CHRISTOPHER STEVENS reviews last night's The Real Marigold Hotel

CHRISTOPHER STEVENS reviews last night’s TV: Snappy Britt gives Duncan the Dragon a bite he’ll never forget

The Real Marigold Hotel (BBC1)


First Dates Hotel (C4) 


You can tell a lot about a celeb from what he packs in his suitcase. Henry ‘Blowers’ Blofeld, cricket commentator and bon viveur, took an armful of colourful shirts and a bottle of champagne to India, on The Real Marigold Hotel (BBC1).

Paul ‘Chuckle Brother’ Elliott opted for a photo of his wife and a lifetime’s supply of Imodium, the tablet of choice for those who suffer panic attacks at the first sight of Foreign Food.

Sure enough, within two days, Paul was missing his missus and doubled over with a bad case of Pondicherry Belly. Blowers, on the other hand, was lounging in a dubious coffee bar with fellow adventurer Britt Ekland, looking every inch the louche gentleman abroad.

Bond girl Britt Ekland had dragon Duncan Bannatyne blushing on BBC1’s The Real Marigold Hotel on Thursday

It just goes to prove that very often what you get out of a holiday is exactly what you’re expecting.

The same might be true of love affairs. Britt, who at 77 has been married twice (once to Peter Sellers), as well as enjoying famous flings with the likes of Rod Stewart, says her life’s motto is: ‘It’s going to be fabulous (until it’s not).’ She adds that when an affair is beyond saving, she walks away: the past is the past.

With all respect to EastEnders’ Nasty Nick actor John Altman, 68, and fashion queen Zandra Rhodes, 79, Britt was the starriest of this year’s Marigolders, and she knew it. An awkward personal question from Dragons’ Den businessman Duncan Bannatyne, about whether she had a ‘significant other’, was met with a Medusa glare.

‘You mean someone I sleep with?’ she growled. Duncan’s face turned the same improbable shade of orange as his hair.

The pretence of this show, which has been running since 2016, is that the celebs are considering India as a bolthole for retirement. It’s cheap, after all — a cook or a cleaner will cost you less than £20 a week, and you can go pretty much anywhere in a tuk-tuk taxi for a quid.

Chuckle brother Paul Elliott appeared on The Real Marigold Hotel with the likes of Henry ‘Blowers’ Blofeld, Dragons’ Den judge Duncan Bannatyne and Bond girl Britt Ekland

But in all that time, none of them has put down roots. Miriam Margolyes, Bill Oddie, Sheila Ferguson, Amanda Barrie and many more of the usual suspects — not to mention Boris’s father Stanley Johnson — have given it a bash . . . but all went home.

Swedish Britt declared she would go native within a month: ‘I will be Swindian.’ Her first natter with the locals may have put paid to that, as she realised to her alarm they had no idea who she was.

‘I was in The Wicker Man. It’s a film?’ she explained, to blank looks. ‘The Man With The Golden Gun? James Bond!’

Ah, that did the trick. Everyone knows Bond.

First Dates Hotel is back for another series on Channel 4, ready to help find love for its new guests

Old romantic Geoff, 69, was counting on that — and his remarkable likeness to Sean Connery — as he checked in to the First Dates Hotel (C4). Staying here on the Amalfi Coast for ever isn’t an option, or else concierge Fred Sirieix would never persuade anyone to leave.

The show is a luxury upgrade of First Dates: a meal and an intimate chat with a possible new partner is supplied as standard — but only this hotel offers the pool, the sunbeds and the acres of fragrant bougainvillea.

Geoff’s date was former Pirelli calendar model Alexandria, 75, who wanted to re-live one of the most thrilling evenings of her life — the time Sean Connery whisked her off for dinner.

Mind you, they weren’t alone — Sean’s golfing buddy Jimmy Tarbuck was there too, she said.

Tarbie’s a lovely fella but I suspect Geoff was glad he wasn’t around this time to share the date. Three’s a crowd and all that.

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