CHRISTOPHER STEVENS on TV: Channel 4 ain’t cheaper than this peak-time flat pack flop

CHRISTOPHER STEVENS reviews the TV weekend: Channel 4 is no cheaper than this peak-time flat-pack flop

The Big House Giveaway


Our planet in transition


Channel 4’s promised sell-out can’t come too soon. Britain’s second state broadcaster is in dire need of privatization – and if you doubt it, The Big House Giveaway (C4) provides the final proof.

This property makeover show is a direct rip off of BBC1’s long-running daytime filler, Homes Under The Hammer.

A house is auctioned, handymen renovate and sell it, and at the end of the episode the profit is counted.

Presenter Simon O'Brien buys a run-down house at auction on The Great House Giveaway

Presenter Simon O’Brien buys a run-down house at auction at The Great House Giveaway

The C4 version, which relocates to a teatime slot this week, isn’t just unoriginal. It’s so economical it almost pays for itself.

Presenter Simon O’Brien buys a run-down house at auction – this was a run-down three-bed terrace in Stafford, with wallpaper hanging down in streaks and ivy growing through the broken windows. He paid £118,000.

Simon handed the keys to paramedic Sarah, 52, who lives in a rental house with her partner Mark, and Paige, 24, who was still at home with mom. The women had never met: they had to continue with the repairs, helped by a £12,000 loan from Simon.

We watched them slam through walls, wrestle with flat packs, and climb across the ceiling — though it seemed like Mark was doing most of the heavy lifting. When it came up for sale six months later, Paige and Sarah had to pay every penny back — as well as cover borrowing costs, taxes, real estate agent fees, and legal fees.

Matters of the heart of the weekend:

It wouldn’t be Britain’s Got Talent (ITV) without a choir, a tribute to the armed forces or a lot of tears. The Voices of Armed Forces Children’s Choir, with a number they wrote themselves, Welcome Home, had all three. We may have found this year’s winner.

Channel 4 didn’t even pay for a can of paint. Telly doesn’t get any cheaper.

There’s a place for low-budget property shows, but that place is Freeview channels like HGTV (the HG stands for Home and Garden). A big broadcaster should have much bigger ambitions.

Television is no longer a cheap medium. Online streaming giants like Disney+ and Netflix, Amazon Prime and Apple TV+ have changed the genre.

If that’s the best C4 can do at peak times on a bank holiday Sunday, the station’s executives should have the decency to admit they’ve failed.

Whoever buys C4 – which is expected to be one of those on-demand video giants – will likely have to invest hundreds of millions of pounds to take the channel globally.

After the sell-off, there should be no more primetime hours spent watching people assemble a flat-pack kitchen.

If C4 viewers can expect any future riches, wildlife presenter Liz Bonnin was also a big winner Our planet in transition (BBC1).

‘You just won the lottery!’ A scientist yelled at her on a boat off the California coast.

Liz hasn’t raised millions of dollars, but she couldn’t have looked more excited. A great white shark had just jumped out of the water a few feet from the camera.

This behavior is rare in adult sharks. But Liz was looking at a juvenile great white shark that was once unknown in the waters off Santa Barbara. Warming oceans mean sharks can breed as far north as Alaska’s coast within a few years, wreaking havoc on ecosystems.

With orphaned elephants and a jaguar stalking the wetlands of the Pantanal in South America, this was a far more exciting episode than last week’s opener.

Full marks for Ade Adepitan from the Sheldrake Wildlife Trust in Kenya. He bravely tried to stick to his script without laughing while a cheeky little Nelly kept bumping into his wheelchair.

There hasn’t been a naughtier elephant since one named Lulu flooded the Blue Peter studio floor and stepped on John Noakes’ toe half a century ago.



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