Wednesday, February 19, 2003

Oh, I do like my Wednesday nights in in front of the telly. For an undomesticated slattern living in bedsitland, I do have a mystifying interest in home improvement shows. And there's loads of them on a Wednesday night.

First up, BBC1's Changing Rooms. The formula is looking tired, with the designers now too busy on more upmarket programmes and having their families photographed for Hello! and OK to put any effort into their designs. Lawrence Llewellyn-Bowen can usually be relied on to come up with fucking awful schemes for Changing Rooms, and tonight's was no exception. A riot of garish, clashing colours and haphazard drapes. Yet the client claimed she loved it, so go figure.

LLB was back again, with housewives' favourite Diarmuid Gavin, on BBC2's Home Front. In this fifth anniversary special, the tables were turned, with Lawrence having his garden designed and Diarmuid getting someone in to do his office. We didn't get to see the results of the office makeover, as Diarmuid pulled out, claiming he couldn't cope with the intrusion into his private life. Lawrence, naturally, had no such compunctions, and we got to see him and his wife having a blazing row in the kitchen. Let's just say I quite warmed to him after seeing what he has to put up with at home.

But one of the best things on telly right now has to be Channel 4's Grand Designs, which follows ludicrously ambitious building plans from conception through to realisation, documenting the dramas along the way. Tonight's show was just remarkable - Chris and Leanne fell in love with a huge, derelict 1930s water works. Anyone else would take one look at the crumbling walls, the bricked-up windows and the damp, equipment-strewn filthy halls, and run in the opposite direction. But they had a vision. Over the next year, they worked day in and day out to realise this vision - doing all the mind-numbing, back-breaking work themselves. Remember, this place was incredibly huge - Chris had to chip rock-hard old plaster off 400,000 sq feet of wall. But they managed, doing everything - no builders, no architects, and no experience, just gritty determination.

The finished result is astonishing - if idiosyncratic.

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