Box Watch: This week we’ll be glued to May The Best House Win and new kid on the interiors block, Hollywood Me

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  • While May The Best House Win heads for Cornwall, and Leicester braces itself for Hollywood Me's velvet-clad phenomenon Martyn Lawrence Bullard, we remember the gentler art of the TV homes show with a House Doctor re-run

    If you’ve never seen May The Best House Win (Monday 24 June, 2pm, ITV), brace yourself. It’s a homes show that follows the who-needs-a-presenter format, opting instead for Guy Porritt doing one of those ‘personality voiceovers’.

    Guy has obviously studied long and hard at the school of King of That Sort of Thing, Dave Lamb; he of Channel 4’s Come Dine with Me. And, indeed, MTBHW is CDWM but without the food (if you don’t count cup cakes) and with (wait for it) yes… houses.

    homeowners tour around each other’s houses (cue ornament lifting and
    snorts of derision), are entertained with tea and aforementioned cup
    cakes (or sometimes a sandwich), give each other a score and the winner
    gets £1,000 – presumably to spend on terrifying wall art.

    Tune in this week for Cornwall and meet Lee (huge model village in back garden), Michelle (cottage with dogs), Anthea (1930s semi) and Tony (17th-century townhouse). The enduring viewing pleasure lies, of course, in those ‘how the blazes
    did s/he get to own a house like that?’ moments – of which there are

    Back in the late 1990s the TV homes show was a more… gracious affair. At least when it was in the hands of Californian ‘real-estate stylist’ Ann Maurice (linger long on that second syllable if you please). We all loved Ann when she graced our big-box glass tellies in House Doctor (Tuesday 25 June, 4am, Channel 5 – fire up the recording machinery).

    Before we knew it, we weren’t tidying up a bit, cleaning and slapping on whitewash. We were ‘de-cluttering’, ‘house doctoring’ and ‘home staging’. And all years before Magnolia became Clunch and Phil Spencer was secret agenting. Ah, those happy, innocent days. In this episode catch Ann and trusty sidekick Alistair Appleton (nice) heading off to tackle a bungalow – not to mention a bungalow owner – in Portishead, Bristol. Poor dear.

    Portishead must have breathed a sigh of relief the day that Martyn Lawrence Bullard tapped a Leicester postcode into his satnav, thus steering well clear of Bristol.

    Who, I hear you cry. Why Martyn Lawrence Bullard. He’s ‘Hollywood’s most celebrated interior designer’. It says so on my press release. He’s also the (designer-stubbled, brooding) face of Hollywood Me (Wednesday 26 June, 8pm, Channel 4), the newest and scariest homes show offering from Channel 4.

    This week paediatric nurse Jenny is whisked away stateside by Tori Spelling (you know, the ‘girl about town’ from 90210) for some shopping and ‘Hollywood beauty treatments’. Meanwhile Martyn struts his stuff Leicester-side demanding Lacroix wallpaper in a bid to bring Tinsel Town glamour (kicking and screaming if necessary) to Jenny’s house. Not to worry, who cares about the budget. Martyn is creative and he wears velvet. He should feel right at home in Leicester.

    You wouldn’t catch Nick Knowles in velvet, at least not in his I’m-the-one-who-isn’t-a-builder guise on DIY SOS (Thursday 27 June, 5pm, Home). We like Nick. We like DIY SOS.

    We like Mark (chippie) and Chris (plasterer) and Julian (builder-cum-plasterer) and Prince of Darkness Billy (sparks). We like it when it all goes right and some poor soul who’s been walking on joists for five years gets a sparkly new room; and when it all goes wrong (which is quite often) and it’s funny.

    This week’s re-run from Series 22 (can you believe it, 22) trots off to
    Aberystwyth where the team rally the local community to help renovate
    the home of a local builder
    sadly diagnosed with a brain tumour. Not even blizzards and plunging
    temperatures can hold this team back. It brings a tear to the eye –
    every time.

    TV homes shows don’t come much grander than Grand Designs (Friday 28 June, 7.55pm, More4) with Housetohome favourite Kevin McCloud. No single room makeovers here: it’s big and it’s about building.

    In this re-run episode we meet lovely couple Penny and Paul from South London who, after living in their 1940s mock Georgian home for 20 years, decide to get up one day and set the bulldozers on it. Penny and Paul have never built a house, or presumably knocked one down, so Kevin raises an eyebrow. While they wrestle valiantly with design decisions at ever turn, the budget, as always, goes through the roof – or it would have done if they had one. Eyebrow.

    But these, as every Grand Designs fan knows, are mere trifles. What rises from a muddy site by the end of the show is – always – magnificent and we, like Kevin, never tire of seeing it. It’s modern; it’s got lots of glass and it’s got render as white as snow. It’s beautiful. And I wish it were mine. Grand Designs celebrated its 100th show last year. Long may it continue.

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