Natalie Mendoza

Hotel Babylon, BBC1's celebrity-sprinkled, glorified soap, is back for a third series. So far, this stilted comedy drama about preposterous shenanigans in a five-star hotel has proved remarkably popular. The programme may be in for a struggle, though, now that it has lost its best star, the sexy Tamzin Outhwaite. Max Beesley, her erstwhile henchman, now promoted to hotel manager, has never exactly oozed leading-man charisma, and he failed to electrify in last night's opener.

Still, there was something sneakily enjoyable about the episode, which pivoted on the unlikely possibility that vain receptionist Anna (Emma Pierson) cared about fair-trade garment manufacture. Although it was the incidental trivia rather than the plotline that provided the amusement. "Sorry I'm late, I had an early morning dental appointment," said head of housekeeping Jackie (Natalie Mendoza), as she tumbled in, dishevelled, to a meeting. "Oh you poor thing, did you get drilled?" fired back Anna.

Perhaps Hotel Babylon's secret is that it offers a parallel universe where we can laugh at people who behave with a shamelessness we secretly rather envy.

Serena Davies, The Telegraph, 20th February 2008