'Relax woman' - Daniel feels the strain as Majella and Dermot Bannon 'let the light in' on Room to Improve
As reality TV/fly-on-the-wall shows go, Room to Improve is definitely one of my favourites. Why? Because Dermot Bannon is likeable and creative – and entertainingly obstinate at times – and the end results are, usually, stunning: primo grade telly eye-candy. (Yes, including all those “solutions” to let in “more light” to a selected “space”.)
The show returned to RTÉ tonight, with a celebrity debutante to the new season: Country ‘n’ Irish legend Daniel O’Donnell and wife Majella, looking to do up their home in Kincasslagh, Co Donegal.
Daniel is famous as a Professional Nice Guy, but revealed a rather pricklier side of his character here than we’re used to. In short, Majella wanted a fairly radical do-over of the house; he didn’t see too much wrong with it, but damn if he wasn’t set on shoving in more en-suite bathrooms.
Anyway, after some amusing contretemps and disagreements between all three of our main players, it all worked out for a finish. The show was fluffy, inconsequential and very good fun from start to finish. Here are our 20 favourite quotes of the evening:
“I can’t drive a nail – but I know exactly where the nail should go” – Daniel admits to not being very, in the Irish parlance, handy around the house.
“But what bother is it?” – Daniel argues for the retention of a fairly pointless balcony outside one upstairs room.
“There’s not a lot wrong with the house” – Daniel sets out his steady-as-she-goes philosophy from the beginning.
“Relax, woman” – his response to Majella’s shrieks of excitement on getting her first look at Dermot’s plans.
“As much as you like Scandinavian (design), we don’t like it at all. It doesn’t appeal to either of us” – Daniel again. Note: Majella seemed unconvinced.
“I know Daniel is obsessed with an en-suite bathroom” – Dermot states the obvious.
“I’ve a feeling this project will go incredibly well – or it’s going to be one long battle” – Dermot states the obvious again.
“They’re all to do with Donegal…My Lovely Home in Donegal?” – Dermot tires explaining Daniel’s music to QS Lisa O’Brien.
“You came with a fantastic plan – and now you’re taking the whole thing” away – Daniel is bitterly disappointed when the QS explain that they simply can’t afford to include every last bit of the original idea.
“I’m going to pick my battles” – Majella after acceding to Dermot’s request that they discard a ridiculously ornate light fitting (which reminds her of “trees”).
“I was sitting here with my mum and dad when I told them I had cancer” – Majella at her hideaway/retreat cottage on Owey Island.
“We may put an en-suite on the mezzanine as well, just to have it” – Daniel proving that a sense of humour and being a country singer are not mutually exclusive.
“The island unit, we treat it almost like an object, and start bringing warmth into it” – Dermot hits Peak Architecture-Speak in a kitchen showroom.
“I’ll just check with headquarters here” – Daniel makes sure that his opinion on a modernist-style house is the correct one, i.e. the same as Majella's.
“I told you I didn’t want a wooden floor!” – Majella expresses a clear and succinct opinion on flooring.
“It’s a shame to have these disagreements” – Daniel is willing to make the peace.
“If you see something you like, why would you bother your backside going looking at loads of other things?” – Majella in the carpet showroom. (Dermot replies, in a faintly sheepish tone, “Because that’s what I do for a living”).
“My baby is about to be born – the head is just crowning” – Majella on her first attempt at doing a large print piece of artwork.
“I actually feel extremely emotional; it’s more than I could have wished for. I can’t believe I live here” – Majella on the end result (which really was gorgeous, in my not-at-all-expert opinion).
“Clear out all the clutter and create one big majestic space” – Dermot provides the legally mandatory use of the word “space” in the show’s finale.