels and other expenses covered by publicly funded broadcaster - Channel 4, it is perhaps unsurprising that, as one celeb scathingly puts it, none of them would recognise a five star experience “if they got smacked in the face with a bottle of Bolly”.
With everyone apparently on the pull, Russell Kane’s snarky commentary provides a lone voice of sanity, lobbing spiteful soundbites at all and sundry as Holly necks tequila slammers while party planning and Spencer desperately tries to channel the refinement of The Dorchester. There’s also a slightly nauseating level of lechery on display as Joey Essex gawps at female visitors, Ashley establishes himself as the “house gigolo” and the male guests goggle at Lydia’s hapless barkeep.
Overall, Five Star Hotel proves to be an epic combination of dispiriting stupidity and cruel comedy, as cast, crew and customer run rampant through an establishment largely staffed by cretins, for cretins. It’s bound to land with the target demographic (i.e. anyone who can name three or more of the stars without resorting to a Google search) and there’s a mindless pleasure in pitting the celebs against each other as they (pretend) to run a hotel.
However, everyone else will wonder at what point broadcast TV evolved into a community care programme for members of society so inept they need to be kept under 24/7 surveillance, while binge watching the preposterously addictive series with all the shame and lack of self-control of someone consuming three family sized bars of Dairy Milk in a row.
- Aired on E4, March 12 2018 at 22:00.