HOW the other half lives! There was a certain irony that in the week the Chancellor made his autumn statement, which saw the term ‘austerity’ flying around like confetti at a wedding, BBC2 should begin its compelling new fly-on-the wall documentary Inside Claridge’s.

Let’s face it, Claridge’s may be described as a hotel but it’s not the kind of hotel that most of us will ever experience.

Royalty, celebrities and the very rich call it home and the hotel makes much of offering its guests whatever they want.

So film star Robert Downey Junior wanted a fully-equipped gym in his suite. In came the workmen, out went a spare bathroom and, voila — Mr Downey, your gym is ready.

In the best Beeb documentary style it was brilliantly observed and had the tongue very often placed firmly in the cheek.

Watching the hotel’s general manager try to decide how to address the handwritten address card for U2’s The Edge was a classic comic moment. “Is it Mr Edge?” he asked despairingly. On one level, the programme simply reinforced the stereotype of the haves and have nots. Claridge’s operates on the simple tenet, if you can afford it, you can have it.

Those with a socialist outlook will be invoking Marx as we speak. For your average viewer though, it’s a good watch.