Grand Designs is back hurrah! If I could live my life again I’d try and become an architect. Unfortunately that’s not an option so I console myself by watching TV programmes about house building/restoration. I’m very much a fan of Kevin McCloud; he brings a designer’s perspective to every project and his opinions and insight bring a rare bonus to the programme. He is an intelligent and likeable presenter and his gentle chiding made this week’s opening programme in the series about the transformation of a derelict cinema, very watchable. Even if it did involve Yerkshire folk. Top marks Kevin.
Not far behind in the PP able presenters league is George Clarke. His boyish good looks and enthusiasm cannot disguise a real smart architect’s mind. His Small Spaces series was excellent I thought and almost as good as C4’s The Restoration Man, a series exclusively about slightly mad people taking on really challenging restoration projects usually with spectacular results. As well as offering advice on building design within each project George provided some fascinating historical research about the various buildings being restored, which was always interesting.
What I don’t find quite so impressive is BBC2 who seem to have looked at The Restoration Man and thought we’ll have some of that. So they’ve commissioned their own programme about slightly-mad people who restore hopelessly derelict buildings, turning them into some stunning homes and they throw in some historical research about the buildings too. Brilliant. And they proudly call the programme ‘Restoration Home’ which must have take them several seconds to come up with. If I was C4 I think I’d be calling the lawyers and asking them to check their programme’s filing at the Intellectual Property Office. Blimey, how do they get away with it? Probably because instead of a bright and personable designer or architect to front the programme they came up with Caroline Quentin, a comic actress. Now I’m sure Cazzer’s a lovely lady but I haven’t discovered anything else to suggest why she might make an appropriate presenter of a buildings restoration programme. It can’t be her insight because all she seems to say (actually squeal in a high-pitched shriek would be a closer description) in every programme is ‘It’s AMAZING!!’. And it grates on me, enormously. Kevin brings in references to Le Corbusier and La Quentina’s contribution is…a screech. Before some redneck American trolls start attacking me for daring to criticise their heroine, I’m not being sexist or Jonathan Creekist. I absolutely adore women and can rattle off any number of female presenters who are just brilliant and are better in the roles than their male counterparts. It’s just that Caroline adds nothing to the programme other than cheerfulness and that’s not enough really is it? Well not for someone like me who’s a fan of grumpy perceptive specialist and and sod the other four dwarves.