Sunday 18 February 2018

'Home of the Year' is on course to be Bore of the Year

Home of the Year, RTE - Declan, Helen and Hugh
Home of the Year, RTE - Declan, Helen and Hugh

Pat Stacey

Part of the unwritten contract I made with Herself a long time ago is that there are certain things I will never do unless there is absolutely no viable alternative. One of them is painting walls.

I can do it, all right, but I hate doing it. It bores me to tears. Give me wallpapering any day. Perverted as it sounds, I actually enjoy wallpapering. I find it relaxing and it leaves me with a great sense of accomplishment afterwards. Also, wallpaper is more fun to watch drying than paint. If nothing else, it has patterns to look at.

Which brings us to property shows, which, despite being disparagingly described as “TV wallpaper”, are generally far less interesting to look at than real wallpaper.

Another clause in that unwritten contract is that I will never, ever watch property shows unless it’s for the purposes of work. In the league table of Television Genres I Detest, property shows are in second place, just ahead of cookery shows in third and nibbling at the bum of scripted reality shows in first.

Herself, on the other hand, loves property shows. I walked into the living room one afternoon recently and caught her in flagrante delicto with an old episode of Room to Improve that was showing on Home – which is beyond the pale, frankly.

Still, if she’s going to indulge her sick makeover fantasies in front of her husband, I suppose it’s better she does it with Dermot Bannon and not Neville Knott. This, I fear, would be grounds for separation.

But I can’t see Herself mustering up much enthusiasm for RTE1’s latest bit of property porn, Home of the Year, continuing tonight. At least Room to Improve – which, I’ll grudgingly concede, is head and shoulders above everything else in its field – offers the potential for drama and conflict as Bannon regularly clashes with clients over their ludicrously unrealistic expectations.

There’s not a lot of drama or conflict in Home of the Year. There’s not a lot of anything, to be honest. It’s based on a format owned by Danish production giant Nordisk, which may explain why it feels strangely clinical and detached in a Scandinavian way.

If you had to give a one-sentence description it would be, “Each week three judges look around three homes and mark them out of 10.”

The judges in question are no-nonsense textiles and homewares expert Helen James, flamboyantly-scarved “interior design legend” Hugh Wallace, and architect Declan O’Donnell who, with his neatly-trimmed beard, buttoned-up shirts and figure-hugging cardies, looks like a member of preppy indie rock band Vampire Weekend.

The camera didn’t look down at his feet, but I wouldn’t be surprised if he wears deck shoes.

That said, O’Donnell was the only one in last week’s show (I haven’t yet seen tonight’s) who threw a bit of grit into the mix when he described the dwelling of a couple, who’d self-consciously littered the place with quirky knick-knacks that screamed “We’re soooooo creative” from every grain of mortar, as looking like “a set” rather than a home.

But apart from this brief flicker, Home of the Year is anodyne stuff punctuated by small bursts of pretentiousness. The three of them drift from one lavishly designed abode to another (you won’t find any charming semi-Ds in this series; the properties on display give off the rich, unmistakable aroma of wealth), wow-ing and cooing about “light” and “space” – a room is never a room, it’s always a “space” – and the “language” of furniture.

If your idea of fun is a camera endlessly panning across walls and windows, and prowling through doorways, around corners and up stairways, then this is the series for you. Personally, I was hoping Norman Bates or Michael Myers would leap out wielding a kitchen knife. A designer one, naturally.

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