Come back LoBo, come back...
Back in the heady days of the property boom, I was dispatched to the Ideal Home Show to interview celebrity interior design McMincers Colin and Justin. ‘Come and see our fabulous boat!’ screamed Justin, leading me to a pimped up yacht in the middle of Earl’s Court.
Oh, it was like a daytime TV version of Studio 54. Tommy Walsh from Ground Force was surrounded with bitches, and steely House Doctor Ann Maurice was there, standing to attention like a wall-eyed Nazi commandant. To toast Colin and Justin’s imminent move to Channel 5 (which is a bit like celebrating fact that your new house has been built on Native American burial ground) we all got pissed and nearly missed my easyJet back home. Debauched or what?
Now of course, the champagne bubbles have burst and the dado rail has fallen off the gazebo. Money-obsessed property speculators like Phil and Kirstie moved in, along with endless dismal couples called Gavin and Fiona who moped their way through 15 bedroomed mansions whingeing that there wasn’t a separate garage for their fucking unicorns. So let us fondly remember those crazy days of hot pink fun fur and stippled skirting boards and ask ‘what the fuck is Handy Andy doing right now?’
Tommy from Ground Force was every housewives afternoon delight – a great big idiot in perma-dungarees who knew about nails and digging and stuff. Tommy would take one look at any green space and deck the fucker, and therein lay his appeal. In fact, once upon a time, a Tommy and Titchmarsh sandwich was on every middle aged woman’s wish list, right up there with Delia’s Christmas. These days, Tommy runs a business selling flat pack eco houses and wanders the echoing aisles of B&Q, desperately trying to find anyone who still cares about decking.
Laurence Llewelyn Bowen
The world of TV interior decoration was once ruled by this crushed velvet fop and his punchable Byron-esque face. Laurence ruined lives by indiscriminately stencilling mythological scenes on the walls of Barratt houses in Barnsley. Now, he’s been relegated to creative director of Blackpool Illuminations, which may or may not involve replacing the bulbs outside Scumbag’s Amusements. In his spare time, Laurence can be found sitting sadly on a threadbare chaise longue with his laudanum, sobbing quietly and singing ‘What goes up, must come down…Superfresco makes it easy, it’s from Graham and Brown.’
Anna Ryder Richardson
Diminutive ladyboy Anna Ryder Richardson was the live wire on the Changing Rooms team, a mischievous pixie who would have happily stapled leopardskin fun fur to a corpse. The token girl, she had a ‘feminist’ pink drill and ‘stood up to the boys’ (ie: squealed about sparkly things while everyone ignored her). Anna went into the jungle, had two daughters named Bibi-Belle and Dixie-Dot, and then went off to run her own zoo, so one can only assume she is in the midst of a spectacular nervous breakdown. Or she’s a twat.
How we sympathised with Handy Andy as he was asked to create a Louis XVII cabinet out of two planks of MDF and a glue gun. Andy was the long suffering straight man in a room full of interior design poofs, and would often have his head in his hands, crying into little piles of sawdust. He now - rather improbably – presents geography programmes for schools. Still, back then he made the magic happen – even if that magic was a shit sloping shelf in the corner of child’s bedroom.
Oh, yes they were punk rock renegades, that’s for sure. And now what have we got? Dull doom-laden naysayers like Sarah Beeny, renovating her tedious country pile or Kevin McCloud worrying about budgets. Meanwhile, the original TV makeover mavericks are living on the streets, sniffing No More Nails and injecting themselves with Ronseal. But it doesn’t have to be this way. I don’t want to live in bland, boring buy to let hovel. I want stippling! Stencilling! Rag rolling! Come back Laurence, and don’t stop until there’s a Trompe l’Oeil depiction of the Last Supper on the wall of every bog in Britain – with your face as Jesus.