Last Night’s TV – The Restoration Man

Channel 4 – along with any number of other programme makers – have hit upon a deep vein of public interest in property, and the ‘doing up’ thereof, and rather shamelessly issue forth various shows that are basically exactly the same in concept and design, and Restoration Man is one of them.

However, though it’s a format as well worn as Bruce Forsyth’s face, and about as old, it still attracts the masses, among whose number I can be counted. This latest do-up show is a sturdy bridge between Grand Designs and the BBC’s Restoration, and it’s fronted by the affable – if rather ‘obvious’ in a cute way – George Clarke.

He is of course an architect, but he’s pretty too, so he’s able to provide just the right mix of actual knowledge of his subject matter with his mostly charming presenting skills…

But having said that, when we learned that Mark – one half of the couple who were restoring a gothic wreck – had had a massive heart attack, George fell of his pedestal a bit for me when he asked Mark, “How did it make you feel knowing you were just a couple of days away from death?”

I absolutely hate it when presenters, interviewers, reporters et al ask such inherently stupid questions. I mean, what was the guy supposed to say? “Oh I wasn’t really bothered, I’m suicidal anyway…”

However, stupid questions aside, along with stupid statements such as “So, your heart’s still beating then??” we’ll move swiftly on.

Mark and Sheena bought a folly – in more ways than one – which was just a shell. It cost them nearly £300k to do so, and a good deal more to see it through to full restoration, but for them both, it was of course almost an obsession.

I think it has to be; otherwise, it would just be a show about a property developer, and that’s dull. It’s really the human interest angle that makes these shows so watchable. And of course, the arguably most interesting bit is the inevitable Things Go Wrong segment that crops up most often around the middle, followed by the Things Turn Out Ok bit towards the end.

Though for Mark and Sheena, it nearly cost them their actual lives. 46 year old Mark, as I mentioned earlier, had a massive heart attack during the restoration project, and was fortunate to survive it. Sheena was also in hospital for a part of the filming, though we weren’t told what was actually wrong with her. Unless I missed it.

And what followed was indeed as formulaic and textbook as these shows can get, but that didn’t make it any less interesting, and I was inwardly cheering as the finale came around with an agog George declaring, “Look at that!” every few seconds as he wandered through the finished house.

But to be fair, he was justified in his agogness, though I think Channel 4’s writers should perhaps think about giving him some new adjectives and phrases to work with for the next series, if there is one. I suspect there will be, and I for one will be watching it.

Lynn is an editor and writer here at Unreality TV and is trained psychotherapist and the author of two books. She's addicted to soaps, period drama and reality TV shows such as X Factor, I'm A Celeb and Big Brother.