The Restoration Man Review: History Boy
RESTORATION MAN: Sunday 21st March, Channel 4, 9pm ALERT ME
Property shows have gone through the roof (ahem) in the last decade or so.
We’ve watched Carol Smillie come and go, seen people attempt to make houses out of hay and we even shed a tear when Laurence Llwelyn-Bowen was tapped up by the TV monster that is the reality talent show.
But the real beauty of the genre is the genuine range and evolution of the programmes within it. Apparently there is always something new to build, restore or decorate with warm furnishings.
This new series from Channel 4 promises to add another layer to the large tapestry of home improvement television. Part history programme, part renovation project, in this show George Clarke (The Restoration Man) follows the efforts of some romantic entrepreneurs attempting to convert some of the oldest, most beautiful and most derelict buildings in the UK into modern houses.
Just to clarify, this is renovation on a scale we’ve never seen before. The family in this episode have to build a road to the property they are working on before they can get any building materials delivered!
Mark Horton is a professional builder with two companies of his own but even he is struggling to cope with the sheer workload involved in turning the long abandoned Gothic Revival Folly Bath Lodge in Ormskirk, Lancashire into a home for his family.
When he has a heart attack half way through the project there is still only one thing on his mind. “If I don’t make it out of here, make sure you finish the Bath Lodge,” he tells his wife Sheena when she visits him in hospital.
After a dangerously short recuperation period, Mark is back on site and soon the project is moving ahead with impressive speed, but after some research into the building’s full history, George has some concerns with parts of the renovation.
Our presenter finds the presence of a cheap white skylite particularly bewildering and advises Mark that as a Grade II listed building, there are certain hoops that need to be jumped through during the restoration. Sure enough when the much-feared building inspector rocks up he demands its removal.
The builders ruefully tear it out and start again, but that aside, the whole project finishes rather smoothly. And the final result is truly breathtaking…