I absolutely love this show; we get to nosey around someone’s magnificent property, and we get to watch Ruth Watson using phrases – in the presence of mostly sniffy snobs – such as “It’s time to get off the pot and start pi***ng.”
Brilliant. And this episode was a corker…
Tackling the issues pertaining to the commercial viability – or not – of Heath House in Staffordshire, Ruth met with the Phillips family, whose ancestors have owned the estate for hundreds of years.
However, the current owners, Flavia and John Phillips are far less enamoured with the property than their son Ben. Their other son Justin seemed to be a fence sitter throughout most of the show, in that he’d quite like to hang on to the ancestral home, but didn’t want to actually expend any effort in order to do so.
Ben, however, was clearly devoted to the house and desperately wanted to make a go of turning the estate into a self-sustaining business, and you didn’t have to be Ruth Watson to see that that is an attainable concept.
The market for holidays, weddings, meetings etc., being taken at a place like Heath House is a lucrative one, and personally, I’d be willing to pay a lot to stay somewhere so steeped in history and so tranquil.
But the actual house was a side issue; this show was about an alpha male power struggle…
Ben, a very nice looking and personable man – who oozes charm – had lots of ideas for the house, and they were all good ones. However, his parents seem to think he’s a lovable buffoon; he’s unmarried – though clearly by choice, not necessity – and “boards” with his Aunt, and those factors combined to make John and Flavia convinced that he’s about as likely to make a go of sustaining and running Heath House as either of them are of becoming moon dwellers.
Ruth was on side with Ben from the get go, and with good reason. It was clear that with some cash thrown at it, and a little love for it – which Ben has but John and Flavia especially don’t seem to – the estate can be a going concern.
But throughout, at least until the very end, John and Flavia were steadfastly refusing to take the house off the market, so any momentum Ben could build up ground to a halt with news of yet another – usually derisory – offer.
In the end, Ruth got John and Flavia to agree to let Ben show them what he could do for and with the house until the end of 2011. If, by that time, he hasn’t managed to at least make the estate self-sustaining, then he’ll bow out and allow the place to be sold.
I sincerely hope that Ben manages to make a go of it; it would be a real shame to let the house go out of Phillips’ family hands.
If you missed this episode, you can catch it here on 4oD.