This is like Grand Designs for people with smaller budgets and even smaller spaces, where Kevin McCloud’s wry sarcasm is replaced with the human equivalent of a Golden Retriever.
He really is a nice chap isn’t he, George Clarke? Even when dealing with bonkers home owners who want to turn their old fridge into a games room for their kids, or their cupboard under the stairs into a nightclub. OK, we’re exaggerating a bit, but even if we were being serious, we don’t reckon this eccentric builder-cum-architect-cum-telly-presenter George would even bat an eyelid. In each episode he follows two projects being taken on by people with big ideas but small budgets, making over spaces ranging from banged up cars to riverboats. And no matter how ridiculous the idea, Clarke watches on, grinning like a Cheshire cat and loving every minute.
And you can understand why – these projects are fascinating. We had the guy who jazzed up a houseboat into a bachelor shag pad in season one, then that couple in the second season who were basically building a hobbit home down the bottom of their garden, and the sixth season’s teacher who was turning a salvaged jet into a classroom. These are like Pinterest projects on steroids, and it makes marvellous watching. Like in the more sensible sister show, Grand Designs, budgets get blown, mistakes get made and arguments are had. Whilst we don’t quite have the five-year timeline featuring a pregnancy, a near-divorce and having to flog granny’s silver for the extra cash, we still have plenty of drama and mishaps to keep us entertained. But all-in-all, this is a wholesome, family show, perfect to stick on whilst you eat your dinner.
Before you know it, you’ll be looking at your garden shed through rose-tinted glasses, reimagining it as a 60s-themed sewing room, fit with a disco ball, a bar made out of recycled cans and old newspaper as the wallpaper. Anyone got George’s number? We want to be on season 11…
The Guardian’s Joel Golby loves this feel-good show, saying his “favourite thing about George Clarke, a strong set of teeth with a man from Sunderland wrapped round it, is that he laughs on camera. Nobody laughs on TV.” He says there’s great satisfaction in watching these projects come to fruition, saying “and we’re all thriving, we’re all happy, we’re in an amazing space and we are alive.” How poetic! In The Telegraph, Anita Singh adds, “there is something enjoyable about seeing eccentricity at work,” as “George Clarke beams and enthuses.”
First shown October 2012. You can watch the trailer by pressing play on the show image, or by clicking here.