Channel 4 cameras are returning to Torquay to follow the latest exploits of calamitous hotelier, Mark Jenkins. It’s two years since Manager Mark was forced to sell his own hotel, the Grosvenor. Now he’s back in town for one summer season only, in the new role of entertainments manager at the struggling family-run Cavendish. And despite his track record, Mark’s confidence is undented: "If someone said to me tomorrow we'd like you to be prime minister, I wouldn't really know what I was doing - but I'd have a go!”. Now it’s owners - husband and wife Vicky and Andy - taking on the unenviable challenge of managing Mark, who hasn’t had a boss for 30 years, in the hope that his trademark brand of holiday sparkle can put their down-at-heel hotel back on the map. “The Cavendish is a bit like the Titanic. They’ve hit the iceberg and water is coming in. It’s only a matter of time before it sinks…that’s what my job is…I’m saving the Titanic.” Madness and mayhem are guaranteed as, with the help of trusted friend and former colleague Alison, Mark goes all out to revive his own reputation and the fortunes of the Cavendish - before summer is out.
#3/8 'Sottish Night' - Sunday 11 January, 8pm, Channel 4
Hapless hotelier turned entertainments manager Mark Jenkins continues to create chaos at the Cavendish. This week he’s determined to take on the biggest obstacle to his mission to bring much needed holiday sparkle to the hotel – cantankerous Bar Manager Mike. “Everybody knows that Mike and I haven’t had the best of starts”.
Faced with a deserted hotel where “the till is still”, Mark discovers all the guests have gone to the theatre and vows that next week he’ll put on some spectacular entertainment so that residents stay put. Hearing a coachload is heading down from Scotland at the weekend, Mark plumps for a special Scottish themed night “It’ll be a tribute to their homeland… doing Scottish night in the week is perfect because by Wednesday the Scottish people are probably going to be homesick”. To ensure the event’s success Mark will have to win Mike over but how realistic is his plan to transform the grumpy barman into a willing apprentice? “I do see sort of potential… I don’t think he’s not a complete failure” says Mark.
But will Mark’s idea of Scottish culture - battered Mars Bars, a stag’s head and plenty of booze – find any favour with his Scottish guests who’ve driven over 400 miles to sample the delights of Devon? They certainly ring alarm bells with his bosses, who take their maverick new employee to task over his spending habits… “I am getting really frustrated because the family don’t want to spend a penny… They’re even tighter than Scottish people” comments Mark.
This week we also meet the Varol family who have come to the Cavendish from just down the road in Torquay to enjoy some quality time together. Mum Jane hopes it’ll be a chance for her daughter Yasemin, who’s not had a chance to spend much quality time with her brother since his girlfriend recently moved in. But she finds out there’s an old flame from her past working at the hotel when she bumps into Bar Man Mike… Meanwhile Ian and Lisa, who have been married for 16 years but don’t share a bed, are hoping the Cavendish can put the spark back into their marriage.
#2/8 'Britain's Biggest Scone' - Sunday 4 January, 8pm, Channel 4
Hapless hotelier turned entertainments manager Mark Jenkins is a week into his new job and determined to prove he can put Torquay’s struggling Cavendish Hotel back on the map. However as Mark warns “The Cavendish is almost an anagram of vanished and that doesn’t bode well.”
He kicks off his grand scheme by secretly announcing to the press that in 48 hours’ time the hotel will make a record-breaking attempt to bake Britain’s biggest scone. News is out before Mark has asked permission from his bosses or told highly strung head chef Gerry that he will be the man responsible for cooking the giant cake. As Mark admits: “I would hate to be my manager. I’m a nightmare. I don’t listen to anyone”.
With less than two days to go, owner Vicky is convinced Mark’s monster scone is a recipe for disaster as baking, even on a small scale, is not Gerry’s forte. “We’re supposed to be the boss and we don’t know anything that’s going on… What if it sinks all in the middle, what if it’s rock hard?” Unconcerned by such practical considerations, Mark’s sights are set on creating “a taste of history” as he gathers a crowd of several hundred ready to witness Gerry’s greatest ever culinary test. The harried chef is convinced Mark’s scone will make him famous: “I’ll be in the record books for strangling him”. But when Mark finally return from a local baker’s industrial sized oven with something closely resembling “Britain’s biggest flapjack”, is his biggest idea yet doomed to failure?
As far as the guests are concerned, love is in the air this week. Mark’s help is called on by reformed rock ‘n’ roller Damien as he secretly plots to stage a romantic re-proposal at The Cavendish. Damien popped the question to wife Jamie first time round in a car park but will things go better this time? Has Damien even remembered the all-important ring?
We also meet 15 year old ladies’ man Wes on holiday, albeit reluctantly, with his single dad Nick and twin brother Keane. But while his dad has put his love life on hold to concentrate on bringing up his kids, Wes is soon polishing up his chat up lines and it looks like a teenage romance could be brewing at the hotel.
#1/8 'The New Entertainments Manager' - Sunday 28 December, 8pm, Channel 4
It’s the start of the summer at the struggling 90 bed Cavendish Hotel in Torquay. The roof is leaking and finances are at rock bottom. Desperate for a new lease of life, owners Vicky and Andy have agreed to take on hapless hotelier Mark Jenkins for the season as their new entertainments manager. What could possibly go wrong? For one thing there’s Mike, the Cavendish’s feisty head barman who doesn’t take kindly to finding Mark Jenkins on his patch. “He messed up three of his hotels, if he messes this hotel up, I’ll mess him up”.
Cue comedy and fireworks as Mark kicks off by bragging that he can fill Mike’s deserted bar in his first 24 hours on the job – “the impossible is my speciality” – and goes hell for leather to come good on his boast. Mark has been his own boss since the age of 19 so, as his old pal Alison points out, trying to manage him is going to be a nightmare. For Mark’s employers and workmates at the Cavendish it’s looking like a long, hot, make or break summer. This week we also meet divorced barrister Tim who tries his eccentric best to make up for lost time on a last minute break with grown up son Freddie. Freddie starts the weekend by asking “How am I related to you?”.
Will the Cavendish’s unique brand of hospitality – including a leak and a broken loo - put a dampener on their bonding?
Narrator: Hugh Bonneville
Series Producer: Simon Kerfoot
Executive Producers: Helen Littleboy, Sarah Swingler
Production Company: Dragonfly
Commissioning Editor: Nick Mirsky, David Brindley
Publicity: Nick Walker
Picture publicity: Jamie Fry