The Fixer

If you’ve ever seen The Hotel Inspector, you’ll be familiar with Alex Polizzi, the no-nonsense hotel heiress who has been doing her best to wean the country’s second-rate B&Bs off their tastes for pot pourri and dubious erotic art.

But that was on Five. In her new BBC2 incarnation she’s known as ‘The Fixer’. Despite what the name might suggest, this doesn’t mean she’s embarked on a new career as a drug dealer on the back streets of America, but in fact that she’s sticking her nose into people’s failing businesses and trying to work out where they’ve gone wrong.

In this first episode we visit Courtyard Bridalwear in Kettering, run by Anne Priest and her two squabbling daughters Bethan and Rhiannon. Ka

Unsurprisingly, these three have the stereotypical dynamic for this relationship and it isn’t a very business-friendly model. When they aren’t bickering with each other, the sisters alternate between competing for their mother’s approval or reducing her to tears by arguing with her as well.

When one of her daughters suggests that she’s on the verge of having a stroke, Anne’s comeback is that she could at least have some rest if this happened. So far, so Mike Leigh (can you feel a team-building day coming on?).

But what’s the cause of all this stress? Well, clearly the business isn’t doing very well: though nobody seems to know exactly how badly it’s doing as nobody really understands the accounts. Plus, Anne’s ‘office’ seems to be inside a wardrobe.

There’s definitely plenty of stock – so much so that the shop looks a bit like a padded cell lined with taffeta- but it doesn’t exactly seem to be flying off the shelves.

Enter Alex, sorry….’The Fixer’, whose first criticism (of many) of poor old Courtyard Bridalwear is that it looks ‘tired’ (can you feel a vintage teacup inspired window makeover coming on?). She wants to find out what real brides think of the dresses, so four are bought in to give them a going over.

Remarkably, given the recent TV domination of Gypsy Weddings, one of them thinks the dress selection is ‘a bit bling’. She’s clearly never seen a pink illuminated meringue the size of the O2 or various budget versions of Jordan’s horse-drawn globe. Most of the dresses are positively Kate Middleton by comparison. Oh well.

Slowly but surely, the Priests are catapulted into the present day as Alex makes over their business. Yep, there’s a team-building day at Northampton market (in this Northamptonshire-born reviewer’s experience, a team that can survive a whole day at Northampton market is a strong team indeed), and a slightly creepy communal vow-renewing ceremony for brides who previously bought their dresses at the shop, which also contains several confused-looking husbands.

All this, plus a radical interior and exterior redesign, leaves Courtyard Bridalwear looking pristine, modern and back to being the last word in local wedding gowns, even if the window design of suspended teacups appears a bit radical for Kettering.

There’s no doubt she knows what she’s doing, but one thing Alex isn’t very good at is seeming likeable. It might just be down to the editing (or because it makes good telly) but all the ‘darlings’ and eye rollings do seem a little patronising from time to time.

Although at least this lot are willing to put their hands up and admit that their business are a bit crap, whereas I bet Alex never lets on about her secret love of pot pourri.

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