Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Solidly Built, Rigidly Structured Welcome to the Dream Home of DIY Entertainment

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Solidly Built, Rigidly Structured Welcome to the Dream Home of DIY Entertainment

Article excerpt

Byline: David Sexton The Viewer

Grand Designs: The Street Channel 4, 9pm GRAND Designs is a fabulously successful series that has been presented by Kevin McCloud since it first aired back in April 1999. Tonight sees the launch of its twentieth series, not counting all the spin-offs (Grand Designs Indoors, Grand Designs Abroad, etc).

The time has surely come to evaluate exactly what the impact of Grand Designs has been on us. Quite possibly almost entirely deleterious I suspect.

The show follows a remarkably stereotyped format. McCloud introduces us to the people, usually a couple, who have come up with a plan for making their stirringly original property dreams come real. We're shown a model of what the place is supposed to look like when it is finished. Then he makes site visits as the build proceeds. All begins well but then there's trouble in the form of delays, budget over-runs, construction problems and relationship bust-ups.

Finally, though, the proud owners move in and McCloud visits one last time. They weepily attest it is everything they dreamed of, he thrills them by admiring the marvels of their achieved grand design. It's a drama more rigidly structured than a play by Racine.

On screen, McCloud's role is to sympathise with and encourage the clients, sometimes even momentarily assisting them. In his voiceovers, however, he remains more sceptical, racking up the tension as we wonder if they will make it through to that final act.

But there is never any doubt that following your dreams and making your home express your personality is the highest aim. So, Grand Designs has encouraged millions to follow suit, if not to build complete houses, at least to put forth their very own hot tub or novel extension. I have a creeping suspicion that McCloud himself is not as keen on people expressing the originality of their personalities through buildings as the programme requires him to be. …

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