Three in a Bed
Stephen Mangan (Three in a Bed)
Mike Adams (Four in a Bed)
Studio Lambert for Channel 4, 21 April 2010 to 2 June 2011 (18 episodes in 2 series)
18 March 2015 to present
as Four in a Bed, 22 November 2010 to present
The programme opens with us being introduced to the first hotelier, followed by a look around their establishment. After this has taken place, we are introduced in turn to the other two hoteliers that will be competing, before we see them arriving at the first hotel, to be greeted by their host, and shown to their rooms. We then hear the guests first impressions of their accommodation (out of the earshot of their hosts naturally). After this, the guests join their hosts in an activity which the hosts hope will show off the area and what it has to offer to their guests. This is usually a sight-seeing tour of some description, which allows the guests, many of whom have never been to that place before, a chance to get a more in-depth look at the area in which the hotel is located, and its attractions.
Following their activity, the guests join the hosts for their evening meal. Sometimes this takes place at a restaurant recommended by the hosts, while on other occasions the meal takes in place in the hotel's restaurant should it have one. Once again, after this we hear more of the guest's thoughts on their evening before they retire to bed. The next morning, we get to hear the guest's thoughts on their night's sleep, while we see the hosts prepare their breakfast. After the guest's thoughts on breakfast have been aired, it's time for the guests to check out, but not before they have paid for their stay.
At this point, and perhaps taking a leaf from the scoring mechanism of Restaurant in Our Living Room, the two couples who spent the night must decide how much they think their stay was worth, with both couples being aware of how much their room usually commands per night. The viewers are privy to their deliberations, however once they have made their decision; they put their money into an envelope secretly, before joining the other couple and their host for the reveal. At this point we are reminded how much is usually charged, before the host opens the envelopes and discovers how much their guests felt their stay was worth. In order to resolve any differences in price between the different rooms and hotels, the host's final score is presented as a percentage. For example if one couple paid £60 for a room that normally sells for £80, thereby only paying 75%, and the other couple paid £110 for a stay that normally commands £100, thereby paying 110%, the host's final score would be 94%.
Repeat all of the above twice more, and the hotelier with the highest percentage is declared the winner. A plaque for that week's best value for money B&B is presented to the winner, before the programme draws to a close with some not always good-natured final thoughts from the winner and their defeated opponents.
While the programme has clearly borrowed a few elements from other programmes, it doesn't feel too derivative. Stephen Mangan's voiceover is good, remaining largely factual, being informative and never obtrusive. Meanwhile the use of three hoteliers, as well as making for a good title, also allows more time to be spent on each competitor, so the programme doesn't feel rushed or like it's had too much crammed into it. It isn't going to be the next big thing in game shows, but it's entertaining enough.
Four in a Bed
In October 2010, a variation on the Three in a Bed format was commissioned, entitled Four in a Bed, which began airing in November 2010. In this stripped daytime version, four hoteliers compete, with each episode from Monday to Thursday featuring one of the participants hosting their competitors, with the results being revealed on Friday's episode. This series also introduced an anonymous questionnaire, which the guests could fill in at the end of their stay, to tell their hosts what they really thought.
Stephen Lambert, who also created the worldwide hit reality show Wife Swap.
'But when your home is your business, everything's personal'
'But with Four in a Bed, will anyone get any sleep?'
By early June 2011, spin-off Four in a Bed was proving more successful than its parent programme, routinely attracting more viewers in its early evening slot, than Three in a Bed was attracting in a primetime slot, leading to the cancellation of the parent series. After almost four years off-air, Three in a Bed returned to Channel 4 in March 2015 for a new series.