Did we like it?
Grand Designs is a great programme, with its gentle music and peaceful pace. So we were shocked and disappointed that this was such a noisy, cluttered mess that has devalued Kevin McCloud as a TV presenter and severely dented the Grand Designs brand.
What was good about it?
• The second programme was a little better so at least some lessons were learned from the terrible opener.
• The pre-recorded visits to spectacular homes around the UK were successful, especially as they brought some calm to the frenetic proceedings.
• We like George Clarke, one the the three “experts” backing their pet projects. But the other two – Naomi Cleaver (gushing) and Janet Street Porter (preachy) – are horrible. Street Porter interrupted at every available opportunity even if it was only to spout something meaningless (“Having been on that journey myself…”).
• McCloud did have the good grace to point out “calls from mobile phones can cost considerably more” during the pointless phone vote.
What was bad about it?
• The Top Gear-ification of Grand Designs with a whooping audience, shouting presenter, lame attempts at comedy and illustrative music (including Country House by Blur, of course).
• Kevin McCloud, not helped by dreadful sound quality, sounded horrible shouting.
• The build-a-house-in-a-week segment is so unimpressive. It’s all prefabricated and only has to be erected, so it’s not much of a challenge and certainly not worthy of the can-we-make-the-deadline excitement with which it is treated in the programme.
• Bill Bailey as the jokey project manager and Dave Gorman as the roving reporter did themselves no favours. Bailey is usually funny but was just silly; Gorman is usually insightful but was just bland.
• The item which could have come with a junior version of Tomorrow’s World in which McCloud, and ex-Blue Peter host Peter Duncan tested heat-keeping glass.