One evening in May when we were moored on the Thames at Pangbourne Meadow I noticed the hotel boat African Queen passing by and took this photograph. I was intrigued that a film crew was on-board and delighted to find that we had possibly formed a backdrop for the filming of Channel 5’s The Hotel Inspector.
Last night (10th August, 9pm, Channel 5) the episode was screened and will be shown again on Friday 14th August at 8pm on Fiver (whatever that is!). The commentator reminded us time and time again that South African Bonny and Andy Cowley were running a failing business, part Bed and Breakfast and part cruising hotel boat. Living in the Reading area, where the African Queen permanently moors at Mapledurham, I had never seen any mention of this locally, which is possibly something to do with the lack of customers.
However the hotel inspector put it down to lack of detail, recommending an additional crew member, new decor and having failed to find fault with the cabins, she decided that a flask of hot water would transform the perceived value and have customers flocking in. I would have recommended a spot of advertising too, but a coat of paint and some red banners around the deck plus a new blazer for Andy, the boss, was apparently sufficient to transform the business.
Captain Andy was a textbook example of a boater, not a businessman, whose priorities in conversation revolved around stern glands, sinking, grounding and flat batteries not to mention a dinner stopping diatribe about his beard fueled by gulps of wine on his visits to the kitchen. With a dozen journalists and captains of industry on board he welcomed the party with a tale about water in the bilges, and followed it with excusing himself to supervise a diesel delivery, minutes before the inaugural cruise was due to start. His wife was quickly shuffled from the kitchen into the spotlight to take over the reception, and managed to get Weil’s disease into her first sentence. Wonderful – you couldn’t have made it up!
If you get the chance its well worth watching on the repeat or online. The only disappointment being that any background scenery was restricted to Mapledurham, Reading and Henley and a general muddle over where the boat really was. Sadly Pangbourne and its moored boats remain on the cutting room floor, so to speak. Mum will be disappointed.