The greatest thing about Homes Under the Hammer is that it opens up like a great heist movie only to descend into a farce. It gets me every time. The way the camera slowly pans out in slow-mo to reveal a room of hard faces. Dressed in stonewash denim and wearing sovereign rings. Men called Terry and Frank whose dreams two decades previously would have been to win a speedboat on Bullseye, but now fancy themselves as Northern Russians. Property men. Trying to keep a poker face as the bidding increases on a semi-detached in Rochdale.
It's great telly and as the tension builds, you wonder how far these Mike Reid types are going to go. Seventy grand. Eighty grand. A little bit more. The fantastic bit is that we the viewer have already seen the property. Like the house in Withnail and I, it already looks as though it's been under Thor's hammer actually. Kitchen decorated by a rogue Messerschmitt sometime in 1943, plumbing like Rasputin’s sink hole and always an ancient jar of Bisto stood on a breakfast bar like a dark omen.
Presenter Martin Roberts is loving it of course. His 1984 highlights tweak like a crap physic as the bidding reaches its crescendo. Roberts loves the drama. Floral shirt and a diamond pinkie ring you could open a winkle with, all 'would you believe it' and 'isn't that incredible' as suddenly in a pure Scorsese twist, a smiling Asian man at the back outbids everyone for the caddy shack in a single bid. Classic Homes under the hammer part deux.
Roberts turns to the camera and smiles like an African dictator about to butcher the whole village. He senses disappointment about to be unveiled. A family shame. Cut to the scene where they're stood in the garden about to turn the key in the Blackadder door. A half decapitated Barbie is already stuck in an overgrown bush. A seagull smokes a Regal King Size on a wash house roof. Snow Patrol play in the background. Then an ominous creak as they enter. Roberts mugs a cunt wink to the camera and says 'I can't really believe you didn't view this property before you bought it'. He wants the kill for his Partridge portfolio. Future voiceovers for Glade air freshener beckon. Aha. Aha.
Smiling Asian man just shrugs though. He's flanked by his two sons now who flash a look of 'oh dad' between them which Roberts catches. He smiles like a cunt trap again. Rubs a bit of rotten plaster between his pudgy tanned fingers and tuts about the en-suite. Asks the boys whether they think 'dad has made a mistake'. Cue Snow Patrol again. Sweeping shit strings as sleet hits a Rochdale window. But now a twist. Smiling Asian man deadpans 'of course they don't Martin. First son has a business degree see and second son is an award winning architect.' Roberts shifts uneasily in his Boss Hogg suit and bites his lip like a slimy tit. He senses bad Glade evaporating slightly into the ethos. Classic Homes under the hammer. Part three.
Cue six months later. Roberts a bit chunkier, suit a little more faded. Curses inside as the Rochdale wind bends his shit highlights like a blonde boomerang. but still chomping at the bit for a bit of good telly. A financial disaster. Bad builders. Pestilence. Anything to please his producers. He strides up the garden path. Smiling Asian man greets him again. Shows him inside. Spotless. Beautifully decorated. Show home. Roberts twitches like Herbert Lom in the Pink Panther. He's been undone by those hard working classes with a business ethic again.
Secretly he wishes he had Jeremy Kyle’s job.