I HAVE to admit that if I stumble across one of those programmes on television where couples ask a television presenter to find them a house in the country or on the Algarve I get hooked and sit watching till the end.
This despite the fact that I suspect that anyone who needs a complete stranger to help them spend £400,000 on a new home must be several cells short of full brain capacity.
What is the mental process behind their decision to share house hunting with the nation?
Is it because they haven’t the nous to do it themselves? Is it to show off that they have a spare four hundred grand to splash out? Is it because they are dipsticks?
I am also a sucker for those “reality” shows that follow bidders at auction to see how they renovate broken down properties they buy for a song.
How much will they spend when converting them into flats or making a first time home for themselves?
Part of the attraction is because I’m basically nosy and, in the first case, like looking at houses I can’t afford unless I win the Lottery and, in the second case, to see if the erstwhile developers have any sense of style and flair.
Which brings me to that third type of programme – the make-over.
This I used to enjoy when Alan Titchmarsh, Tommy Walsh and Charlie Dimmock would transform a wilderness into a wonderful garden in Ground Force. I mean, they even did Nelson Mandela’s garden and were three very personable people.
Then along came 60 Minute Make Over.
This used to have the advantage of the delectable Claire Sweeney as presenter, even though watching it was like waiting for an accident to happen. But once she left, the accident became a disaster.
I mean, exactly what standard of work can you expect in one hour flat from a team of 97 who crowd into a maisonette while the owner is shopping at Sainsbury’s?
Would you really want them to come into your house and decorate in 60 minutes flat? You just know the wallpaper will start peeling an hour after they’ve gone.
This is all stage managed to produce tension (will it be finished in time?) and pathos (when the owner cries at what has been done to their home). And yes, I’d cry, too, sometimes.
They may spend £30,000 on new furniture and kitchen and bathroom fittings, but you often end up with a décor that might be very nice in the Soho boudoir of Billie Piper’s Belle de Jour but is perhaps a bit out of its depth in urban Watford.
What annoys most is the colossal conceit of the interior designers who should be on a different show entirely, probably I’m Sorry I Haven’t A Clue. How on earth did they become designers anyway? Had all the proper jobs gone?
And how dare they believe they can improve someone's home when the only advantage they have over the owner is the thirty grand they have to spend?
Give me thirty grand and I could work wonders.
The attraction, of course, is the money, so anyone who is skint would probably be pleased to have them round to do a make-over, just as long as they fit a new kitchen and bathroom and spend a load of lolly.
Because as soon as the TV vans turn the corner at the end of the road, they can start redecorating to their own liking.
It will be easy. The paper will probably already be peeling.