An award-winning Northumberland bed-and-breakfast owner claims she was stitched up for a prime-time TV show.
Lizzie Middlemiss, who runs No.1 Sallyport, in the centre of Berwick, claimed the episode of Three in a Bed filmed at the end of August last year and screened this week has been fixed to make her look bad.
“I went into it with the best of intentions but have come out feeling totally humiliated,” said Lizzie, after the filming.
She had spent £16,000 giving the B&B a makeover to ensure it looked at its best. The programme, made by Studio Lambert for Channel 4, put three B&B businesses under the spotlight with each being visited in turn by the other contestants who then make a critique.
“I was convinced mine was going to win but the other contestants absolutely crucified me with no justification other than wanting to win themselves,” said Lizzie, 53, whose premises was once voted best B&B in England by The Sunday Times.
“I spent weeks getting everything just right but the other contestants mentioned none of the nice things and just made a fool of me. I now know it wouldn’t have made any difference as they would have found fault at Buckingham Palace.
“I’ve got no doubt they’ve stitched me up to make me look like the baddy. They approached me to be on the programme and I agreed because I thought it was an honest competition that would help me promote Berwick and my business. I’m just devastated with the way it’s turned out.”
But ahead of last Wednesday night’s screening, she took a far more philosophical approach to the show.
“I’ve got no doubt that they’ll portray me as the baddie but I’m not really bothered now, I’m taking it all in my stride,” said Lizzie, who also runs Deyn’s Deli on Castlegate, Berwick.
“It upset me at the time – now I realise that no one in their right mind would go on this show knowing it’s fair. It is totally manipulated.
“I hope everyone in Berwick enjoys watching it,” she adds. “It’s all people have been asking me about for months so I am not going to be a spoilsport. I don’t mind people having a laugh at my expense.”
However, Lizzie revealed that she wouldn’t be watching it.
“I’m going to go out to dinner, some place where nobody knows me, and try to have a nice, relaxing time,” she said.
I’ve got no doubt they’ve stitched me up to make me look like the baddy. They approached me to be on the programme and I agreed because I thought it was an honest competition that would help me promote Berwick and my business.Lizzie Middlemiss, No.1 Sallyport, Berwick
In the episode, Lizzie was up against Richard Findlay and his partner Kath Hayler, who run the Old Bath Arms in Frome, Somerset, and Sarah Bryant, who owns the Babbling Brook in Shurton, also in Somerset.
The episode billing revealed: “The week of competitive hosting features an attack of lavender fumes, some controversial anonymous comments and a lot of friction.”
Despite being in the dark about the programme’s content, Lizzie hoped it would still show Berwick in a good light – and it might even be good for business.
She said: “Do I have any regrets? Ask me in six months’ time if it brought in £20,000 or similar of business. If so, then the pain was worth it!”
Berwick historian Jim Herbert, who accompanied Lizzie on the show, added: “Making Three in a bed was a really interesting experience. To be honest, I agreed to accompany Lizzie as it would be an interesting ‘working holiday’, but more importantly, it was an opportunity to highlight Berwick and the area in what will hopefully be a good light.”
A spokesman for Channel 4 said: “Contributors are told by production to reach their own decision based solely on their own experiences during their stay at each B&B. All contributors are treated the same and are well briefed on how to deal with any attention from the public, social media and the press that may arise when the programme airs.”