Box Watch: Tune in for a spot of gentle ambling in Escape to the Country, but hold on to your hats for Cowboy Traders

Top of Alistair Appleton's TV to-do list this week is house hunting in Wiltshire; for Melinda Messenger and Dom Littlewood it's cleaning up Britain, one rogue at a time. Oh yes, all human life is here

Escape to the Country isn't demanding telly. We wouldn't want it to be. It's the visual equivalent of easy listening. A flicker-through-the-channels you may be, but somehow you'll always come to rest here, sometimes for just a moment or two; often for a little while longer. And life feels good.

Once you've landed, there's that little twinge of excitement... who's presenting? And depending on your favourite/s, you may decide to linger, or check the wing mirror, pull out and move on.

Denise Nurse and Nicki Chapman are efficient. Very efficient. Before you can draw breath, they will have herded the poor, wheezing house hunters up and down dale, in and out of doors, up stairs and round gardens. And what of lovely, fresh-faced Jonnie Irwin? It's sort of like being shown around your best friends' new pad by their nephew.

Jules Hudson's episodes are at the funner end of the spectrum; the TV version of a nice day out - come on, you guys, enjoy yourselves! Jules has the bonhomie of a dinner party host in sole charge of the bar.

alistair appleton with blue tshirt and wrist watch

(Image credit: TBC)

And then there's Alistair Appleton (Escape to the Country, Thursday 15 August, 7pm, Home). Glorious Alistair. Just look at him! And the voice! Tunbridge Wells and Gonville and Caius College Cambridge in every syllable.

There's a sparkle in Alistair's eye, all his house hunters love him and, most importantly,
he knows how to wear a scarf in autumn... In this episode our trusty
hero helps a couple who've returned to the UK from
Australia with £600,000 and hopes of a dream life in Wiltshire.

alistair appleton with tshirt and blue blazer

(Image credit: TBC)

In our house, we stick about for Alistair and we stick about for Jules. We also play 'guess the year from the house prices'. It really is enormous fun if you've got no life. Give it a go.


Cowboy Traders (Wednesday 14 August, 11.10am, Channel 5) is more of a Marmite proposition. You'll love it to bits, or you'll avoid the thing like the plague.

melinda messenger and dom littlewood in red and white overcoat

(Image credit: TBC)

This offspring of Cowboy Builders is in its second series. 'They've targeted the bad builders,' says the whatsy. 'Now it's time to round up the rest of the cowboys.'

You can see the logic. Why limit the hunting down of scoundrels to the building trade? Scoundrels, being scoundrels, are everywhere damn it. This series alone has uncovered the blighters in travel companies, car dealerships, selling puppies (yes really) and dentistry (shudder).

And through it all the girly-girl/manly man combo of Melinda Messenger and Dom Littlewood (MelDom) still somehow works its magic. What self-respecting shop owner wouldn't hand over half his stock at the drop of a hat to charming, gorgeous Melinda (and her Channel 5 camera crew)?

malinda messenger and dom littlewood posing infront of house with brick wall

(Image credit: TBC)

What self-loathing, scheming chancer wouldn't cover his/her face and run off, tail betwixt legs, when faced with outraged Dom (and his Channel 5 camera crew) (and his Channel 5 security team)?

Next time we think they should mix it up a bit. Dom flashing his eyelashes to scrounge a roll of Axminster and a couple of tins of Cannon & Ball? Melinda tearing off down the street in stilettos, 'Oy!', after some tattooed miscreant? Like Alan Partridge's Monkey Tennis, it could be TV gold.

This week it's caravans. Someone's been selling them and going bust, owing millions to people all over the UK. Watch it if you dare. And, oh, be careful out there.

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