The shirts! Carol Smillie! Oh how we miss this 90s classic
Changing Rooms was the hit home improvement show of the 90s. The BBC series ran for a whopping 17 seasons, before coming to an end in 2004. And we’re still mourning the loss.
The show always took the same glorious format: two couples, usually neighbours, would swap houses for the weekend and redecorate one room with the help of an interior designer, presenter Carol Smillie and everyone’s favourite white t-shirt wearer, Handy Andy.
The show was never short of DIY dramas – usually involving MDF furniture, but the tears and tantrums made the early evening weekday show must-watch TV.
Here’s why we loved it, and why we want it back!
1. The presenters
With the ever-bubbly Carole Smillie presiding, Changing Rooms recruited several designers to lead the renovating charge. The main three – Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen, Anna Ryder-Richardson and Linda Barker – worked in rotation for the episodes, and have since gone on to become household names in the world of interiors, despite seeming to use the show as a experiment as to just how much they could get away with.
2. His and hers matchy matchy shirts
Changing Rooms was the pioneer of his and hers. Each episode saw the couples don a matching coloured shirt, usually in purple, blue or pink, with the trendy teams knotting them up in true 90s fashion.
3. The big paint reveal
Long before Don’t Tell the Bride came along with its dramatic white dress reveal moment, Changing Rooms blazed the trail for dramatic TV unveiling with its screwdriver-opening of paint pots. Usually the big reveal was pre-empted by the couple saying
‘Bruce and Debbie really hate bright colours’, as Laurence unleashed florescent orange paint into their much-loved lounge.
4. Handy Andy
Anyone who ever caught an episode of Changing Rooms could tell the real work was carried out by everyone’s favourite builder, Handy Andy, who seemed to adopt the Kate Moss approach of ‘never complain, never explain’ as he bashed out shelves, cupboards and units in record time.
5. The MDF
Not an episode went out without someone using the show’s material of choice, MDF (Medium-Density Fibreboard). It became so much of a famous acronym that the show’s presenters performed ‘YMDF’, a parody of ‘YMCA’ on Children in Need.
6. The reactions
Each episode ended with the couples meeting up for the big reveal, and it’s fair to say some of the renovations were more welcomed than others. In one memorable show, Laurence reduced a woman to tears after giving her dining room a ‘Queen Anne’ makeover with mock fireplace and dramatic husband and wife portraits.
Still, at least she wasn’t the owner of the house that he decorated with scarlet walls and zebra-patterned panels…
Did you enjoy this trip down memory lane? Here are five lessons we’ve learnt from Laurence.