Coming from Blackpool, it was with interest I watched the first episode of Three In A Bed, Channel 4's latest twist on the Come Dine With Me phenomenon. It's a simple formula of three B&B owners spending the night in each other's establishments, sampling the hospitality and local tourist attractions. At the end of the night's stay, the couples pay the owners what they think the room is worth. Simples...
The first episode pitted the old favourite cliche of the North-South divide. One B&B in Dorset with an older. slightly eccentric couple pitted against a Blackpool 5 star B&B charging something outrageous like £200 per night, and a cheap and cheerful B&B in Skegness run by a lovely married couple. Initially, the Dorset B&B was given some constructive criticism like 'it could do with a bit of a clean' which was enough to reduce the lady owner to floods of tears. At this point, you know the programme is on to a winner. The Southerners hit Blackpool with a look of disdain and comments like 'Yuk, it's so Northern, you know, for Northern people'. The same look was dispensed in Skegness but the likeable couple with the spotlessly clean B&B won the honours.
Last week, we were shown the hospitality provided by Bournemouth's self-proclaimed male ex prostitute, rent boy, male model and gay B&B owner who only rents his rooms to gay and bisexual men. His entertainment evening treated the other B&B owner guests to tantric sex breathing lessons. Truly horrific.
You kind of get the flavour of the programme. Yes, we get to see B&B's, landladies, full English breakfast and a big spoonful of eccentricity. But perhaps the more subtle undercurrent is class. The undertones are there throughout. From Camilla and Rupert's B&B in the South East charging £150 per night and throwing in bath robes through to Barry and Denice's in Morecambe who throw in a tea making machine and UHT milk. I made that up but you get the drift? It deliberately pits the opposites against each other and encourages confrontation. At times, it's a little uncomfortable when B&B's which are obviously cherished by their owners and take up many, many hours of hard work are picked apart because the duvet sets may be more Argos than Laura Ashley. All that said, it's compulsive viewing and another winner for Channel 4.