Property TV - why we love it

Alan Titchmarsh

Alan Titchmarsh - Credit: Archant

There’s something about watching a makeover or a rennovation on a home that captures the public, Property related viewing took off in the 90s, and there’s little sign of it slowing down. As a topic, it’s timeless.

Earlier on in my career I worked in television. The best thing about that industry is that you get to flit about and experience different subject areas. I did everything from Parkinson to The Great British Sewing Bee to Katie Price’s chat show (pretend you didn’t read that).

Then I found myself producing property TV. Cowboy Builders was my first.

For those unfamiliar, the series unearths scandalous tradesmen who have left newlyweds with no stairs, pensioners with no guttering, or middle-class couples with only one Roman column supporting their porch roof. But this was only half of the show’s charm.

While much of the time I spent filming involved me being locked in a blacked-out 4X4 with Dom Littlewood and his telescopic lens at 4am, I also got to help people rebuild their homes. And it’s this trend in television that fascinates us.

It originates from the days of Changing Rooms and Ground Force. We all love a makeover (even if it involves Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen stapling fabric to our upper-coving).

Firstly there’s the kind of TV show that sees an unsuspecting mother of three packed off for a surprise weekend at Centre Parcs (alone and offended) while Alan Titchmarsh rips up her lawn and replaces it with gravel and a water feature. It’s nice to see how overjoyed she’ll be, on her return, that she can finally scrap that lawn mower from 1994. It’s also nice that it hasn’t happened to our own garden.

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Then there’s the Grand Designs type of show, which sees an affluent couple from North London fall out with the neighbours because they’d like to turn their Elizabethan townhouse into a half-glass/half-rubber skyscraper. One episode will span across about seven years and cost the couple £2M in legal bills alone.

We’re enticed by property on TV for the same reasons we enjoy watching people racing to make a pavlova or deciding whether or not they want to emigrate to Tasmania - it’s something we can watch from afar, pick up ideas from and maybe try ourselves (only without a camera crew up our noses).

Above all, property is pretty. Who doesn’t love a chez-lounge in the bathroom? It was always fun unveiling the finished re-mastered homes on Cowboy Builders. It made the time spent with a scary builder, getting him to re-wire an entire house whilst I wore a hidden camera under my shirt even more worthwhile.