Location location location, channel 4
There’s nothing like a little real estate porn on TV, and Channel 4 is sure to be the place for it. Twenty years ago you did pioneering work with location, location, location. Since then, several offshoots have emerged, all of which lead to obsessive gazing. In the past few weeks they have celebrated the 20th anniversary of the program with Kirsty Allsopp and Phil Spencer.
We live in a country where we all learn to own a house at a young age. And once we have one, we’re constantly looking for the next step, and that’s where Kirsty and Phil come in. They know their stuff and have a dedicated way of conveying their knowledge. They have had some tricky clients to deal with over the years, but they stay in a good mood regardless of the provocation. At times they seem distracted by the fact that many of their “punters” seem to think they could get a 6 bedroom property in a prime location for £ 100,000. If that’s not the problem, the couples often fail to agree on their priorities and give Kirsty and Phil an almost impossible task.
Over the past few years, they have replenished the series by revisiting the scenes of previous purchases from past episodes. This appeals to the viewer’s feeling of prurience. We all love to look into other people’s characteristics and judge what has been done.
House prices may have changed dramatically in the past twenty years, but the only constant has been the relationship between Allsopp and Spencer. As far as I know, they loathe each other in real life, but their on-screen partnership endures because it’s so natural and fluid. They complement each other. They know what they are talking about and their knowledge of the real estate market enables both attendees and viewers to enjoy a show that some blame for lack of edge. And that’s a good thing: TV doesn’t always have to be “challenging”.
However, it must be said that the program is so very bourgeois and southern that it is almost risky. I imagine that practically all participants shop at Waitrose. Most property searches are in locations where an episode of Midsomer murders might take place or in chi-chi areas in east or south-west London. I seriously can’t remember the last time I saw an episode of the program from the North East, Scotland or Wales. Or the last time I heard a working class accent.
But I still love it.
How to Change the World Podcast with Alan Johnson
The premise of this podcast is very simple: invite a guest and ask them what they would do to change the world.
Alan Johnson, the former Labor Cabinet Secretary, is the ideal host in many ways. He has a simple manner and once he gets rid of the idea of following a script and interviewing his guest he becomes a very engaging interlocutor. This podcast falls into the trap of being a radio show with the same production values. It has music. Why? It is absolutely unnecessary.
What the audience wants to see is a good old Chinwag between two connoisseurs. Alan Johnson is at his best when he’s relaxed. In the first episode, his guest was Rory Stewart, who turned out to be as entertaining as you can imagine. But that didn’t happen until Johnson stopped asking minute-long questions that were reminiscent of Jim Naughtie at its best. Sorry jim
Interview podcasts only cost two cents these days. This one has a topic and a good topic, but let’s face it: the question the podcast asks is invariably just one way to get the respondent to open up to the more interesting things about them and their careers. And that’s where Alan Johnson excels. He lets his subject speak, and if you do they will always say something interesting.
This podcast is only three episodes old – its two subsequent guests at Rory Stewart are Gloria del Piero and comedian Stuart Lee. I have subscribed.