Iconic TV show Changing Rooms has been rebooted after 17 years, with Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen returning to totally transform the houses of UK families in record time.
Anna Richardson has replaced original host Carole Smilie to present the programme, which originally aired on BBC One and Two.
An incredibly popular show, many would tune into Changing Rooms not just for the interior design inspiration and the happy reactions from beaming contestants.
The show also regularly included utterly horrified reactions as families tentatively walked back into their homes and burst into tears or furiously stormed out.
Laurence puts it down to his youth, lack of experience and reluctance to even be on television.
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“Changing Rooms was the first ever reality show where that was allowed to happen. I absolutely remember the first couple of very negative responses.”
He went on: “The children were very young, we were just starting out and I wasn’t very keen on being on television in the first place and feeling a bit grumpy.
“Of course, this was before social media and we had huge, huge amount of letters of people writing in saying, “Well they may not have liked it but we did.’
“Suddenly you start to realise that taste is absolutely subjective. There’s no such thing as a blanket good taste which fits everybody.
“And actually I thought, ‘Well, in that case I’m going to use what I do on television to encourage people to do it their way.’
“I’m not saying my way is great – it’s probably a lot better than the way they were going to do it themselves.”
One of the show’s most famous mishaps was Linda Barker’s teapot tragedy.
Homeowner Clodagh and daughter Julia discovered that her £6,000 teapot collection had been smashed to smithereens during the refurbishment.
The vast collection – which had been built up over her lifetime – occurred after the team created a free-standing shelving unit to display the teapots.
But it came crashing down when a pile of books was placed on the shelf – leaving Clodagh devastated.
It made for awkward viewing as Linda was forced to break the news.
At first there was some confusion over exactly what had happened, as Clodagh asked: “Oh my god, you’ve killed my cat, haven’t you?”, when the designer tried to explain what had happened.
Insurers reimbursed Clodagh for the value of her collection but she never restarted it – saying she couldn’t bear for it to happen again.
Clodagh recently told The Guardian: “I still don’t feel very good about [Linda].
“On the very rare occasions she’s on television now, when I do see her, she’s still very bouncy, and I just don’t think she earned the bounce.”
But she told the paper that she didn’t regret appearing on the show – saying it was a good experience for her daughter.
Recounting the incident years on, Linda Barker said: “Probably the worst moment for me, well, definitely the worst moment and probably for any designer on Changing Rooms has to be when I built a floating shelf.
“It was 14 floors up and in a flat in Wandsworth and it was to house a very beautiful collection of antique teapots.
“The idea was that this thing was just in the middle of the room.
“I mean it was going to be absolutely great and it should have looked wonderful of course.
“But I’m painting such a great picture because of course the whole thing ended in complete disaster.”
Another memorable toe-curling episode of the show saw one set of neighbours attempt to turn their friend’s house into an ode to Australia.
But it was safe to say the new decorations did not go down well.
The devastated homeowner described her new abode as “Barry Humphries’ sanatorium” and “Kyle Minogue on speed”.
She added that the colour of the paint reminded her of “what comes out of a baby’s nappy”, and added that the one thing she did not like about the original room (her curtain rail) was pretty much the only thing that had not changed.
Another homely, warm-looking living room got the Changing Rooms treatment and was drastically transformed.
It went from a traditional living room with wood-panelled floors, to an all-white, futuristic almost clinical-looking space.
“I hate it. Get this mic off me,” ranted the seething homeowner, who immediately stormed out.
Undeterred, Laurence and his team would next set to task on a boring-looking bedroom, transforming it into a bizarrely opulent boudoir with a four posted bed adorned with enormous MDF statues of nude women, reminiscent of something you might find in an Ancient Greek temple.
“Good grief,” said the stunned homeowner, Ruff.
But according to the Guardian, Ruff and his wife loved their new room and did not change it for six years.
They also kept the statues – though they moved them to outside a shed they had built to be a tortoise sanctuary in their garden.
Another home renovation actually destroyed a friendship after a woman named Julia assisted with decorating the home of her friend Sam.
Sam had specifically told the team no bright pinks, no hearts and no fluff.
But for some reason, designer Anna Ryder Richardson painted her room pink and decorated it by displaying bras, suspender belts and frilly knickers in frames on the wall.
But the finishing touch of a red light in the window was the last straw.
Bursting into tears, a furious Sam branded the room a “tart’s boudoir” .
“I really want to swear… I’ve got two little kids! How on earth can I fetch them in here with that on the wall?” she ranted.
“It’s just awful, absolutely awful.’
Sam even admitted she did not speak to Julia for a long time after the gaffe.
She told The Mirror: “We didn’t speak for five months after the show went out. Now we’ll say hello if we bump into each other but I don’t think we’ll ever be really pally like we were before.
“I do miss her.”
Another episode of Changing Rooms saw Lisa from Swansea trapped in what viewers called “a shabby chic nightmare”.
The team “channeled their inner drag queens” to give the bedroom very bold new look, with dark purple feature walls, a pink bed – and a wall of hair .
It went down a storm with Lisa, who described the majority of the transformation as “absolutely lovely”, until she became a little lost for words when spotting the hair ‘art’.
In the end she politely responded: “It’s not that I don’t like it, it’s just that it… er, I would never think of putting hair on the… thing”, while her shocked face told the real story.
* Changing Rooms returns tonight on Channel 4 at 8pm
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