Box Watch: This week it’s Oz all the way with Grand Designs Australia and Phil Spencer Down Under

But there's plenty happening in Blighty too, as Janet Ellis banishes bad karma in Watford, Jonnie Irwin sorts the dry rot in Rickmansworth and marvellous Jules Hudson, well, is Jules Hudson in Cumbria

When Grand Designs went south, as it were, wayyyy south, some poor soul had to be brave enough to fill Mr Kevin McCloud's substantial designer shoes. Enter Peter Maddison.

Peter, of course, is brave; he's Australian. Very Australian. Indeed so Australian is Peter Maddison that he was hand-picked for the job because he was ‘someone who could best articulate Australianness'. Yes indeed. Lucky for us, Peter also has oodles of architecture-ness and knows a length of two-by-four when he sees one.

Grand Designs Australia (Monday 8 July, 11am, Channel 4)
is big. Or should I say Big. My TV screen, at the larger end of ample,
I'm proud to report, can barely contain Peter. Nor can it contain
retired engineer Bernie and his wife Ruth, residents of Paynesville (yes), Victoria.

australian architect peter maddison

(Image credit: TBC)

Bernie is as eccentric as his building project and I use the term project loosely. Bernie is unwilling to pay a builder, has a ‘minimal' budget and likes to do everything himself. All poor Mrs Bernie wants is to move from their old shed into a real home, God love her. But will her dream come true? This is Grand Designs, but - yes - not as we know it. It's Grand Designs unleashed; free of the constraints of Britishness.


Janet Ellis used to be on Blue Peter and you can't get more British than that. She's also presenter of Housebusters
(Tuesday 9 July, 3.55am, Channel 5), currently enjoying a re-run. The
scheduling (just record it, for goodness sake) is spookily fitting.

Feel a little unsettled in your own home? Come over all peculiar on the landing but don't know why? Then let Housebusters send experts into your home (you know the sort of thing: colour
therapy, feng shui, psychic astrology) to voice their conclusions to
camera while you watch the footage. In the back of a Transit van round
the corner. With Janet. Ponder what they've said, choose your favourite
expert and watch them heal your house. It makes perfect sense.

television presenter janet ellis

(Image credit: TBC)

In this episode Janet meets a family suffering from horrifying nightmares, negative energy and a depressing atmosphere. They live in Watford.

If you prefer your reality shows more, well, real, who better to tune into than housewife's favourite Jonnie Irwin in The Renovation Game (Wednesday 10 July, 8.55am, More4).

In this one we're off to Rickmansworth, Hertfordshire, where Michael and grown-up son Chris are battling 30 years of accumulated memories for elbow room. Chris's mum died when he was four months old and the pair have found it hard to throw anything away since.

Can Jonnie's ‘crack design and build team' increase the value of the property by £15,000 with a budget of £3,000? Busy-beeness ensues: four rooms renovated, back garden makeover, rotting joists treated, decorating done - with green. Lots of green.

‘That's just horrible,' says one humourless estate agent of the zingy lime hue in the bathroom. ‘I would have preferred to see magnolia.' Oh dear. Has the lime clanger lost them the challenge? Will they get paid?

british media personality phil spencer

(Image credit: TBC)

‘Can you tell where it is yet?' chirps Phil Spencer at the start of Relocation: Phil Down Under (Thursday 11 July, 10.35am, More4) in yet another franchise from the Location, Location, Location stable. He's a one that Phil.

But this one's a corker and I don't lie when I say that, by the end of it, you'll be tracking down and poring over Australia's snappily titled Migration Occupations in Demand list.

Adam, a recycling manager, and his wife Cam, an occupational therapist, have secured their visas, left Basingstoke and landed in Oz with two small children and a budget of £223,000. Mmm, we raise our British eyebrows and wonder just how far that will get them.

What it gets them is a glorious four-bedroom home in Melbourne, with hugeness all round; huge living room, huge kitchen, double garage, sun terraces in every direction, acres of garden and views to die for. ‘You'd struggle to get a one-bedroom flat anywhere decent in London for that,' muses Phil, who has had the good sense to marry an Aussie. ‘No wonder Cam's crying. I think I might.' Me too. Oh dear.

Two months later, Adam and Cam have moved in. This is terrific stuff and, what's more, Phil gets to take his shirt off and head for the surf. Be warned Phil is unexpectedly hairy. Another reason to tune in.

english archaeologist jules hudson

(Image credit: TBC)

With all this talk of Australia, let's get back to Blighty and the healthy, apple-cheeked glow of Britishness that is Jules Hudson in Escape to the Country (Friday 12 July, 9am, Home).

We love Jules at Housetohome and not only because he writes for Homes & Gardens. However we're not the only Jules fans it would seem - check out Twitter and the only moderately disturbing @JulesHudsonFans.

He's got the fire of the bon-viveur in his belly has Jules, a winning way with fussy-boots househunters and all those years on the Discovery channel and Time Team mean he's a man hard-wired for sniffing out glorious properties.

This episode has newly weds, Cumbria, country kitchens and a budget of £700,000. Just imagine what you'd get for that in Australia.

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