A Blackpool hotelier ran around with elephant dung, slept with the head of a bear named after Ozzy Osborne and was mistaken for a drag queen during filming for a reality TV show.
Owner of The New Osborne Hotel, Matthew Bracegirdle, opened his doors to TV cameras from Channel 4’s Four In A Bed after watching the Winterbourne Hotel, on Clarendon Road, win the popular daytime TV contest early last year.
Matthew and hotel entertainer Liam Halewood welcomed the management teams of three other guest houses to his Osborne Road establishment – and returned the compliment by visiting their hotels during a fortnight of filming.
They competed against their rivals during a relay race involving elephant dung at Blackpool Zoo, and enjoyed a meal at Toast in the resort. Challenges and meals were also filmed during stays at a champagne bar in Maidstone, Kent, a pub with rooms near Betwys-y-Coed, in north Wales, and a farmhouse at Builth Wells, in mid-Wales.
At the end of the fortnight, the owners decide how much they are willing to pay for their stay.
Matthew, who must keep tight-lipped about the outcome until after the contest has been screened early next year, accepted an email invitation to take part in the series.
“I thought it would help to promote both the hotel and Blackpool, and tried to get in positives about the resort at every opportunity,” he said.
“The filming gets really intense and tiring, and you are constantly being interviewed and asked to do different takes.
“But I tried to make it funny as well by having our bear mascot Ozzie’s (named after Ozzy Osbourne) head with me when I was bedding down and waking up.
“The elephant dung relay race at the zoo was fantastic, although picking up the mess with your bare hands wasn’t the nicest thing.
“They were playing up Liam’s talents as a singer and entertainer for the camera, and in the past he was ‘Tranni Minogue’ on the circuit, but before that was revealed it was me who was mistaken for a drag queen!”
Matthew said producers had “wanted to portray conflict”, and had told him the contest had been “one of our more interesting ones”.
“The first row happened quite early on, and I took a lot of flak on the final day when the payments were revealed and I was accused of game-playing,” he said.
“We got a lot of positive comments, but also some negative ones, as you would expect in a competition, and I am a bit nervous about how it will be edited because we don’t see it before it appears on TV.
“But I don’t think it will lose us existing customers, and it could gain us some new ones.”
Matthew said most guests – who are not involved in the filming – had been fine with the presence of TV cameras.
“We did get someone saying on TripAdvisor that the bar was closed because of filming, but it would have been shut at that time anyway,” he added.
“Someone else said how fabulous it was to see Four In A Bed here.”
The hotel has just become the third in Blackpool to be accredited with The Families’ Trustmark by the Approved Family Friendly website – which recognises excellence for parents and children.
Matthew says it has also become the only hotel in Blackpool to be awarded a ‘silver standard’ by the same organisation.