One of the things I miss most about filming Homes Under The Hammer (like many who travel for work, everything has been cancelled during lockdown) is seeing new houses.
When I say “new”, it’s never the case, as the premise of the show is visiting auction houses – and most of the time there’s a reason they’ve not been put on the open market.
Fire damage, an infestation of fleas, pigeons, mice, foxes – you name it, we’ve seen it. And some things I couldn’t name in a family newspaper.
The second half of filming shows what the buyer did to the property to give it jazz-hands and an increased value.
I never knew I’d miss talking about penetrating damp and knocking down walls so much.
But in lockdown, we all get the chance to peer into strangers’ homes – all day, every day as pundits and personalities are interviewed from their front rooms, offices or gardens for the telly.
I had no idea so many people had bookcases before lockdown. Or so many books. Nine out of 10 people appearing as guests choose to showcase their literary intellect with rows of paperbacks – often one written by a politico with gravitas like Andrew Marr, or perhaps Darwin’s theory of evolution or War and Peace.
I like to think they have 10 summer “bonkbusters” and an empty family pack of Haribo stuffed behind the front rows.
I’ve seen surprisingly few bloopers on the telly involving all these guests who would once have the comfort of a professional studio in which to sit. At home, anything can happen.
Like the time in April fashion expert Trinny Woodall’s partner Charles Saatchi wandered completely naked into the background of a Facebook Live video she was filming. Can you imagine?
Back to the properties – I’m over the bookcase chic. I want real, Hammer-esque lived-in images of the guests on telly.
I want Boris Johnson not on the steps of No 10 but in an unmade bed with mismatching pillows and duvet cover with questionable colour scheme to the backdrop of a weird, psychedelic statement wall.
Maybe with a little bit of baby sick on his suit lapel.
I want sofas turned into dens, being jumped on by a feral five-year-old while a doctor mum gives her expert opinion on the risk of a second spike of Covid-19.
And in the background, I hope to analyse whether the wall could be knocked down for open living.
When I do get back to work, you’ll never have seen anyone as excited to see a damp patch again.