Monday 21 January 2019

'Relax woman' - Daniel feels the strain as Majella and Dermot Bannon 'let the light in' on Room to Improve

Daniel, Majella and Dermot aren't singing from the same hymn sheet. Pic: RTE / Room to Improve
Daniel, Majella and Dermot aren't singing from the same hymn sheet. Pic: RTE / Room to Improve
Daniel and Majella's living room before Dermot got his hands on it. Pic: RTE / Room to Improve
The finished result. Pic: RTE / Room to Improve
More 'space' Pic: RTE / Room to Improve
Daniel and Majella's hallway. Pic: RTE / Room to Improve
Daniel, Majella and Dermot survey the plans. Pic: RTE / Room to Improve
Daniel and Majella's kitchen. Pic: RTE / Room to Improve
Darragh McManus

Darragh McManus

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:

Daniel, Majella and Dermot survey the plans. Pic: RTE / Room to Improve
Daniel, Majella and Dermot survey the plans. Pic: RTE / Room to Improve

“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.

Daniel and Majella's hallway. Pic: RTE / Room to Improve
Daniel and Majella's hallway. Pic: RTE / Room to Improve

“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.

The finished result. Pic: RTE / Room to Improve
The finished result. Pic: RTE / Room to Improve

“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.

Daniel and Majella's kitchen. Pic: RTE / Room to Improve
Daniel and Majella's kitchen. Pic: RTE / Room to Improve

“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.

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