Thursday 19 October 2017

'It's going to be a long day if you keep calling me sausage' - Prince Harry and William bring comic relief to affecting DIY SOS

The princes showed their humanity in this affecting special episode of Nick Knowles's makeover show

Programme Name: DIY SOS: Homes for Veterans - TX: n/a - Episode: n/a (No. n/a) - Picture Shows: (L-R) HRH Prince William, Nick Knowles, HRH Prince Harry - (C) BBC - Photographer: tbc
Programme Name: DIY SOS: Homes for Veterans - TX: n/a - Episode: n/a (No. n/a) - Picture Shows: (L-R) HRH Prince William, Nick Knowles, HRH Prince Harry - (C) BBC - Photographer: tbc
Programme Name: DIY SOS: Homes for Veterans - TX: n/a - Episode: n/a (No. n/a) - Picture Shows: (L-R) HRH Prince William, Nick Knowles, HRH Prince Harry - (C) BBC - Photographer: tbc

Ben Lawrence

Perhaps I’ve been missing something but I never thought of the Duke of Cambridge and Prince Harry as capable of providing comic relief. But that’s exactly what they did in their special edition of DIY SOS which saw Nick Knowles command his team to rebuild a street of derelict housing in Manchester for a group of war veterans. The combination of good humour and serious social commitment made for an affecting hour of television.

4*

Wearing hard hats with their names emblazoned in permanent marker across the front (in case no-one recognised them) the princes exchanged genuine-sounding banter with the builders. “It’s going to be a long day if you keep calling me sausage,” said Harry to Billy the builder who, it turned out, called everyone sausage.

Programme Name: DIY SOS: Homes for Veterans - TX: n/a - Episode: n/a (No. n/a) - Picture Shows: crowd surfs the volunteers on the build. Billy Byrne - (C) BBC - Photographer: tbc
Programme Name: DIY SOS: Homes for Veterans - TX: n/a - Episode: n/a (No. n/a) - Picture Shows: crowd surfs the volunteers on the build. Billy Byrne - (C) BBC - Photographer: tbc
Programme Name: DIY SOS: Homes for Veterans - TX: n/a - Episode: n/a (No. n/a) - Picture Shows: crowd surfs the volunteers on the build. Billy Byrne - (C) BBC - Photographer: tbc

No social pecking order here – the royals mucked in and everyone teased everyone else. Prince Harry’s common touch is well known but his brother seemed equally comfortable in the throng. “This is the first time you’ve done this, isn’t it?” he asked Knowles jokingly, a paint roller in his hand.

The humour wasn’t, excuse the pun, laboured. It was touching and added humanity to what was at times, a very harrowing episode of the evergreen makeover show.

Programme Name: DIY SOS: Homes for Veterans - TX: n/a - Episode: n/a (No. n/a) - Picture Shows: (L-R) The DIY SOS team. Billy Byrne, Adam Frost, Mark Millar, Julian Perryman, Gabrielle Blackman, Chris Frediani, Nick Knowles - (C) BBC - Photographer: tbc
Programme Name: DIY SOS: Homes for Veterans - TX: n/a - Episode: n/a (No. n/a) - Picture Shows: (L-R) The DIY SOS team. Billy Byrne, Adam Frost, Mark Millar, Julian Perryman, Gabrielle Blackman, Chris Frediani, Nick Knowles - (C) BBC - Photographer: tbc
Programme Name: DIY SOS: Homes for Veterans - TX: n/a - Episode: n/a (No. n/a) - Picture Shows: (L-R) The DIY SOS team. Billy Byrne, Adam Frost, Mark Millar, Julian Perryman, Gabrielle Blackman, Chris Frediani, Nick Knowles - (C) BBC - Photographer: tbc

The main focus of the first of this two-part special was John Borge, a 36-year-old military veteran who suffered from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. “I’ve seen children being hit by an IED. Nothing prepares you for it.” His life out of combat had brought new challenges. Despite displaying perpetual bravery during his time in the Armed Forces, Borge was shaken by simple things that many of us fail to register – even the sound of drunks walking past his house at night. His marriage had broken up as a result of his mental frailty and he was desperately trying to hold it together for the sake of his son, Noah. The promise of a new home brought with it what seemed at the start like the impossible fantasy of a new life.

As ever, the clock was ticking for Knowles and his team to complete the build. Normally it’s just one house. Here it was a whole street which included not only homes but a support centre and a retraining house, too.

Programme Name: DIY SOS: Homes for Veterans - TX: n/a - Episode: n/a (No. n/a) - Picture Shows: The Princes join the DIY SOS team and volunteers as Billy Byrne crowd surfs. HRH Prince William, HRH Prince Harry - (C) BBC - Photographer: tbc
Programme Name: DIY SOS: Homes for Veterans - TX: n/a - Episode: n/a (No. n/a) - Picture Shows: The Princes join the DIY SOS team and volunteers as Billy Byrne crowd surfs. HRH Prince William, HRH Prince Harry - (C) BBC - Photographer: tbc
Programme Name: DIY SOS: Homes for Veterans - TX: n/a - Episode: n/a (No. n/a) - Picture Shows: The Princes join the DIY SOS team and volunteers as Billy Byrne crowd surfs. HRH Prince William, HRH Prince Harry - (C) BBC - Photographer: tbc

“I’ve barely slept,” said Knowles, who admittedly looked rather tired. Often these sort of programmes are filled with false jeopardy but here the challenge was exhausting and seemed nigh-on impossible. Several hairy-a**** builders were close to tears. But by the end, John had his new home and a possible rapprochement with his wife. “You’re a good man and you need to start believing that yourself,” Knowles told him. By the end of the episode that was very much the case.

Telegraph.co.uk

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