Escape to the Chateau

Photograph: All4
Rating 8.4
Streamer All4
Seasons 7
Episodes 39 x 40 mins

This show is equally peaceful and alarming – peaceful in that it provides you with an hour of escapist telly, and alarming in that it will have you wanting to pack up your house and the dog, and book a one-way ticket to France….

This wholesome family favourite follows Dick Strawbridge, his partner Angel Adoree and their two kids, who canned their two-bed Essex flat in favour of a dilapidated chateau in France’s Martigné-sur-Mayenne. And when we say dilapidated, we mean it – when they first got there, the chateau didn’t have running water, nor electricity or heating in any of its 45 rooms. So, it was essentially uninhabitable…unless you’re a cold-blooded alien with the water storing capacities of a camel. Understandably, the Strawbridge family aren’t that, so they set to, renovating their new home which had been uninhabited for over forty years.

Considering how much work they’ve got to get done – especially with that looming wedding of theirs that they’re planning on hosting – these two are remarkably cheery, even despite the crumbling ceilings and all that peeling paint. And you can’t help but admire their tenacity – Dick is resident handy man, installing his own heating unit and fixing the seemingly unfixable, whilst Angel hand prints the kitchen tiles, and reupholsters furniture, all the while smiling and chatting away to the camera, making their family some of the friendliest telly company out there.

If you’d rather Escape to the Seas, check out Sailing La Vagabonde

So it’s lucky, then, that there is so much to do in their renovation project, as this lovely show has given us seven seasons, as well as a spin off show, Make Do and Mend, which is currently on its second outing. Whilst the main show tackles the big issues, this one focuses on the smaller elements, renovating single rooms, like turning their Second World War air raid shelter into a beautiful craft room, or revamping an old bathroom.

We really can’t get enough of Angel and Dick, and after forty episodes we’re almost as invested in their project as they are themselves – watching them turn this ramshackle building into a gorgeous venue is amazing, and will have you reaching for your phone to see just how much does a dilapidated French chateau actually cost?

It sounds like The Guardian’s Sam Wollaston will be doing just that, saying after watching season one: “that’s it, I’m inspired – inspired to Google ‘chateaus for sale’. Bloody hell, have you seen what there is, and how cheap some of them are? Actually, get off, I saw them first.” He calls this show a “proper fairytale, it is really romantic.” And Angel and Dick aren’t just a pair of lovebirds, Jasper Rees in The Telegraph calling them “consummate naturals in front of a camera,” saying the show is a “perfectly cast fantasy television full of innocent charm but also inspiringly practical.”

First shown June 2016. You can watch the trailer by pressing play on the show image, or by clicking here.

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