Hotel GB



Paddy McGuinness


Managers: Gordon Ramsay and Mary Portas

Staff: Kirstie Allsopp, Jimmy Carr, Hilary Devey, Dr Christian Jessen, Katie Piper, Phil Spencer, Gok Wan, Kim Woodburn


Optomen for Channel 4, 1 to 5 October 2012 (5 episodes in 1 series)


Channel 4's great idea for autumn 2012 was Hotel GB. A bunch of Channel 4 celebrities are given a real hotel to run. Guests are charged for their stay at the hotel, or using the gym or restaurant, with all money going to charity. The hotel is staffed by fourteen unemployed people, and lead celebrities Mary Portas and Gordon Ramsay pledged to take on one of them at the end of the week. Activity in the public areas of the hotel is filmed, and compiled into a nightly highlights show voiced by Paddy McGuinness.

Mary Portas holds a staff briefing in reception.

While it was airing, Hotel GB was criticised for being confused - The Guardian described it as "a jumbled mess of ideas" and "the weirdest television series of the year". Leeds Student was reminded of The Only Way is Essex, and the Evening Mail of I'm a Celebrity... Get Me Out of Here! by gathering up celebs and plonking them all somewhere. This site's reviewer disagreed with none of the above, and was reminded more of one of the week-long Big Brother tasks, but interacting with the taskmaster.

In the publicity, it wasn't clear what the emphasis of the programme was going to be. Was it amateur hour at the hotel, showing epic failures? Was it going to be Channel 4 Cross-Promotional hour, with stars like Kirstie Allsopp and Phil Spencer going from Grand Designs to the catering business? (And if it was, why did they put Gok Wan in charge of the bar, rather than making him the concierge, Head of Baggage?) Would Hotel GB be all about the money for charity? Or the occasional K-list celebrity guest (David Gest and a female sumo wrestler on consecutive days).

Paddy had second thoughts about the kippers-and-custard special.

Though all these elements were present, we came away with the feeling that Hotel GB was leading on the employment aspect. The workers were talented, but they hadn't been able to secure stable jobs. Mary Portas suggested the project could provide "one year's work experience in one week". Much of the conversation, especially Paddy's narrative, revolved around performance in the job. Some of the "guests" turned out to be potential employers, looking at candidates doing their jobs.

But then there was the way very minor drama (such as a trainee spilling champagne over a guest) became a running theme. Major decisions (another trainee leaving a few hours into the project, after being mismanaged by Kim Woodburn) were never mentioned again. As enjoyable and watchable as it was, the programme lacked focus.


The big reveal in the final show wasn't whether the hotel had made a profit, or how much money the charities would get, but which of the remaining candidates would get the jobs. Mary's team of accommodation took the most revenue, Gordon's team of ancilliary services had more in tips. The managers' jobs were offered to Emily the receptionist and Gun from the kitchen, but all of the thirteen trainees had at least one offer of employment.


One Potato, Two Potato

Theme music

Skipjack Music Ltd.


The programme supported The Princes' Trust and Springboard.

The working title was Hotel Britannia, shortened when it was discovered the name wouldn't fit on the hotel's exterior signs.

Hotel GB took over the Bermondsey Square Hotel in south London for the week.

(Most of) the celebs: Allsop, Woodburn, Ramsay, Portas, Wan, Piper, Devey.

The Channel 4 celebrities and their roles were:

  • Gordon Ramsay - chef and manager
  • Mary Portas - accommodation and manager
  • Kirsty Allsop - concierge
  • Phil Spencer - maître d'
  • Gok Wan - bar
  • Kim Woodburn - housekeeping
  • Katie Piper - spa
  • Christian Jessen - gym
  • Hilary Devey - shop
  • Jimmy Carr - events

Web links

Wikipedia entry

The show publicised the hashtag #hotelgb. It employed Tim Lovejoy and Sara Cox to lead discussions on Twitter.


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