Cowboy Builders is Channel 5's answer to a question no one yet has thought to ask: just who will fight for my rights if a builder destroys my house and buggers off? While Rogue Traders would usually be your first port of call in this instance, they are only two men and cannot possibly fight a war on that many fronts, not to mention the time Matt and Dan spend layering sexual tension onto their consumer rights work. Luckily with Cowboy Builders, there is absolutely no danger of sexual tension between Melinda Messenger and Dom Littlewood. Especially not since Dom’s sex tape leaked:
Their relationship is strictly business. Their business is nailing builders who have taken money and left people in the lurch. Business is booming.
Each episode is fairly formulaic. Dom and Melinda arrive to a house with a giant hole in it and speak to the family shivering inside. They first take the softly, softly approach by having Melinda make the matriarch of the family cry by asking relevant questions such as how did it make you feel when they bulldozed your mother and made you pay forty grand to remove her quivering body?, secondly they assess the damage and Dom offers such pearls of wisdom as, this isn’t very good is it? It usually transpires that the builder in question has won the trust of the victims by being a) An old man, b) A woman or c) Cheap.
I offer empty threats and Melinda tries to pull a kitchen out of her arse
As we see some further scenes of destruction and damage, Dom begins his narration with something like: there’s no doubt that our builder has been a naughty boy. Its up to me to track him down and find out what’s going on. Melinda then takes over the narration with, 'and I will get Janet the kitchen she promised her mother she would get before she was bulldozed'.
We then usually get a highly tedious teaser (one before each ad break) with the annoying preface of 'coming up I track down a builder so I can watch him drive off while I offer empty threats and Melinda tries to pull a kitchen out of her arse'.
When we come back from the first ad break, we are usually treated to the sight of Dom enjoying a break in a coffee shop. He has his tortoise-safe mappacino and his laptop. He then begins to tell us that the builder in question has been made bankrupt 478 times in the last three years and has no right to be trading. While Dom is left to stew in his anger juice, Melinda calls in top northern builder John, who arrives in his splendid hard hat and luminous jacket. John then proceeds to inspect the shoddy work and point out how bad it all is, before finally finding a wall and pushing it over, adding the caveat that some kid could have been there. He will then tell Melinda that the kitchen will be impossible and that the whole thing will need joists.
Meanwhile, Dom is on the road in his flash car. He has tracked down previous victims of the builder and would like to point out how sad they are and how the work they have had done is bloody awful. They each point out that the builder was a) An old man, b) A woman or c) Cheap and that they haven’t heard anything since he/she went for a fag after knocking up a quick wall the previous November. Dom then reflects on how bad this builder must be and gives a rousing speech about how he will not rest until this builder is dead, or at the very least safe in a car while he shakes his fist as him. That’ll learn him.
his also leads to the obvious observation Melinda may well be sleeping her way to a new kitchen
Melinda is stood in the house (now full of joists) and has a hard hat of her own. John has just given her the bad news that the budget has all been eaten up on the joists and that the kitchen won’t happen. Melinda acts very disappointed, before jumping in her car and going to local businesses in the area to try and pull a kitchen out of her arse. Upon arriving in the local kitchen showroom, Melinda begs the boss for a free kitchen and tells the story of the woman and the bulldozer. The showroom boss agrees and Melinda does her best impression of someone who isn’t a total bullshitter by acting like he is the best man in the world. This also leads to the obvious observation Melinda may well be sleeping her way to a new kitchen. While this is evidently not the case, she seems to get a lot of tradesmen on board to help. You would think that at the very least she would show them her knockers.
Dom then drives down a street named pointless avenue and tracks down former employees of the builder. They all to a man, obviously, say how rubbish he/she is and how he/she never paid them and mostly set fire to their pets. Dom then confirms that he will not rest until the blaggard is hung, drawn and quartered, or at the very least knows how jolly angry he is.
We next see Melinda wandering around a local branch of Homebase with her designer. They both challenge each other to find the worst fixtures, fittings and furniture to deck the new kitchen out with. We are constantly reminded that local business and handymen have given goods and services for free, out of the kindness of their hearts and not for sexual favours or knocker flashes.
Dom and Melinda head off, safe in the knowledge that another family is saved. The builder is caught and fed to hungry pigs.
Dom wakes up early and jumps into his car. His surveillance team have tracked down our builder. He is coming out of his house and Dom’s walky talky is going mad. Dom races to the scene and confronts the builder. In a piece of cod-Roger Cook style camera harassment, Dom begins to loudly bark questions like, why did you take their money and bulldoze their Mother? or how does it make you feel to know you have cheated people?. The builder then gets in a car and drives away, but not before Dom turns to the camera and advises that he will send the file to trading standards. That told them. I bet the builder found it hard to drive he was shaking so much.
When we next see Dom and Melinda, they are driving the family back to their previously destroyed house. It now has a new kitchen, a shrine/grave for the bulldozed mother and the joists are gone. The family are overwhelmed with the new kitchen and grave and once they get over how badly decorated it is, they begin to rub their eyes in blind panic. Dom then asks a final probing question, I bet that’s better isn’t it?
The family grin and nod, hugs are exchanged. Dom and Melinda head off, safe in the knowledge that another family is saved. The builder is caught and fed to hungry pigs.
After a tease for the next episode, we are left to wonder what life would be like without such brave avengers willing to put themselves on the line for us. A sad place, is probably the answer.
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