Lockdown Binge #8: Grand Designs

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As summer season begins to hit its stride, we stay (for probably the most half) at residence, dutifully doing our half and absorbing what sunshine we will on day by day walks, the odd cycle trip and, in case you’re fortunate, throughout time within the backyard.

However as our personal 4 partitions look more and more acquainted to the purpose of frustration, there’s no higher method to escape guilt-free and safely into the world of the formidable, the inventive — and the well-off — than with Kevin McCloud as your information.

What’s Grand Designs about?

Set in a world the place folks have already got glamorous homes they will promote or mortgage to pay for but extra glamorous homes, Grand Designs sees presenter Kevin McCloud observe people, {couples} and households embarking on the undertaking of a lifetime: constructing their dream residence.

Because the identify would recommend, there’s at all times one thing intriguing, spectacular or rattling close to unimaginable concerning the initiatives. Saving a crumbling citadel from break with out the assistance of an architect? On it. Constructing within the banks of the Thames while racing towards time to bail the incoming water out as a way to lay foundations? Completely. Making the world’s largest cob home in one of many rainiest elements of the nation? You guess.

Every episode, McCloud meets a recent batch of characters, precise actual individuals who genuinely suppose that is going to go with out a hiccup and be completed in 10 months, beneath finances. His wealth of expertise within the space smugly guides you alongside the rocky highway of one other bonkers construct at an affordable distance, shut sufficient to salivate on the splendid glazing however far sufficient eliminated to seek out the monumental quantities of debt racked up a mere gawp-worthy amusement on the best way.

How lengthy is it?

The excellent news is there’s a mountain of Grand Designs episodes ready so that you can tuck into throughout lockdown.

The Channel Four sequence first began in 1999 and hasn’t stopped since, spawning 19 sequence and over 200 episodes, to not point out the spin-offs.

The place can I watch it?

An enormous 180 episodes of can be found to look at completely free on All4, Channel 4’s on-line, on-demand platform.

With a again catalogue relationship again 21 years, that ought to hold you busy for some time, even when a number of episodes are lacking.

Why ought to I watch Grand Designs?

Since Boris Johnson introduced we have been headed into lockdown, Grand Designs is nearly the one factor I can persuade myself to look at. Bored? Grand Designs. Unhappy? Grand Designs. Cheerful? Grand Designs. Nothing says lockdown like making snarky remarks about Kevin McCloud’s snarky remarks.

And nothing soothes a locked-down thoughts like million-pound-plus homes, set up artwork baths, complete partitions of bespoke glass, eye-wateringly costly foundations (essential to safe a construct teetering on the sting of a clifftop), or painstaking conservation strategies, salvaging a wreck of a (listed) constructing and turning again right into a resplendent grand design — none of which you must pay for.

Grand Designs: Kevin McCloud


Channel 4

If you would like escapism, Grand Designs has obtained it by the bucketload. Whisked away to a land the place cash doesn’t a lot trickle as flat out gush away into the abyss, the concerns of the world round you’re miles away.

Watch on in fascination as marriages are examined, disagreements magnified by down-to-the-wire funds, a accomplice who sells their enterprise to increase the ever-increasing finances — “Fool,” you’ll mutter incredulously on the TV.

Roll your eyes as McCloud turns his nostril up at an thought which is matter of style, only one episode after he gave his final to-camera lecture about how you actually ought to realise some issues are only a matter of style.

Grit your enamel in frustration at some intrepid characters who blithely dismiss warnings from a string of pros that their imaginative and prescient merely isn’t potential inside their finances and gesticulate with a mixture of self-righteousness and despair as McCloud laughs of their faces as they bulldoze (generally fairly actually) on.

Then, in fact, comes the Fourth Quarter, because it’s come to be referred to as in my home, the ultimate phase of the present by which McCloud returns some time after we final noticed the now-haggard, broke and sometimes depressing protagonists on the centre of the episode as a way to see the completed product — in the event that they ever managed to complete it, that’s…

Generally our leads appear newly refreshed, revitalised by a handful of weeks spent dwelling within the triumph of a property they pulled off by the pores and skin of their enamel. Different instances, we’re handled to pressured smiles, platitudes about how a lot over finances they wound up, the air thick with post-build trauma; all of which solely makes the present extra entertaining.

However put aside from the rollercoaster that’s the long-running Channel Four programme is the one good episode, the exception to all the principles, the Grand Designs unicorn.

Grand Designs: Kevin McCloud with Pru and Richard Irvine


Channel 4

It’s the mid-2000s, Midlothian, and Pru and Richard Irvine are constructing their dream residence on their beautiful property, metres from their present abode, aiming for the mammoth constructing to mix into it’s surrounds, which embody an 18th century lime kiln.

Each Grand Designs trope goes out of the window: strive as he would possibly, McCloud can’t muster an oz of his signature cynicism. There’s barely a single slicing remark to be discovered. As a substitute he, like all of us, falls head over heels in love with Pru and Richard and, in flip, their eco-house.

All the pieces goes in line with plan (bar one beam which must be cleverly resized): Pru undertaking manages — normally a recipe for catastrophe on Grand Designs — and does a stellar job. The builders adore her nearly as a lot as we do and the environment is certainly one of calm and cheer as she merrily brandishes an enormous platter of bacon baps come mid-morning on website.

The dear construct slots into place piece-by-piece, McCloud bravely making an attempt his traditional tone of shock however failing to masks his apparent confidence in Pru’s skill to make sure the entire thing goes over with out a hitch.

The episode is one hour of pure pleasure. Comforting, as Grand Designs at all times is, however hotter, extra healthful.

The exception that proves the rule, the Midlothian, 2007 instalment defines Grand Designs by what it isn’t: devoid of the sarcastic, the frantic, the edge-of-the-seat cash panic, it’s completely pleasant. However such nourishment solely makes the remainder of the Grand Designs trip all of the extra enjoyable. Snarky feedback and all.

All4 has 180 episodes of Grand Designs obtainable on-line now. Should you’re in search of extra to look at, try our TV information.

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