TYears ago, when Caroline Hicks opened the door to reveal her new living room – which was refurbished in just two days by her best friend Joe Thompson and designer Graham Wayne – three words of mantra in her head. “I shouldn’t swear, I shouldn’t swear, I shouldn’t swear,” the 25-year-old thought about it. Hicks’ simple cream-colored living room has been transformed into an “operating room”: the walls are white and her dining table is covered in aluminum paint. There were sandpaper squares on one wall and a permanently running water feature on the other. Hicks did not split, but her lip visibly trembled. “Oh,” She said.

Hicks is just one of the more than 600 people who appeared on the BBC’s Home Improvement Show between 1996 and 2004. The premise was simple: neighbors swapped houses, and with the help of designers, they renovated every room. With nearly 12 million viewers at its peak, the show was briefly a British establishment – shortly after the Hicks episode aired, a cashier in her home country enthusiastically called his friend to cheer that she was in his store. Recently, rumors began to circulate that the show would be returning after 16 years of not airing. why not? The daytime Ready Steady Cook song was revived a decade later in March.

Even now, the rumors are still rumors, but Changing Rooms never left our hearts. In 2017, Buzzfeed writer Scott Brian punched 13 change rooms into An article spread quickly: Readers marvel at the donkey carvings, upturned trees and giant nude cherub bedspreads. How can displaying so many disasters become ever popular?

Changing Rooms was born into a nine-stop subway station between Tottenham Court Road and White City, half an hour before an important meeting with the BBC. It was 1995 and Peter Bazalgate, Owner of production company Bazal, “did the interiors what I did to cook,” referring to his past success, Ready Steady Cook. Bazalgette asked producer Ann Booth-Clibborn to put together a presentation, but he said the couple realized on the way to seeing BBC executives: “This is a bad idea.”

1997 Change rooms team
Changing Rooms Team 1997 (from left): Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen, Andy Kane, Linda Barker, Carol Smillie, Graham Wynne and Anna Ryder-Richardson. Photo: BBC

Then called Four White Walls, the Booth-Clibborn Show put contestants in empty rooms that they had to decorate; The judge will then determine who did the best job. “I thought it was a very nice idea, but I had that kind of bell ringing,” says Booth-Claiborne. She shared her concerns with Bazalgette and the couple started sharing ideas. Bazalgetti recalls that by the time their poop was near Holland Park, they had an Eureka moment.

I said, “How would it be if people – friends and neighbors – swapped houses? “I had no idea what I was suggesting: The danger only appeared throughout the series.” Booth Claiborne suggested giving each cast a designer and decorator; she later created stars from Linda Parker, Lawrence Leolyn Bowen and Anna Ryder Richardson.

The BBC accepted the stadium and Booth-Claiborne did a pilot job, but only eight years later did she really understand what she did. “It wasn’t until I bought my house … I suddenly realized what people were doing by letting us in and changing their homes,” she says. As a young producer, she “didn’t understand in any way the emotional impact of what we were proposing”.

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Bazalgette and Booth-Clibborn deny they want anyone to cry. “I could say I was very naive,” says Booth-Claiborne, now in her 50s and a storytelling coach.

“The first time someone really hates it, I felt a little shame and embarrassed,” says Bazalgetti. I thought, ‘Oh my God, I wonder if this would ruin the series. “In fact, it worked.”

Hicks hated her living room, and Thompson couldn’t be happier with it. Before the show, the duo talked about how to decorate their rooms; Thompson told Hicks that she wanted an Australian subject. “I’ve taken it to mean antibody red, outback,” says Hicks, now 45. She and her designer, Llewelyn-Bowen, drew lizards on the floor, accenting the room “the same color as newborns” diapers (Thompson’s words) and bought a tribal drum. Thompson envisioned Bondi Beach with its cool blues and ocean decor. When she saw her new room, she said “no” six times.

On the day the episode aired, Hicks and Thompson were in close proximity by the reporters. Often times, when an acquaintance discovers that an episode is replayed, he has to answer familiar questions, such as: Was it all really done in just two days?

Lawrence Lewellyn Bowen and Handy Andy
Do you allow them to go out in your house? Lawrence Lewellyn Bowen and Handy Andy. Photo: BBC / Endemol

“It really gets done in a couple of days.” Hicks says, “There are lots and lots of runners behind the scenes.” Presenter, Carol Smiley, recalls that when contestants moved from house to house, she would roll white paint onto their jeans so the contestants wouldn’t get On any clues about the color of their room. “There were so many of us, 20 or more, that you didn’t see on the screen.” Two decades later, she fondly remembers the on-site catering truck: “They baked us pancakes in the morning.”

Jimmy McDougall and wife Terry say their London kitchen was completed in under two days and cost £ 16 on the show’s £ 500 budget. “On the first day, you don’t start until around midday because they get everything ready, and we worked until about eight in the evening,” the 65-year-old McDougall recalls. On the second day, she wraps things up early so Smillie can return home to her young children in Scotland (the McDougalls family recalls that the presenter, who was then a new mom, slept in her bedroom for a few hours). “It was probably less than 24 hours grooming.”

