It would be rather lazy to describe a documentary about an eccentric hotelier in Torquay as 'the real Fawlty Towers' - but it's Christmas, a time when dancing dog talent shows are proudly shown on prime time television and traffic jams are considered news, so you'll forgive my lack of imagination. The Hotel on Channel 4 really is the real Fawlty Towers...
Meet Mark Jenkins, one of the most screen-friendly documentary subjects ever to have walked the face of the planet. Set in his bizarre ways, workaholic and loner Mark owns the somewhat outmoded Grosvenor Hotel in Torquay, and in his own words is “selling memories” by providing the Great British Holiday on the English Riviera.
Accompanied by his two loyal aides Alison and Christian (think Karren and Nick to Lord Sugar) Mark is determined to turn the fortunes of the Grosvenor around, and save what remains of his fortune invested in the project before it disappears along with the Torquay sunshine.
However, how do you help a man who insists on living in the hotel and doing everything himself? And how do you attract new customers to a hotel when Mark's idea of modern entertainment is the Mark Jenkins-fronted Party Night (see the revealing pics from our visit here) and Heath Robinson games invented on the fly around the hotel's swimming pool?
A modernity-sceptic, Mark realises he has to move into the 21st Century, but does it with such caution that even when the hotel finally accepts online bookings, he somehow manages to have no room for his first guests. Yes, it's almost as if he's his own worst enemy... like that Basil Fawlty bloke.
But one thing Mark does like about the modern age (along with chain smoking) is Twitter. If you don't believe me, here's what he told us when RadioTimes.com visited his hotel last year: