Dermot's show is a big hit because we're so nosey

Geraldine Gittens

RTE's Dermot Bannon has attributed the success of his home improvement show, Room To Improve, to voyeurism among Irish viewers.

The architect, who has just completed the fifth series of the show, says it has gone from strength to strength since it was extended to hour-long episodes last season.

"It's like cookery programmes being popular. It's a voyeurism thing. People like to look at other people's houses and they like to look at the relationship between the architect and the builder, and the client and the builder.

"The audience has seen a bit more this series because obviously we were given an hour-long slot which was great," he told the Herald.

"Last year we literally had five minutes to show the house at the start and five minutes to show it finished, and then 14 minutes to show the rest in between."

"The audience reacted well because they could see more of the process and what was going on. The viewing figures have been good, but I don't know whether that's because of the slot it's in, or the fact that it's an hour long, or people are staying in more."

The most challenging mission for Dermot last season was to make sure each project stayed within budget.

"It was all down to budgets, it was down to money and where we should spend money, so most of the dramas were about a certain budget.

"And this year we made the aim to finish every project on budget, so if we needed to get money from somewhere, it usually had to come out of the architectural features, so that was a little disappointing.

"It's keeping everything in budget and persuading people to make the right decisions. You're telling people I've been doing this for years and I know what works, but when it comes to people's homes, they tend to have an opposing opinion and you have to work with that."

Dermot says the project to create the most positive reaction this year was the renovation of a house in Blackrock, Co Dublin, for John Rochford and Lee Benn.

"A lot of people commented on the Blackrock one on Thursday night. I'm only judging it on other people's feedback. The couple bought into the design and they didn't change anything, the original concept was there."


However, he said he has no particular favourite project over the last series.

"It's like asking which is your favourite child. I'm proud of them all. I'm still in contact with people from two or three years ago because I'm an architect -- I have an architect's relationship with them, not a TV relationship, so it doesn't end when the cameras stop rolling."