With these quick renovations, you might wonder if the corners were cut to the side of the MDF the show was fond of. “They only painted the front of the doors; McDougall says – although the team left the couple enough paint to finish the job. Hicks’ room originally had a wood floor with a carpet in the center, and the designers told Thompson they would only put in the visible edges of the floor; she resisted.”

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After only two years on the air, Changing Rooms moved from BBC Two to BBC One; McDougalls’ episode was the first to air in the new hole and attracted more than 10 million viewers. Terry, now 62, remembers the exact date of the air – July 17, 1998 – as the couple were staying at a hotel on their wedding anniversary. She laughs, “We walked by the bar and everybody’s sweetened Changing Rooms.” A year later, the show’s designers were invited to needy children and sang a piece from the YMCA titled “Why MDF?” While wearing a village uniform.

Why was the show so popular? Bazalgette says we all love change and the designers were really creative. Booth-Clibborn is credited with casting uppercase C. She “faxed every agent” to find Llewelyn-Bowen and discovered Parker through a book she wrote “On Making Things From Napkins.” Handy Andy (real name: Andy Kane), however, was chosen simply because he was working in Parker’s house as a carpenter at the time. When he met the producers, “he didn’t know it was a screen test – he thought he was coming to do an interview to set up sets for a TV show,” says Booth Claiborne.

Smillie was brought on board by producer Nick Vaughan-Barratt. She recalls laughing when he explained the show’s premise: “So, have we really reached that point where the nation is watching the paint dry?”

Within a few years, this relatively unknown actor became stars – producers remember how local sheriffs would meet designers at train stations upon their arrival in a new city, and they were often suggested in hotel bars. Once, when Llewelyn-Bowen and Kane went to a nightclub in Aberdeen to celebrate the end of a series, they were assaulted by fans and police had to evacuate them to safety.

Little wonder, then, that so many in the audience wanted to take part in the show (although Smillie still felt guilty that the first contestants were “comforting poor souls” snatched from Ready Steady Cook’s app basket). We remember the disasters fondly (Bazalgate himself refers to the News of the World headline, “BBC Turned My House into a Mansion of a Whore”), but the producers say the contestants were mostly happy with their fate. “Most of the rooms of the people who asked us to change were in dire condition, even a little paint was a huge improvement,” says Smillie.

The Macdogs agreed to go to the show because it’s been eight years since their kitchen was redecorated. Remarkably, the result was classy not only for time however Also for today. The walls were painted light green and decorated with dark green and cream tiles. A painting of lemon was painted on the window. “The only disaster was that they had a great idea to paint my fridge, and it was only a week old,” Terry says. “Every time you open the refrigerator, it breaks.”

Aidan and Helen Ruff's homemade turtle sanctuary
Reused: MDF sculptures designed for Aidan and Helen Ruff’s bedroom – now part of a homemade turtle sanctuary. Photo: Aidan Raff
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Aidan Raff, 59, from Northumberland, is another contestant who loves his renovated bedroom (although it does # 7 on Buzzfeed’s Horror List). “We were basically looking for a cheap room,” he says, describing the end result as “live Mediterranean love.” He and wife Helen haven’t changed the room for six years – they even kept the MDF-carved Greek nudes that line their four-poster bed. Twenty years later, these two statues now sit outside the ornate shed which is a turtle sanctuary that Rafs constructed in their closed garden.

However, there is one disaster that lovers of changing rooms cannot forget. In 2000, a London woman named Clodagh appeared on the show and asked the producers to be extra careful with their prized teapot set. Parker and Handy Andy created a set of hanging shelves to house the pots; Everything inevitably collapsed. Clodagh lost more than £ 6,000 from the teapots, which also had sentimental value (the Clarisse Cliff pot was one of her mother’s 21st birthday gifts).

Now 75, Clodag is not completely done with the accident. “I’m still not satisfied with her,” she says of Parker. “On the very rare occasions that she appears on TV now, when I see her, she’s still very bouncy, and I don’t think she has benefited from the bounce.”

Clodag’s insurers paid for their teapots, but never risked another set (“I couldn’t bear that happening again”). However, she does not regret appearing on the show, saying it was an experiment for her daughter, Julia. She believes the episode is a good lesson in respecting other people’s possessions.

Four years after the Teapot Disaster, change rooms were canceled after 17 series, due to dwindling viewership numbers. “Intimacy bred a little distraction,” says Bazalgette, as viewers watched at the start and end of the episode and skipped the middle. However, the show demystified the decorating for the British audience (one crew member still remembers Parker’s claim: “Every room looks better with a bowl of lemon”). It is undeniable that Changing Rooms inspired a whole host of shows of change, and in 2011, a show called The Apartment, featuring Llewelyn-Bowen, made its debut in Asia; Its premise was remarkably similar to the original Booth-Clibborn Stadium Four White Walls.

“For at least 10 years I have not understood the cultural impact of the changing rooms,” says Booth-Claiborne. She was at a conference for the British Institute of Interior Designers when the designers approached her with tears in their eyes. “They said, ‘I wouldn’t even know the interior design was a job without the changing rooms,'” she recalls. “It made the design worthwhile – when I got into it, it was only intended for middle-class kids.”

While sitting on the tube in 1995, Bazalgette and Booth-Clibborn had no idea what hit them. “It was a fleeting idea under severe pressure on the train,” says Bazalgetti. “How can I understand what will become?”